It's a simple example of how good the Portland Trail Blazers are this year, how deep this Western Conference powerhouse really is: Jim Jackson, a starter his whole life, comes off the bench.
One of the better shooting guards in the league, and at one time teetering on the cusp of superstardom, Jackson started only nine games this season for Portland. It was quite an adjustment for a player who had started 398 of his 399 games since being picked No. 4 overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1992 NBA Draft.
Still, he proved to be a critical component as a reserve, scoring 8.4 points, almost three assists and more than three rebounds in an average of just 24 minutes per game. In his first-ever playoff series, this year in the first round against the Phoenix Suns, Jackson scored 12.3 points in less than 18 minutes a game.
His scoring this year was less than half of his career average. But Jackson has taken it well, talking about the joy of finally being on a winner after a career that has taken him through five teams in seven years.
The bright promise of the Mavericks, with Jackson and his young counterparts Jamal Mashburn and Jason Kidd, never quite panned out. And when Don Nelson cleaned house in the 1996-97 season, Jackson was on his way to New Jersey, then Golden State, then Philadelphia before putting down some roots in Portland.
Right now, Jackson plays behind sometime troubled shooting guard Isaiah Rider. But the Blazers have shown they want Jackson around for the long run, signing him to a multi-year contract in early February.
Becoming a starter once again, of course, may never be very far away for the talented Jackson. But for now, he's happy coming off the bench.
And helping the Blazers win.