It is popular to say that basketball is a sanctuary, and whether you’ve played in the NBA finals or you’ve merely tickled the chain links by yourself after sundown, you can relate to the sentiment.
But not many understand what that must now mean to Stephen Jackson. The veteran San Antonio Spurs guard returned Thursday night after taking 10 days away from the team. He and his wife, Renatta, recently lost their unborn son.
He was the couple’s first child.
“I’m as good as I can be,” Jackson told the San Antonio Express-News before Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. “I’m happy to be back with the team. I need to be back with the team, just for my own sanity. Basketball and being around these guys helps me a lot, so it’s definitely something I needed.”
Jackson and the Spurs kept the reason for his absence private, though anybody who follows the NBA knew it had to be something serious. Jackson was out for personal reasons during a key stretch on the road, and Jackson is not the kind of guy that misses time.
Jackson said he appreciated the support from the team — Tim Duncan called every day to check on him — and coach Gregg Popovich.
“My wife is not doing too well, so I’m happy I had a coach like Pop who gave me the time to be with her,” Jackson said. “In order for me to help her I also have to help myself because this was a baby we were definitely looking forward to having. Being back with the team hopefully is going to help me be able to help my wife even more.”
Jackson, who comes off the bench, went 2-for-6 and scored five points in his first game back, a blowout win over the Clippers.