Friday, January 26, 2007

Jack's Legal Issues Resurface in Michigan

When I saw the headline, Judge rules Stephen Jackson violated probation, an uneasy feeling developed in the pit of my stomach. Call it a reflex. Then I had my first true, thank-God-the-Pacers-don't-have-to-deal-with-Jack's-issues-anymore sense of relief hit me. Funny though, it didn't relieve the disappointment like I thought it would. Yes, I'm viewing this one from the cheap seats since Jack's day-to-day issues no longer impact Ws and Ls for the Pacers. But I guess my rooting interest in the guy hasn't fully evaporated since the trade.

What? Why should I care? He's not the Pacers' problem any more? You want me to be outraged by Jack's behavior and dance around because his legal issues are no longer tied to the Pacers. Sorry, it's not that easy. I love basketball and enjoy the unique talents different players bring to the game. With my own life and issues to deal with, I have no interest in weighing the social ramifications of a two guard's behavior. Besides, what if he's not as bad as you think he is.

You may call it a con, but several months ago I saw genuine remorse in the guy's eyes. I decided to judge him only by his actions from that day forward. No, he hasn't been perfect but you notice effort and change. You know what a guy can bring to the court and you invest some emotion in pulling for him to turn the corner, keep the craziness in the past. He's doing what he does within the context of the NBA game, gets a fresh start in a better situation with a chance to really expose his sweat-earned and God-given hoop gifts. Be all he can be. The big picture is nearly in focus. Then, bam! Here comes the Judge! Here comes the Judge! Roll the Palace Brawl footage. Don't forget the Club Rio disaster, rehash it point by point. Broaden the impact to add Jack to the list of problems chipping away at the moral fiber of society, whatever that means. We've been through this drill before.

That what makes today's ruling tough. Yes, Jack should be held to the letter of the law and take responsibility for his actions. You just hope he can deal with this without wiping out all of the strides he's made in the past couple of months. I certainly don't want him to get any special treatment. I just don't have the desire to revel in the sorry situation.

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