– Where Basketball never stops

Stephen Jackson’s NBL Stint

Atlanta Hawks v Golden State Warriors

One of the most asked questions we get at ATF and NBLWiki is – “Did Stephen Jackson really play in the NBL before the NBA?” and the answer is, yes. Yes he did – Briefly.

The very same Jackson that won a championship with the Spurs in 2003, became one of the toughest players in the NBA during his time with the Indiana Pacers, helped the Golden State Warriors upset the 67 wins Dallas Mavericks in the 2007 playoffs and was recently waived by the San Antonio Spurs.

After being drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1997, Jackson played briefly in the CBA before he signed with the Sydney Kings in January 1998. He was just 19 at the time.

Jackson impressed in his first pre-season game against the Adelaide 36ers, scoring 12 points in 20 minutes. After the game the Sydney Kings head coach Bill Tomlinson said:

I like him. He brings enthusiasm to the team, he’s a young kid who’s jumping out of his skin. – Bill Tomlinson 1998

As the 1998 season started the Sydney Kings had a roster of: Shane Heal, Matthew Nielsen, Bruce Bolden, Aaron Trahair, Scott McGregor and their other import Matt Nover, who actually played Ricky Roe in the movie Blue Chips with Shaq and Penny Hardaway..

Even though Jackson was an import, he found it hard to get court time during his short NBL career and in his first regular season game he saw just 3 minutes of action, going scoreless in a win against the Canberra Cannons.

Just two weeks later, again in limited minutes, Jackson would show a flash of what was to come when against the Newcastle Falcons he scored 10 points in 8 minutes. All those points coming in the third quarter as the Kings tied to keep up with the Falcons.

In Jackson’s third game he finally got some decent court time, playing 26 minutes against the Melbourne Tigers, he was unable to capitalize on his opportunity though, scoring just 8 points, 3 assists and 1 steal. The Kings would go on to win their third straight game in a nail biter.

On February 20th 1998, Jackson would play his last ever NBL game, against the Adelaide 36ers scoring 6 points and 2 rebounds in 8 minutes of play. During the game Jackson went down with a foot injury, it was later revealed he had a broken foot and would miss around 3 months of action. He was released soon afterwards.

In just 4 NBL games Stephen Jackson averaged 6.0 ppg, 1.0 apg and 0.5 rpg. He shot the ball at 52% from the field and just 16% from three.

After his NBL stint Jackson would go on to play in The Dominican Republic, Venezuela and the CBA (America) before making his first NBA roster in 2000-01 with the New Jersey Nets.


Did you know:

Jackson is one of very few players to play in the NBL before playing in the NBA. The two other famous NBL imports to do this is Doug Overton (Illawarra Hawks 1992) and Rick Brunson (Adelaide 36ers 1996).

Did you know Jackson has played with 2 Aussies in the NBA? Andrew Bogut (Bucks) and Patty Mills (Spurs). He also played under former Boomers & NBL coach Brett Brown (Spurs).

Stephen has played with 2 former NBL imports, they are: Eddie Gill (Nets, Pacers) and Doug Overton (Nets).

The 1998 Sydney Kings import list reads as: Stephen Jackson, Matt Nover, Kelsey Weems and Evers Burns.

Also see: Jackson’s NBLWiki page

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Nat Where You At

Nat Where You At

Basketball Junkie
Basketball junkie living in the real South Beach (Wollongong!). I talk too much about basketball, eat too much bacon and reminisce about the Seattle SuperSonics almost everyday.
Nat Where You At

Latest posts by Nat Where You At (see all)

Vicki Mainard
Vicki Mainard

We could've done with Stephens toughness today.

Sinnèr Vengèance
Sinnèr Vengèance

Nonetheless still worth talking about and a little piece of history..