Michael Jackson is one of the Greatest of All Time when it comes to music. Known as the "King of Pop," he's released classics like Billie Jean, Beat It, Smooth Criminal, etc. Jackson's sixth studio album, Thriller, is certified 34x Platinum! He's been nominated for 363 awards and has won 274! However, regardless of Jackson's extraordinary music legacy, we're going to be talking about a different Michael Jackson.
We'll be talking about Michael Jackson, the basketball players.
Notice how the 's' in 'basketball players' is bolded. That's because TWO Michael Jackson's were professional basketball players and played in the NBA. Since there are two, we'll start by highlighting the first Michael Jackson's basketball career.
1972-79 Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson, the basketball player, actually went by 'Mike Jackson,' but his birth name was Michael Jackson. Jackson was a 6'7" Power Forward that was selected in the 1972 ABA AND NBA Draft. In the ABA Draft, he was selected as the 87th pick by the Utah Stars. In the NBA Draft, he was selected as the 104th pick by the Houston Rockets.
Jackson ended up going to the Utah Stars to start his professional basketball career. Yes, the ABA and NBA are different, but since the ABA merged with the NBA, I will still count Mike Jackson as an NBA player (and for more content).
Jackson spent his first 1.5 seasons with the Utah Stars. In his first season (1972-73), he only played 30 games and played 6.4 minutes per game. He averaged three points and two rebounds while shooting 43.4% from the field and 60.9% from the free-throw line.
Although Jackson didn't have the most eventful season, the Utah Stars did. The Stars went 55-29 (65.5 W/L%) and finished first in the Western Conference. They were Top 3 in PPG, OPPG, offensive rating, and defensive rating! The Stars made it to the Western Division Finals but lost to the eventual Champions, the Indiana Pacers, 2-4
Jackson only played one game in the playoffs. It was Game 1 of the Western Division Semifinals against the San Diego Conquistadors. He only played two minutes and didn't record a single stat. What sucks is that within Jackson's four-year ABA career, this would be the only time he played in the playoffs.
The following season (1973-74), Jackson played 33 games for the Utah Stars before being traded to the Memphis Tams. Jackson got traded from the best team in the Western Conference (51-33) to the worst team in the Eastern Conference (21-63).
Jackson played a lot better this season. He averaged eight points, five rebounds, and one assist while shooting 50.5% from the field and 72.4% from the free-throw line. This improvement is primarily due to increased playing time. He went from playing 6.4 minutes to 20.5 minutes. Every stat went up!
After the 1973-74 season, Jackson would sign with the Virginia Squires and play for them for the following two seasons (1974-76). Once again, Jackson improved a lot. In his first season with the Squires, he averaged 12 points, six rebounds, and one assist while shooting 52.8% from the field and 78.6% from the free-throw line.
In his second season with the Squires and last season in the ABA, he had his best stat-line. He averaged:
12.2 Points, 7.6 Rebounds, 1.4 Assists, 0.6 Steals, and 0.4 Blocks
49.9 FG%, 79.6 FT%
Jackson also had his best performance in his career this season. On January 10th, 1976, against the Kentucky Colonels, Jackson put up:
35 Points, 12 Rebounds, 3 Assists
10/14 FG, 15/17 FT
Even though Jackson just had a career season, he would not continue playing for any other ABA/NBA team. The Buffalo Braves (now Los Angeles Clippers) signed a multi-year contract with Jackson but waived him a month later.
No offense to Jackson, but his 'improvement' was due to opportunity rather than self-improvement. He went from playing six minutes in his first season to 27.9 minutes in his last season. In addition, the worse the team was, the better Jackson played. Fewer star players meant more spotlight on you to shine. For example:
Utah Stars (1972-74): 106-62 --> 5.8/3.6/0.4
Memphis Tams (1973-74): 21-63 --> 8.7/5.5/0.9
Virginia Squires (1974-76): 30-137 --> 12.2/6.6/1.2
Mike Jackson's final stop in his professional basketball career was with the Allentown Jets in the CBA. He played with the Jets from 1976-79. He was one of the better players in the CBA. In his last season, he was selected to the All-CBA Second Team and averaged:
22.3 Points, 11.0 Rebounds, 2.4 Assists, 0.5 Steals, and 0.3 Blocks
58.3 FG%, 74.1 FT%
1987-90 Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson, the other basketball player, was a 6'2" Point Guard that got drafted by the New York Knicks as the 47th pick in the 1986 NBA Draft. To be honest, Jackson didn't have a long NBA career, so we'll also be looking at his NCAA career.
Jackson played all four years with the Georgetown Hoyas. Each season that Jackson was with the Hoyas, they made the NCAA Tournament. Jackson and the Hoyas' best season was in the 1983-84 collegiate season when they went 34-3 (91.9 W/L%) and finished first in the Big East. Not only were they the Big East Regular Season Champions, but they also ended up winning the NCAA Tournament!
The Hoyas beat the Houston Cougars, 84-75, to win the Championship! In the Finals, Jackson scored 11 points and had six assists while shooting 75.0% from the field and 100% from the free-throw line. The Hoya's success within Jackson's four years mainly was due to Patrick Ewing. Once Ewing left, the team went from 35-3 (1984-85) to 24-8 (1985-86).
Although Ewing was the best player during this period, Jackson was always the third or fourth-best player. His best season was in 1985-86, his senior year. He averaged:
10.5 Points, 2.0 Rebounds, 6.3 Assists, 1.3 Steals, and 0.1 Blocks
50.0 FG%, 81.1 FT%
After college, Jackson was drafted by the Knicks but ended up signing with the Sacramento Kings. Jackson would play three seasons with the Kings (1987-90), but they were all pretty uneventful. The Kings were bad, and Jackson never got to play:
1987-88: 24-58 / 58 Games Played
1988-89: 27-55 / 14 Games Played
1989-90: 23-59 / 17 Games Played
Jackson was also not that good of a player in the NBA. His best season was his freshman season when he averaged:
2.7 Points, 1.0 Rebounds, 3.1 Assists, 0.3 Steals, and 0.1 Blocks
37.4 FG%, 24.0 3P%, 71.9 FT%
After his rookie season, he got less playing time and shot worse. He shot 27.3% from the field and 50.0% from the free-throw line in his third season. He didn't have more than ONE in any statistic:
0.6 Points, 0.4 Rebounds, 0.5 Assists, 0.3 Steals, 0 Blocks
It wasn't even that Jackson had a lack of opportunity; he just wasn't good. His Per 36 numbers are horrible, and referring to the third season again, in 17 games, he only took 11 field goal attempts, and out of those 11, he only made three.
Jackon's best game was on December 13th, 1987, against the Atlanta Hawks. He put up:
10 Points, 3 Rebounds, 13 Assists, 2 Steals, and 1 Block
4/10 FG, 0/1 3P, 2/2 FT
This is the last time I'll roast Michael Jackson, the basketball player, and refer to his third season, but here are his third season totals. Compare this to his best game and remember, this was within 14 games:
10 Points, 7 Rebounds, 8 Assists, 5 Steals
3/11 FG, 1/2 3P, 3/6 FT