Asjha Jones normally saves a stare that could peel paint for the basketball court, particularly Mohegan Sun Arena, where she has emerged as the backbone of the Connecticut Sun.
Who knew, though, that Jones' scowls, some of which would require a chisel to dent, actually were born in the shoe department?
The off-court Asjha, owner of size-13 feet, had an epiphany a few years ago. If most stores, even the posh ones, weren't going to serve women with big feet, then Jones was going to do something about it.
Introducing Takera, the Asjha Jones collection of stylish footwear in hard-to-find sizes. Jones' shoes, available for pre-order at Takera.com (Takera is Jones' middle name) are available in sizes 10-15, ranging from $80 to $225. Jones said limited numbers have made their way into some New York boutiques.
"My foot stopped growing when I was 12 and it's been a lifelong battle," Jones said in a recent telephone conversation. "As a professional athlete, you have to be dressed up. Sometimes, it's four games a week. You need to look nice. You have this need to buy things and in this case, there's nothing to buy."
Except now. Takera debuts this spring and offers flats, casuals and boots in various colors and styles.
"It's a big deal for some women," Jones said, "to be comfortable and stylish. We have serious issues with that."
Jones, who played on two national championship teams at UConn, has been a member of the Sun since 2004. An all-star, Jones is considered one of the best forwards in the WNBA. But as a recent entrant into the thirty-something age group, she realized that her hoop-o-logical clock was ticking. Basketball won't always be there. But her feet will.
"Two years ago, I was just hanging out," Jones said, when the realization hit that Takera just might work.
Jones was chatting with Jennifer Nolan, who has become Takera's vice president of marketing, as well as Tim Gray, a 15-year veteran in the apparel business. The topic of hard-to-find shoes is among Jones' greatest hits. And she happened to be talking about it in front of the right guy.
"Tim said, 'You should do it,'" Jones said. "I looked at him funny. He said, 'No, really.'"
The more Jones discussed the idea, the more it became reality.
"People who shared the same concerns really got excited," she said. "I mean, when you're in college, you can just put on a pair of sweats and that's it. But this is the professional world. You have to look stylish and be comfortable. And for some of us, it's not that easy."
Jones' passion for the project, she believes, will manifest in its quality. It's one thing for an athlete to endorse a product - Michael Jordan wearing Hanes or Mariano Rivera chewing a Chalupa at Taco Bell - but it's another to live it.
"It's top-notch material we're using," she said. "This is from the heart."
Jones, fully healed from a recent Achilles' tendon problem, said she'll be rested and ready for the Sun this summer as they seek their first WNBA championship.
She'll be the one walking into the arena in stylish shoes.