Janesville23.1°

NBA veteran believes he can make difference for the Bucks

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Charles F. Gardner
June 30, 2011
— Stephen Jackson walked into the Bradley Center media room with this greeting: “What’s up, everybody?”

Yes, you can say the Bucks’ new wing player has a presence when he walks in a room. And the 33-year-old Jackson also believes he can make a difference on and off the court for a Bucks team anxious to return to winning ways after a disapppointing 2010-’11 season.


Jackson gave no apologies for the way he plays or his sometimes volatile nature with referees. And he said he was more than ready to play for the Bucks, despite early reports to the contrary.


“First of all, I’m definitely happy to be here,” Jackson said. “If you have any questions and you want to know how I feel, you can ask me and I’ll give you the answer.


“I’m excited. I want to win. This is a great place to win. The coaching staff I’m definitely familiar with and I have a lot of respect for. There are guys on this team I respect and I’m friends with.”


Jackson later said he did not want to be part of a rebuilding team in Charlotte and was much more eager to play for a Bucks team making a serious bid to return to the playoffs. And he said he understood the thinking of the Bobcats in trading him as they moved up in the draft to grab 18-year-old center Bismack Biyombo with the seventh overall pick, as part of the three-team trade with Milwaukee and Sacramento.


Jackson said he will take a leadership role with the Bucks from the start.


“I have to be, because it’s not something that he (coach Scott Skiles) is going to have to ask me to do,” Jackson said. “It comes natural. Being a leader is nothing you can teach.


“With me having a lot of success in this league, I think guys will respect that. But at the same time I’m going to lead by example. I’m going to gain my respect by playing harder and going out and trying to win games every night.”


Jackson was asked how he could help turn around a fractured locker room, one divided enough that Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings said near the end of last season that some guys didn’t want to win.


“Whatever it takes, if it takes a slap, a fight,” Jackson said. “We’re here to win games. This is not high school and we’re not doing any babysitting. We have to be on the same page to win, not just the players but the coaching staff and the whole organization.


“It’s no time for being babies or being scared. Scared, go to church.”


Jackson said he received texts from Jennings and center Andrew Bogut after the trade was made.


“Brandon and Andrew were the first guys to reach out to me, which was great,” Jackson said. “I didn’t expect to get a text from Andrew.


“That definitely put a smile on my face that he’s thinking like I’m thinking already. ‘Let’s have a great year and make history.’ And just by having those guys reach out to me made it more acceptable, and I’m happy I have teammates like that.”


Jennings attended the news conference and didn’t hide his delight with the team’s acquistion of Jackson.


“I feel like we got a piece in here that can control the locker room, a vet that is well-respected and wants to win,” Jennings said. “And he won an NBA championship before (with San Antonio).


“And a guy I know personally before I even started hooping in the NBA. It’s just going to be great for us. He’s going to bring a lot of scoring here, something we missed last year.”


Jennings said he was glad to see the shakeup made by Bucks general manager John Hammond on draft day, with Jackson, Shaun Livingston and Beno Udrih arriving in the trade and the Bucks selecting Tennessee forward Tobias Harris with the 19th overall pick.


“Beno is a big piece of the team,” Jennings said. “He reminds me a lot about Luke (Ridnour). Shaun Livingston can play the 1, 2 or 3 position. I think we’ll just be better and we’ll be like the first year I was here.”


Bucks pick up contract


options on Jennings, Sanders


Minlwaukee has exercised contract options on Brandon Jennings and forward Larry Sanders.


The team announced that it picked up the fourth-year option on Jennings, who averaged 16.2 points, 4.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 63 games last season. Jennings was the No. 10 overall pick in the 2009 draft.


Milwaukee also exercised the third-year option on Sanders, who averaged 4.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 60 games last season. He recorded multiple blocks in 20 games.


Sanders was the No. 15 pick in 2010.



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