Can you believe that Stephen Jackson has been in the NBA for 12 seasons? Not only does he not really seem any different at age 34 than age 22, it’s also pretty strange that a guy who charged in to the stands and got in trouble for firing a gun and getting hit by a car in a strip club parking lot within the space of two years would continue to generate NBA interest. That’s not to say he doesn’t deserve to be in the league or shouldn’t be in the league, just that guys who have that many incidents don’t often stick around.

But I guess that’s because Stephen Jackson isn’t your usual NBA player. Everybody he’s played with consistently swears up and down that he’s the best teammate they’ve ever had, but he flames out everywhere that isn’t San Antonio. He considers him a rapper rather than an athlete who raps, yet he didn’t release any music until last summer even though he’d been recording for more than a decade. He’s just a hard to figure kind of guy, but I think this passage from Tzvi Twersky’s excellent SLAM Magazine interview with StackJack sums it up pretty well.

SLAM: You’ve kept it 100 the whole way through you career. You think that’s probably why people some people love you and some people hate you?

SJ: Yeah. A lot of people dislike the fact that I’m not the typical NBA guy: don’t curse, wear tight pants, all that, and become somebody that they want me to be. I’m not gonna be that. God put me on the earth this way, he gave me the gift of basketball, and one thing they can’t take from is I can play the game. I know how to play the game and they can’t take that from me. At the end of the day, the people that matter to me are the ones who saw me at 5 years old trying to play on the basketball court with 17 year olds. Those people matter to me. They’ve seen the progress I’ve made; they’ve seen how I’ve grown. That’s why I give it back to my city, because a lot of those people helped me along the way. When I’m in other states and other cities, when the spirit moves me, I give a homeless person $20.

I got another example: The other day we were at a club, and as soon as we walked into the club a girl passed out. I don’t know the girl from Adam, but I helped her up and helped her get water. Everyone was like, ‘Wow, you’re such a nice guy. Any other NBA guy…’ I’m like, ‘It’s not about that.’ At the end of the day, all of the stuff people expect me to be, I’m not gonna die with any of that, and I’m not gonna be happy with being something that I’m not. Me helping her, I would want someone to help my sister if she passed out, I would want someone to help my daughter if she passed out. I had jewelry and all kinds of nice clothes. If she would’ve messed them up I wouldn’t of been mad, because it wasn’t about that. Who can live with themselves walking in a club and worrying about their jewelry when there’s a girl on the floor about to die? That’s my personality.

This, I’m guessing, is why people who are around Stephen Jackson love him so much. If you’re sister is passing out at a club, he’s going to take care of her and make sure she’s safe. It’s weird to try to extrapolate that to the concept of teamwork in basketball, but when you couple it with Jackson not regretting being there for his teammates during the brawl in Detroit, it’s easy to see that being responsible for others is a big thing for Stephen Jackson. And that is easy to understand how that could help with basketball.

But it’s not all hair-holding and tight pants-shaming in the SLAM interview. There’s also fun stuff, like an update on the NBA rap record he’s working on.

SLAM: What’s good with that NBA album, that collaborative joint?

SJ: Yeah. A guy who used to work for Bad Boy with Puff Daddy, he had to do with a lot of those records they were doing in the Biggie days, he came up with the idea of doing an album called Full Court Press, where it’s athletes and entertainers doing songs together. It was a great idea. When I went I was excited about it. I didn’t know who I was gonna be with, but it’s only right me and Bun [B] did a song. I went in there and I went so hard on the song with Bun that they asked me to do the intro with Yelawolf. It’s going to be crazy, man. I think LeBron’s on it, Rick Ross, Kevin Durant, Trevor Ariza, Shawn Marion, Josh Smith, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube—it’s supposed to be pretty hot.

LeBron James rapping? Yes please. We’ve only really seen him rapping along to songs or party rocking with LMFAO after winning a title, so this is going to be new. What if he’s good at rapping too? What if he’s absolutely terrible at rapping? Either way, the outcome is going to be good for us fans. Can’t wait.

Go read the whole thing because it’s really great. And if you’re ever feeling sick from too much drinking, just give Stephen Jackson a call. He’ll bring you a garbage can and some food to sop up the booze because that’s just the kind of guy he is. No wonder everyone loves him.