He scored eight points in overtime. Nine points in the fourth quarter. Five points in the final minute of regulation.
“Every kid dreams of the shot, counting down,” Jackson said. “Everybody knows, in the backyard, what you’re doing. You dream of moments like that. It was great. Finally felt like it paid off, especially on that stage.”
This was April, but it felt like March. Felt like an NCAA Tournament game, where a guy you’ve never heard of has the game of his life and the victor celebrates like the last day of school.
One last vestige of the Thunder U. charm. This team has grown up. It’s no longer the fuzz-faced young’ns trying to make their way in the world. No longer the half frat house, half basketball team. Durant and Jackson told the story Monday about the lockout summer, when the Thunder had drafted Jackson but couldn’t be in contact with him. Jackson was in OKC, working out with his new teammates, and didn’t have a place to live. Spent one night on Durant’s kitchen floor and didn’t mind, because he can sleep most anywhere, including a two-minute busride to the arena.
“Me and Reggie have a close relationship,” Durant said. “Great relationship. It’s up and down. We get on each other. We almost come to blows sometimes. But I’m there for him. When I need him, just to talk, just to be there. That hug right there symbolizes our relationship. It was good to celebrate that moment with him.”
Jackson talked Monday of his “journey.” The third-year players toiling away in Sacramento and Cleveland and Milwaukee don’t really want to hear such talk, but nothing’s come easy for Jackson. Not highly-recruited out of high school in Colorado Springs. Not a prominent draft prospect out of Boston College. Didn’t even suit up during the 2012 NBA Finals as a rookie. Beat out popular backup point guard Eric Maynor, meaning Jackson had to prove himself even more. Even the first three games of this very series, when Jackson, despite playing well most of the season, made just three of 19 shots.
“Been some tough times,” Jackson said. “Grew up thinking of moments where you get a chance, realty feel like you impact your team, take over a game and win. Just happy we did it together.
“Happy to be a part of getting stops, making shots at the moment, my teammates trusting in me. Very emotional moment for me. Hopefully one of many to come.”
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at . He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.