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Spurs By the Numbers- The story of Stephen Jackson launches jersey #3

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What might have been if the 2003 NBA Championship wasn’t Cap’n Jack’s only highlight in San Antonio.

San Antonio Spurs v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

When I joined Pounding The Rock, I pitched a project that would cover every player who ever wore a Spurs jersey. Not equally, by any means, but each jersey would be identified numerically by the players who wore it.

There is a significance to the numbers of jerseys as it pertains to the five NBA Championships that have been won by the San Antonio Spurs.

There is only one jersey number associated with all five San Antonio Spurs NBA Championships- #21. Tim Duncan. He is coincidentally also the only player to be involved in all five titles.

There are five numbers associated with four Spurs titles. #9 (Tony Parker) and #20 Manu Ginobili, as well as #2 (Jaren Jackson-1999, Nazr Mohammed- 2005, Melvin Ely- 2007, and Kawhi Leonard- 2014), #4 (Steve Kerr- 1999, Sean Marks- 2005, Michael Finley- 2007, and Danny Green- 2014), and #11 (Brandon Williams- 1999, Mike Wilks- 2005, Jacque Vaughn- 2007, Jeff Ayers- 2014).

The next set of jersey numbers are those associated with three of the Spurs NBA titles.

Those numbers are 3, 5, 8, 12, 17, and 33.

A lot of players wore #3, but before we delve into the history, let’s kick it off with Stephen Jackson.

San Antonio Spurs v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Cap’n Jack might be the perfect player to start with when taking an extended look at the man who won titles with the Spurs. He has a strange career in comparison to some past Silver & Black members, but there are some similarities. For one, his time was short, a common thread outside of the Big 3. But unlike most players who have passed through the Alamo City, Stephen Jackson keeps popping up.

Jackson played two stints with the Spurs, the first from 2001-2003 when he played a strong role in the Spurs 2003 title run and a second two-year tenure from 2011-2013 when he appears to be the consolation prize in ridding San Antonio of the failed Richard Jefferson venture.

Although Stephen Jackson had been drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1997, he did not see playing time until joining the New Jersey Nets in 2000. After his rookie season, he signed with the Spurs where he had a truncated second year due to injuries.

He saw vast improvement in the 2002-2003 season where he started fifty-eight of his eighty regular season games alongside Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Bruce Bowen and Tony Parker. He averaged 11.8 points per game during the regular season and kicking that up to 12.8 during the postseason.

Tim Duncan referred to Jackson during this time as “the ultimate teammate” for his attitude on and off the court. Jackson has responded respectfully as well.

After the 2003 NBA Championship, Jackson looked to cash in and rejected the Spurs offer, eventually landing in Atlanta. He stayed for one year before being traded to Indiana in what would become a pattern of moves throughout his career.

It was in his first season with the Pacers that Jackson was involved in the infamous Malice in the Palace.

Jackson was suspended for 30 games without pay and was also put on probation for a year, fined $250, and ordered to undergo anger management classes along with community service. His legal troubles continued during his time with Indiana and he was eventually traded to the Golden State Warriors in 2007.

Two partial seasons and two full seasons in Oakland before Jackson was traded to Charlotte. After failing to lead the Bobcats into the postseason, he was traded to Milwaukee where he suffered injury and public disagreements with head coach Scott Skiles.

Jackson was traded back to Golden State but did not play a game before seeing himself sent back to San Antonio as part of the trade that sent Richard Jefferson to Golden State. Although he moved in a secondary role behing the emerging Kawhi Leonard, Cap’n Jack made his presence known in the postseason hitting six three-pointers against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the Spurs final game of the season.

Stephen’s role continued to diminish into the 2012-12 season and Jackson saw no postseason play as the Spurs waived him before the playoffs. Jackson stated that this was because Gregg Popovich wanted the aging player to state that Manu Ginobili and Danny Green were better than he.

Jackson played in nine more games for the Los Angeles Clippers before retiring in 2015.

On court highlights vs. some off court low points (he once threatened Serge Ibaka via Twitter), take him or leave him, Stephen Jackson is who he is. A few twists and turns aside, he might have a linger career with the Spurs.

What do you think? Should Stephen Jackson spent more years in San Antonio?


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