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An Open Letter To Stephen Jackson

After the Spurs small forward's personal tragedy, all the rumors leading up to the trade deadline, and a rough year of playing through numerous injuries, it's now certain that Stephen Jackson will be a Spur through the rest of the season. Here's one fan's take on San Antonio's resident lightning rod.


Stephen Jackson,

Life is unpredictable, and sometimes downright cruel. I cannot begin to understand the gravity of what happened to you and your family. Nor am I going to pretend that I do by offering a cliché statement. All I can say is that we love you, man. The "we" being fans of the Spurs, and that is the purpose of this letter. Call it a love letter to Captain Jack.

The Spurs faithful are stoked to know that you are staying with the Spurs for the rest of the season. There were rumors flying about that you were going to be traded. Of course most trade rumors are basically the equivalent of a drunk parrot singing a bunch of names they overheard. I am 90% sure that at one point in the midst of the trade rumor madness, Adrian Wojnaroski said Josh Smith was going to be traded for Wayne Gretzky and Tina Fey. So while your name was included in a few of those rumors, it was never truly believable that the Spurs were going to depart with you.

Doubt did begin to set in towards the trade deadline, but luckily that doubt was merely a symptom of the incessant tripe some sports writers type in order to fish for mouse clicks. The Spurs faithful know why you will be playing for the Spurs 2013 during the postseason. The reason for this is simple. You are awesome. There are countless examples of your awesomeness. Somehow you play your best with the Spurs. I am not a psychologist nor am I a member of the Spurs. So I don't know what is going on in your head or in the locker room. However it is clear that when you put on the silver and black, you shine.

Another important point: you are at your best when the Spurs need you the most. One of your masterpieces last season occurred during the last game of the Spur's playoffs. The Spurs were down to the Thunder 3-2 and all seemed lost. The Thunder crowd was out of control and Durant, Harden, Westbrook, Thabo, and company were playing out of their skulls. However during that game you just kept raining threes. That is until the 3rd quarter when the referees gave you a technical for "looking weird". I am sure the official line was different. It was probably something like "disrupting the game with a scowl". It doesn't really matter, because the real reason for those technicals is fairly transparent.

Have you read "Tim Donguaghy's Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal That Rocked the NBA"? Some people called it the angry musings of a disgraced ex-employee. On the other hand, some find it trust-worthy precisely because Tim Doguaghy was a disgraced ex-employee with nothing to lose by spitting the truth. He talks a lot about how referees can hold prejudices and even long term grudges against certain players. Though he didn't mention you specifically, he might as well have. You are the kind of player that riles referees by simply existing. You wear your heart on your sleeve and are not afraid to react to what is really going on. That is strike one and two. Strike three is that you are not a superstar.

In fact you are the antithesis to the NBA's beloved cash machines. You have not made the all-star team and are not going to. For all the talk that Kobe is "hard", he still plays the game within the game. He is confrontational up to a certain point, and then he toes the company line. He grimaces, but only when it is socially acceptable to do so. He compliments other players and doesn't complain to refs too much. Did you see "Kobe Doin Work"? That might as well have been called "Kobe Saying ‘Good Job' to Everybody". As a result, he goes to the line like 50 times in one night.

But you, Stephen Jackson, are not a politician. You are an anthropomorphic earthquake. You do not play to the script that the NBA is trying to write. Some scold you for fouling too often, or too severely. However if you were to scratch your nose you could realistically get called for a foul. The refs just don't like you dude, but that is cool. Because the Spurs do. Those aforementioned superstars might be better players, but then there come the moments when you are the best player on the floor.

Tim Duncan is unquestionably the leader of the Spurs. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are the vice chancellors. However, you are the spiritual leader. You say what everyone is thinking, and when things get tense people look to Captain Jack for guidance. So keep doing what you do, Stephen Jackson. We are fortunate to be able to continue watching you play for the Spurs.


Wes Thorne