On August 10th, Netflix released the first part of the docuseries “Untold", which was about the Malice at the Palace and was produced by former Pacers star Jermaine O’Neal. The documentary itself was very good, and if you are interested in basketball outside of the San Antonio Spurs in the slightest, I would encourage you to watch it.
Stephen Jackson was handed a 30-game suspension by David Stern for his role in the 2004 brawl. This is the part that makes it relevant to Spurs fans. Outside of San Antonio, Jackson has a reputation for being a hothead. In Detroit, Jackson is public enemy number two (right after Ron Artest) and would most likely be attacked within the city limits. In San Antonio, Jackson is somewhere in between.
Jackson had two stints in San Antonio, won a ring in 2003, and returned for the twilight of his career. After his playing days, he admitted that he thought his 2007 Warriors team would have stopped the Spurs in their Finals run, claimed to be better than the greatest sixth man of all-time, Manu Ginobili, and expressed his distaste for San Antonio hero Gregg Popovich.
All in all, Stephen Jackson is a bit of a villain in the San Antonio Spurs universe.
Untold: Malice at the Palace is not made for Spurs fans. It’s made for NBA fans, Pacers fans, and anyone who hates Detroit fans. Chances are, you’re a Spurs fan with no vested interest in the NBA's central division. If you still harbor any bitterness towards Stephen Jackson, I encourage you to watch the documentary.
Jackson was not a great player in San Antonio and was an even worse teammate. But if San Antonio had the Indiana version of Jackson, his jersey could be in the rafters.
After the dust settled and suspensions were handed out, a judge said that Ron Artest, Jermaine O’Neal, and Stephen Jackson all acted in self-defense and all the violence on their part was justified. It was Detroit fans who were in the wrong. I tend to agree.
Jackson was ride-or-die on that team. He refers to Artest and O’Neal as his brothers. The Spurs missed out on that. Sure, his ego got in the way and the Spurs had more talented players to get minutes, and sure, Jackson has been resentful of that since he retired. But Jackson was clearly willing to give his all for a franchise that believed in him.
The Spurs are not at fault for playing Manu Ginobili more in crunch time and giving Danny Green a bigger role in 2013. Jackson didn’t earn his stripes. He earned them in Detroit fighting for his team, and he earned them averaging 20 points for the 2007 Warriors.
The Spurs and peak Stephen Jackson never crossed paths. Jackson is either too immature or entitled to realize that, but at this point, Spurs fans should let it go, squash the beef, and stop complaining -- instead wondering what could have been.