Stephen Jackson was not shy during his session with reporters at the Warriors’ media day Monday, charismatically strutting to a table and smiling throughout the 20-minute meeting.
And in his most revealing moment, Golden State’s indispensable swingman lifted up the front of his jersey to expose the detailed tableau of his newest tattoo, a pair of hands extended in prayer while holding a gun.
“I got in trouble and I pray to God that I’ll never have to [use a gun] again,” Jackson said. “That’s why I got it.”
Jackson will have to sit out the first seven games of this season due to a well-documented gun-related incident that occurred while he was with Indiana in 2006, an issue that forced him to leave the Bay Area several times last season to attend to legal matters. On the floor, the 29-year-old played an instrumental part in the Warriors’ resurgence, invigorating the team after arriving along with Al Harrington in a midseason trade with the Pacers. Jackson averaged 16.8 points per game in 38 regular-season games after joining Golden State and elevated his game even more in the playoffs, averaging 22.8 points and shooting 47.5 percent from 3-point range in Golden State’s historic and stunning first-round upset of top-seeded Dallas.
Now, Golden State’s newly anointed tri-captain (along with Matt Barnes and Baron Davis) hopes to remain an emotional leader while also becoming a stabilizing on-court presence. He spoke Monday of trying to fill some of the void of Jason Richardson, the shooting guard and team leader who was shipped off to Charlotte in a draft-day deal for rookie forward Brandan Wright.
“I’m going to try to get away from arguing with the refs and the negative stuff,” Jackson said. “J-Rich … led by example with his actions and how he handled himself. I need to take that role and be more positive in my actions.”
The entire team outlook appeared to be sunny as the Warriors prepare to open training camp today in Hawaii. The team is coming off its first playoff appearance in 13 seasons after reaching the Western Conference semifinals in May and should benefit from having its full roster together to jell during camp rather than having to come together on the fly like last season.
“We’ll have a whole season together and all the nonsense is behind me. It’s all positive and I’m ready to roll,” Jackson said. “We’ll play hard and let the chips fall where they may, but at the same time we have a lot of confidence and we play so free. We want to build on what we did last year.”
Jackson also said he felt fortunate to be playing in a system most players can only dream about.
“A lot of guys come into the NBA looking for freedom, everybody wants to be in a situation where the coach gives them that freedom to play,” Jackson said. “And we have it here. I don’t just have it, [Davis] doesn’t just have it, everybody has it. And I think guys play better that way.”