Even though he’s done nothing but complain for the past two seasons, Stephen Jackson’s return to the Spurs was heralded as a success for San Antonio. Swapping Richard Jefferson for Captain Jack means the Spurs get tougher, better defensively and add another perimeter creator on offense, or so the legend goes. In reality, everyone thinks it’s a good move because the Spurs are the ones who made it. It’s like a force field that is only penetrable by Luis Scola.
Never mind all that for now. What I’d like to talk about is how Stephen Jackson found out he was going back to San Antonio because that’s a fun story. From the San Antonio Express-News:
Stephen Jackson was at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport late last week, minutes from begrudgingly boarding a connecting flight to San Francisco, when his cell phone buzzed in his pocket.
The call was coming from a number with a 210 area code he didn’t immediately recognize, so Jackson let it go to voicemail.
Then came the text message.
It was from Spurs general manager R.C. Buford and contained six words that caused Jackson to step out of line, right there at the Delta gate: “Pop wants to talk to you.”
Moments later, Jackson was on the line with a voice from his past. Gregg Popovich told him the Spurs were on the verge of acquiring him from the Golden State Warriors, who days earlier had acquired him from Milwaukee.
“I teared up,” Jackson said, recalling the story Monday at the Spurs’ practice facility, “because this was something I always wanted to come back to.”
Jackson’s bags would make it to the Bay Area, but Jackson would not. The plane went wheels up without him. Delta re-directed him to San Antonio, a place Jackson spent two of his first three NBA seasons and considered home, even when it wasn’t.
There are a lot of things that are great about this. I’m a big fan of everything from Jackson not answering a phone call from the 210 area code that he considers home even though it was trade deadline day to the way R.C. Buford just sends a very Spurs-y “Pop wants to talk to you” text message after being ignored on the phone. Even their player acquisitions are thoroughly San Antonio — efficient and close to the the vest.
And hey, maybe things will work out. Jackson has made it very clear in the past that he is only concerned with playing for championships. Now that he’s a Spur (second in the West) and not a Buck (ninth in the East) or Bobcat (worst team ever), maybe he’ll actually try hard, not want to fight every ref who dares call a foul on him and commit himself to team offense and team defense. I’m not convinced that can happen — or that it’ll have a significant impact even if he does — but there’s certainly a better chance in San Antonio than anywhere else.
At the very least, it’ll be fun to compare pictures of the 2003 Spurs and the 2012 Spurs, just to see how little everyone’s changed. Sure, Manu’s lost some hair, but between Jackson, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, it’ll be like looking at two copies of the same picture. Grab Pop some Just For Men and things aren’t looking so hot for Jason Kidd’s Nets.