You know what’s funny? During the Kings glory years, it wasn’t MVP candidate Chris Webber who was my favorite King. It also wasn’t All-Star Peja Stojakovic. Nope, it wasn’t Mike Bibby nor was it Vlade Divac. It was Bobby Jackson.
He wasn’t the star. He wasn’t even the best guard on the team. But, there was nobody better than Action Jackson in my purple heart.
You never gave up. You never hung your head. You played with the passion and desire every night that we expected out of a true professional. You alone were the inspiration for the term, “heart of a lion”.
Oddly enough, scanning my mental rolodex of your accomplishments in your Sacramento King (and NBA) career, one thing always pops out over all of them – the death of your mother, Sarah. When she passed away in 2003 to breast cancer, it we King fans like it was a member of our own family. We saw you grieve. We saw you cry. We no longer saw Bobby Jackson, the professional basketball player…we saw Bobby Jackson, the human being. And while the Kings and their fans in the early 2000′s had a very unique relationship with our players anyway, it never got as real as that.
The rest of the team spoke to your brilliance off the court, without words, as every traveling member of the team and roster traveled to North Carolina from Toronto on their lone off day after a long road trip to grieve with you. And when you guys came home, they continued to support you:
Upon returning to the Sacramento Kings following the death of his mother Sarah, Bobby Jackson had T-shirts printed with the word “Sarah” on the front. The Kings planned to pass out the shirts to each player on the club. To honor Sarah, each member would wear the T-shirt during warmups and the national anthem of that evening’s Sacramento home game.
However, Bobby learned prior to tip-off that due to league rules, the NBA would be required to fine every member of the Kings for wearing the shirts, which were in violation of the uniform code. After explaining to his teammates the situation, the other Kings insisted that they would gladly pay the fines.
“I told all of the guys that they would get fined if they went ahead and wore the shirts,” Bobby said. “But they all said, ‘You know what? This is for your mom, not for the league. We’re gonna wear them. We’re sticking with you.’
“It showed me that every guy on my team respected me and had my back. And I had theirs.”
The close-knit nature of the Sacramento team was in further evidence at Sarah Jackson’s funeral. Every Kings player traveled to North Carolina to attend the funeral and support Bobby Jackson.
“That’s the type of team we had,” Jackson fondly remembers. “Off the court, it was like a family. That’s how teams should be.”
You were a great Sacramento King. A true Sacramento King. You provided us with years of enjoyment that will never be replaced. You were a winner, a great player, and an even better person.
Thank you doesn’t say nearly enough….