As we are all aware, Richard Jefferson was jettisoned by the Spurs recently in a trade that could very well go down in Spurs lore. On the surface we traded a 32 year old veteran and a first round pick (in a supposed deep draft) for a 34 year old vet (who had become somewhat of a nomad), but look a little deeper and one can see that this was one of the greatest coup's in Spurs history, if not NBA history.
For two and half years, Pop and the Spurs organization from top to bottom planned to make RJ feel at home, tried to make RJ a better player, tried to make RJ a champion. However, best laid plans are sometimes laid to waste. Pop struggled mightily to work with RJ overtime to get him up to pace on what the Spurs expected of him. It seemed as though part of Pop's legendary career now hinged on his ability to transform RJ into what the Spurs really needed and had had in 2003, Stephen Jackson.
Pop tried tirelessly to transform RJ from a winner to a champion. If all the Spurs cared about was winning games, RJ would still be in the Silver and Black, but with Tim Duncan's career winding down, Tony and Manu still being Tony and Manu, the championship window that the pundits had claimed was closed was starting to crack back open. Pop and RC (God bless them) wanted Timmy to have that Admiral like send off or at least the opportunity. So hours before the trade deadline, a familiar name came flying through the chaos, STEPHEN "BUCKETS" JACKSON. As good as RJ was and could be, no one would ever make the mistake of calling him "BUCKETS."
For two and a half years, the Spurs tried to transform RJ into one of their own(into a player who could get BUCKETS), all the while paying him the money reserved for a 1st or 2nd option, not the 4th, 5th or even 6th option. For two and a half years, the Spurs had tried to turn RJ into Stephen Jackson, only to be disappointed playoff run after playoff run. Pop and RC's vision of Jefferson was more wishful thinking than actuality. RJ is RJ, not that theres anything wrong with that....He's a winner, just not a champion (a fine line that very few cross in this league).
There is no telling how wide the grin on Pop and RC's faces got when they saw that this trade was becoming more and more of a reality. For all their hard work trying to transform RJ into a Stephen Jackson, the light at the end of the tunnel never burned so bright. Pop and RC had their man again, where RJ was a "great team player," Stephen Jackson was the" ultimate team player." (Just ask the Big Fundamental)
In limited action, he has shown a fantastic ability to blend in with this Spurs team that he can hardly recognize from his past Spurs jaunt. Sure the Big 3 and Pop are around, but a team once laiden with veteran leadership and tenacity is now filled with youthful exuberance and fire.
So here we are, on the cusp of another deep playoff run. Pop (and I) got his(our) wish, RJ is now Stephen Jackson. The grit, the passion, the championship desire are back. Where some may think Pop failed with RJ, I see only success. He successfully got what he wanted out of RJ, even if it took two and a half years.
Stephen was reportedly tearing up when he found out he was coming back to the place where his career first flourished, and the absolute truth is that he wasn't the only one.
WELCOME BACK JACK!!!!
GO SPURS GO!!!!