Stephen Jackson Rips 'Spoiled' NBA Players Who Don't Have 'Love for the Game'

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2019

San Antonio Spurs' Stephen Jackson (3) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, in San Antonio, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

As the modern NBA player seems to become more empowered with each passing day, former players like Stephen Jackson are taking exception to the current state of the league.

"I love the fact that players have control of where they want to play," Jackson said Thursday, according to ESPN's Nick Friedell. "But at the same time, guys got to be professional, too. I would be the first to say these guys these days, they're spoiled. A lot of them are spoiled.

"And I was talking to a Hall of Fame football coach and he said one thing he sees about basketball from the outside looking in, more players today are interested in what the game can do for them. They don't actually love the game like we did. I'm 41 years old and I still play the game every day. And I can see that the love for the game is not there, but I'm happy that we had a hand in for these kids to be able to get the money that they're making and the game is going I'm happy [about] that, but at the same time they got to be professional and continue to show fans that they love the game too because it can get away from that."

Jackson's critical comments come on the heels of a number of high-profile trade requests over the past calendar year. Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Anthony Davis have all requested trades since the end of last season. Leonard (San Antonio to Toronto) and Butler (Minnesota to Philadelphia) have already been moved, while New Orleans explored Davis' market at the trade deadline before deciding to hold onto the star until at least the summer.

And of course, it was less than two years ago that both Kyrie Irving (Cleveland to Boston) and Paul George (Indiana to Oklahoma City) each asked out as well.

Jackson is not the only former player to be rubbed the wrong way by the modern NBA, either. 

"We've seen it with Kawhi [Leonard], we've seen it with Paul George; Carmelo [Anthony] did it with Denver," Hall of Famer Grant Hill told Bleacher Report's Ken Berger recently. "The school of thought used to be, 'Well, I'll wait until I'm a free agent and then I'll make a decision.' Now, with the players understanding their power—and also teams not wanting to be left holding the bag—it's more acceptable. I don't know if it's good or bad. I think maybe it's good for the player, but I think it also puts the team in a tough spot."

San Antonio Spurs legend David Robinson also spoke out about the recent trend, saying it's "disappointing" that players would rather move to a big market than stick with a team and build something special there.

More than any other professional sports league in the United States, the NBA is a star-driven league. As a result, players are doing whatever they can to put themselves in the best position possible, whether it be from a financial standpoint or in terms of their legacy.

And with salaries continuing to grow, don't expect the players' power to diminish anytime soon.

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