Last of 2 parts. Read Part 1 here.
Imagine Chris Jackson teaming up with Eric Menk, who is still at the peak of his career, and Rommel Adducul up front. That would have given a solid front court rotation for the Ginebra Gin Kings.
Jackson disclosed to ABS-CBN News how he nearly ended up playing for the league's most popular team.
"The thing that people may not know is I did tryout before I retired. Coach Siot (Tanquingcen) approached me when he was at Ginebra. He wanted me to join the coaching staff. My passion for the game was so strong and my competitive juices were still flowing, so I asked him if I could do just one conference as a player and help coach before joining the staff permanently. He was willing. I went to practices, learned some plays, pointed some things out defensively, and joined a practice game. I thought I did pretty well, doing my normal defense in the post and actually playing well in the system. Afterwards the guys thought I would be on the team, congratulating me on my return," Jackson wrote in an exclusive online interview.
"But afterward, I believe the Big Boss voted me down so I didn’t make it. They promoted from within and I understand that. I considered looking to see if I could join the staff of another team, but I did not inquire thinking it would be the similar. Had I joined the the team, I could only imagine what that would have been like."
Shell was on the verge of selling its franchise to Welcoat, now known as Rain or Shine, but the Elasto Painters management had no intentions of acquiring the players of the Turbochargers, who had to unload their players to other teams.
"That was 2005. I spent my career reading signs. The PBA was going through changes. They were changing the league format. In fact, they had extended the prior year, that’s why Shell disbanded in the middle of 2005 instead of December. I was going through changes as well. I was coming off an injury (I had micro tears in my Achilles), plus my knees were starting to cause me a little discomfort from wear and tear. Dr. (Raul) Canlas said he could clean them again, but I would be back in his office in 6 months. I was older already," wrote Jackson.
Alvin Patrimonio, the best forward of his generation, just retired, and somehow, Jackson took it as a cue to possibly follow The Captain in hanging up his sneakers.
"Alvin P. had just retired in 2004 (I thought the league should have given him a better send off when he announced his retirement) and he and I are about the same age. So from a timing standpoint, it was probably the right time for me to retire," he added.
Jackson stayed on, but not for long. He left in 2008 to attend to important family matters and stayed in the United States from there on.
"Again, reading the signs, I stayed in the Philippines until 2008 before I came back to the States. My father’s health was not that good and fortunately, I got back to spend time with him and my family before he passed away the following year," he added.
Jackson's brand of game may not be entertaining for casual fans, but for basketball purists, he's one player coaches wanted to have on their teams.
He shared his perspective on how defense is being viewed.
"Basketball is entertainment for fans. I mean the game is much more when you’re playing. But even for us, when we watched games, we wanted to see a good game, running and shooting and dunking. But how many times do you see all-defensive team players in the All-Star Game even in the NBA? It happens, Giannis (Antetokounmpo), Kawhi (Leonard), and even Michael Jordan, but they are pretty rare I think," wrote Jackson.
"Are we underappreciated by the fans? I would say no. Real basketball fans know. Even to this day I meet people that remember me and they say they appreciated my defense, my style of play, and my attitude…and that I could shoot the 3-point shot, ha ha ha. I don’t know anybody who has said to me that a team won a championship and they didn’t need defense. I believe those that really know basketball, and all sports, know the importance and contribution that defense and defenders have on their sport. Or least I hope they do," he added.
How he defended was a tribute to the learning he valued from different coaches who either pushed him to the limit or even made him a better version of himself.
"Most of my coaches influenced some part of me or my outlook about the game. All of them challenged me one way or another. I can go back to when I first played organized basketball. My 5th grade teacher, Mr Long (can't recall his first name) , was my first coach. He made it fun and also continued to get me to study. He taught me not to hold back, even in the classroom. He encouraged me to go ahead with my work and not make me wait for the rest of the class. He taught me to push the limits," wrote Jackson.
"The first serious team I played for in junior high school my coach, the late Mr. Alvarado went out and got good local players. He took our all-star team to other states. He got me to appreciate playing with others I didn’t know and to see what opportunities basketball could give me. My second high school coach, Gary McKnight, he put me at point guard. Before that I played all around, offense and defense. From Coach McKnight I learned to see the game from a different perspective and to learn every position in the offense."
Jackson's game continued to evolve.
"From my second college coach, Dana Padgett, I learned to love the game again. From him, I experienced there is more than basketball, but basketball is a very big part of life (for me). From Coach Padgett and my third college coach, John Masi, I learned that as players, there are coaches that listen to players. We are on the court and we see things from a different perspective than coaches on the sideline. They asked for my opinions and allowed me to make changes in the game without questioning or stopping me, whether it be changing plays or calling out my own," he added.
Of course, Filipino players had a big influence in Jackson's professional basketball career and he named a few of them.
"Coach Cholo Martin just let me play (in the PBL). He didn’t know what I could do, but he didn’t hold me back. I thought Coach Nat Canson was pretty calm and cool on the sidelines, but he had his moments. I learned from him. Coach Adonis (Tierra) and I butted heads once, but I think he knew it was because I was passionate about winning. He was proving he could be a head coach in the PBA. I felt we weren’t practicing hard. I appreciated him more for challenging me," wrote Jackson.
How about Chot Reyes, the coach who drafted him, but shipped him to Sta. Lucia for Jack Tanuan?
Jackson and Reyes will be reunited with Sta. Lucia in 1997, but the coach's stint with the franchise was short lived.
"Coach Chot. He drafted me and traded me the same day. Then, he coached me at Sta Lucia and he didn’t play me much. From him, I learned patience and to stick with it. I learned it was no use to complain and not to get discouraged," said Jackson.
"Coach Chito Narvasa didn’t stay as coach for that long, but I remember him. After I left Sta Lucia I was seriously considering playing in the MBA. In fact, I was about to sign with them but, then I went to talk to Shell. I remember Coach Chito telling management to give me what I wanted (salary wise). I asked them just to match my MBA offer. From Coach Chito, I learned value -- or at least what I could bring to a team had value. By the end of that first year, with Shell Coach Perry taking over, I had my first championship."
Ronquillo is Jackson's favorite, not just because he won two championships with him.
"Speaking of Coach Perry, he was my favorite. I think he appreciated what I could do on the floor. I learned I had to be in shape to play for him. This guy had a combination of many of the coaches best attributes that I had played for. He knows the game of basketball, he studied the game. He made the most with the players he had. He listened to his players. When we had ideas during games, he would ask and listen. I tell people this story. At Shell, I would take the ball from out of bounds and pass to Noy Castillo, our point guard at one point. Everybody knows Noy could shoot the ball. Well, without trying it in practice or asking Coach Perry one time, I passed the ball to Noy from out of bounds and told Noy we need a basket. Noy didn’t say anything, he just gave me the ball and went into our stack offense as the runner. We had to switch all around because I was one of the guys setting the pick in the stack. So Jun Marzan, one of my favorite teammates, had to be in the stack. I remember the first time I decided to do it (again without asking Coach Perry or trying it in practice) it was against Mobileline," recalled Jackson.
"Now Asi, the biggest guy on the floor, was guarding me. What did that do? He came out and pressured me as I started our offense, drawing the biggest guy away from the basket. I just had to protect the ball. Noy goes off one stack, I bring the ball to that side, he’s not open. He comes back off the other stack, I bring the ball on the other side. Asi is big and Mobile but I could see Noy was going to be opened. I passed it to him as the defender got caught in the pick, Noy caught the pass, shoots a 3 and makes it. I remember looking out of the corner of my eye real quick at Perry. He didn’t look surprised or angry. It was (almost) just as he diagramed. Ha ha ha. He never said anything about it," wrote Jackson.
"I remember seeing Coach years later here in the states as we ate dinner and I mentioned it. He just laughed as if it was nothing. He’s a player’s coach I tell you. Plus he played me the most minutes of my career! Ha ha ha. I love that guy."
When Ronquillo was replaced, it also meant the minutes had to dwindle down for Jackson.
"My coaches after him, Coach (John) Moran, and Coach Leo Austria. I was older already. We had younger guys who could run. Both coach played me some, but the game was changing. I learned to see and accept that under them."
Of course, playing in the PBA gave Jackson some great moments and outside of the championships, he mentioned quite a few of them.
"We got to travel to the UAE and Taiwan when I was playing for Sta. Lucia. With the national team, I got to see a part of Italy and South Korea. I met many good players and guys who I still consider friends today.
Because of the PBA, I got to see many areas of the Philippines. I got to see my relatives in Quezon City and play in Bicol, my mom’s province. My brothers and sisters remember the Philippines as kids. I now have memories as an adult. I also have friends who see me as Chris and not just as a basketball player. Relationships is what I treasure most, well at least right up there with the championships and awards."