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News » NBA 2009-11-19

NBA 2009-11-19

NBA 2009-11-19So eager was Stephen Jackson to leave the Golden State Warriors, he was on his way to an airport for a Monday flight to Orlando to hook up with his new team less than an hour after getting official news he had been traded.

Eight hours later, his new coach, Larry Brown, put him in the Charlotte Bobcats' starting lineup and played him 45 minutes against the defending Eastern champs.

Jackson never has asked more from his team or coach than a chance to win and contribute big.

The Bobcats lost in Jackson's first game, but Brown's decision to force-feed his new star into his lineup the day he arrived was coaching brilliance.

Brown received an important ally on a Bobcats team that now looks capable of making the Eastern playoffs. If Jackson is happy, there are few players you'd rather have taking big shots. Spurs fans haven't forgotten the clutch 3-pointers he made during the team's run to the 2003 NBA title.

That Spurs season was the happiest of Jackson's career. He started 58 games, ahead of a rookie named Manu Ginobili. He played with a smile on his face, then was a crunch-time assassin in the playoffs. He beamed from a barge during the championship parade.

But when he scowls, Jackson is locker room poison. That explains why Warriors management would give him up for a 33-year-old with a wrist that needs surgery and an underachieving power forward.

Jackson has been available for weeks. That's because he told the truth about mismanagement of a Warriors roster that once was on the brink of championship contention. He was right about the incompetence in the Golden State front office, where intrigue and back stabbing cost Chris Mullin his job as GM.

An example: A year ago, club president Robert Rowell gave Jackson a contract extension worth $36 million over four years when he could have waited until last summer.

Can we really be just three seasons removed from the Warriors' stunning upset of Dallas in the 2007 playoffs? Then, Jackson made seven of eight 3-pointers in the close-out game in Oakland, scoring 33 when a loss would have meant playing Game 7 in Dallas.

Nobody questions Jackson's courage to take tough shots in big games, not after his first star turn in the NBA, for the Spurs in 2003. He averaged 12.8 points in 33.8 minutes in the Spurs' 24-game playoff run.

But there were moments that season when he tried the patience of teammates. When, that summer, the Spurs pondered an appropriate free-agent offer, firm figures were set. They were numbers - about $10 million, over three seasons - Jackson found insulting. He walked away, eventually signing with Atlanta for two years, at $2.1 million.

He played hard and well for the Hawks and got a big free-agent payday from the Pacers.

Now, the extension Rowell gave him last year is Charlotte's responsibility, which makes Jackson's happiness Brown's top priority.

Brown is off to a good start, but with Jackson, you never know.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 19, 2009


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