4-27-07 -- A $50,000 fine won't take the emotion out of Stephen Jackson's game.
The Golden State Warriors swingman was hit with the hefty penalty by the NBA on Friday for his conduct after being ejected late in the Warriors' Game 2 loss to the Dallas Mavericks two days earlier in their first-round playoff series.
Jackson left the court in a contentious, roundabout manner after getting his second technical foul, shouting at officials and verbally sparring with Mavs fans. Though Jackson expressed remorse for getting tossed in the fourth quarter, he didn't believe his behavior warranted the ejection -- and Jackson knows he can't change much anyway.
"I play the game with a lot of emotion, and I can't play any other way," Jackson said Friday night before the Warriors hosted Dallas in Game 3. "Obviously I will be smart on some things, but I will continue to make emotion a big part of my game. ... There's no such thing as being too pumped up. When you know what's at stake, you can't play any other way."
Warriors star Baron Davis also was ejected from Game 2, apparently for sarcastically applauding the officials late in the third quarter of their 112-99 loss.
On Thursday, Golden State coach Don Nelson said he planned to fine both players even if the league didn't announce any discipline. Nelson didn't disclose the amount of his fines, saying only, "It will be substantial."
"We think that we've handled our end of it the best that we can," Nelson said at Friday's shootaround.
But $50,000 seemed to be a small price for Jackson to keep playing the aggressive, passionate basketball he loves -- and even Nelson agrees Jackson must keep his emotions under control, yet close to the surface.
Jackson didn't play college ball, and he kicked around the CBA, Australia and Venezuela before rising to a lengthy NBA career with five franchises in seven seasons, including a championship year with the San Antonio Spurs.
Jackson didn't have a thuggish reputation until his involvement in the Indiana Pacers' infamous brawl in the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Nov. 19, 2004. Jackson eagerly jumped into the stands and threw haymakers after a fan threw a beer at Pacers teammate Ron Artest.
Jackson got a 30-game suspension for his actions -- yet he wouldn't change them.
"I would go in the stands to get my teammate again," Jackson said. "I wouldn't go in the stands and punch somebody, but I would go to help my teammate."
In October, Jackson fired shots in the air with his pistol outside an Indianapolis strip club in an apparent attempt to break up a fight.
Jackson is scheduled to go to trial May 10 on a felony charge of criminal recklessness and misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct. The incident also violated Jackson's probation on misdemeanor assault-and-battery charge from his role in the Palace fight, which could result in 30 days in a Michigan jail.
Jackson then was traded to the Warriors on Jan. 17 in an eight-player deal that revitalized Golden State's season and Jackson's career. He was a key contributor to the Warriors' stretch run to their first playoff berth in 13 years, and he averaged 26.5 points while Golden State split the first two games in Dallas.
Though his trial still looms, Jackson gets nothing but love and respect from Golden State fans. He speaks fondly of being cheered during his travels around Oakland, and he hopes to give them more occasions for celebration this spring and next season.
"I've grown a lot," he said. "I had a tough year. A lot of things happened this year. You look back over my career, I've never been in any trouble (before the Palace brawl). People are thinking I'm the person that did all the things this year, but I'm not that person."