Many of us in the basketball world were shocked to find out the San Antonio Spurs had waived Stephen Jackson just a week before the playoffs. Jackson was thought to be an integral part of the Spurs and their mentality when it came to playoff basketball. He was a versatile guy who "makes love to pressure" and is more than happy to take the defensive challenge of shutting down whoever they put him on.
But his production this season was pretty atrocious and it led to a big cut in playing time. He shot just 37.3 percent from the field this season and 27.1 percent from 3-point range. His minutes after the All-Star break dropped from 20.9 per game to 17. There were reports of a growing rift between Jackson and coach Gregg Popovich over Jackson's role and playing time.
In an interview with Sister2SisterMagazine.com, Jackson confirmed that rift:
“We had a disagreement,” Stephen told Sister 2 Sister about his most recent coach Gregg Popovich. “He wanted me to agree to players being better than me, and I didn't agree. I've been in the NBA a long time, so it's just something I didn't agree with and something I have no control over. He's the coach. He controls who plays, and he controls the team, which I do respect. At the same time, I know what I can do and what I been doing my whole career, and I'm far from ready to hang it up. So, I can't let one person tell me where I'm at 35-years-old. To me, it just didn't make no sense.”
“It was talked about before the all-star break, before the trade deadline…about me not wanting to be here and me going to other teams, but they wouldn't do it then,” Stephen explained. “If they would have done it then, I would be on another team right now.”
You can understand Jackson's frustration. Even though Popovich is correct in believing guys like Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are better players than Jackson, the Spurs ended up negating the possibility of Jackson playing for a playoff team this season by waiving him after the March 1 deadline for postseason eligibility. Jackson is probably overly confident in his own abilities, but that's also what has helped him be a valuable NBA player throughout his 13-year NBA career.
“I went to Golden State and helped them get to the playoffs my first year there, and they haven't been to the playoffs in 13 years. I played in Charlotte … and I got them to the playoffs. So, every team I go to, I make them better,” said Stephen, who considers it a blessing just to be in the NBA … and on the court.
“I don't want to be a guy who's just sitting on the bench stealing money,” he said.
It's noble Jackson doesn't want to be Darko Milicic, but he also seems to not recognize his play has slipped this season. Maybe he's confident he can still bring it when it counts for his next team, but at this point he might need to come to grips with the idea he's no longer the player he used to be.
(H/T - Spurs Nation)