Reggie Jackson is driving a rental car.
He's living in a modest apartment in the Los Angeles area and keeping a close eye on the rent.
Anything he can do to keep costs down, he does.
The Oklahoma City Thunder rookie is doing his best to navigate the NBA lockout. Not quite the start to the dream career that the 24th overall pick always envisioned.
“Everybody's just trying to live at the lowest expense as they can and find ways to manage until the lockout is lifted,” Jackson said.
For now, Jackson's existence characterizes the life of an NBA rookie. It's one that just might be professional basketball's ultimate state of limbo as the league's labor dispute stretches into week six.
Jackson, the point guard out of Boston College, technically is now an NBA player. Yet he doesn't have a home, unable to walk into his team's practice facility and unsure as to whether he should square away living arrangements in Oklahoma City. To this point, Jackson and his fellow rookies are the only ones who have missed anything of substance on the NBA calendar. Summer leagues in Las Vegas and Orlando were canceled. The annual rookie transition program was postponed.
Then there is the money.
While most veteran players have had their paychecks suspended, they at least have, or should have, some kind of coin in reserve. Jackson has yet to receive his first pro check at all. Instead of signing his rookie contract last month, Jackson was forced to take out a loan. He says it's a small amount that only keeps him afloat.
“I'm trying to pay back as little as I can and just get through the times right now,” Jackson said.
“I've grown up not being super wealthy. I went to college being broke and found a way to manage through that. So I'm just getting by. Basketball's never been about money and never will be. I'm living comfortably enough to where I'm satisfied. But I'm also not out there buying a big house and a big car. I'm not trying to do that. I'm OK with settling for less fancy things.”
Jackson describes his apartment as a “nice spot” before adding he got it at a “nice rate.” His rental is a vehicle he sees as a means to only get from one workout or appointment to the next, not some souped up statement on his social status.
“I really don't care if it's a moped as long as I can get around to where I need to be,” Jackson said. “So I really don't have a problem with how I'm living right now.”
During the lockout, Jackson has relied on his agency and his brother and business manager, Travis Jackson, to guide him through the uncertainty. While working out in Los Angeles, Jackson also has leaned on veteran players such as Danny Granger and Trevor Ariza for support. He's talked briefly with other rookies such as Kenneth Faried, Kemba Walker and Chandler Parsons about their situations and specific plans as well.
“It's something different,” Jackson said. “For a lot of us, it's our first lockout. But they're helping me through the experience. It's tough, but it's life so I understand.”
Though it seems Jackson is the personification of a pawn caught in the middle of this financial warfare, he insists he's staying positive as the two sides crawl toward a ratified collective bargaining agreement.
“I wouldn't say (I feel) powerless. I know it's very dire to what we do,” Jackson said. “But I feel like eventually a deal's going to get done. Right now, I'm still kind of shocked I get to do what it is I love as a living.”