Reggie Jackson has bailed out his team so many times this season, they’ve taken to calling him “Big Government” on Clippers Twitter.
There have been times in his tenure with the team that the veteran guard who plays with an extra hop-skip in his step has been just about as polarizing a topic, either because of perceived defensive shortcomings or some memorable turnovers in the Clippers’ ill-fated time in the bubble. (Who can forget the one that went viral after an annoyed Kawhi Leonard was caught on camera muttering: “I didn’t give up the ball for that …”?)
Jackson is pouring water on the debate, though, every time he dons his cape – and his goggles and bright, mismatched sneakers – and sashays to the rescue.
There was his game-tying and game-winning shots at Detroit on April 14. And his 3-pointer in with 21.2 seconds the next time out, a swish from the corner that brought the Clippers within 104-103 in their loss at Philadelphia. That’s been their only setback in the past 12 games, a span in which Jackson is shooting 58.1% in the fourth quarter.
There’s the fact he’s more likely than anyone on the Clippers besides Paul George to beat the shot-clock buzzer with a bucket. Jackson is 13 for 29 this season with fewer than four seconds to shoot, and 6 for 14 from 3-point range; his pal PG is 15 for 32 in those situations and 8 for 21 from deep.
Big Government. WOW. Reggie Jackson just erased a 7 point lead in like 30 seconds I swear.
— Justin W. (@LAClippersFilm) April 24, 2021
Stimulus check from Big Government, Reggie Jackson
— chennyjohn (@chennyjohn) April 10, 2021
Reggie “Big Government” Jackson with yet another bailout.
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) March 15, 2021
In 22.8 minutes per game, Jackson is averaging just 1.1 turnovers – the lowest rate in his career if you discount his first two seasons in the league, when he averaged 14 minutes or fewer.
And he’s doing it all with – or perhaps because of – his trademark joie de vivre.
Certainly, yes, Jackson’s increased contributions align with more opportunities: That Patrick Beverley has played only three games since the All-Star break because of injuries has meant additional playing time for Jackson, whose scoring responsibilities also grew when the Clippers traded Lou Williams.
But for the record: Jackson has really been hot since Feb. 23, the first time took the court in a mismatched sneakers (he went with one green and one yellow shoe that night against Washington).
Reggie with the Oregon-themed? Oakland A’s-themed? yellow-and-green mix of sneakers tonight.
— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) February 24, 2021
In matching footwear, Jackson was shooting 43.1% from the field, 35.5% from 3-point range and had a modest net rating of 3.4 (how many points the Clippers were better, per 100 possessions, with him on the court).
In mismatched sneakers: Jackson is shooting 46.6% from the field, 50% from deep and has a net rating of 12.4 – better than even George or Leonard’s.
“I think I’m playing my best basketball when I’m having fun,” Jackson said after the Clippers’ 109-104 victory in Houston, where he came through – in purple and turquoise kicks – with 13 much-needed four-quarter points.
He also toyed with his defender with a silly series of rapid-fire pump fakes that made it look as though a video game was glitching. And, with play stopped and the Clippers leading with 7 seconds left, he imagined the basketball into a bowling ball, rolling it down court as though he was aiming for a strike.
None of that was atypical from the guy who’ll pause before shooting a free throw to do the Shmoney Dance – a little wiggle with his arms raised – as a nod to Bobby Shmurda, the Brooklyn-based rapper to whom Jackson bears a resemblance, as fans in the rapper’s hometown reminded the guard last year.
Did Reggie’s controller disconnect? What the hell is this? pic.twitter.com/Q9wZfkYjXR
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) April 24, 2021
Reggie-isms part 2
He really just in his own world out there… pic.twitter.com/wygdM7boDt
— Bleek Griffin (@T_bleek) April 24, 2021
Reggie hasn’t been doing this before all of his free throws without me noticing, has he? pic.twitter.com/SW2Du9gMQo
— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) March 26, 2021
Nets fans started chanting “Bobby Shmurda” at Reggie Jackson.
He nailed the free throw and then hit the Shmoney Dance pic.twitter.com/a4lIJzG2F9
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 30, 2020
“I think I’ve developed it a little more coming into my own over the course of my career here in the NBA,” said Jackson, 31, of his on-court play. “It takes everyone a little time to develop that confidence, but yeah, I think some of our best players in the league are out there just having fun.
“They’re remembering it’s a child’s game and they’re out there each and every night to compete, to be the best they can be, but they also make sure to allow themselves together caught up in the game, allow themselves to be a kid within the game, so that’s something I take pride in.
“Stay as locked in as possible. I wanna know everything that’s going on in terms of what we’re doing defensively and offensively as a team, but always make sure to enjoy the game to the utmost.”
That sort of perspective isn’t unusual, either, from Jackson, who had to overcome back and ankle injuries that clouded his time in Detroit.
He’s the Clipper who responded to the franchise-worst 51-point loss in December by saying: “It’s life. This game kind of emulates life, and the biggest opponent in life is yourself. You gotta look at yourself in the mirror, you gotta figure out a way to be better, and that’s the goal.”
And on Friday, his determination to enjoy playing the game, to cherish having an opportunity even to play it, was bolstered by the death of Terrence Clarke, the 19-year-old former Kentucky star who was killed Thursday in a car crash in L.A.
“The NBA family and the University of Kentucky family, losing Terrence Clarke yesterday … condolences to his family, his friends, his loved ones,” Jackson said. “I think we all just come out here and the goal is to have fun and remember that we’re paid an exorbitant amount of money to play a kid’s game. Just make sure you have the most fun with it as you can.”
— Nicolas Batum (@nicolas88batum) April 15, 2021
Here’s Reggie Jackson’s answer to @MirjamSwanson question about having fun on the court, where he mentioned that you never know when the game can be taken away from you. Said the passing of Terrence Clarke yesterday was a sad reminder of that while sending condolences pic.twitter.com/2bUYGUwAWl
— Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU) April 24, 2021
— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) April 9, 2021