Trading places: Before Jackson, there was Kobe
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Don’t expect the Los Angeles Lakers to criticize Stephen Jackson(notes) for wanting the Golden State Warriors to trade him. It wasn’t too long ago that the Lakers were dealing with their own trade demand.
“The greatest did it before – Kobe – the greatest to ever play the game,” Ron Artest(notes) said. “And he won a championship after that. He wanted to win. He didn’t want out. He wanted to win. Steve Jackson probably isn’t as talented as the greatest. But he has in his heart that he wants to win. Guys like that want to win.
“I did all that stuff early in my career. I’m beyond that now. There are other ways to handle it.”
Jackson was fined $25,000 by the NBA last month for voicing his trade request publicly. He hasn’t backed away from his comments and just finished a two-game suspension for cursing Warriors coach Don Nelson. On Tuesday, he asked the Warriors to strip him of his captaincy.
Two years ago, it was Bryant who delivered a make-this-team-better-or-trade-me mandate. The Lakers opted to make themselves better.
“I know they want to win and everyone wants to be on a winner,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “But that’s something that teams have to decide for themselves how to discipline guys who make statements like that. What are you going to do?
“We went through that process two years ago with Kobe. We had to give serious momentary concern to the situation and treat it with respect to the player and his needs. In the process, we were always holding out the promise that we were going to try to improve the team that we were able to do that season to get to the Finals.”
Artest, of course, knows Stephen Jackson well. It was Jackson who rushed into the stands in Detroit to fight alongside Artest when the two were playing for the Indiana Pacers. Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season, while Jackson was slapped with a 30-game suspension.
“We probably would have had about two or three championships,” Artest said. “But someone else got ‘em and you move on.”
While Stephen Jackson’s talent and versatility as a basketball player aren’t questioned, his latest run-in with Nelson won’t help his trade value. Especially not with the four years and $35 million Jackson has left on his contract. Artest said Jackson shouldn’t be worried about that.
“It depends on what God thinks about you,” Artest said. “That is what Steve always tells me and what I’ve always told him. What does God think about you? Not what [NBA commissioner] David Stern think about you. What does God think about you? Not what does Pepsi-Cola think about you or corporate America or suburban America think about you? Not what the ticketholders think about you. What does God think about you? That’s what matters.”
Jackson said after Tuesday’s practice that he didn’t want to be a Warriors captain because he didn’t want to be a role model. Even so, Artest believes teams interested in Jackson shouldn’t be concerned about whether he would be a good teammate.
“He’s emotional,” Artest said. “He’s a great teammate. He’s definitely loyal. He’s a four-quarter type of player.
“That’s why San Antonio wanted him. He’s a really good teammate. That’s why Indiana, we wanted him. But he’s just emotional right now. He wants to win a championship. That happens sometimes when a player wants to win a championship…
“The greatest did it. Kobe did it. So it’s nothing new.”