The Rockets clinched the NBA’s best record with a few games left last season. In their penultimate game, they beat the Lakers in Los Angeles. The following day, they closed the season in Sacramento.
Aaron Jackson – whose season playing in China already ended – attended that game in Los Angeles. Then, Houston signed him to play against the Kings.
I saw some plays that I liked, and I actually put them down in my notes in my phone that I was going to bring back to my Chinese team. And I got a phone call the next morning.
Obviously, I went out that night. I drank. I smoked. I did all things that adults do in L.A.
And I got a phone call the next morning, and it said, “Can you play tomorrow?” Nate, I’m hung over. I’m really hung over. I opened my eyes like, I literally wanted to say, “Who the hell is this calling me?” But it was my agent. I’m just like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. My season’s over.” He’s like, “The Rockets, you know they’ve always been interested you. They saw you again in person yesterday. They want to know if you want to play for them in the playoffs.” I’m just like, “Yeah, of course I want to play.”
And then they said, “We play today.” I get on the jet. Can you get on the jet? I got in the team owner’s jet.
And I’m thinking, “Hold on, I’m playing today?” I don’t have my sneakers with me, nothing. Keep in mind, I’m dehydrated, of course. I didn’t get to drink any water. I went straight to the clearport. I’m just trying to drink as much bottles of water as I can. I’m looking at the owner. The owner’s family would look at me. I’m wondering whether they think I’m drunk or I’m hungover from last night, because I didn’t get to shower. They literally rushed me, as soon as I woke up, to get on the Uber and get into the plane. So, I’m just looking like this is awkward as f—, as they say.
An all-nighter. Just imagine an L.A. party scene in the movie. I had one of those nights.
And I get to the gym the other day. And Trevor Ariza – he’s not playing – he’s like, “Hey, you want to wear my sneakers?” It’s like, is this really happening? I’m wearing some random sneakers, some random tights. I got someone’s tights. They were too big. I got in the game, and John Lucas was like – I was like, “I was partying last night.” He was like, “It’s basketball. Just play the game. Play the game.”
Jackson scored eight points in 34 (!) minutes in his NBA debut. He stuck with the Rockets for their playoff run, playing garbage time in seven postseason games. He returned to Beijing Shougang this season.