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.
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