Back in black: Spurs fired up for Stephen Jackson's return

Back in black: Spurs fired up for Stephen Jackson's return

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan (R) and Stephen Jackson (R) embrace as New Jersey Nets' Jason Kidd walks past late in the fourth quarter of the their NBA Finals game 15 June 2003 in San Antonio, TX. The Spurs won the game 88-77 to win the series 4-2. AFP PHOTO/Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)


by David Flores / KENS 5

Posted on March 16, 2012 at 9:03 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 11 at 8:17 AM

The Spurs on Thursday traded small forward Richard Jefferson, point guard T.J. Ford and a protected 2012 first-round draft pick to the Golden State Warriors for small forward Stephen Jackson.

Jackson, who turns 34 on April 5, played with the Spurs for two seasons, from 2001-03, and was a member of the franchise's 2003 NBA championship team.

Golden State had just acquired Jackson and center Andrew Bogut from Milwaukee in a trade Tuesday.

Rookie Kawhi Leonard, who scored 12 points and pulled down six rebounds in the Spurs' 122-111 victory against Orlando on Wednesday, is expected to start at small forward against Oklahoma City on Friday night.

"We're excited about bringing Stephen Jackson back to San Antonio," Spurs general manager R.C. Buford told reporters Thursday night at the team's practice facility. "He was a big part of our 2003 championship season, and he's always had a great relationship with some of our players, our coach and our organization."

While Jackson's loud mouth and swagger clashed with the Spurs' buttoned-down image in his frst stint with the team, Tim Duncan called him "the ultimate teammate."

Jackson also meshed well with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, and earned the respect of Coach Gregg Popovich with his toughness and competitive ferocity.

"Stephen's spirit has always been a very impactful part of his presence," Buford said. "Stephen has been a prolific scorer at times in his career, and that always can be useful, especially in a playoff series."

Jackson, who was born in Houston and grew up in Port Arthur, averaged 10.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 26 games with the Bucks before getting traded to Golden State.

Drafted in the second round by Phoenix in 1997, Jackson played in the CBA and overseas for three seasons before making the New Jersey Nets' roster in 2000. He signed with the Spurs after playing one season with the Nets. 

Jackson started every Spurs playoff game in 2003

Jackson, 6-foot-8 and 220 pounds, quickly impressed Spurs coaches with his tenacity and enthusiasm. He averaged 11.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his second season with the Spurs in 2002-2003, when the team won its second NBA title. 

Jackson started all 24 of the Spurs' playoff games in 2003, averaging 12.8 points and 4.1 rebounds. San Antonio beat the Nets in the NBA Finals, taking the best-of-7 series 4-1. Jefferson was a starter for New Jersey that season.

In two seasons with the Spurs, Jackson averaged 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.36 steals.  

Jackson was in his first season with the Indiana Pacers in 2004 when he made national headlines for his role in an infamous brawl during a road game against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 19, 2004. Jackson drew a 30-game suspension for going into the stands and brawling with Pistons fans.

"Stephen is always going to be a fiery spirit," Buford said. "I think that he's obviously a different person than he was when he was here. I don't know that you know how that will fit until you get him back. But he and Pop and Tim have talked, and I think they're able to communicate at a level that we feel that they'll work well together."

Jefferson, 31, was in his third season with the Spurs after the Milwaukee Bucks traded him to San Antonio for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto in June 2009. The trade was hailed as a blockbuster deal for San Antonio, but Jefferson struggled to live up to the high expectations.

Although Jefferson started every game for the Spurs (28-13) this season, he averaged career-lows in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals and field-goal percentage. He averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in his 41 games with the Spurs this season.

Buford described Jefferson as a "very positive person" who built strong relationships within the team and the San Antonio community.

"It's never easy when changes are made like this," Buford said.

After completing a seven-game homestand with the victory against the Magic on Wednesday night, the Spurs play road games on back-to-back nights against Oklahoma City and Dallas.

Friday night's game against the Thunder tips off at 8:30 p.m., and the clash against the Mavericks on Saturday starts at 8 p.m.