We often underestimate how much social media changed the lives of NBA players. Players today have to be in a lot more control, especially when coming into the league. Young men, earning serious money, and traveling around the country sounds like a recipe for disaster. Stephen Jackson shared a story that would land him in jail these days. His words.
Jackson was drafted by the Suns, waived, spent three years playing in Australia, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. He got his NBA debut with the Nets and after his first NBA season, signed as a free agent with the Spurs. You’d think that a player who had to go through all the to get to the NBA wouldn’t mess around with his chance.
The Spurs were in Seattle (bring back the Sonics!), where a lot of Jackson’s family lived. He was playing really well, putting up 16-17 points from the bench, and excited his family will see him play in the NBA. Being in a place he knows, feeling good, Jackson went out the night before. (via All The Smoke):
“I went out the nightStephen Jackson
before,and got into some shit with Rashard Lewis. We end up getting into a little fight at the club. Never hit the media. Shout out to Rashard Lews, we did some crazy shit that night. If social media was there, the shit we did that night; we wasin jail, easy.”
So when Pop called Jackson up to his room before the game, he knew he was busted. Family looking forward to seeing him play, and he’s about to get a talking-to from Pop. The fact Tim Duncan was in the room didn’t help. The team captain is often there when discipline is enforced.
To Jackson’s surprise, Pop had good news for him. The Spurs decided to reward his good performance in the past few weeks and start him. His family wouldn’t just see him play; they got to see him start the game. But, this created a whole new problem. That meant he was going to take Steve Smith’s place.
Smith had been Jackson’s mentor, not just on the court. Smith and his wife had Jackson over for lunch and dinner, took care of him in a lot of ways. This was more than basketball, and he was about to take his place. So when Jackson arrived in the locker room, he tried to avoid Smith. He couldn’t face his mentor. (via All The Smoke)
“As I’m sneaking by, he was like ‘Young fella’, this ain’t personal between me and you. Go out there, do what you’ve been doing. I’m rooting for you, I’m your biggest fan, just like you’ve been mine.‘ That gave me the feeling like I belong.”Stephen Jackson
Probably one of the best days in Stack’s career. Dodged a bullet with Pop about the fight, his family was there to see him play, and his mentor said all the right things.