Bobcats' Jackson won't change despite technicals
At the end of a shootaround last week, Charlotte owner Michael Jordan yelled across the floor lamenting about how his Bobcats often play a man down when guard Stephen Jackson gets preoccupied with the officials.
An exasperated coach Paul Silas said Sunday all he can do is take his top scorer out of the game when he starts mouthing off. And as Jackson keeps piling up the technical fouls, he's losing not only significant money, he's also approaching an automatic one-game suspension.
But for Jackson, it's about right and wrong, fairness and not losing his emotional edge.
Don't expect a calmer Captain Jack anytime soon.
''No, I get techs because I want to. I don't care,'' Jackson said Sunday. ''I'm not getting techs for no reason. It happens.''
When the NBA announced it was cracking down on player behavior this season, Jackson appeared to be one of the targets. Jackson played a starring role in a video distributed to teams showing demonstrative actions that would result in technical fouls.
Jackson also feels his past - he served a lengthy suspension for his role in the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl in 2004 and has had other run-ins - is a significant factor in how he's treated.
''My reputation is the main reason why a lot of things don't go my way on the court,'' Jackson said. ''I can't really pout about it and complain about it. I know I put myself in those situations. I went in the stands. I had those incidents off the court and I've got to be responsible for them. I just have to be professional and try to get through it.''
It's not going very well.
The volatile Jackson has lost $172,000 this season thanks to 11 technicals, a one-game suspension without pay following an ejection and a separate $50,000 fine for verbally abusing a referee. A little over a month after sending a letter of apology to Bobcats season-ticket holders for his behavior, Jackson is quickly collecting technicals again.
The one he picked up in Saturday's loss to Dallas leaves him five short of 16, which results in a one-game ban. Only New York's Amare Stoudemire and Orlando's Dwight Howard, with 14 each, have more technical fouls.
''Obviously, I don't want to be suspended and miss a game, but I'm out there trying to win,'' Jackson said. ''I'm going to go out there and be me. If me speaking my mind gets me a tech, hey.''
Silas is the latest coach to try - and fail - to corral Jackson, who is averaging 18.9 points and is Charlotte's top scoring option. Jackson had 13 technicals last season while playing under Larry Brown.
''Normally, I just take him out and try to cool off and them put him back (in),'' Silas said. ''He's an important part of the team and without him we're not nearly as good. But when he gets into the referees, that's not good.''
But it's not as simple as Jackson being a hothead. His game is fueled by his emotion and teammates are quick to rally to his side.
''Jack is real passionate about the game,'' center Nazr Mohammed said. ''He's one of the elite players in this league and when he feels like he's not being treated like some of the elite players in this league, it frustrates him and he gets technicals sometimes.
''He feels like he's been done wrong so he acts out. There's nothing you can really do about that except support him and try to calm him down.''
But it's also clear Jackson's focus leaves him sometimes when he loses his cool. When referees Eli Roe and Steve Javie were paired in a game last month against Atlanta - the officials were in the middle of his one-game suspension and his $50,000 fine - Jackson was constantly complaining. Roe hit him with another technical, Jackson missed 11 of 14 shots and the Hawks cruised to an easy win.
''In the heat of battle a lot of things happen that he can't control it seems,'' Silas said. ''My only alternative is to take him out.''
But with the Bobcats (21-29) on a two-game losing streak to fall a game behind Indiana in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, they need Jackson on the floor and not serving a suspension like he did two years ago in Golden State for too many technicals.
''You just cant afford to let that happen,'' Silas said.
Jackson doesn't appear set for a personality change anytime soon. As he left the practice court Sunday preparing to watch the Super Bowl, he said he was rooting for Pittsburgh because he's drawn to much-fined Steelers linebacker James Harrison.
''I'm really pulling for Harrison,'' Jackson said. ''I like the way he plays the game, the way he respects the game and doesn't care what the commissioner has to say to him.''