Jim Jackson Gives Me the Creeps

It's not personal. I've never had any meaningful interaction with him.

I've never really had a good explanation for why the Suns' guard gives me the willies.

The new ESPN magazine (I'd be linking to it here but their online presence is one stale enchilada--it's the one with Manu Ginobili on the cover if you actually have the energy to go out and buy the thing) sheds some light, thanks to a great Bruce Feldman profile of Jim Jackson. It includes first-hand input from a fair chunk of the 15 coaches and 176 players he has played for and with in his quirky 13-year, 11-team career.

Shocker number one is this: everyone raves about him. Rex Walters says he's "one of the five smartest players I've ever been around. And a good guy." John Calipari says "I absolutely loved him, and when I had to trade him I just about cried." Jason Terry says "I was his rookie. I watched how he prepared for every game as a business work-day. He was our best-dressed guy and always punctual."

They go and on.

So why all the team-hopping?The key, I think, is in Jim Jackson's own quote: "I've told GMs I'm not your average basketball player. I stand for principles. Like when I held out in Dallas."

See, we all love principles, right? But it's not principles when you more than once in your career thumb your nose at the people who want to give you the millions to run around in short trousers playing a child's game.

Can you get over his refusing to report to New Orleans this year? (It kills me that the Suns rewarded him for that stunt with a free pass to basketball nirvana.)

That's being a jerk. And when you're a jerk and you call it being principled, well in my book that's about five notches lower, down somewhere around ass and toad.

If you want to know what principles are like, Mr. Jim Jackson, check out what your would-have-been New Orleans teammate P.J. Brown has to say. "I understand his anger and disappointment about being traded here... It was tough for me, too, but I think if you sign a contract, being traded is one of the prices you pay for making the money you make. I think you have to deal with it and be as professional as you can."

My bet is that he's just not the kind of guy people people cotton to very easily, and they don't like hanging around him. And while he's good, he's not so good you can't replace him. So around and around the league he goes--just sure none of it is his fault, and getting more self-righteous by the minute.