Reggie Jackson wound up as an NBA champion with the Denver Nuggets last season, but if Giannis Antetokounmpo had gotten his way, the guard may have teamed up with him to help the Milwaukee Bucks win the title instead.
“When Reggie Jackson became a free agent and hit the buyout market late last season, he was pursued by several contending teams,” wrote Harrison Wind.
“One contender that wanted to sign Jackson? The Milwaukee Bucks.
“Giannis Antetokonmpo tried hard to recruit Jackson to the Bucks, league sources told DNVR. The two-time MVP badly wanted him in Milwaukee.
“Of course, Jackson opted for Denver. And the Nuggets are glad he did.”
Jackson has to be glad too, becoming a first-time NBA champion in his 12th NBA season when the Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat in the 2023 NBA Finals.
The 33-year-old took a winding road to landing in Denver in February. He was traded by the Los Angeles Clippers to the Charlotte Hornets but was shortly thereafter waived by his new club. At that point able to sign with any NBA team, Jackson quickly joined the Nuggets despite whatever efforts Antetokounmpo may have put forth to convince him to choose the Bucks instead.
Jackson played 16 regular season games after arriving in Denver, then appeared in just six playoff games during the Nuggets’ impressive run to the first title in their history.
Off of that small sample size, the sides thought enough of each other to do it again, and Jackson re-signed to stay in Denver this offseason.
For their part, the Bucks were knocked out in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs by the Miami Heat, and Antetokounmpo this offseason briefly raised the idea that he might’ve wanted to leave Milwaukee if the organization had not committed to winning another championship.
That idea went away quickly after the Bucks surprisingly landed Damian Lillard in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers. Antetokounmpo, a two-time NBA MVP, then signed a contract extension to remain with the Bucks.
Milwaukee and Denver are among the top favorites to win the NBA championship this season, and both teams are off to good starts. The Bucks have opened with a 5-2 record, while the Nuggets at 8-1 have the best record in the NBA.
With Denver’s standout starting point guard Jamal Murray injured, Jackson has played in all nine of those games as he looks to make a bigger contribution this season. Helping the Nuggets to back-to-back championships would further show that he made the right choice when given the opportunity to choose a new team.