Mark Jackson watches on for the New York Knicks.
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PLAYERS & TEAM EARNINGS

Mark Jackson’s Homegrown Rookie of the Year Run

Learn how the legendary Point God brought new meaning to the term ‘assisted living’ by averaging a double-double while staying at his childhood abode.

Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, and Ja Morant all live in the rarified air of exceeding expectations in their NBA Rookie of the Year arrivals.

Where they did not live was in their parent’s house.

For Mark Jackson, an NYC Point God three times over at the prep, pro, and college level, the Queens kid kept it local by winning Rookie of the Year in his hometown — and actually living in his childhood home while doing it.

See, when Mark Jackson made the leap from college to pro, his tax bracket changed but his address stayed the same.

Despite signing a million-dollar deal with the New York Knicks, the Brooklyn-born baller by way of St. John’s saved money by spending his rookie season at home with his parents in their Queens crib in St. Albans.

On any given night, Jackson could see Michael Jordan across the court and his sister across the hallway. Whether playing pickup at the park or taking out the trash, the man dropping dimes to Patrick Ewing on TV was still shoveling snow behind the scenes.

“It helped me financially,” Jackson told Boardroom. “But more importantly, it grounded me and kept me true to who I was.”

A star in the city at each level, Mark remained rooted and grew because of it, paving the way for a multi-act career that’s still strong today.

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Home Game

Coming out of college, Mark Jackson had high hopes of landing in the lottery thanks to his prolific play at St. John’s.

photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

For reasons unbeknownst to most, he slid in the 1987 NBA Draft lottery, while staying put in the green room. Famously, his friend and fellow NYC Point God, Kenny Smith, came back to support him, setting the stage for a fairytale twist.

While pride and paper all add up when going high in the draft, fit proves superior to both. In a turn of the tables, the New York Knicks selected Jackson 18th overall, keeping him in the city that raised him. For years, Jackson had watched games at Madison Square Garden on TV before playing in them as a member of the Red Storm in Big East Tournament action.

Finally on November 9, 1987, he’d make his MSG debut in blue and orange.

That night, the New York Knicks hosted the Boston Celtics for Madison Square Garden’s home opener. Playing in front of a ruckus crowd and against Larry Bird for the first time, the rookie point guard shined, scoring 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting while handing out a game-high 10 assists.

Celebrating the high of an amazing debut but the low of a loss, Jackson jumped in his BMW and headed home to Queens.

photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

“I was the same old Mark in the house,” Jackson told Boardroom. “I was nothing special, the middle child of five.”

From that Boston breakout on, Mark started every game of his rookie season and the Knicks began to turn it around. Mark’s Madison Square Garden debut was the first of 39 double-doubles, paving the way for a playoff-worthy record where the Knicks would see Larry Legend and the Celtics once again.

In that first year, Mark averaged a remarkable 10 assists an outing – a high mark for any point guard, let alone one who just left college and still stayed with his parents. Coming in third in the league behind John Stockton and his childhood hero, Magic Johnson, Mark made a name for himself around NBA circles.

Still at home, the family came first and humility came with it.

“I’m sitting in the same bedroom with three brothers and my sister right next door,” Jackson recalls. “To realize that I could play in front of 20,000 people going crazy? Then I come back home and I’m just another guy taking out the trash and washing the dishes.”

Handing out dimes and tossing out garbage gave Mark a double-life few could relate to in the NBA.

Conversely, it gave locals in his St. Albans community a level of accomplishment they could aim for.

“Kids in school trying to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a nurse can see a kid from their street who made it,” Jackson says. “It gave them a license to think crazy and believe that it could happen.”

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Moving Out

Bringing the New York Knicks back to the NBA Playoffs has its perks.

For his efforts, Mark Jackson won 1988 NBA Rookie of the Year, taking his trophy back to Queens and proving wrong the teams that kept him waiting in the green room.

After an amazing rookie campaign spent staying at home, Mark made the decision to move out and into his own spot for his second season. Though he no longer lived with his parents, he still kept it all in the Point God family when securing his own digs, taking over the condo of friend and fellow pro Dwyane “Pearl” Washington.

“After I lived in my mother and father’s house my rookie year, my second year I moved into a condo in Secaucus, New Jersey,” Jackson shared. “And I got it from Pearl Washington. He meant that much to me, playing against him and competing against him. He was so good.”

Commuting from New Jersey to Manhattan in his second season, Mark Jackson built off his introductory success and was named an All-Star for the first and only time in his career.

On top of that, one could easily argue his post-playing career has been even more successful.

As a coach for the Golden State Warriors, Jackson was acclaimed for instilling confidence in a young Steph Curry — another humble hero who also slid in the draft. These days, Mark Jackson is renowned for his sideline coverage of the NBA, well known for his banter with Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen, along with his quotable catchphrases.

Still, his heart resides in Queens, where he hails as an all-time great at St. Johns and an all-time example of excellence in his community. That Rookie of the Year season living in his parent’s home still strikes a nerve even to this day.

“It sent a message to people in the neighborhood,” Jackson reflects. “You look outside and there’s a BMW sitting out there?

“A guy from the neighborhood has crazy dreams and he’s living it.”

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