Stephen Jackson, who had a successful 14 year NBA career, is now at the forefront of the black lives matter protest in honor of his late friend George Floyd.
During Jackson’s playing career, he was labeled an agitator, and a disrupter by the media. It was sometimes worthy considering controversy often followed him around, particularly in Indiana where he was a part of the Malice at the Palace.
But those who knew Jackson best saw him in a different light. Players ranging from Baron Davis to Hall of Famer Tim Duncan have raved about Jackson’s ability to lead. It came naturally to Jackson.
During Jackson’s tenure in Golden State, head coach Don Nelson named him “Captain Jack.” Baron Davis, who was the best player on the Warriors teams, said Jackson “was our leader.” And boy did he lead as he played a huge role in the 8th seed Warriors upsetting the 1st seed Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs.
Those same qualities that served Jackson well in his playing career have helped him on the front lines of the protests against racism and police brutality.
Prior to the May 25th, Jackson had been living a good retirement life. His podcast “All the Smoke” with former teammate Matt Barnes is an elite listen. His pop up appearances on ESPN have been excellent, showing that he has a career in broadcasting if he chooses to fully go that route.
But all of that was paused when he awoke from a nap with his daughter to find the footage of police officer Derek Michael Chauvin kneeling on his good friend George Floyd for nine minutes, ultimately killing him. Since then Jackson has put everything on hold to be an activist, calling for justice and the end of racism.
Unless you are living under a rock, you have seen the images, heard the speeches of Jackson in the streets calling for justice. On May 29th, Jackson gave a heartfelt speech during a news conference at Minneapolis City Hall. He then led a protest, and maybe more importantly, was there for Floyd’s daughter. The video of him raising Floyd’s daughter above his head while she says “daddy changed the world” has been one of the most memorable moments since the protests have started.
“People have been telling me, ‘Jack, you’re suiting up for your biggest game ever,’ ” Jackson said in a telephone interview. “When I get texts like that, it moves me and excites me.”
Jackson has stated that he won’t take his foot off the gas pedal until there are convictions. Stating that there have been too many times where clearly guilty officers got off easy because the public pressure died down. He won’t let it happen this time. Jackson has more protest planned in Minneapolis leading up until convictions are made.
It means nothing in the grand scheme of things, but I thought it was important to share that this has been the type of person Jackson has been. Never silent, always leading, and fighting for his brothers.