Stephen Jackson Interview
Indiana Pacers swingman Stephen Jackson missed some of last season due to suspension but is ready to rock in 2005-06. The 6-8, 220-pounder averaged 18.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in 2004-05 and with the retirement of Reggie Miller he may step up even more. InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner met with Jackson about a week ago to talk about the upcoming NBA season.
InsideHoops.com: On paper, you guys are more or less the same team as the Pacers squad a few years ago that reached 60 wins. You could do it again.
Stephen Jackson: I'm definitely excited about this season, for the simple fact that we have all our guys back, everyone's healthy. And we have a young team, and a real deep team. To have Ron (Artest) back, to have (Jon) Bender back, with the new addition of (Danny) Granger and everybody healthy, it's exciting to see what we can do. Our goal is definitely the championship.
InsideHoops.com: Of the legit championship contenders in the league, it looks like you're one of them.
Stephen Jackson: That's the thing, the question is, can we do that. We have a lot of guys on this team that want to play. I think everybody's comfortable with putting their ego aside, coming out there and trying to chip in what they can to help this team win, and if we stay on the same page and do that, we should be fine.
InsideHoops.com: Ron Artest, he's back and looking bigger than ever.
Stephen Jackson: Ron's a physical guy, he plays real physical, and that extra weight is going to help him. Obviously he'll lose it during preseason, but Ron's a big guy, he plays real physical and he uses his size well. I don't think a guy that size can move, play defense and score... he's a freak of nature, man. He's definitely a freak of nature. He compliments me well, and it's definitely going to help our team have an impact on both ends of the floor.
InsideHoops.com: And Danny Granger, what have you seen from him?
Stephen Jackson: Danny Granger is a steal. We got a lottery pick, with the 17th pick. I'm glad that he's here. He can start on any NBA team. Just to have him on our team to help us off the bench, it's like when me and Ron come out, we're not losing anything with him and Fred Jones coming in, so it's great, that new addition definitely helps us. He's strong on offense and defense. He's definitely a guy that's going to help us get over the hump this year.
InsideHoops.com: On the InsideHoops.com Mock Draft I think we had him going mid-late lottery, and you guys got him far later.
Stephen Jackson: I'm glad we did. I'm glad all these people slept on him. But he's definitely going to show that they should have taken him top five.
InsideHoops.com: And this dude right here (Jermaine O'Neal), what have you seen from him so far?
Stephen Jackson: Just his leadership and how he's been dedicating this summer to working out, preparing for the season. One thing he told me when he was working out was, I'm not getting denied this year. So when our team captain, the big fella got his mind focused early in the summer-time to come and work, and get ready to go, we can't help but follow his lead. He's definitely been a leader. He's took Reggie's role, and he's really stepped up and done that this year.
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