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Jackson's role, future uncertain in Milwaukee

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Chris Jenkins
February 7, 2012
— After spending most of last week sitting on the bench, Stephen Jackson isn’t sure where he stands with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Jackson has played just over nine minutes total the past five games. He sat out one game because of an NBA suspension for verbally abusing an official and Bucks coach Scott Skiles benched him for three others.


Jackson says he’ll stay ready to play whenever his name is called.


“I’m supporting my teammates the way that I’ve always been,” Jackson said Monday. “I’m going to respect the coaches, I’m going to respect everybody around. But at the end of the day, everybody knows I want to play. That’s not a secret.”


Jackson wouldn’t say if he had requested a trade.


The Bucks signed the veteran as a free agent in the offseason, hoping he could provide some offense. Jackson was a regular starter for the Bucks until he missed a team shootaround in New York last month, which got him benched for one game.


Skiles was ill and did not attend Monday’s practice. Assistant Jim Boylan said coaches will consider putting Jackson back in the regular rotation.


“That’s something that will be discussed,” Boylan said. “Nothing lasts forever, especially in this league.”


Boylan said Jackson has remained upbeat.


“Steve’s been great,” Boylan said. “He was outstanding today in practice, his attitude’s been positive. So he doesn’t need to do anything more for me, I know that. Since all of this has gone on, he’s handled himself well. So I have no complaints.”


Jackson has played for seven different teams in 12 seasons. To some fans, he’s best known for his role in the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl in 2004, resulting in a 30-game suspension.


Jackson insists his reputation doesn’t reflect his commitment to his teammates.


“I’ve been showing my commitment every day,” Jackson said. “I’ve been up cheering, supporting the team. I’m going to support my teammates. I’m a team guy. At the end of the day, when I get called, I’m going to be ready to play. That’s what I love to do.”


Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings spoke up for Jackson, saying he was “a little disappointed” Skiles didn’t play Jackson during Saturday’s blowout home loss to Chicago.


“I felt like he should have played against Chicago,” Jennings said. “The fact that we were struggling, I was in foul trouble, maybe he could have gave us a spark. Just his presence probably could have changed the game. You never know.”


Jennings praised Jackson’s attitude.


“The main thing is just to see what the coaches do,” Jennings said. “It’s the coaches’ decision at the end of the day. But he’s been going hard and at the end of the day he’s still a big part of the team, no matter what.”


Jackson brushed off a question about his relationship with Bucks coaches.


“I’ll be ready to play when they call me,” he said. “That’s not important. None of that’s important. My job’s to play basketball. My job’s not to be here to be friends with anybody.”


Before last Wednesday’s victory over Miami, Skiles said he’d had a “good conversation” with Jackson. Going into the Miami game, Jackson was suspended for a game against the Lakers and was benched for a game against Detroit.


“Look, I don’t want anybody, especially somebody like ‘Jack,’ to be happy about not playing in a game,” Skiles said on Feb. 1. “I have too much respect for him. I’ve been in that position myself, I totally understand it. But Jack’s going to be a professional about it, and he’s going to keep working hard, and when he gets his chance, he’ll get into the game and help us. I’m fully confident of that.”


Jackson played nine minutes and 29 seconds against Miami, and hasn’t played in the Bucks’ past two games.


“Of course it’s frustrating, because I want to be out there to help my teammates,” Jackson said. “I never want to leave a guy out there to battle by himself. But at the end of the day, I only can worry about what I can control.”



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