Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hats Off to (Double Barrel) Action Jackson

Here are the things we know about Stephen Jackson:

- He was an integral and completely overlooked part of the Spurs team that won the 2003 NBA title, constantly hitting huge shots and giving them toughness and defense.

- He likes to go into the stands and get his punch on when the opportunity presents itself.

- He's not afraid to "lick a shot" into the air outside of a night club.

- He will treat every referee like Stern treated Tim Donaghy should he feel wronged by a call.

- His agent had to be the dumbest guy in the world when he parlayed Jackson's success in San Antonio into a crappy deal with the terrible Atlanta Hawks.

- He epitomizes the phrase "streak shooter."

He's probably also crazy and quite possibly the most loyal teammate in the NBA. And you know what else he is? The heart and soul of the Golden State Warriors.

Last year, people couldn't figure out how the Warriors went from a moribund franchise to the most exciting team outside of Phoenix in the middle of the season. Some (like me) attributed it mainly to the health of Baron Davis and Jason Richardson and others credited the emergence of young guys (Ellis and Biedrins) and role players (Barnes and Pietrus). The real difference? They made a trade in the middle of the season that sent the Charmin Twins Dunleavy and Murphy to Indy in exchange for Al Harrington and S-Jax. And then they became kind of awesome.

In the playoffs, Jackson was everywhere. He got thrown out of games for being a lunatic. He drove the lane on isos like he was MJ in his prime (and expected the same calls and results, rarely getting either). He hit huge threes in bunches. He physically manhandled the "MVP" of the NBA, Dirk Nowitzki. Anyone who watched that Dallas-GSW series knew that as good as Baron was (and he was incredible), Jackson was the litmus test for the Warriors. As he went, so went Golden State.

So how could we have possibly been surprised when G-State came out and went 0-6 to start the year while Jackson served an NBA suspension (for the aforementioned gunplay)? After all, if you listen to Warriors players, they will tell you that Jackson is the leader of the pack. If you watched him in San Antonio, you know he is That Guy that will bring the grit and swagger to a team. Yet somehow, many of us forgot all that and just thought the Warriors were done after the bad start. "They shouldn't have traded J-Rich." "They should have traded for Garnett." "Nellie has one eye on the beaches of Hawaii." (Actually, you'd need more than one eye to track multiple beaches, but whatever). For some reason nobody thought to wait and see what happened when Jackson came back.

Well, he's back and the Warriors have won six of seven, with five of those W's coming on the road. The Crazy One himself isn't exactly dominating statistically. He's had an eight turnover game. He went 2-for-10 from deep in another. He's shooting under 40% for the season. But he's making this team go. He's hitting the big shots and he's locking up the top opponent and he's snarling and throwing headbands and berating refs and chest bumping teammates and doing all the things that this Warriors team apparently can't live without.

Stephen Jackson is the straw that stirs the drink in Oakland. It's official.


sweetbabyjesus said...

i agree with most of your take here on our beloved Stack Jack. but he has shown a more calm demeanor on the court thus far, i know it's early and he's only played five games since returning from suspension but i've watched all his games (1 in person) and he hasn't yelled at the refs or stared them down when he should be getting back on D once yet. instead he's taken to taking the ball to them and handing it to them while engaging in a chat about the call, all without gesticulating or causing a scene. he's looking good, as for your statements about him being what makes this team go, you couldn't be more correct. he's the only player baron davis respects enough to feel obligated to up his effort level on D (actually trying to play it) and on O (taking good shots and getting his teammates involved), no one else could yell at baron...except jackson, that means a lot to this team.

go warriors.

Hotlanta said...

Dude, that list of Jackson's qualities was high comedy. Although you forget to mention that he can't really dribble and certainly not with his left hand.

Shark Attack! said...

Lets Go Dubs!

Jackson & Pacers Fan said...

Jackson is just a winner. He is a great team player in the right situation. Watching the Warriors against Dallas last year you could see that he and Baron and JRich too were both more explosive and gutsy than the Mavs.

As a Pacers fan out of Indy (ignore this if you don't care about Jackson's earlier career), I still swear the Pacers were definitely the best team in the NBA the year of the brawl with Ron and Jermaine as 1A and 1B and Jacko as a great #3 (we had had the best record in the league the year before and were looking even better in the next, brawl season). I still regret how things went down in Detroit and then Jackson never getting a fair shake in Indianapolis at any point after that all the way up to the Al/Jax for Murphy/Dunleavy/Diogu trade.

Best of luck to the Warriors the rest of the year. You play outstanding and fun-to-watch bball.