It turned out to be only a footnote in the Charlotte Bobcats' thoroughly amazing 94-89 win over Boston Monday night, but Stephen Jackson got tossed from the game in the second quarter for two straight technical fouls.
That gave Jackson 13 T's on the season and three in the past two games -- he's once again among the league leaders (along with Dwight Howard and Amare Stoudemire). Jack is only three techs away from an automatic one-game suspension, and he's already lost close to $180,000 this season for various offenses. He's averaging about one technical every four games, which means he will end the season with 20 if he stays at this pace. (Here's my column about this issue).
I'm tired of watching Jackson act out against the officials. Aren't you? Jackson wrote an open letter to Bobcat fans two months ago. It was contrite and in it he promised to change his behavior (after getting tossed out of a game in Milwaukee).
And it worked -- for about a month.
Now Jackson is back to his old ways. He wouldn't talk about his ejection against the Celtics Monday. As part of Jackson's interview with a group of reporters, I asked him several questions about his behavior. Here's a partial transcript:
Me: What is your explanation for last night's ejection?
Jackson: I don’t have one. It happened. I ain’t got nothing to say about it.
Me: With 13 technical fouls so far this season, are you confident you can avoid getting No.16 and an automatic one-game suspension?
Jackson: I’m just playing basketball. I don’t know. We’ll see.
Me: Is it time for another open letter to the fans?
Jackson: I think you’re being sarcastic.
Me: No, I'm not. I'm asking you realistically if it's time.
Jackson: I’m not answering that question.
OK, so you get the idea. Jackson doesn't want to talk about it. Which is his prerogative. If Jackson was silent the rest of the season in fact, that'd be fine. He's Charlotte's best pure scorer, an invaluable part of the team and a player who truly loves what he does.
But, as coach Paul Silas told me Tuesday about Jackson on-court: "He kind of loses it sometimes."
And the Bobcats just can't have that. As Silas went on to say about Jackson: "He does have to change. And I think he recognizes that now. He just can’t go after those guys [the officials].... Even though you might not swear at them, if you continue to talk to them in kind of a disrespectful manner, then they’re going to have to do something about it. That’s what happened last night."
Can Jackson really change, though? He did for awhile, but now he seems to be back where he started. He seems to think the officials are always out to get him. He makes it personal, over and over.
This shouldn't take away from Charlotte's win over Boston, which was pretty stunning (I was there, but in the stand as a fan). Because Jackson was out, some reserves got to play key roles in a huge win, and that will help the Bobcats down the line. I couldn't believe how good Shaun Livingston was, in particular.
So Jackson's ejection, ultimately, did not hurt Charlotte Monday in the win column. Might even have helped -- who knows? But it did show once again the path Jackson is on -- a path he must change if the Bobcats are going to be better long-term.