Stephen Jackson was upset last night, but don’t freak out

Jackson posts up in some rare minutes against the Nuggets. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

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.

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  1. I’m not trippin over Jack’s early season struggles. I know Skiles wasnt trying to send Jack a message, i didnt even realize it was an issue til i saw Jack’s postgame comments. I remember Richard Jefferson a few years back saying about Skiles that this is the only time in my career I’ve ever not started the 4th quarter if I haven’t played well in a game. (something along those lines) Skiles postgame comments were sincere he does those little lineup shakeups all the time but I can understand why Jack could take it personal. My guess is that Jackson will come back and have a huge game against the Knicks. Not to prove anything to coaches (even tho he may think he has to) but to prove to his teammates and the fans, whom he cares more about than any1 outside of his family

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  4. Jackson is an interesting guy … not a very efficient basketball player, unfortunately. But, the Bucks had to know that ahead of time, didn’t they? I didn’t like the trade to acquire Jackson to begin with and still don’t like the trade. Jackson does say a lot of the right things, though. I just think Jackson is an overrated player, especially at this point in his career. He’s always been a poor-percentage shooter from the field with limited ball-handling skills. I think Maggette and Salmons when healthy each are better players than Jackson.

    • @treego14 Jackson got rid of Salmons contract which would have weighed the Bucks down for 4 more years, now he’s rotting in Sacramento. Maggatte (injured again) still woulda been in Skiles dog house for his lack of interest in defense and for his “Bull in the China shop” offense. Jack may be past his prime but he’s still a good all around player and can do a bit of everything. When I saw that trade I couldn’t believe my eyes but then I remembered that John Hammond is the ultimate hustler. In about a month I’d put 10 to 1 odds that Jack is averaging 16,17 PPG and 3 or 4 boards and 3 assists

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