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Stephen Jackson Ready To Step In For Clippers

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Stephen Jackson arrived in Boston just 12 hours before his first shootaround with his new team.

But he was already prepared to make his mark as a Clipper.

Jackson, who officially signed late Tuesday night, pulled out a pair of custom Jordan Brand sneakers in Clippers’ colors and his initials stitched on the outer side. He talked about defense, and what it meant to be back in the league after the 35-year-old former champion watched the first six weeks of the NBA season from his San Antonio home.

“It’s a blessing just to be back and get another opportunity to play again,” Jackson said. “The way the season ended last year I just wanted to get back and approach the game different this year and get back and do what I love to do and that’s play basketball. I’m just thankful that the Clippers gave me an opportunity with some great young guys, a great team and to just be a part of it.”

Bringing in Jackson, a 6-foot-8, versatile guard/forward, became a necessity due to injuries on the wing to Matt Barnes (torn retina), Reggie Bullock (sprained ankle) and J.J. Redick (fractured hand and torn ligament in his wrist). He will be available Wednesday night against the Celtics.

“That’s a guy you can bring in and hopefully he can give you something right away,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said on the eve of his return to Boston. “He fits that bill for us, a guy who can hit shots and defend and give us some toughness, so I thought it was a good fit. After doing all our research and talking to a lot of people we thought we’d take the jump.”

In 13 seasons, Jackson has appeared in 72 postseason games, including starting all 24 games for the world champion Spurs in 2002-03 and 11 more starts as one of the leaders of the “We Believe” Warriors in 2006-07 where he played alongside Barnes and former Clipper Baron Davis.

“We welcome it,” Blake Griffin said of the addition of Jackson. “We need the help. He’s obviously done it for a long time and been with a lot of teams so I think he has experience coming into new situations and contributing. I thought he was good for the Spurs for the last two years. We welcome it.”

During Jackson’s time with the Spurs Tim Duncan called him the “ultimate teammate,” and Jamal Crawford, who briefly played with Jackson in Golden State, thought he would be a good fit for a Clippers team that has aspirations to go deep into the postseason.

Jackson is the only player on the Clippers’ roster who has won a title and one of two players (Redick) to play in the NBA Finals.

“Stephen has played well [in the past],” Rivers said. “He’s been good enough to be on a championship team.”

Jackson thinks he fits well, too, and said for him it starts on the defensive end of the floor.

“I think from the start, the thing I know right now is to defend,” Jackson said. “That’s something I love to do. I’m going to take on that role with a lot of pride right now.”


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