Stephen Jackson isn’t some nefarious, selfish prima donna. In fact, I’d wager that most of us, if not all of us have a friend like Stephen Jackosn. Maybe your friend doesn’t record raps in his spare time or make millions of dollars, but he or she probably has a similar throught process.
Jackson has a habit of missing the obvious, of taking things too personal.
I can’t count the number of times over the past two seasons that Scott Skiles has sat a player who hasn’t been playing well for an extended stretch, even for a half. If he went to someone new for a spark and the new guy helped to give the Bucks a spark, Skiles has always stayed with that new guy and tried to ride it out. He’s never seemed like a message sender. He’s just a guy who wants to play the guys who are playing the best.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Jackson hasn’t been playing the best this season. And with this team, there isn’t the typical talent gulf between the third best player and the tenth best player. Some guys are better than others at certain things, but very few Bucks have obvious talent advantages across the board, Jackson included.
So when Skiles went to Tobias Harris to start the second half, it didn’t seem like he was sending a message and he said as much later.
“I just thought he (Jackson) looked fatigued,” Skiles said after the game. “I thought he and Bogues both looked a little fatigued. We just tried to get some energy into the game.”
Jackson certainly didn’t react like someone who felt they had been pulled for such simple reasons. But he’s a human being, a specific kind of human being. Like I said earlier, we all have a friend who has trouble understanding the simplest of concepts. It’s not that your friend or my friend or Jackson is stupid, they all just have a habit of making things into a more personal situation than necessary. Given Jackson’s persecution, some deserved and some undeserved, throughout his time in the league, his defenses probably kick into gear quicker than most.
“If they want to blame it on somebody I’ll take the blame,” Jackson said after the game last night. “It is what it is. I guess they expected me to spaz out and go crazy. Too late in the game for that.”
When a reporter said he obviously wanted to be out there, Jackson was quick to point out that he couldn’t control that and he’d let the coaches have that. Jackson was then asked about Andrew Bogut’s minutes, equally limited throughout the game.
“Last thing you need to do is upset your best player. So, I don’t know. I don’t know what they was trying to prove. Hopefully they proved the point, whatever they was trying to prove. When they didn’t play me, my thoughts was just, ‘support the young fellas, support everybody out there and try to get this win.’ If they want to make it personal, they can, I’m used to it.”
Jackson conceded that he hasn’t been playing well this season, but he failed to connect the dots any further than that. In his mind, his performance apparently hasn’t warranted any extra time on the bench given his track record of success over his career.
“I’m not playing well right now and I admit that. I’m not going to blame one person, but I will take the blame because I know I can play better.”
It may sound crazy, but Jackson is a sensitive guy. His defenses were up last night after the team lost and he seemed to have felt a bit embarrassed. He cares. He wants to be on the court and he wants to be playing well. He isn’t going to go into shut down mode the way Corey Maggette seemed to have by the end of last season. That’s probably a good thing.
But he’ll need to realize pretty quick that Skiles has a habit of treating everyone on his roster the same way. The guys who play wel are going to find minutes. The guys who aren’t contributing are going to find the bench.
The team surely did their research on Jackson and knew he’d occasionally get quotable after games, so I don’t suspect they’ll be too concerned with last night’s comments. Jackson has a way of saying a whole lot of things at once without really meaning any of it. He’s not going to skip practices, he’s not going to miss a game. It will probably be business as usual today at practice now that he’s gotten some things off his chest.
Think about the way you handle things with your hard headed friend. You accept the good with the bad. The Bucks will do the same.
And they’ll hope more good is coming pretty quick.