The Thirteen Misfit Toys

7 of 14

Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard

Pierre Jackson

(55) keeps the ball away from Los Angeles Lakers guard Xavier Munford (14) during an NBA Summer League game at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Point Guard
Pierre Jackson
Homer alert! Yes, I’m warning you now.

It is a rare occasion when I find myself so in awe of a player’s history, of a pro athlete’s story, among the myriad of beating the odds stories to be told, but the challenges that have aligned against Pierre Jackson are noteworthy. When an athlete emerges from a serious career-threatening injury, who can blame them for becoming self absorbed, selfish, and even egotistical. But when Pierre Jackson faced such an injury with his Achilles heel, he did the complete opposite. He connected to his family, his friends, and his fans in a way that I’ve seldom witnessed in my over fifty years of cheering from the sidelines. So yes, perhaps I’m biased. But there’s good reason. This guy is the epitome of “never give up”. On a team that has managed a mere 37 victories in two NBA seasons, I think that is a quality that is a basic necessity.

This team is young.  Youthful and talented.  Youthful, talented, great potential.  Youthful, talented,unrealized potential, and …. leaderless.

Pappy Jack is that leader. Leaders lead by example, they have a vision, they communicate, and they are not shaken in the face of adversity. Pierre Jackson is not a big man in NBA standards in stature.  At 5’10” and 176 pounds, he could pass as a normal guy in virtually any setting.   But when he hits the basketball court, something clicks inside.  The man can shoot.  He set a D-league record when he sunk 58 points, including 7 of 13 from three point land.  He was an offensive dream, over seven games of 40 or more points and averaging over 30 points a game. Pierre Jackson has always had a clear picture of who he is and what he wants to be.   That vision oftentimes runs counter to what “experts” believe.  That vision got him through painful and tedious rehabbing to place him in a position to secure the Sixers starting point guard role.  Visi, Vidi, Vinci.  He came, he saw, he conquered. He is not an island unto himself.  He loves the fans, and as Philly always does when they catch the eye of a hard working athlete, Philly loves him back even more. He isn’t shaken when the chips are down. In fact, that is when he seems to reach within and find renewed strength.

But there is one element of a player that is so rare, I haven’t mentioned it until now. That is that ability to give back to the fans. You know, the “lambeau leap”. It’s that connection between an athlete and fans that make it family. So when a Sixer reads one of my articles and gives me a nod, I place a rare star by that athlete’s name. They are more than a player now. They are a good person.

The Sixers need good persons too.

Next: Nik Stauskas