SJax glad he didn’t disturb fond memories
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Posted by Camelot on 2012-04-16 11:22:53
OAKLAND, Calif. — It probably is overkill to suggest Stephen Jackson left his heart in San Francisco. Or even in Oakland.
Still, Jackson insists — despite everything you might have heard or read — he harbors nothing but fond feelings for the place.
“We did some great things out there,” Jackson said of the parts of four seasons spent with Golden State. “I’ve got no bad blood.”
When the 6-foot-8 small forward returns to Oracle Arena tonight, with a Spurs team contending for the Western Conference’s top seed, it will be interesting to see if the Bay Area returns the love.
It was amid a cloud of acrimony that Jackson left the Warriors in November 2009, traded to Charlotte in a deal that represented little more than a salary dump.
When the Warriors reacquired Jackson’s rights last month, in a swap with Milwaukee that brought back center Andrew Bogut as the prize, he was outspoken in his desire not to return to Oakland.
“The team is different,” the 34-year-old Jackson said. “Nothing against (new coach) Mark Jackson, but Don Nelson wasn’t there. The guys I had made history with weren’t there. They were going young.”
Jackson would prefer not to disturb his lasting memories of Golden State, which he says remain more sweet than bitter.
The highlight came in the 2007 playoffs when — with Jackson a midseason addition from Indiana — the Warriors broke a 12-year postseason sabbatical, then stunned top-seeded Dallas in the first round.
That Golden State team was the only No. 8 seed in the best-of-7 era to advance to the second round until last season, when Memphis did it at the Spurs’ expense.
“We made history,” Jackson said. “Nobody expected us to win. It was big.”
Aside from winning an NBA championship with the Spurs in 2003, Jackson counts that takedown of Dallas as his career’s greatest achievement.
A little more than a year later, Jackson signed a three-year, $28 million extension, establishing himself as a key brick in the Warriors’ long-term plans.
The good vibes proved fleeting.
The ink was barely dry on his signature when Jackson found himself dealt to Charlotte for scraps, amid reports he had worn out his welcome in Oakland.
So much time has passed since, and so much water has flowed under that Bay Bridge.
Most of the friends Jackson made there — including Al Harrington and Monta Ellis, who stood in his wedding — also have moved on.
Ellis, in fact, was included in the March 13 deal that brought Bogut from Milwaukee. Included in that trade, mostly to make the salaries match, was Jackson.
Despite his history, Jackson did not want to return to Golden State.
“I didn’t want to be part of a rebuilding process,” Jackson said. “It was better for me to go somewhere else, and be on a playoff team.”
As if to make Jackson’s case for him, the Warriors have lost 15 of 19 since trading Ellis and have tumbled hard from the playoff chase.
On March 15, Jackson was in the Minneapolis airport, a stopover in his unwanted journey from Milwaukee to Oakland, when he got the call.
The Spurs had rescued him.
Jackson returned to the Spurs — where he spent two seasons early in his career — in a deal that sent Richard Jefferson to the Warriors instead.
During the first 14 games of his second tour with the Spurs, Jackson has averaged 8.3 points and four rebounds off the bench, shooting 38.6 percent.
After sitting out his final 13 games in Milwaukee, Jackson admits he has struggled to rediscover his legs in San Antonio.
“He’s like in training camp right now,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He sat on his duff for a very long time. His body is feeling it.”
Having been a part of something great that quickly came unraveled in Oakland, Jackson has come to covet the stability of an organization like the Spurs.
The same players throwing him passes in 2003 — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — are the same ones throwing him passes now. Popovich is still the coach.
Now, as it was then, the Spurs are in the thick of the title hunt.
“It shows in the winning percentage,” Jackson said. “They kept the core together, and they’ve been able to win and win championships over the years. That recipe definitely works.”
Comfortable in his workplace once again, maybe for the first time since first landing in Oakland, Jackson is happy to be a part of that recipe again.
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