By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
In case you are wondering what former EuroLeague champion Aaron Jackson is up to these days, then look no further than two things: Shooting hoops and watching his toddler son shooting hoops as well.
“I’m shooting about 500 jumpers a day. It’s the first time being a father. This is sweet for me,” Jackson said on Eurohoops’ Facebook Live Show. Away from the camera’s eye, Jackson junior was throwing a ball at a mini basketball hoop. “I got two occupations. Being a father and playing basketball. And when basketball calls – and everyone knows that since I’m a professional – I’m always ready.”
Jackson, a EuroLeague veteran of seven seasons and five Final Fours, has been a free agent since he parted ways with Maccabi Tel Aviv last June. The COVID-19 pandemic that led to the cancelation of the 2019-20 season stole the American guard the opportunity of taking a shot at a sixth Final Four trip and then made him hesitant to explore his market options after he caught the virus himself.
“I missed the first wave of signings because I had coronavirus,” Jackson said. “And when I had it, it was really serious. It was around Father’s Day and it really bothered me. I was one of those players who were like: ‘I’m not coming back during this coronavirus, I know how dangerous it is.'”
“Now that I’m healthy and I’m seeing so many games, I see that they’re still figuring out a way to play games… Other than that, I’m still working out and staying in shape. Waiting for my opportunity,” Jackson, who described fatherhood as an “eye-opening” experience, added.
It’s late January and with 13 rounds remaining in the EuroLeague regular season, the competition, especially when it comes to the playoffs race, is just getting fiercer and fiercer. Jackson has no doubts that he can jump into this arena and instantly contribute to any team with winning aspirations.
“Every team can use an Aaron Jackson. I feel that way. You want to play good basketball… I’ve always been playing good basketball, turnover-free. In the locker room, I inspire guys. That’s been since Day 1. Every team can use an Aaron Jackson but it’s not about what team can use an Aaron Jackson. It’s what teams wants to win. And what pieces they can use to win. I think I’m a winner. Everywhere I went, I won.”
In a 50-minute conversation with Johnny Askounis and Antonis Stroggylakis, Jackson gave a retrospect of his career so far: from nasty food episodes in Turkey and his emergence at a top level with Bilbao, to becoming a core player of CSKA Moscow and fighting through multiple frustrating Final Four situations (most of them vs. Vassilis Spanoulis – who Jackson characterized as the “best closer ever” – and Olympiacos) to ultimately achieve the goal of winning the EuroLeague championship in 2016.
Jackson also talked about turning down EuroLeague offers to play in China in 2017, the wild background behind his first NBA game with the Houston Rockets and why he still remains the original “Twitter Bad Guy.”
Here’s the full interview:
Photo: Getty Images