While Jackson was a member of the Clippers, the Pacers and Knicks developed a rivalry that was one-sided at its onset. The teams met in consecutive years in the NBA playoffs in 1993 and 1994, and the Knicks won each meeting.
The Pacers, needing to address their shaky point guard situation, were able to swing a trade for Jackson.
And ironically, Jackson was there when Ewing’s aforementioned finger roll caught back iron.
In addition to the 1995 series, Jackson helped the Pacers beat the Knicks in the playoffs in 1998 and 2000.
Though still a New Yorker at heart, he long ago ceased being a favorite of Knicks fans.
And almost 20 years after Jackson stood on the wood floors at Madison Square Garden and embraced Reggie Miller, Friday night seemed to be a bit of deja vu.
The Brooklyn Nets welcomed the Golden State Warriors to Barclays Center for the first time and Jackson, again, was a visitor in his own city.
“I’m a New York guy, ” Jackson said when asked how he copes with being unpopular in his own hometown. “I’ve been there before,” he said. “I’ve been all over this place.”
In front of 18,000 fans in his hometown of Brooklyn, NY, Jackson coached his visiting Warriors to a victory in an NBA game less than one mile from where he attended high school.
“I went to high school a couple blocks away,” Jackson recalled. ”It’s great to be back.”
The team had changed from the Knicks to the Nets.
The venue was no longer Madison Square Garden, it was Barclays Center.
And now, Jackson was no longer the player, but the coach.
But even still, at the end of the day, Jackson was an opponent in his home city, and just like 1995, he walked away victorious when his Warriors defeated the Nets, 109-102.
Much to the chagrin of his fellow New Yorkers.
“I was happy my guys got it going,” Jackson said after the game. “[They] fought and competed, and we leave out of here with a victory.”
Publicly, Jackson said the right things about his first game in Brooklyn being “just another game,” but everyone knew it was a bit more than that.
Afterward, Stephen Curry spilled the beans.
“He’s talked about it before,” he said. “[Jackson] talked about this being a dream of his and we just wanted to come out and make [a win] happen for him. He had so much passion after the game, you can tell how much this meant to him.”
After defeating the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night, the Warriors now improve to 2-0 on a seven-game road trip that will see them make stop in Washington, D.C. on Saturday and Charlotte on Monday.
No doubt, the Warriors are happy to have won the first two games on the trip, but Friday night’s game in Brooklyn, for Jackson, was special.
“It feels good to be home,” he said after the game. “But it feels even better to leave with a victory.”
Again, to the chagrin of New York basketball fans. But for Mark Jackson, that’s nothing new.
Moke Hamilton is a Senior NBA Columnist for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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