Thunder's Reggie Jackson clears the air

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: July 31, 2011 at 10:34 pm •  Published: July 31, 2011
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Cleveland has The Drive, The Fumble and The Decision.

Oklahoma City now has The Promise.

OK, the latter might not belong in the same sporting annals. But around these parts the Thunder's mysterious pre-draft dealings with 24th overall pick Reggie Jackson stands as one of the most fascinating occurrences in the franchise's short history.

Already owning a reputation for his draft night wheeling and dealings and seemingly a yearly propensity to pluck a sleeper pick, Thunder general manager Sam Presti added another dimension to his unpredictable draft strategy when he allegedly promised Jackson he'd be a Thunder if he was still around at 24.

The day before the draft, Sports Illustrated reported that the Thunder had given Jackson a promise, citing speculation among numerous league executives. Other rumors had Jackson linked to Miami, which owned the 31st overall pick in the second round.

It was never clear whether the Heat promised Jackson and triggered the Thunder to snatch him up earlier, whether the Thunder promised Jackson and stuck to its guns or whether it was all hogwash.

The man himself says it was the latter.

“The speculation helped me, I guess, in getting drafted where I was,” Jackson said in a telephone interview.

“I understand this whole promise thing and (the way) everybody looks at it. But draft night is crazy. If everybody knew the draft (beforehand) I don't think people would show up to New York to watch it. I don't think people would tune in to watch it…I had no idea where I was going just like the next guy.”

The part where conspiracy theorists feast is when Jackson shut down all private workouts and interviews shortly after a workout in Oklahoma City. Jackson pulled the plug on his other stops because of a knee injury, leading many to think it was simply a smokescreen. But Jackson swears it was legitimate.

“After a workout for Oklahoma City, I came back and played pickup at my school,” Jackson said. “My knee, normally I could feel it tweaking, but it always got better. But it got worse. I went to the doctor and found out I couldn't go for about a month. I was supposed to come back. I tried to and I just couldn't compete, so I had to shut it down. That's about it. I was supposed to have workouts for other teams, but I honestly couldn't go. And that was that.”


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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