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Stephen Jackson, Greatest Player Of All Time, Apparently: 10 days of FTE Continues

Apr 14, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Stephen Jackson (3) drives the lane against the Phoenix Suns during the first half at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE
Apr 14, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Stephen Jackson (3) drives the lane against the Phoenix Suns during the first half at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE

On the 6th day of SpurLakers, my dear friend gave to me: The history behind the strangest Spur of all

After spending most of the season bemoaning the schedule-makers' decision to place all of the Spurs vs Lakers games into a tiny window during mid-April, J.R. Wilco of PoundingtheRock and I decided that instead of an epic series of posts leading up to the three games, we'd instead turn the 10 days themselves into an event.

Witness (with all due respect to Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack) the 10 days of SpurLakers.Today is day six, and every day through the final regular season meeting between San Antonio and Los Angeles on Friday the 20th, you'll be treated to another exchange between the two of us. Here's Saturday's precursor, in case you missed it, and remember, tomorrow's ditty will only be available on PTR, so don't be a stranger.

J.R. Wilco:

First, I want to say one more thing about garbage time before I move on. I understand what you're saying as far as getting to know and evaluating the end of the bench during garbage time and how that keeps it from being boring to you. I am not blind to those opportunities. But more than anything else, when I watch basketball, I want to see beautiful basketball. And getting a first look at whomever happens to be riding the end of the pine at the time of whatever blowout is happening, well that just pales in comparison to seeing a gorgeous backdoor cut and a perfectly led pass that ends in an easy bucket that happens just in time for the defense turn their heads to see what's going on. So I know where you're at with normal garbage time, but it just doesn't have as large of an impact on me. I would much rather see those guys in a close game that's being competed vigorously by both sides while the regular rotation players are still on the court. I think that's a better test of what they're capable of, and fortunately Pop has a tendency, at least in this season, to rest his best players. So there are plenty of opportunities to see the bench guys in real-game situations.

Now I had no idea that there was such a huge disparity in the number of blowouts that the Spurs and Lakers had been involved in. 24 games in which the Spurs won by more than 10 points, and before the recent blowout LA enjoyed over San Antonio they were still in single-digits? I'm stunned. It really does say something about the way teams win, that the Spurs and Lakers are so close together both in seeding and record but have such a massive difference in the way that they're finishing their games. I mean, it's not like San Antonio doesn't ever lose a lead, but they certainly haven't lost seven in a row and yet somehow managed to pull out the win after all. That's kind of impressive actually, when you think about it.

But it also has to say something about the mindset of the team as well, and that brings me to Mike Brown. Now we all know that his tenure in Cleveland didn't go as well as he would've hoped or end in quite the way he would've liked, but he certainly found himself a spot on another high-profile team and regardless of what you think of his performance so far, that does say something about his ability to interview if nothing else. Now I'm pretty sure you're not a massive Mike Brown fan, but what I don't know is WHY you don't care for him. Do you mind elucidating you position on Mr. Brown?


Frankly, I'm shocked its taken so long for the conversation to drift over to good ole' Mikey Brown, but since we've waited this long, we can wait a little longer. After all, this back and forth is going back and forth between our two fine blogs, and the next round is heading towards my half of the stage, and I'm fairly certain they don't need to hear about my, and by my I mean our, issues with Mike Brown. The Lakers fan is well versed in all the many reasons why Mike Brown was an interesting, and when you get down to it, frustrating, choice as head coach.

Now that I've violated the fourth wall of this little exchange and thrown a curve ball at the same time, let's re-direct our little exchange towards a man that can never be talked about enough ... how does it feel to be re-united with Captain Jack? I have a pretty distinct memory of watching the Spurs and Lakers do their annual playoff battle circa 2003, and having not quite developed the level of hoops junkyism I have now, I wasn't really all that knowledgeable about what the Spurs had done specifically that year. And, having a few years experience with Lakers championships at the time, I fully expected another closely contested and ultimately fruitful playoff victory. I remember watching these games and seeing a guy on the Spurs that didn't seem to fit the mold. The Spurs of that era were filled with upstanding individuals like Duncan and Parker and (the unknown) Ginobli, David Robinson was still doing his thing, and you had a roster full of guys like Bruce Bowen, Steve Kerr, Malik Rose ... they were all different players, but they were all pretty similar, pretty clean cut. And then there was this other guy who ... how can I say this ... screw it, there's no good way to do it, so apologies in advance if this offends anyone, but ... this other guy looked like a homeless person. I saw him and (pardon my french) I'm like who the fuck is this guy, in that kind of dismissive way that you might think about some weird dude at a bar. And then I watched him play and I'm like WHO THE FUCK IS THIS GUY? He wasn't even that good in the series, but his game was so unique that I remember to this day the first time he caught my attention.

We've been over before how the Spurs personnel department has a knack for finding diamonds in the rough, with late draft picks and role players and the like, but I can not ever remember, before or since, them finding a diamond who was so rough. Any insight at all into how that happened? Are you excited that he's back? I've heard more than once that the Spurs who rolled with him in 2003 consider him an incredible teammate, is that how the fanbase feels about him as well? Because trading Stephen Jackson for Richard Jefferson and a 1st round pick was one of the first times I've been flummoxed by a Spurs personnel move in recent memory.

J.R. Wilco:

Ahh, the Stephen Jackson discussion. Now it's MY turn to reply to you with a link-heavy reply.

First we have the optimistic, Stephen Jackson, Greatest Player of All Time, Triumphantly Returns to San Antonio, and the not-so-positive, RJ for SJ: A Negative Trade Reaction Post, and then both sides together, The Stephen Jackson Trade: Pro vs Con. As you'd expect, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's SO much more in the icy waters underneath.

Suffice to say: not only is the the jury still out, but they're sequestered at a cheap motel on the outskirts of town, and can't even agree on what they're ordering for lunch. And since I've gone metaphor-heavy today, I must say that I really liked your "diamond so rough" for Captain Jack. It quite suits him, and is a much easier image to deal with than your first hobo-based attempt. I'm not saying that the first one wasn't somewhat accurate; just that the second is far more palatable.

Since there just isn't a real consensus, I'll give you my take on the trade. SJax for RJ2.0 was at its core, addition by subtraction. It allowed Pop to start Kawhi Leonard (whom I love more with every passing day) without crushing the confidence of a key player on his roster. Also, for every 3-4 minutes of time on the court, Jackson makes a play that RJ would never have been able to make. He's the quintessential irrational confidence guy, and when you have a coach who's in complete control of his locker room, it's always preferable to play one of those guys over someone you're constantly hoping will step up and seize the day.

Jackson isn't quite the outside shooter that RJ had turned himself into, but he's an upgrade in nearly every other way: toughness, defense, constantly finding different ways to contribute, and making an impact in one way or another. Essentially, he doesn't have the kind of games like RJ so often did, where he just disappeared on both sides of the floor. As to the negatives, I trust Pop to pull him if he's playing too me-first, and that's really all that concerns me on the downside.

The bottom line is that as long as he's bringing something positive, the deal will be a net positive. If he starts self-destructing, then we've gained both financially (or Peter Holt has saved, if you prefer) and for the future, since Leonard's extra time on the court will only serve to aid his development as the season wears on. Everything else is still up in the air and we'll have to see how he performs in the postseason. But as for now, all of the nay-sayers are really just the ones who are hoping that it doesn't come back to bite us in the end. And those who are pro-trade, are the ones who are more ready to celebrate StackJack's acheivements, while downplaying any bad plays he makes.

To be continued tomorrow on Pounding the Rock

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