Tags: don nelson, nba, stephen jackson, warriors
To Don Nelson and Stephen Jackson:
Stop drifting. Circle the wagons. You both are incredibly talented but tragically flawed. It is time to make a stand with this team, this year. The only way it can happen is for both of you to do some serious soul searching and stop listening to your egos (or Al Harrington for Christ’s sake). You have the ingredients right here to not only be madly entertaining, but to win. Its time to look each other in the eye, remember that Dalls twinkle, and stay together for the kids.
Tim Duncan once called you the “ultimate teammate.” Warrior fans scratched their heads over that one, given how you’d been depicted. But they soon realized that the Big Fundamental was right, that you are something special. Your play inspires even us ordinary people to be better “teammates” in our ordinary lives.
But though you have the heart, Jack, you don’t have an elite offensive game like your old running-mate Baron Davis. Baron breaks down a defender as well as anyone, providing wide open jumpers for his teammates. Even when Baron misses driving shots, the defenders he draws lead to easy tip slams for the Andres Biedrens of the world.
Jack, you’re not that. You’re a mediocre shooter, you make too many turnovers and you don’t really finish well. You’re really best-suited as a third option, albeit one with brass oxnards. If something special is to happen in Oak Town this year, you have to realize this: You are the “ultimate teammate” only if you accept your role as a third option offensive player.
This is a tough one for any player with pride, and you have plenty. The year the Warriors beat the Mavericks in the playoffs, it took you a half-year to cede the rights to the #2 role to Monte Ellis. Monte shot 60% for a month before you, and Davis, accepted him as the number two. When you did, the team soared, and you feasted on the open looks and the ample scraps left by Monte and Baron. You were at your best.
With Baron’s departure and Monte’s injury, you were pushed again into an ill-suited role. Don Nelson must shoulder much of the blame for this. He not only played you to exhaustion, with 40+ minutes the norm in any close game, he also allowed you to flail in an offensive go-to role. Did he ask too much of you or did you try to do too much? Probably a bit of both.
What matters is this: With the ’09 Warriors you can be greater by being less. With Monte back, Anthony Randolph’s emergence, the one-on-one prowess of Corey Maggette, and the drop from heaven named Stephen Curry, you don’t need to carry the offensive load. Play 35 minutes and be fresh at crunch time. Let your scoring average drop to 15 and your turnovers to 1. All you need to do is lead these men into battle and, of course, guard the other team’s best player. Be Bruce Bowen. With major benefits.
Nellie is too old to corral you– look how he screwed it up with Mickael Pietrus and Al Harrington. Unlike those guys, he gave you too much leash last year. You have to come up with that on your own. Fortunately, you have the intelligence and the contractual security, unlike Mickael and Al, to be who you are, not who you wish you were.
Yes, Nellie is a pain in the ass. But remember that he’s intelligent enough to get you, and you’re one complicated dude. Not all the wives out there are so smart.
Your openness is a breath of fresh air. Hearing you say on the radio that Mickael Pietrus isn’t a very good player, or that Al Harrington is a lousy rebounder, is madly entertaining. But no matter how true, and how delicious it is to hear such remarks by the COACH, and no matter how much joy you get in saying them, the remarks aren’t effective. These guys are humans with huge egos. Your openness hurts them and hurts the team, and as you get older you seem to care about this less and less. I don’t think you’ve lost a step in terms of measuring talent or game strategy, but you are losing your emotional intelligence.
You have a great team lined up, potentially sensational. Stop trying to be unique in every way. Defense might be boring to you, but it wins games. Stop being so damn entertaining, and so wonderfully open about your player’s shortcomings. Lay off the sauce for a year. Go get the championship you deserve, no excuses.