Sam Amick's story on Bobby Jackson in The Bee is excellent, and this passage deserves contemplation:
"My thing is not to come in and look at it like I'm furthering my career," Jackson said. "I'm probably going to play two years (beyond next season) depending on how my body feels, but just probably at the minimum. I've made my money. I just want to be around, get two more years in, then learn the coaching aspect of it and try to be a coach after two years."
The Kings, Jackson said, fully support those aspirations.
"We had this conversation about three years ago in the summer time," Jackson said. "(Petrie and basketball vice president Wayne Cooper) asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I wanted to coach. I said, 'Maybe I can come back in the last year of my deal, coach and play and end up coaching for a team that I had my longest tenure for and then work my way up the ranks.' I'm looking forward to it."
Jackson's a patron saint of not just Sactown Royalty, but Sacramento. Universally beloved. He doesn't need to say these things -- that he wants to play for the vet's minimum after this season, that he wants to work his way up the coaching ranks here in Sacramento. We already adore the guy. But he says them anyway.
I think there's a certain danger when a veteran who'd like to coach comes to a team, as in Sam Cassell's brief tenure in Boston or Jackson here. Reggie Theus did well his virgin season in Sacramento, but he's not locked into a job past 2008-09. To have such a beloved figure like Bobby come in and discuss coaching opportunities -- that could be a bit unnerving for an admittedly self-interested guy like Theus. (I say "admittedly self-interested" based on his statements and actions with regard to the veterans and the youngsters late last season, having had to be coaxed by his bosses to play Quincy Douby and Shelden Williams.)
But Bobby handled this perfectly. How could anyone be threatened by "Maybe I can come back in the last year of my deal, coach and play and end up coaching for a team that I had my longest tenure for and then work my way up the ranks?" I don't mean to invoke unicorns and bubble gum in a discussion of Jackson's altruism, but this is as pure a character as you get in the NBA.
And the best part? This isn't a show. This is Bobby Jackson. He's incredibly humble, unquestionably kind, and smart as hell. He means all this stuff.