There’s no true formula to building a championship team. The same NBA draft that can introduce the league to Hall-of-Fame player Michael Jordan can imprison a franchise with former Portland Trail Blazers pick Sam Bowie, a college mega-star that never saw success outside of the training room.
This past offseason, the Los Angeles Clippers were meticulous in hand-picking veteran players that addressed specific needs. They needed more spacing on the floor, depth at the point guard position, and a sharpshooter to make opposing teams that like to loiter in the paint pay dearly.
The Clippers are holding their own in a conference full of teams that haven’t given a spring getaway with the family a second thought. Wins and losses have gone to the distance, leading the Clippers to a bloody 14-8 record. Yet, the question remains, can the Clippers win with point guard Chris Paul as their toughest player?
On Tuesday, the Clippers announced the signing of veteran journeyman, Stephen Jackson. Jackson was released by the San Antonio Spurs this season when he choose the highway in a confrontation with his former head coach. To list Jackson brushes with authority would be as time-consuming as listing his NBA addresses over the past 17 years, but he’s a perfect fit for this Clippers team.
It’s rare that the acquisition of a 35-year-old role player could make an impact on a good team. In fact, aging role players like Jackson are regularly signed as insurance policies and cheerleaders at the end of the bench. With Jackson in the building, the notion of bullying will be a thing of the past. While forward Matt Barnes seems to have abandoned basketball for the role of enforcer, Jackson’s presence on the court has a mysterious way of making everyone get along.
Jackson has never been the star player on any of the many teams he’s played for, but he’s often been the best player on the floor, posting a 15.3 PPG average throughout his career. He’s fearless shooter, prideful defender and will turn this Clippers team of nice guys with a chippy floor leader into a mob of high-flying gladiators.