OAKLAND -- Stephen Jackson reported to the Golden State Warriors' training camp Monday with a new tattoo covering much of his chest. With a church window as the background, two praying hands are inked on his sternum -- and they're holding a gun.
Yes, this is the same Stephen Jackson who will miss the Warriors' first seven games under NBA suspension for pleading guilty to a felony charge of criminal recklessness after firing an awfully similar gun into the air at an Indianapolis strip club.
"I pray I never have to use it again," Jackson said in explanation.
Jackson's audacity under the tattoo needle is stunning even to his teammates, who seem to be in a frantic competition to cover their entire bodies in ink.
"I can't believe that one," said Al Harrington, who redecorated his arms and back. "I thought I was crazy."
But Jackson's fearlessness is exactly why the Warriors love him -- and basketball's favorite playoff underdogs need a big season from the swingman now that Jason Richardson has departed.
"We're going to have a full season together, and all the nonsense is behind me," said Jackson, who also sports an unfinished full back tattoo featuring the jack of diamonds -- with himself as the jack. "All my probation stuff is behind me. I don't have to worry about flying back and forth to court this year, so it's all positive. I'm ready to roll."
Jackson and Harrington transformed the Warriors in January after arriving in an eight-player trade with Indiana. With a late-season flourish, Golden State surged over .500 and made the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons -- and then knocked off the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in arguably the biggest postseason upset in NBA history.
Jackson's 3-point shooting and veteran's poise kept the Warriors in many close games, but he'll be asked to do more this season after Richardson was traded to Charlotte in a draft-day deal for No. 8 pick Brandan Wright.
The Warriors posed for team pictures at their training complex Monday in downtown Oakland before hopping a flight to Hawaii, where they'll open workouts and play two exhibitions against the Los Angeles Lakers.
With coach Don Nelson's protracted contract renegotiation finally wrapped up, everything seems harmonious for the franchise.
Baron Davis, the hero of the Warriors' dramatic run to the postseason, said he won't opt out of his contract next summer if he doesn't get an extension this month, contrary to prior reports. Davis reported to camp lighter and quicker after offseason consultations with Jerry West and Steve Nash.
Though he won't turn 30 until April, Jackson projects a steady calm that belies his mercurial reputation. Aside from the strip-club gun incident, he's best known for his No. 2 role in the infamous brawl in the Detroit stands alongside then-teammate Ron Artest.
"There's a lot of stuff in Jack's past, but that's true of almost anybody if you stay in this game long enough," Nelson said. "We have great confidence in him as a player and a leader, and I think you'd hear that from most people who have spent time to really get to know Jack."