Stephen Jackson Refuses to Play Popovich's 'Mind Games,' Says He 'Got My Money'

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 03: Stephen Jackson #3 of the San Antonio Spurs leaves the court after being injured in the first quarter in the game against the New York Knicks  at Madison Square Garden on January 3, 2013 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Knicks defeated the Spurs 100-83. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Stephen Jackson may have closed out the NBA season without a team, but he can still make it rain.

The oft-conflicted shooting guard was released from the San Antonio Spurs back in April. Refusal to accept a diminished role and submit to Gregg Popovich's will left him unemployed. 

It also left him flying commercial.

Jackson touched down in Miami about the same time San Antonio did, albeit for different reasons. Tim Duncan and the Spurs are preparing to make their fourth finals appearance in 11 years; Jackson just wants to have "fun."

Upon his arrival, Jackson was asked if he had any regrets about how things turned out with the Spurs. Had he still been a part of the team, he wouldn't have flown commercial. He'd have been on a charter, next to Duncan, preparing to play on the NBA's biggest stage.

None of that matters to him. Or rather, it hasn't resonated with him. All he cares about is getting paid.

“Nope,” he said of his abrupt departure from San Antonio (via Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News). "Got my money."

Forget about his career or the opportunity to win his second NBA title. Money mattered more to him.

That, and he didn't want to give Coach Pop the satisfaction of being right.

Part of Jackson's departure was performance related. He was shooting just 37.3 percent from the field during limited playing time and the fire he played with on the defensive end had extinguished.

Mostly, his release had to do with Pop. Jackson wouldn't play his "mind games." By "mind games," Jackson of course means he wouldn't surrender to the truth.

“I would never say a player is better than me when I know their (sic) not," Jackson posted on Instagram after being released. "Not for no one. #uandiknowwhatsgoingon,” he added.

Jackson was referencing Danny Green and Manu Ginobili. Coach Pop insisted that Jack admit they were better than him. And why? Because they were. 

Pride can be a dangerous thing. Ask Jackson. An absence of humility left him where he is now.

Not that you want an NBA player to accept certain others are better. You'd rather see them work hard and put in the time to actualize what they believe. Jackson didn't.

“I wouldn't want me on the team, either," he said.

Entitlement cost Jackson his job. Thankfully, it didn't cost him his money. That would have been almost as tragic as his distorted sense of reality.