Larry Brown benches Stephen Jackson. Anyone care to read the tea leaves?
Stephen Jackson was clearly item 1A on the Dallas Mavericks’ scouting report for last night’s game. The Mavs assigned Jason Kidd, the top perimeter defender in Dallas’ starting lineup, to Jackson duty, and threw double teams Jackson’s way almost every time he touched the ball. It was an effective strategy for a spell, but eventually Jackson broke free to chip in 14 points on just eight shot attempts.
Yet during the fourth quarter, when the Bobcats were still within striking distance, Jackson sat on the bench. Charlotte faced a mere single-digit deficit during that final frame, but in Jackson’s absence the deficit grew to as many as 17. As far as we know, Jackson wasn’t injured. He just sat on the bench in indignation, while Larry Brown did what Larry Brown does, or perhaps Stephen Jackson did what Stephen Jackson does. At this point it’s hard to point a finger at one renowned feather-ruffler over another, but could this be a warning sign of a genuine rift between the odd couple? Or is it just the kind of tiff that both player and coach have spent their careers enacting over and over again?
We won’t know for sure until we hear something definitive from Brown, who will likely only hurl thinly veiled criticisms, or Jackson, who will either play the martyr or lash out without much explanation. All we know is that the Bobcats had a chance to take their season opener, even against a Maverick team at the top of their game, but sat one of their best players for the game’s final 16 minutes for reasons either petty or genuine. I hope for Charlotte’s sake it’s the latter.