Bobby Jackson Played Early Role In Shaping Kevin Martin's Career

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Bobby Jackson Played Early Role In Kevin Martin's Career

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Back in 2004, Bobby Jackson was a solidified member of the Sacramento Kings—a player who helped deliver an average of 57.5 wins per season over the previous four years and, along the way, became the epitome of what teams looked for in guard play off the bench. He was the 2003 Sixth Man of the Year thanks to his 15.2 points per game combined with his desire on both ends of the court.

When he entered the game, the energy level at Arco Arena changed.

But that was only half the story—the part that gets the most notoriety and the most promotion. It’s the part that takes place on GameDay, after tipoff, when the lights are bright and the national television cameras are in focus. What the majority didn’t see was how Jackson handled himself off the court, in the community, fixating himself and his family as part of the Sacramento fabric.

Kevin Martin was watching. As a rookie guard during the 2004-05 season, Martin was looking for someone to model himself after at the next level. Someone to teach him how to approach the game, not only on the court but in the community. How to handle himself properly, how to give back. It just so happens Jackson was there, willing to take him under his wing and show him how to lead a successful NBA career one workout at a time, one day at a time.

“I don’t think Bobby realizes how much watching I did of him early in my career,” Martin said. “Just to try and mold my basketball career, but also off the court relationship and helping my involvement in my community. I just started watching as much as I could.”

Jackson and Martin spent two seasons together in the NBA—Martin’s rookie year in 2004-05 and the 2008-09 year, both in Sacramento. That second season was Jackson’s last as a player in the NBA and Martin’s last full season with the Kings. This year, the two will be reunited as Jackson returns to Minnesota as its player development coach and Martin begins his first season in a Timberwolves uniform.

Their careers have veered to different cities since that 2004-05 campaign when Martin was still trying to learn the NBA game and Jackson was enjoying his best seasons. But the way those two approach the game intersects both then and now in their reunion. Jackson was a mentor of sorts back then, and now he has the chance to see how Martin has followed in those footsteps in the nine years since.

Back then, Martin had rookie duties and Jackson happened to be his veteran. He carried Jackson’s bags—a chore he didn’t mind, because he recalls it being far better than what teammate Mike Bibby had in store for his rookies.

And that spilled over off the court. The two worked out together during the summer, and Jackson taught Martin how seriously he took the game and the preparation needed to succeed.

“That was my guy,” Jackson said. “We worked out every day. He was kind of my rook that I took everywhere with me.”

“Even if he didn’t want me to be under his wing, I was going to be anyway,” Martin said. “He was a great guy to be like.”

It wasn’t just workouts off the court, either. The two had opportunities to work together in the community through the Sacramento Kings’ community department—similar to the Timberwolves’ FastBreak Foundation. One event in particular included bringing 50 kids from Salvation Army and the Center for Fathers and Families on a spree during the 2008 holiday season.

When Jackson was introduced as the Wolves’ new player development coach on Monday, he exuded his traits of hard work, determination and commitment that helped him become that force off the bench in Sacramento. It’s the same group of traits that Martin picked up both on and off the court, and it’s the same mentality that makes Martin believe Jackson will be a successful beyond his playing career.

He’ll bring that same intensity, Martin said, along with his experiences and his credibility as a gifted player in the league. The two share the same manager, and when Martin heard the news he was thrilled Jackson was coming on board.

“I loved it—just having his presence around will elevate our basketball team,” Martin said. “He’s going to hold guys to a high demand and make sure we’re ready on a nightly basis.”

Jackson was equally excited about re-uniting with Martin, a player he said who has grown a lot during his time in the NBA. He said Martin was one of the best players in the league when it comes to moving without the ball, not to mention his length, athleticism, 3-point shooting and ability to get to the free-throw line.

Martin’s a worker, Jackson said. From where he came from as a rookie to where he’s at now, Jackson said he’s worked on his game and developed into a great pro.

“He’s going to give you 20 points a game, I can tell you that. Between 18 and 20…and that’s because he knows how to play the game,” Jackson said. “He’s going to create a lot of space and a lot of open shots because he can shoot the ball.”

A lot has changed since 2004-05. It’s no longer a rookie-veteran dynamic between Martin and Jackson—now it’s a veteran-coach relationship. But the lessons from that season are still there, as is the relationship between the two. Their commitment to the court and the community still seems very much intact.

As for the bag-carrying situation? That’s another story.

Jackson said he wouldn’t make “his rook” carry his bags anymore.

Martin, on the other hand? He was still receptive.

“I might do it out of respect,” Martin said, laughing. “If he needs a helping hand.”

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