Friday , Jul , 16 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Jackson is a great pickup for the Pacers

(Sports Network) – The Indiana Pacers made a great move when they acquired
swingman Stephen Jackson from the Atlanta Hawks in a sign-and-trade deal.

Indiana sent 24-year-old forward Al Harrington to Atlanta for Jackson, who
according to the Indianapolis Star signed a six-year contract worth about $38
million with Atlanta prior to being traded to the Pacers.

Jackson played in 80 games for Atlanta last season and averaged career-highs
in points (18.1 ppg), rebounds (4.6 rpg), assists (3.1 apg) and steals (1.78
spg). He is a four-year veteran who has also spent time with the New Jersey
Nets and the San Antonio Spurs. The 6-8 Jackson can play small forward or
shooting guard.

The 26-year-old Jackson, who has averaged 12 points and 3.4 boards in 260
regular-season games over his career, also gives the Pacers a player who knows
what it is like to win a championship. Jackson was a member of the 2002-2003
Spurs, who defeated the New Jersey Nets in six games to capture the NBA title.

“When you talk to Stephen, he talks more about winning than he does minutes or
points and that’s what’s most impressive about the young man,” said team
President Larry Bird. “He’s been very successful in his career in the NBA. He
played on a championship team and he’s looking forward to having another
opportunity to do that.”

It is not clear whether Jackson will start or come off the bench for the
Pacers. Thirty-nine-year-old Reggie Miller is still the starting shooting
guard, while Ron Artest, who was the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year,
starts at small forward. Either way with the addition of Jackson the Pacers
became a more versatile squad.

“I’m the type of player that’ll do anything to win a game,” Jackson said. “If
I have to start a fight, whatever I have to do to help my team win, I’ll do
it. It’s just that simple. It’s about winning. A lot of guys come into this
game for the wrong reasons. You play this game because you love it, you play
this game to take care of your family, you play this game to win. I love to
win. I hate losing. I’ll do anything to win.”

Besides getting a player who simply wants to be part of a winner, Indiana is
getting an athlete who can shoot from the perimeter and will cause matchup
problems for Indiana’s opponents. Jackson, who shot 34 percent from three-
point range for Atlanta in the 2003-04 season, also adds more toughness on
defense, which will hopefully help the Pacers in their battles with the world
champion Detroit Pistons.

Jackson is happy to be leaving a losing situation in Atlanta for Indiana,
which won an NBA-best 61 games during the regular season in 2003-04.

“He (Jackson) made it clear before he ever got here that he’s a big Reggie
Miller fan and in his mind he’s fine with coming off the bench,’ said Indiana
head coach Rick Carlisle. “He just wants to win. He went through a tough
situation in Atlanta last year, going from a championship team to a team that
won 20-some games. And you can tell he’s hungry to get back to the business of

The Pacers are definitely a better team with the acquisition of Jackson. But
the real test will come when Indiana battles teams like Miami and Detroit in
the postseason. Whatever role Jackson is given, he is ready for the challenge
and could be one of the pieces of the puzzle that plays a big part in getting
Indiana to the next level.