February 4th, 2012
Dear Stephen Jackson,
Hi, Captain Jack. My name is Jacob Greenberg, and I live and work in Seattle, Washington. I am your biggest fan, and I hope this letter finds you well.
I know you're a busy man, so I'll get right to it: please don't do what I know you're about to do. I'm begging you. Be a professional, Captain Jack. Keep it together.
You see, I keep up with you, even though you left the Warriors, my pathetic team, long, long ago. This past week, it was noted that you had been suspended for a game after missing a team bus, then shouting at the refs after you got ejected from a game in Chicago last Friday. Since you did your time, you haven't been able to get back into Scott Skiles' rotation, logging only nine minutes over the last three contests. And in the few games before that, you hadn't been your typically deadly and efficient self, averaging only 7 points per game in almost 30 minutes -- starter's minutes. Clearly something was going on, and I didn't have to do too much research to figure out what was up. It's that thing that gets you so worked up, Captain Jack, that thing that causes you to act so erratically.
Your contract. Your contract, Stephen. It's always about your contract. There were reports shortly before the season started that you weren't happy that the Bucks hadn't contacted you about a contract extension, and that you only came onboard on Christmas Eve. Never mind the fact that you hadn't played a game with the Bucks, nor the fact that your contract isn't even up until 2013. You wanted an extension, and you held out of training camp. But, suddenly, thank godingly, you said on December 23 that you were over it, and you were going to be a professional, and not a distraction. However, when you say, "They know how I feel," over and over again, after logging zero minutes against Detroit this past Monday, well, that doesn't really make you sound like a professional. That makes you sound like someone who's thinking about either an extension, or a trade.
Now, before you get defensive with me, Stephen, I want you to look at your past history about this stuff. In 2002, after you had won the title with the Spurs, as the third leading scorer on a championship team, you turned down a three-year, $10 million contract extension with San Antonio, because you felt it was too low. Problem was, no one else had offered you a contract, except for a one-year, $2-million dollar deal with the Atlanta Hawks. So, with no other options, you left your championship team, for less money, and fewer guaranteed years. It worked out for you, in the end, when you put up career numbers (in a contract year) and got a six-year, $38.3 million dollar contract in a sign-and-trade with the Pacers. But, your pride truly is an amazing thing.
And when you get your money, things don't really settle down for you. The first season of your Indiana contract you played a key role in the worst moment in NBA history. You were suspended 30 games for your actions, and if we're being specific, no one threw a cup of beer at you. You jumped into the stands with the other guys, and paid the price.
But then in 2007, you came to us, the pathetic Golden State Warriors, and played a key role in the best three weeks of my basketball life. I loved your threes, your nasty defense on Dirk Nowitzki as you put the Warriors back on the map of basketball relevance. The next season, we missed the playoffs, but still won 48 games, and you were a key part of that too. So, when Cohan got rid of Baron, J-Rich, and Barnes, and paid you, I expected big things.
You gave us one great season. 20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists. We were terrible (what do you expect when Corey Maggette is your starting center?), but you were great. You kept the ball moving, and kept things positive. But then next season, things were different. You and Nellie weren't getting along, and the chemistry seemed very off. Your numbers dipped, and you were suddenly in trade rumors. I wasn't surprised to see you go to Charlotte. And I was even less surprised to see you take them to the playoffs. They had gotten one of the best. I was happy for you.
And now you're in Milwaukee. And you know what? Milwaukee's pretty good. Their rotation is tight, but as numerous writers have noted, they finally have good chemistry. And that chemistry seems to be translating onto the court. You could help this team, Captain Jack. You could be the veteran presence off the bench, providing offense, rebounds, assists, and leadership. You could step into the starting lineup when needed, and do what you do.
I remember when I first read about you. It was in 2000, in Slam Magazine. I remember that you had played professional basketball for three seasons in South America, Europe and Asia, before finally catching on with the Nets. I was only 15, and I admired that perseverance. And when you played us that season, I remember you having a good game, scoring like 20. Basketball Reference confirmed this memory. I remember thinking: "it would be great if we got this guy." And we did.
Captain Jack, as your biggest fan, I plead you to be a professional. You are too good not to get paid. If it's not in Milwaukee, it will be elsewhere. But you have to be the Captain Jack of 2000-2002, and 2007. You have to do it right.
Sincerely, your biggest fan,
Jacob Joseph Benjamin Greenberg
PS: I, too, make love to pressure.