Antonio R. Harvey | Observer Staff Writer

Stockton Kings Head Coach, Bobby Jackson (Photo by Antonio Harvey)

Bobby Jackson was among the players most responsible for the Sacramento Kings’ perennial NBA playoff appearances during the late ’90s and early 2000s. Fans loved “Action Jackson” as he led the team’s famed “Bench Mob,” and has been a valuable member of the Sacramento community since.

Now, as head coach of the franchise’s G League Stockton Kings, he’s learning to lead the bench in a new way.

“It’s a great opportunity to further my coaching career,” Jackson, 48, said after his hiring in May. “It’s been a long process for me but I enjoy it. When (Stockton Kings General Manager) Paul Johnson asked me to interview for it, I said of course. To be able to grow, reach that pinnacle in your career, especially coaching, is a wonderful thing.”

Jackson got the job after spending the previous two seasons as an assistant and player development coach for the Sacramento Kings under head coach Luke Walton. He’s cutting his coaching teeth leading Sacramento’s summer league squad, which began play Aug. 3. He’s tasked with helping draft picks Davion Mitchell and Neemias Queta, as well as other young players acclimate to the professional game.

The Kings finished 0-2 in their own California Classic on Aug. 3 and 4 at Golden 1 Center. But the team won all four of its games in the Summer League in Las Vegas.

Though winning always builds confidence, Jackson said his focus is on teaching.

“My biggest thing is to teach them how to be consistent,” he said after the Kings lost their first California Classic game 89-82 in overtime against the Golden State Warriors. “I think the guys competed but still are learning how to play the right way. So it’s about finding a consistent groove. It’s part of the process.”

The NBA G League is the NBA’s official minor league, preparing players, coaches, officials, trainers, and front-office staff for the NBA while acting as the league’s research and development laboratory.

Former Kings player Shareef Abdur-Rahim is its president. Jason Hart, a nine-year NBA veteran who played with the Kings and has extensive college coaching experience, was named head coach of the G League Ignite on Aug. 12. 

The G League develops players, but it also provides a proving ground of sorts for aspiring coaches, general managers, trainers, and administrators of media personnel.

Since his playing days ended, Jackson has been deeply rooted in Sacramento’s community. 

Jackson was assistant player development coach for Sacramento in 2018-19 after serving the previous three seasons as a college scout under former Kings GM Vlade Divac. He has also served as a regional scout and player development coach for the Kings from 2010 to 2012 and with another of his former teams, the Minnesota Timberwolves, in 2013.

Jackson also had a stint as a television color analyst. 

“We are thrilled to have Bobby lead our G League team and continue its development towards our future,” said Sacramento Kings GM Monte McNair. “Bobby has been a mainstay in the Kings organization for more than two decades contributing his relentless hard work, valuable knowledge and mentorship over time.”

As a player for the Kings, the Salisbury, North Carolina, native played six seasons, averaging 10.6 points 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 steals and 22.7 minutes per game in 365 career games for the Kings, topped off by winning the 2003 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award.

Over 12 NBA seasons, Jackson averaged 9.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.98 steals and 22.2 minutes in 755 games (143 starts) for six teams.

Jackson led the University of Minnesota to the school’s only Final Four appearance, averaging 15.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists en route to earning 1997 Second Team All-American and Big 10 Player of the Year honors. 

Locally, Jackson has been a teacher of the sport. He founded the Bobby Jackson Basketball Academy, which provides youth an opportunity to improve their basketball skills while having fun and making friends in a positive and encouraging environment. The program also is a process for young athletes to improve leadership skills, confidence, and work ethic on and off the court.

Jackson is truly giving back to the league what the NBA and the Kings’ franchise gave to him — the love of the game of basketball and the opportunities it affords.

Now he has a chance to impart his knowledge and passion to young professionals.

“I think this is a growing process for me and I think I can really get better down the line with a lot of things,” Jackson told the OBSERVER by ZOOM on Aug. 10. “That’s the good thing about basketball and in life. It’s about taking that challenge and developing that skill set that allows you to be successful down the road.”

About the G League

  • Prepares players, coaches, officials, trainers and front-office staff for the NBA while acting as the league’s official minor league, as well as a research and development laboratory.
  • Twenty-eight of its 29 teams had direct affiliations with NBA franchises in the 2020-21 season.
  • A record 45% of NBA players at the start of 2020-21 boasted had played in the G League.
  • Began play in 2001 as the National Basketball Development League (NBDL); renamed the NBA Development League (NBA D-League) in 2005.
  • Was renamed the NBA G-League before the 2017-18 season as part of a multiyear expanded partnership between the NBA and Gatorade.
  • In fostering the league’s connection to the community, its teams, players and staff promote health and wellness, support local needs and interests, and assist in educational development through NBA Cares programs.