Jackson Thanks Thunder, Vows to Work Hard Every Day
With a name like Reggie Jackson, it is only fitting that the newest member of the Thunder crushed his introductory press conference Saturday at the Boys & Girls Club of Oklahoma County.
From answering questions from the media to using giant scissors to cut the ribbon unveiling the new Thunder-renovated center at the club; from interacting with the kids in both of the new lounges to running line drills with them on the court; Jackson was a hit with all in attendance.
A short time after he stood with General Manager Sam Presti to hold his No. 15 Thunder jersey for media members to photograph and capture on video, Jackson was asked why he chose the number.
“I think 15 really fits me," he answered. "I like the '5' because there’s five guys on the court at one time and the '1' is for one team, one beating heart. Everybody has one goal and that’s the championship, so I like the number and it has a meaning for me."
Jackson, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Boston College whom the Thunder selected with the 24th overall pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night, arrived to the Boys & Girls Club wearing a "Thunder blue" dress shirt, bow tie dress slacks and suspenders. He appeared right at home as he answered questions from the media, but even moreso later when he changed into gym shorts, a Thunder Cares T-shirt and sneakers to participate in a basketball clinic with kids from the Boys & Girls Club.
“I want to thank the Thunder organization for taking a chance on me,” he said.
Jackson is humble and prides himself in his unwavering work ethic and strong desire to improve every day. He noticed those tributes and more in his new teammates while watching the Thunder closely during its run to the Western Conference Finals.
“I followed the team heavily, especially in the playoffs," he said. "It seems like we have the same aspirations, just want to be the best and do whatever it takes. It doesn’t seem to matter on this team who gets it done, just so long as it gets done.”
Jackson comes from an Air Force family and as a youngster, he bounced around the world as his father was transferred from base to base. He lived in Italy, England, North Dakota, Georgia and Florida before settling in Colorado as a sixth grader. "Even while I was there, we moved around a lot,” he said.
None of those military moves brought him to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, but he’s looking forward to his NBA career here. His high school coach in Colorado Springs is from Oklahoma and has family members who are Thunder Season Ticket Members. Jackson said he has heard a lot of positive things about the city and its people, and can't wait to experience the energy from the crowd at the Oklahoma City Arena.
"Everything he told me the city was, it’s been even better from what I’ve seen so far," he said. "The team is very family oriented, which is something I feel I’ve always been searching for. It’s a young team, guys I can relate to, we’re all young and going be around each other, so I think the team chemistry is going to be great.”
Jackson improved steadily during his three seasons at Boston College. He finished his junior year as an honorable mention AP All-American and First Team All-ACC selection. He averaged 18.2 points, 4.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. He shot better than 50 percent from the field his junior year and better than 40 percent on 3-pointers.
As good as his numbers are, his work ethic and other intangibles impressed Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks and Presti.
“He has a strong body and very long arms. He has the makings of being a very good defender,” Brooks told reporters Thursday night. “I like what I saw on film, I liked what I saw in his workout. His shot is good and then I was very impressed when I sat down with him and talked to him. He’s a good kid.”
Added Presti: “We look at him as a pretty versatile player, a guy who has played both (guard) positions and we like the fact that he has a great feel for the game.”
Just as important, both Brooks and Presti appreciate how much Jackson likes to work. He’ll fit right in with his Thunder teammates, who like to get to the practice gym early and stay late.
“I’m somebody who loves the game and somebody who wants to get better every day," Jackson said. "I guarantee I’ll give 100 percent every day in practice. It’s the way I’ve been all my life, from being up and in the gym at 5 a.m. shooting when I was in high school and then going back from about 11 to 1 at night, shooting. It’s just what I love to do.”
Jackson is also a very cerebral player. He thinks about every part of his game. From the way he plays to the number on the back of his jersey. He wore uniform number “0” in college and knew as soon as the Thunder drafted him he would need to change, given that number is worn by Second Team All-NBA player Russell Westbrook.
“Zero was already taken here, but I probably still wouldn’t have worn it," he said. "I’ve changed my number at every new place I’ve been; every level has a new meaning for me.”