Reading around the web, you're likely to be inundated with garbage about how Stephen Jackson is a "me-first" player with an attitude of "getting paid" over winning -- about how Jackson is a garbage player with a superstar contract not unlike past head cases like Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis and Allen Iverson (who is also wildly misrepresented and misunderstood).
The arguments are aplenty but all of them are short-sighted.
1. Stephen Jackson left a winning 2002-2003 Spurs team to "get paid" by the Atlanta Hawks.
Inordinately false. He won a championship on the Spurs after being one of their best players. He was arguably the third best player on that team at the time, with big names on the roster such as -- David Robinson, Danny Ferry, Kevin Willis, Steve Kerr, Steve Smith, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker -- making this a tough sell.
But the fans need to realize that David Robinson, Kevin Willis, Steve Kerr, Steve Smith and Danny Ferry, while still ballers, were dinosaurs at the time. Ferry and Willis especially. Robinson was old but still effective because of his Spartan physique that allowed him to play 64 games. Kerr, Ferry and Willis were effectively bench scrubs at this point in their careers. Steve Smith was no longer as effective as he used to be from his Heat and Hawks days and was relegated to a back up role.
Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are interesting since they're both seen as international superstars today. At the time, Parker was an unexpected surprise. Very few foreign players had ever made it big time in the league -- especially no one from France. Hailing back to Vlade Divac, Drazen Petrovic, Arvydas Sabonis, Toni "The Waiter" Kukoc and the Kings' loverboy Predrag Stojakovic -- you had a handful of stars but with a long list of burnouts and guys who simply couldn't cut it.
Ginobili was less of a shocker in some ways since Parker had been such a success in his rookie season. Ginobili had also been cooking up a storm overseas with dominating play in the Italian Serie A league. However, Ginobili and Parker were both inexperienced relative to Jackson in terms of their NBA careers and scoring ability at the time.
Parker, was limited by his inability to shoot the outside shot that has still hampered him some even now in his career. Ginobili clearly struggled early in the Spurs' season with adjusting to the NBA game.
I would argue that the best players on that team were Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Stephen Jackson -- in that order.
And what do the Spurs do? They don't offer him a deserving extension and palatable deal. That's why he ended up on the Hawks. If you're a team like the Spurs, why wouldn't you want to sign a local Texas boy to a long term deal? I mean, I guess you have Devin Brown waiting on the wings, and you'll think he'll turn out to be studly, but Jackson was a key component in that championship team.
The Spurs screwed up here and got lucky with Manu turning out to be a borderline all-star. I liken this mistake similarly to the Lakers refusing to extend Trevor Ariza with a deserving contract this past year -- signing a declining Artest over him. At least the Spurs got a young talent in their blunder. The Lakers simply squandered away a good player for "money" reasons, even though they're the most successful franchise in the moneymaking department.
2. Stephen Jackson turns the ball over too much and is therefore a crap player.
Somewhat true. This argument has some merit simply because Jackson turns the ball over more than anyone else in the league. However, those numbers are highly inflated due to a few reasons.
A. He played the second most minutes in the league last season -- only being beaten out by Joe Johnson.
B. He played on an up-tempo, high-possession team in Golden State. By high-possession, I mean they took more shots more frequently than say a relative slow-down team like the Hornets or Bobcats.
C. He was the primary ball handler on his past team. Golden State was running out chumps like Demarcus Nelson out on the point last year -- Jackson was forced to take a less than optimal role as the floor leader. This isn't always a bad thing, but it was considering the circumstances (i.e., no effective ball handler outside of him).
With the 2006-2007 Golden State team, he absolutely carried them in their closer game against the Mavericks in the epic 8 over 1 seed upset that shocked the league. His ability to carry the rock on a team with guards who were less-than-able (I'm looking at you, Jason Richardson and Monta Ellis, to a lesser extent) made Golden State a multi-headed threat -- especially since Jackson's ability to play three or four positions made him a match-up nightmare for the Mavericks.
In short, turning the ball over isn't so much of a measure of inability -- it's more of a measure of ability to play long stretches of time and handle the ball.
3. Stephen Jackson is a head case.
False. People like to point fingers at his past criminal cases (e.g. the strip club shooting) and his inability to control himself during the Pacers-Pistons' brawl. However, nearly everyone he has played with or for has described him as a stand up guy and a great teammate. His actions may be flawed at times, but his intentions behind those actions are generally misrepresented. This does not mean he is a head case.
Some see his flight from the Warriors as a selfish move. However, the Warriors are truly the selfish ones in this scenario as they'd rather save money than win games -- that's been their problem throughout the franchise's existence. You'd think Bay Area cost of living would have numbed the ownership to economic forces, but unfortunately that's not the case.
Jackson wants to win. Winning in Golden State was not an option as Nelson would rather bury talents like Anthony "The Judge" Randolph on the bench, waiting with his towel in-hand like a gavel. Nelson would rather trade away one of his team's best players rather than learn to compromise -- the story of Nelson's decorated but similarly pathetic career.
In summary, Stephen Jackson, regardless of his stature in the media and his inability to keep his mouth shut, is a great player who will be a welcomed addition to the Bobcats.
Hopefully, now, this means we can lose in style.