Throughout the season, it's common for inactive and out-of-the-rotation players to get in pregame court work before taking in the night's main event.
But nothing about the NBA Finals — the spectacle, the schedule, the distractions — is common. Particularly for a rookie.
So no one would have blamed Reggie Jackson, or probably even noticed, if in June 2012, the Thunder's third-string point guard eased up his pregame routine in Miami.
Instead, Jackson did quite the opposite, engaging in a grueling self-prescribed workout session, just days away from an offseason most of the league had already been enjoying for months.
“He was out there in one of those long-sleeved grey workout shirts and it was just covered in sweat, I mean drenched,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti recalled, speaking at his exit interview last May. “If there was ever a day where he probably could have slid by on the workout, it probably was Game 4 or 5 of the Finals.”
The Thunder always knew they had a tireless worker. There are stories of Jackson, even in his flip-flops, putting up shot after shot in the gym, hours on end, for so long that a staff member would occasionally have to suggest he go home.
But now the hope is, through that hard work, OKC is in the early stages of developing a potential Sixth Man and future star.
The signs are positive, and the external expectations have never been higher.
After losing the backup point guard job twice in his first two seasons — once when OKC signed Derek Fisher in 2012, the other when a now-departed Eric Maynor returned from injury in training camp last year — Jackson finally secured the spot, in an ironic twist, back on that same court in Miami for the Christmas game last season.
Scott Brooks called his number, Jackson played well in 13 high-pressure minutes, and it has been his spot ever since. He showed the Thunder brass enough confidence that they shipped Maynor to Portland at the February trade deadline.
But the stakes were lifted further during the playoffs. The morning after Game 2 of OKC's first-round series against the Rockets, a sore Russell Westbrook found out he tore his meniscus the night before.
Jackson went to bed an improving second-year player, still finding his postseason footing as the team's seventh or eighth man. He woke to news that he was now the starting point guard for the West's top seed.
“Reggie is ready,” Kevin Durant predicted at the time. And his young point guard backed up those wise words, averaging 15.3 points and 3.6 assists in 36.2 minutes over the next nine games.
The Thunder were eliminated in the second round by Memphis. But no one was blaming Jackson.
“He seized the opportunity,” Presti told reporters after the series. “Obviously, it was unfortunate circumstances in which he was thrust into real action, but I think it bodes well that he was able to handle that situation and perform.”
The biggest thing that playoff run did, in Jackson's eyes, was bump up his confidence after what he called “probably the most frustrating two years of my basketball career as a player.”
“Now I know I belong,” Jackson said at Media Day, admitting he used to feel “that I only belonged sometimes, against certain guys. In the back of my mind, having a mustard seed of doubt …(Now) I'm OK if I mess up that I can move on to the next play.”
But beyond the next play is the next stage. He's entering a new phase of his career.
Veteran sharpshooter Kevin Martin is gone, signing with Minnesota in free agency. And Jackson is next in line, sliding into the role of bench scorer, expected to ignite the second-unit.
He's still young (23) and inexperienced (115 career games, 13 minutes a night). So growing pains likely await.
But it's the talent that has Thunder brass so excited. And it's the trust that has Jackson so confident.
“I think the belief they had in me and then kind of instilled more belief in myself,” Jackson said. “Once you make a few good plays, you start figuring out that there are some things someone saw in you to bring you to the NBA.”