Reggie Jackson was a good player for the Detroit Pistons during his six seasons with the franchise. The problem was always the ‘play’ part of the job description, as he was frequently injured. Jackson recently revealed he was so frustrated, he almost retired from basketball after leaving the Motor City.
If Reggie Jackson (and Brandon Jennings as well) had remained healthy, how successful would the Detroit Pistons had been in the late 2010s is something fans think about. Jackson was a talented player for the Pistons, when he was on the floor.
Jackson, a 6-foot-2 combo guard, came over from Oklahoma City in February, 2015 and naturally, he was signed to a big contract (five years, $80 million), as pretty much any decent player Detroit had at the time, was quickly handed a Brinks truck full of money.
Jackson, unlike many of the others the Pistons in that era they gave a bag too, was good when he played. But he simply was bit with the injury bug. He only played more than 52 games in Detroit twice in five seasons.
Getting paid so much, and the team needing him on the floor to succeed, put a lot of pressure on the Boston Collège product. How much?
At a recent basketball camp run by his current Clippers teammate Paul George, Jackson said he considered retiring after being bought out by Detroit in February, 2020.
"“When I was with Detroit, it was fun, for myself, but the organization … they did not have a lot of success, we made the playoffs when I was there (although they were swept both times), I had a lot of injuries. The naysayers, criticism from the fans, and I really started to question myself. There was a point where I actually where … hopefully … don’t let anyone ever do this, take the fun out of things you love to do. Because I was really going to retire.“My lifeline was, the reason I am so happy, is my ‘brother’ (Paul George) saved me. We laugh about it to this day, because he called me (when bought out) and I blew him off, I told him, I’m retired, this year is your problem.”"
You can see his full speech, courtesy of Tomas Azarly, right here.
Obviously George did coax him into coming to Los Angeles, as Jackson signed with the Clippers two days after his buyout was official.
Jackson has been a solid player for the Clippers, averaging 17.8 points in the playoffs in 2021, when Kawhi Leonard was unavailable due to injury. He said at the camp it is easier with the Clippers than Detroit, because there were more good players so he did not have as much of a burden.
Ironically, while Jackson has been relatively healthy with the Clippers, he has played 67 and 75 games, respectively. It has been their stars, George and Kawhi Leonard, who have had trouble staying healthy.
If both return this season ready to play, the Clippers could be a title contender. Jackson has a year left on his contract, so this is a big year for him. There are no more thoughts about retiring.
Lessons learned from Reggie Jackson on Detroit Pistons experience
Jackson played at a time when the Pistons were trying desperately to be relevant. After great success for almost a 20-year period (1988-2008), fans and management were not used to losing, so there was a lot of pressure on the players to succeed.
Jackson’s talk is also a reminder to fans. Yes, players do make a heck of a lot of money, but they are also human beings. Obviously, all the flak Jackson got at the end of his time in Detroit greatly affected him.
Maybe keep that in mind when you write something on your social media or feel like booing a player at the arena. He does hear it, and he might be really hurt by it.
By not everyone was negative on Jackson. Here is Clippers teammate Jason Preston, then a contributor to Piston Powered, writing about him when he still was with Detroit.