(This is the first post in our series, The Sactown Greatest, which will document the best of the Sacramento-era Kings.)
If there was a Sacramento All-Good Guy team, is there any question that Bobby Jackson would be the first dude on the list?
Jackson runs the best player-led camp in the country. (You know, he actually shows up and works with kids during it.) He has a foundation that raises money for breast cancer research. He's signed thousands and thousands of autographs for kids. Finding a bad word about "Bobby Jackson, The Man" is impossible.
On the court, it's similarily difficult task to criticize BoJax. In his five seasons in Sacramento, Jackson served as an absolute sparkplug. Coming off the bench, filling in the starting line-up. Firing up threes, locking down the opponent. Jackson seemed like a constant answer...
...except when he was injured. Unfortunately, that was more frequently than any Kings fan would like. There was the hamstring, the abdomen, the wrist. Some guys are just injury-prone - because the style they play, because of physiological reasons, because of crappy luck. Bobby Jackson, Kings sparkplug, was one of those players. He played 294 out of 410 possible games with the Kings, about 71 percent. Missing three out of every 10 games isn't good.
But when BoJax was on the court? In his first season in Sactown, he was fourth in NBA Sixth Man of the Year voting. The next season? Second. In 2002-03, he won the award.
Despite playing about 23 minutes a game over his Kings career, BoJax averaged over 11 points a game on 45 percent shooting, and 37 percent from behind the arc. Had BoJax played 40 minutes a game, he'd have scored 20 a night.
Jackson was a stark contrast from Mike Bibby on defense. In his younger years, Bibby wasn't the matador some (err, most) consider him today. But the much older BoJax consistently upgraded the team's defense when subbing in, making up some deficiencies in other areas on the team.
There was never a big shot BoJax didn't like. Many of our favorite memories of Jackson are of him strutting up the court, making like an out-of-control Cessna or a 10-year-old on the blacktop. BoJax's love of the game was constantly apparent, and it rubbed off on fans. If any one player typified the intense passion for the game of basketball seen at ARCO Arena, Bobby Jackson was it.
Yet Jackson never got thanked the way other giants of Sactown did: with a paycheck. Yeah, BoJax made money... about $13 million over his Kings stint. Not small change. But the guy could've made $6-8 million a year. Had he been retained after the 2004-05 season instead of being traded to Memphis for Bonzi Wells, he would've definitely got a chance to regain his Sixth Man throne as Mike Bibby had zero help from the bench. He'd be facing a major payday this summer.
Instead, he toiled a bit in the flux of Mike Fratello's attention deficit disorder. He's facing a likely maximum of the mid-level exception ($5 million per). It's not fair - this guy was way better than $2.5 million a year his entire time in Sacramento. No player in the NBA deserves the payday more, yet guys consistently less deserving make bundles and bundles more. Not to get philosophical, but it's proof being a good person isn't guarantee of righteousness.
To some Sacramentans, Bobby Jackson will always be #1 - because he was a great guy, a great player, and an unselfish winner.
On our list, BoJax is #16.