With one simple step to the left, everything about Pierre Jackson’s career changed.
After tearing up the D-League last year, Jackson entered the Orlando Summer League as a player that seemed all but guaranteed to make the Philadelphia 76ers roster this season. Yet Saturday afternoon the one thing that could stop Jackson on his path to the NBA happened when his Achilles ruptured on that one step to the left, leaving him out for the year and leaving the likelihood that the Sixers would keep him on his non-guaranteed contract essentially zero.
For most people, it was just another sad story about a role players NBA chances falling by the wayside under unfortunate circumstances. But alongside news that Chris Bosh was in discussions with the Houston Rockets that came within a few hours of the injury, it should have been more.
Really, the Jackson injury is a reminder to fans and players how quickly things change and how unfair life in the NBA is. In all reality, Jackson had probably earned his NBA call up last season, when he was playing so well last season for the Idaho Stampede and the Pelicans team that owned his rights were busy losing a lot and playing Austin Rivers and Brian Roberts heavy minutes. But the Pelicans never decided to see what Jackson could do in the NBA, declining to trade him before the trade deadline despite reported interest and letting him head to Turkey instead of using a wasted season to give Jackson a shot. Now Jackson may never actually get a real NBA shot, thanks to a major injury that will take plenty of time to come back from, time undersized role players rarely get.
Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony are never going to be in the spot that Pierre Jackson has now found himself. Both are NBA superstars who even with an injury will get chances to stay in the league and make themselves into valuable role players. But both players are also in position to earn a max contract, or something close to it, from one team while another is working on trying to get them to take a pay cut for the sake of roster building. Like Jackson, what Bosh and Anthony have done doesn’t matter right now to teams trying to sign them. Instead of rewarding the two for being important pieces of playoff teams, and in Bosh’s case championship teams, front offices are still trying to get a bargain.
So what happens if one of the two takes less money to help build a better roster and tragically comes down with an injury like Jackson, one that happens by just planting to make a movement? Is some NBA team really going to offer them the money they left on the table in these discussions thanks to what they did in the past despite the player probably never being the same? The answer is a resounding no and that is why the Jackson injury should at least mean something to Bosh and Anthony and to us as fans.
The NBA isn’t a fair place and when that much money is on the table we shouldn’t forget that, especially with how quickly and simply things change. After all just this weekend Pierre Jackson was reminded of that with just one simple step to the left.