Slamadamonth, SLAM #26: Ron Mercer

Originally published in SLAM 26

He had heard about this sort of thing before, but it was the first time for him. As Spurs guard Jaren Jackson watched Tim Duncan and David Robinson fire up shot after shot during the second quarter of a laugher against the Boston Celtics, his career passed before his eyes.

It started in New Orleans, where he was the valedictorian at Walter Cohen High. Moved on to Georgetown, where he averaged 7.5 points and 2.9 rebounds. To the pros, where it all became a blur of 10-day contracts, hastily-lettered jerseys and part-time gigs in the CBA. He dwelled for a moment on those CBA experiences—two championships—and desperately tried to forget that stint with the WBL’s Dayton Wings in ‘91. During halftime, Jackson only heard every fourth word of Coach Pop’s impassioned speech about feeding the post. Chuck Person took one glance at Jackson’s glassy stare and nudged Vinny Del Negro. “What’s with JJ?” Vinny just shrugged.

By the third quarter, Jackson was completely lost. It was while he struggled to recall what exactly it was that Dikembe Mutombo told him in ‘89 before the Syracuse game – something about dunking – that disaster struck.

The Celtics were down 53-42. At halfcourt, Sean “Misdemeanor” Elliott was stripped by Chauncy Billups. Employee No. 4 got control and sprinted down the floor with Ron Mercer on his left and Jackson, shaken from his reverie, in pursuit. As Billups flipped a sweet, over-the-head, across-the-lane pass to Mercer, JJ switched off. Too late. Mercer took the elevator to 10 and left Jackson at six. Hard. And one.

While the resulting three-point play did nothing to help the Celtics chances (they still lost by—well, a whole bunch) or Mercer’s stat line (3-15 from the floor, 10 points), it did a world of good for Jackson. Jarred by the Spalding shampoo, he suddenly remembered Mutombo’s words: “Never let your man dunk on your head when the national media is watching.” Whoops.

At 1:44 in the video below…

Russ Bengtson