This Day In History (1.20.97): Mark Jackson with 21 points and 22 assists during his Denver vacation
It’s not often a team trades a player, realizes they made a huge mistake and then makes a trade to get the player back within a years time. But, that’s what Pacers GM Donnie Walsh had to do when he traded point guard Mark Jackson for Jalen Rose in 1996. More baffling than the reasons why the Pacers gave up Jackson is how easy it was for them to get the league leader in assists back from a team that knew they had the advantage. Donnie only had to give up Vincent Askew, Eddie Johnson, and two future 2nd round picks for the player that was averaging 10 points and 11.4 assists a game.
Although the Nuggets weren’t going anywhere fast with or without Mark Jackson, having the the future NBA coach running fast breaks with Antonio McDyess and LaPhonso Ellis while Dale Ellis was spotting up for three pointers was a highlight fans’ fantasy. He was also a fantasy god that season, since he was the only person outside of Stockton (10.5) averaging double figures in assists.
One of his best games that season came on this day in 1997, when he racked up 21 points and a season-high 22 assists against the Nets in a 132-123 win (in regulation). Jackson would only play 11 more games with the run-and-gun Nuggets before going back to Indiana, where he continued to put up some of the best stats of his career.
Speaking of gaudy stats. Flashback 45 years earlier and you have a 61-point, 36-rebound monster game from George Mikan to talk about…but I’ll save that story for another day.