One of the greatest Gophers ever, Bobby Jackson amassed a 12-season NBA career, winning the 2003 Sixth Man award with Sacramento, one of six teams he played with, including two seasons in Minnesota.
Since retiring as a player, Jackson has held roles as scout and player development coach (Minnesota 2013), and in the last two seasons in Sacramento (2010-12) as an assistant player development coach, then player development coach/assistant coach. In May Jackson was named head coach of the Kings’ NBA G League affiliate, the Stockton Kings.
“It’s been a long process for me, but I enjoy it,” Jackson told reporters, including the MSR, during his June 3 introductory Zoom press conference. “I’m super thankful for this opportunity to be the next head coach for the Stockton Kings.”
Sacramento Player Development VP and Stockton GM Paul Johnson said that Jackson met his qualifications in his head coaching search—player and staff development, continuity, “and just building winning habits” among others. Johnson told the MSR that his new coach “is going to keep our players accountable.
“He’s won at a very high level. He’s been to an NBA Finals, an NCAA Final Four, so the guy knows about winning. I’m excited to work with him.”
Jackson played for many great coaches. When we asked what he learned from them that prepared him for coaching, especially his college coach Clem Haskins, “Coach Haskins really impacted my life, and he was not a nonchalant guy,” he responded. “[Haskins] wanted you to work hard, and he showed me a lot about the game.”
He averaged 15 points, six rebounds and four assists in his senior year when the Gophers made their only Final Four appearance in 1997, and Jackson was named Big Ten Player of the Year. Haskins won top coach honors that year as well.
“But of all the coaches that have impacted my life in some type of way in developing me as a coach,” continued Jackson, “whether it’s my high school coach, my junior college coach, Clem Haskins…Rick Adelman probably gave me my best career here in Sacramento. [Current Kings] Coach Luke [Walton] allowed me to grow and has given me the reins to go out and run this Stockton Kings team.”
When a reporter asked Jackson about his coaching philosophy, he replied that he wants his players “to work hard. We got to communicate at a high level. We are going to be tough on the floor. We’re going to play with pace.”
More importantly, according to the new HC, the Stockton players will thrive in “a family-based atmosphere that allows guys to be successful,” pledged Jackson. He added that he was “able to watch the coaches before me. I take a lot of notes, and now I get to do it” as head coach.
The NBA G League is the NBA’s official minor league and prepares players, coaches, officials, trainers and front office staff for eventual spots in the NBA. Of 29 G League teams, 28 including Stockton have direct affiliations with NBA franchises.
“I’m really excited about the G League,” said Johnson when the MSR asked if the former D-League has finally reached its original objective as a minor league setup similar to what MLB has. “I think it’s been a great place to develop players, develop staff, and that’s how we’re going to use it and just build winning habits and make sure we have a winning environment for our players to grow.”
Asked if he envisions his current job as a springboard to a future NBA head coaching role, Jackson said, “My main priority is the Stockton Kings.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.