Back in 2003, one of the lasting memories of the San Antonio Spurs' march to the NBA crown was seeing the fire and passion from Stephen Jackson. Then he was a young buck, brash, vocal on the court (and on the bench) and ready to take a clutch shot since we all know he like to make "love" to pressure.
But as soon as the season was over, Jackson left the Spurs and went on to play for the Hawks and several other teams before coming full circle and returning to San Antonio last season.
Except this time he was the older, wiser NBA veteran who still showed he is willing to take the pressure-shot and give the team that needed injection of passion on the court.
Reunited with his former teammates and head coach Gregg Popovich, Jackson was ecstatic to return to where he won a title, and learned what it takes to be a true winner. And though the business side of the NBA took him from the Spurs after the '03 season, he is beyond happy to be playing once again in the Alamo City.
It was a blessing. When I left (in 2003) it was kind of sour because we had just won a championship and I wanted to go back. But the contract and business part didn't work. But going back this time was extra sweet to be back with the team I won a championship.
And who can blame Jackson? He went on to play with mainly losing teams since departing San Antonio such as the Bobcats. Though he was part of that fantastic Warriors team that upset the top-seeded Mavericks as the 8th seed in the playoffs.
However, now he is back with a winning organization, one that prides itself on professionalism on and off the court, and bringing your best effort for four quarters a game.
Heading into next season, he will surely be a bigger cog for the team as he will have a full training camp and season to gel with the team. Something Spurs fans cannot wait to see.
But though he is extremely happy to be back with the Spurs, Jackson is realistic. He would love nothing else but to retire a Spur but is aware of the business side of the league and how it still may rip him from the team.
I don't know. If things work out in San Antonio I wouldn't mind finishing my career there. But you know it's a business and I'm one of those guys that doesn't mind going to play somewhere else. I've been on seven different teams.
Barring any major development, it is safe to say Jackson will be in San Antonio for some time. Next season will be a contract-season for him (he will be a free agent next offseason) but if there is one thing that is for sure, he will have more than enough fire in him to make a strong case for the Spurs to extend his contract.
The 34-year old player averaged 8.9 points, 1.3 steals, 2 assists, and 3.9 rebounds in 21 regular season games for the Spurs last season while averaging 8.3 points and 1.7 assists in 14 playoff games.
Granted he isn't a spring chicken anymore, but as mentioned before, a full training camp and a full season should allow Jackson to produce more for the Spurs next season which may help him retire a Spur one day.
What do you think Spurs fans? Should the Spurs extend his contract or are you taking a wait and see approach?