Bobby Jackson back in Minnesota, but this time without the high socks
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Bobby Jackson may not be thrilled about the impending winter, but the former Minnesota Timberwolves and University of Minnesota star is happy to be back in the state where his basketball career first took off.
Officially announced Monday as the Timberwolves' new player development coach, Jackson has reunited with Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders, who coached the 12-year NBA veteran guard in his two years with Minnesota.
When Saunders called Jackson a couple months ago, shortly after Jackson had finished his third year working in the Sacramento Kings organization, the 40-year-old coach didn't need much convincing to join the Timberwolves' staff.
The impact Saunders left on Jackson's career is one he still remembers, and one that has helped drive him since he started pursuing coaching after his playing career ended in 2009.
"He was probably the hardest any coach has ever been on me at this level," Jackson said Monday, speaking to a gathering of media members at the Target Center.
"I would come into practice every day and If I made a mistake he would let me know about it. But I was kind of a hot-tempered type of guy, so you learn from your mistakes. And he taught me how not to make mistakes."
Before the NBA came Jackson's standout two-year career with the Gophers. Clad in his trademark white high socks, which he claims he started wearing because of how cold it was in Minnesota, the fiery point guard led the Gophers on their first and only Final Four run in 1997 (Minnesota's results from his two seasons have since been wiped away due to NCAA-imposed sanctions).
Sadly, Jackson insists the high socks won't be making a reappearance on the Timberwolves' bench.
Jackson's return also brought about a reunion with Timberwolves' head coach Rick Adelman. Jackson played five seasons with the Sacramento Kings under Adelman's guidance.
That five-year stretch, Jackson said, was the turning point in his pro career.
"He kind of took me from a loose cannon to a nice young player," Jackson remarked. I have a lot of respect for him and what he does for the game, and how he improves player's games. He doesn't say a lot, but when he wants to get something through he knows how to do it."
Now Jackson is trying to fill the same type of mentor role with the Wolves players he has been entrusted with. Jackson has recently been working at the team's practice facility with returning forward Chase Budinger and rookies Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng and Lorenzo Brown.
Those workouts, which he was running the guys through twice a day, had been so intensive that it triggered a call from Adelman.
"I'm a workout monster. I go hard. He called yesterday and said, "Dang, you're working the guys too hard. I want them to have some legs before training camp," Jackson recalled with a smile. "I had to cut the workouts to one instead of two."
Jackson hinted at his desire to eventually ascend into a head coaching position, but in the meantime he is trying to soak up all the experience and knowledge he can get in his new position.
"I can learn a lot of things myself," Jackson said. "When I was younger, I didn't take that approach. I was kind of a hard-head. Now that I'm older I can say that taking advice from the older guys and trying to get that knowledge is very huge for where I'm trying to go."
As he gets settled back in Minnesota, Jackson expressed excitement about his desire to reconnect with his alma mater. He has not yet spoken with new Gophers coach Richard Pitino but expects to soon.