Jackson, Bryant Maintain Their Cool
By Marcus Thompson II, San Jose Mercury News
ONTARIO, Calif. -- No, Warriors swingman Stephen Jackson and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant didn't brawl at half court.
Jackson's publicly expressed lack of admiration for Bryant, whom he said plays dirty, might have led some to think something would escalate Tuesday night at the Citizens Business Bank Arena. Things were certainly competitive between the two, but the only drama was the lack of communication.
"I'm a competitor, and who better to compete against than Kobe?" Jackson said after the Lakers' 113-107 exhibition victory. "Neither one of us said anything to each other. It would never get off the court, because we aren't going to see each other off the court. So I think the best thing for us since neither one of us wanted to give away any money was to go out there and play hard and let the referees control the game."
This entire situation did, however, give Jackson a platform to prove to his teammates that he's all in. The resigned captain showed that he is still the Warriors' emotional leader despite his desire to be traded and recent comments about the lack of support from coaches and teammates.
Jackson's willingness to lock horns with Bryant (arguably the greatest player in the world), his ability to keep his composure and his relatively controlled performance left members of the locker room saying I told you so.
"Inside our house, we know how he's been competing and playing, how he's been taking care of himself and not losing his cool," said assistant coach Keith Smart, who is serving as head coach while Don Nelson tends to a family matter. "This was a game where he could've easily done that, but he was thinking about the team."
"That's him," guard C.J. Watson said. "I don't expect anything less from him. We've got to ride with him. ... Everybody should be that way, not going to back down from anybody. If more of us were (like that), we'd be a better team."
From the outset, Jackson and Bryant were locked in a heated matchup. They exchanged emotionless pats before the game, with no eye contact and no words.