Stephen Jackson wants a contract extension, he was "underrated" and "underpaid" during his time in Charlotte (his quotes), and if the NBA's players union wants to keep any sort of public goodwill during a lockout that a goodly chunk of sports fans will still refer to as "a strike," then Players Association boss Billy Hunter needs to buy Jackson his own yacht and six month's worth of gas and supplies, and tell him to find China by going West.
Because this guy is your grandfather's ideal of the worst of NBA basketball, typified. He bounces from small market to desperate small market, making untold gobs of money for an "overrated" and eventually "overpaid" (all quotation marks can be attributed to your humble author) style of basketball that looks good when those flat-footed threes fall in, but falls short everywhere else.
And in an introductory news conference in Milwaukee on Wednesday, just a day and a half before the NBA is sure to lock out its players, the owner of a contract that will pay him the outrageous fee of $19.3 million over the next two years is asking for a contract extension.
Never mind that he'll be 35 when the extension starts, and that he's clearly in decline right now.
Never mind that he's had issues on every team he's ever been with, even on a New Jersey Nets team that saw nobody really caring whether or not Stephen Jackson was on the roster.
Never mind that he's not worth anything near what he'll make over the last two years of his current deal.
Never mind that the nine years and $66 million he'll have played for between 2004 and 2011 has been more than sufficient.
Never mind that -- oh, yeah -- Jackson had about a day and a half between the news conference and the end of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement to sign his hopeful contract extension. And that the Bucks (who are on record as having borrowed $55 million from the NBA last year, though I warn you that this could be less of a sign of their financial insolvency and more of a sign of the team just taking advantage of what the NBA offers to its 30 franchises) should drop everything as they enter easily the biggest labor negotiation in the franchise's history to add two more years to Stephen Jackson's contract from 2013-15.
"It's mandatory," Jackson told reporters.
No, it's idiotic, this guy told anyone that would listen.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with putting an early request in to make guaranteed money for two seasons following your current contract, but this was absolutely the worst place and time to do this. Jackson might not be staffing a cannery full of 8-year-old children in his basement, he might not dropping arsenic into our fresh water streams, and he might be years removed from his last run-in with the law.
But this is much more than the wrong message, at the wrong time, delivered to the wrong team.
This is Jackson at his core. No musings on how his long-range shooting and once-potent ball-handling and passing abilities can provide the all-around spark to put the Bucks back in the playoffs, after a year away. No sincere mention of anything beyond, "pay me, in 2013, after I bleed you dry with my current contract that this team just traded for because you -- like Charlotte before you -- are so desperate for scoring. No matter how inefficient."
Admittedly, I wasn't at the news conference, but that's how I imagine it went down.
Also, because it's late June and he really won't be called out on any of this next winter, Jackson dropped this:
"I have to be, because it's not something that he (coach Scott Skiles) is going to have to ask me to do," Jackson said. "It comes natural. Being a leader is nothing you can teach.
"With me having a lot of success in this league, I think guys will respect that. But at the same time I'm going to lead by example. I'm going to gain my respect by playing harder and going out and trying to win games every night."
Except, Stephen, you weren't always doing that in Charlotte, where you were asked to lead, though apparently leadership came naturally to you. And leaders don't taint the message of their otherwise-ebullient first news conference with incessant talk about a contract extension.
Good thing this happened in Milwaukee, Billy Hunter. Otherwise you'd have yourself a brand new template, a 2011 Kenny Anderson, for what not to say.
- Stephen Jackson