The Spurs have long been regarded as a model franchise for their professionalism. They have a no-nonsense coach in Gregg Popovich. They allow their coach to actually do his job. They carefully select players who allow this to happen.
With stars like Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, there isn't a lot of whining or complaining going on in San Antonio. It's refreshing, really.
The Spurs also own the draft. They've got a way of unearthing gems that others didn't see potential in as well as knowing how to polish those players that wouldn't fit elsewhere.
The Spurs are calculated and measured, patient in a league of teams that thrive (and sometimes crash and burn) on splashy moves and trigger-happy GMs.
The Spurs just traded for Stephen Jackson and they are really happy about it.
Yes, San Antonio is welcoming back the wildly bold, colourful and often unpredictable Jackson into the mix.
While many forget that Jackson, in his short time with the Spurs, was a part of the 2002-2003 championship squad, Jackson not only left with a ring, he left having made a strong impression on his teammates.
A decade later, Jackson's game has been tempered, but not even father time could temper, well, Jackson himself.
That's just fine with the Spurs, who feel that his sting is exactly what their team needs. Tim Duncan spoke to Mike Monroe of MySanAntonio.com on the boost he believes Jackson will bring:
“He’s a little rough around the edges but that’s the kind of edge that we like and we’re going to need,” Duncan said. “That’s an aspect we’re going to want from him. Pop’s going to have to rein it in at some point and talk to him and change a couple things that he does. But all in all, that’s the kind of edge that we want from him.”
Duncan is right. Popovich will need to rein in Jackson. He might be the only coach Jackson has had during his 12-year career who has challenged him in a way that has earned Jackson's full respect and admiration.
Popovich spoke to NBA.com about Jackson in 2009:
With Jack, when you really know the guy, you know how good a heart he has and you know what kind of a competitor he is, even though, emotionally, he might go over the line from time to time and you've got to bring him back.
There are NBA players who appear to be neatly-wrapped packages, doing exactly what you want them to do on the basketball floor and representing your organization just as you wish when they are off of it. Stephen Jackson is not one of these players, but this doesn't mean he isn't going to help your team.
Popovich has the type of relationship and history with Jackson that has allowed him to see the good, understand the not-so good and work with him through the bad for a greater good. This is key when it comes to Jackson's return to the Spurs' locker room.
Parker summed up why Jackson worked so well for San Antonio during his two seasons with the team:
“He was crazy, but it was a good crazy with us,” Parker said. “He’s the type of player who will do stuff to change the course of a game. He will hit a big shot, make a big play. Defensively, he was good, too. I think he’s going to help us.”
Most teams need a little crazy. The key is funneling that crazy into something positive and injecting it in the proper circumstances.
Jackson hasn't forgotten that it was with the Spurs where he really cut his teeth as a professional. He also hasn't forgotten that while they believed in him once, now, 10 years later and despite his own personal and professional ups and downs, they believe in him still.
That's not something that he will take lightly. As we all learned that infamous night at the Palace, when Jackson is on the same page as you, he will go to war with you. Loyalty is a big thing for him. Perhaps the biggest thing.
If there is a place that makes sense to Jackson, it's San Antonio.