Milwaukee Bucks wing Stephen Jackson has a reputation as a hothead, but he's also one of the best teammates in the NBA -- Tim Duncan has even said as much. He tends to believe in the team cause for a while, even if things eventually go sour and he demands a trade. If there's a reason to stay engaged, like the possibility of the playoffs, then he'll give it his all.
At least that's been the assumption about him. Based on events with the Milwaukee Bucks this season, we may have to adjust those impressions. Because, although Jackson won't come out and say it explicitly after his recent demotion from the starting lineup, Captain Jack is tired of playing for Milwaukee. From Howie Magner of Milwaukee Magazine on Twitter (via TBJ):
Jackson has been a part of the Bucks family for only a few months — he was traded from the Bobcats (another team he grew tired of) a week before the start of the lockout and therefore had little time to get acclimated to the team culture before the start of the season. That can be a problem, especially with a demanding coach like Scott Skiles. On the other hand, Jack seemed to be perfectly cool with the Bucks in December during training camp and even spoke of focusing on a championship:
"If guys come in here not focused on a championship, just making the playoffs, we need to trade them. We need to be talking about championship and nothin' else. You can't limit yourself to just playoffs. Who wants to do that? Playoffs is not really an achievement to me. Anybody can get to the playoffs."
That was just one of Jackson's crazy quotes at Bucks media day -- he also said the Mavericks suck and compared Milwaukee's roster to that of his championship season in San Antonio. And while the Bucks haven't shown the ability to challenge for a title, they have improved enough to lay claim to the eighth and final spot in the Eastern playoff picture. Things aren't entirely bad in Milwaukee, and it's not entirely clear why one of their biggest players seems to want out.
As long as Jackson tries to avoid fines, we won't learn more about his anger. And yet his discomfort might not even matter that much to his performance. On Wednesday night, only a day after he spoke to Magner, Jack put up 17 points on 6-11 shooting in 33 minutes off the bench. The Bucks won 105-99 at the Toronto Raptors, and Jackson was on the floor making major decisions in crunch time. If the Bucks stay in the playoff picture, and Jackson keeps playing in big situations (off the bench or not), maybe this dust-up will blow over before it maims the Bucks' season.
And then we'll all come back to the situation a few months later when Jackson gets tired of the situation again.
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