is the baby faced assassin
Join Date: May 2008
Location: YO MAMMA
Former Raptor Luke Jackson retires
Kind of an interesting read on a slow day...
Luke Jackson, 'at peace' after injury-riddled NBA career, begins new basketball chapter as coach at NAIA Northwest Christian | OregonLive.com
"I tore my hamstring completely off the bone," he says.
It was perhaps a symbolic injury that sums up Jackson's basketball odyssey over the past decade: a promising career ripped away, torn apart before it really ever got going. You get the idea. But if you came here, to the basketball arena at Eugene's private, liberal arts college, looking for a woe-is-me chronicling of a what-could-have-been career, you've come to the wrong place. And to the wrong guy.
When Luke Jackson, perhaps the best all-around basketball player to ever play for the University of Oregon, says he is "at peace" with what he has done on the court, you believe it.
You believe him when he says he's ready to move on to a new chapter after a vagabond-style professional playing career hobbled through nine years in the NBA, the NBA Developmental League and abroad. That's almost nine years more than one doctor told him possible after Jackson, the 10th overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft, found out he had two herniated discs in his back as a rookie with the Cleveland Cavaliers, an injury that required surgery and forced him, at 22, to consider life after basketball.
That new chapter began ceremoniously Wednesday when Jackson, now 31, was introduced as the head coach of the NAIA Northwest Christian University men's team. He replaces Corey Anderson, who had been taking on the dual roles of coach and athletic director. The Beacons wrapped up their 9-21 season on Saturday, having missed the postseason for the third straight year; Anderson will focus exclusively on his AD duties going forward.
"He fit the bill of everything we were looking for," Anderson says of Jackson, "and we fit his bill of what he was looking for
Retired at 30 after one final season of playing in Israel last year, and having earned about $6.1 million in parts of four seasons in the NBA, Jackson will now assume a full-time job that will pay him about $15,000 annually to coach in the Cascade Collegiate Conference.
Jackson, who has a 2-year-old son, Cole, with his wife, Lindsey, brings visibility and credibility to NCU, though he says he has no illusions about the job and the challenge he has before him in his first coaching gig.
"I've had a basketball career and I know that doesn't always translate to coaching, and I'm not naive to that fact," he says. But, he adds, "I feel like because of my experiences ... I can really help guys grow and succeed and take their games possibly to levels they never thought they could go to, and that's what excites me."
Jackson remains basketball royalty around Eugene. Anderson already knew that, but Jackson's popularity was emphasized Tuesday night when they sat in the stands together at a local high school game. It was Jackson's first official day on the job, and several of the high school students recognized him and began chanting "Luuuuke!" They didn't stop until Jackson acknowledged them.
Jackson was glad to be the center of attention again Wednesday, but he repeatedly said he doesn't want the basketball program to be about him, but the players. He so enjoyed his college experience — both the on-court success, in going to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament in 2002, earning first-team All-America honors in 2004, and in the off-the-court friendships that remain strong — that he wants to help replicate that for his players.
"It's weird having the team in here and all these news cameras, but honestly it's not about me," he says. "I'm glad we can get some publicity for the school, but I'm excited to make it really about them. Hopefully the next (press conference) we have here, it'll be one of our guys saying, 'I'm so happy to be graduating,' or whatever."
Having grown up in Creswell, a town of about 5,000 residents 12 miles south of here, Jackson is settled back in Eugene. "This is home," he says.