Friday, November 20, 2009

The Curious Case Of Stephen Jackson

Brad Pitt's one of those actors that I used to like who I now find incredibly irritating. Seriously, watching that guy act is like being forced to eat canned beets. What the fuck happened? He used to be pretty good, or at least I remember him being good in Se7en, Twelve Monkeys, Fight Club, Thelma and Louise. Anyway, my point is that I used to like Brad Pitt and now I don't.

I feel the same exact same way about Stephen Jackson.

When Jackson was a young player trying to make it in the league with New Jersey and San Antonio, I rooted for him. He'd already played in the CBA and for several clubs overseas. I admired his heart and determination. His 'former gang member does good' storyline was compelling, as well. When he won a ring with the Spurs, I was happy for him (or at least as happy as I can be seeing the Spurs win titles). Even though he was the team's third leading scorer in the playoffs, San Antonio didn't want him back and let him walk to the Hawks as a free agent.

He blossomed into an excellent player in Atlanta. The team thanked him by trading him to Indiana for Al Harrington.

Why all the movement? Because he was starting to develop a rep for being a headcase.

He played his best ball for the Pacers. The nucleus of Jermaine O'Neal, Ron Artest and Jax was imposing. And if you recall, Indy had the league's best record in 2004 and a sizable lead over defending champ Detroit on the road. Then Artest pushed Big Ben, precipitating The Malice At The Palace. Artest got most of the camera time but Jax was throwing haymakers at those fans, just knocking fools out left and right. Then he got into another melee at a strip club and got punched in the face and run over by a car.

Traded again, this time to Golden State. Again, he plays well, well enough that he winds up as team captain. The Warriors first round upset of Dallas in 2007 is legendary but in reality, that was a .500 team that barely made the post-season. It was a fluke. When they basically swapped Baron Davis for Cory Maggette (duh), the Dubs went from mediocre to lousy in a hurry.

Now a veteran (and a captain), Jax felt entitled for the first time in his entire career. He rebelled against the front office. He demanded a trade. He said he was as good as Kobe Bryant. Yes, he actually said that.

Talk about someone who doesn't handle success well. Geesh.

Traded to Charlotte for Raja Bell and Vlade Radmanovic. From the looks of things, it appears Larry Brown is handing over the reins to Jackson as team leader from the jump. In two games (both losses), he's led the team in minutes and turnovers.

I'd like to think Jax has one more surprise up his sleeve, that he could actually impress me again. Maybe not. Brad Pitt certainly hasn't. I wouldn't mind seeing 'em both retire.

Pictured: Jax explains the Guns For Jesus tat

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