Blog Entry

Joe Jackson refuses to give into pressure of city

Posted on: January 2, 2012 4:57 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 5:14 pm
                                                                  (Getty Images)

By Jeff Goodman

I feel for Joe Jackson. 

The Memphis native doesn't want to leave his city, the one that bestowed the savior label upon him when he decided to remain home and play for the beloved Tigers on Sept. 11, 2009. But the pressure has clearly gotten to him. 

I don't know Jackson especially well, but you connect with certain kids. There have been plenty through the years for me -- and Jackson is one of them. I'm guessing I'm not the only media member who feels this way, either. 

Jackson's honesty is truly refreshing. 

"It is frustrating," he told on Monday afternoon just prior to his first practice since deciding to remain with the Memphis program. "I feel like I've only played up to my potential only a couple times since I've been in college -- and I'm so used to doing it on a consistent basis." 

Jackson was right there with Kyrie Irving, Josh Selby and Brandon Knight as one of the elite point guards in the Class of 2010. He'd admitted that he thought he'd be one-and-done and off to the NBA, but now he understands that's not a reality. 

"It's hard," Jackson said. "Everybody has an opinion around here and you can't listen to everyone. It's tough when you're at home." 

Jackson met with Memphis coach Josh Pastner on Friday and was told to take a couple of days to contemplate whether he wanted to remain with the program and on the team. 

"I love this city," he said. "This was always a dream of mine to play for Memphis, be a Penny Hardaway type of guy. I want to be that person." 

Player and coach met again on Sunday and Jackson informed Pastner that he wasn't going anywhere - no matter how difficult it's been for him over his first year and a half. 

"He's got both feet in," said Pastner, who brought Jackson off the bench for the first time this season against Robert Morris. "I love Joe. He's still learning and has his best basketball ahead of him." 

But Jackson is frustrated, because the team is struggling and he isn't playing up to expectations, either. However, his numbers -- whether it be scoring, shooting, turnovers -- have improved from his freshman season. 

"I look at myself in the mirror and I know I've got a lot of talent," Jackson said. "I can't let it go to waste. I can't." 

Jackson knows it would be easier to go somewhere else, finish out his career someplace where he could be anonymous and wouldn't have to field advice from the janitor to the cashier at the convenience store. But he doesn't want to leave this city. This is his city. 

"I have the fear of not making it," Jackson said. "That's what puts stress on me. Maybe if I was somewhere else, I wouldn't feel like I had the pressure of the entire city on me." 

"It's hard because when you've got it going, it's the best," he added. "No one can take you down. It's like you're on a cloud. But when you're losing and not playing well, it's hard. It feels like I am letting everyone down."

Jackson reminds me he's just 19 years old, that he still has plenty of time left to get himself - and his team - on the right track. 

"My frustration isn't about me coming off the bench or my personal game," Jackson said. "I feel like I haven't done anything to help the team get to the next level." 

"I'm still a good player," he added. "And I'm going to get a lot better. Sometimes it's just not your time." 

But Jackson isn't giving up on the fact that his time won't come -- in Memphis. 

Category: NCAAB

Since: Apr 28, 2008
Posted on: January 3, 2012 11:00 am

Wrong Goodman-

It was Joe Jackson who set those lofty expectations and put that all pressure on himself when he inked "King Of Memphis" across his chest.

Since: Nov 15, 2008
Posted on: January 3, 2012 9:33 am

Joe Jackson refuses to give into pressure of city

Was really hoping he would transfer out, for the good of the team and himself. Memphis has suffered from a cancer of local talent for some time now. Not saying to not take some but too many are too weak as a person to have the ability to block out the distractions of playing in front of the hometown. High school coaches, uncles and even friends getting into their ears about how the coach is holding them back. A lot of players have done well by leaving Memphis and getting away from the distractions of a very dysfunctional city. All the god given talent in the world is useless if your mind is too weak to handle the pressure. The problem is not all on the young men playing the game for a great deal of it is the fact that they don't have strong leadership, the experiment has failed, time to move on and get a coach in here that can lead. Yes I am a Bama fan due to growing up and watching a man called the Bear roaming the sidelines down in T-Town. but I have lived in Memphis for over 50 years and have supported the Tigers for many of those years.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: January 2, 2012 11:49 pm

Joe Jackson refuses to give into pressure of city

The statement that jumps out to me in this story is this:

"I have the fear of not making it," Jackson said. "That's what puts stress on me. Maybe if I was somewhere else, I wouldn't feel like I had the pressure of the entire city on me."
See, the thing that makes this hard for Jackson and so many young players is - it is not about you. So simple. The focus needs to be on the team. The effort is to make the team better. Until that happens the individual thinking leads to game rot. Nobody can carry the weight of any city. Every player needs to learn that it is about the team and not them. If they do not learn that in college they will really struggle to get a job in the NBA (or Europe and China for that matter.) A sad example of this is DeMarcus Cousins, not suspended from the team by Sacramento. So much talent and so much me, me, me.

Jackson saying that he has not done anything to help the team get to the next level is false. Any player who practices with the team makes his teammates better. It is not about your personal production. It is about fitting into the team wherever needed. Take satisfaction in improving every day. Take satisfaction in becoming a complete player (forget the stats). Shane Battier is an excellent role model. He does nothing better than anyone but he does so many things well so as to make him a prime target this season for the Miami Heat.

Since: Feb 1, 2010
Posted on: January 2, 2012 11:42 pm

Joe Jackson refuses to give into pressure of city

The kid has had a pretty good career so far.

Never was a 1 & done player and may never play in the NBA but I bet he can have a very good Jr & Sr year if he applies himself.

And, he can probably earn good money overseas for a number of years.

Nothing wrong or embarrasing about any of that.

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: January 2, 2012 7:38 pm

Joe Jackson refuses to give into pressure of city

Joe's not just honest, he gives an honest day's work when he says he will. The same kind of frustrations happened last year, and Joe didn't knuckle under to the pressure and divisiveness from all the friends, ex-coaches, and charlotans who try to latch on to a talent like him and tell him he's too good to put up with discipline or that he's being mistreated and not appreciated. He doubled down, and it paid off big at tournament time. I believe the guy simply does not have "quit" in him and doesn't believe that failure is an option.

I remember Andre Turner, and I even watched a game from the old days of him, Keith Lee, and William Bedford over the holidays. At the time, Kirk said Andre was so fast he could open the refrigerator, get a drink, and close the door before the light came on. After watching that old game, I can tell you this -- Joe could smoke Andre for quickness. I wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, but it's true, folks. The man is a blur. If he, Tarik, and Adonis ever get it all together (WB already has, except for the turnovers and AAU defense sometimes), there is no limit to what this team can accomplish.

Suck it up, Joe. You want the same thing we all do -- to see you at your very best wearing a Tiger uniform. I think we won't be disappointed.

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