MILWAUKEE -- It's an unsettlingly familiar story with the Milwaukee Bucks.
They bring in somebody who either doesn't want to be here, is a bad act or both.
Terrell Brandon. Tyrone Hill. Anthony Mason. Gary Payton. Jason Caffey. Dale Ellis. Bobby Simmons. Charlie Bell. Corey Maggette. On and on.
They pout. They mope. They quit on the team. They trash the locker-room chemistry.
Even the decent sorts who could play a little bit, such as Richard Jefferson, never hang around for long because their contract is too big.
So it was with a healthy dose of skepticism that Stephen Jackson was greeted Wednesday. I'm guessing he sensed the vibe, too, because Jackson's first words went toward disarming a roomful of media types at the Bradley Center.
"What's up, everybody?" Jackson cheerfully said before taking a seat between his new coach and general manager.
OK, we've heard this before way too many times for credibility's sake. All the right things are said at introductory news conferences, and then it goes the way of John Salmons' jumper.
And besides, what comes to mind when Stephen Jackson is mentioned?
Let's see, one, two, three, four . . . seven NBA teams. Once cut by the La Crosse Bobcats. He scores the ball like he gets technicals -- in bunches. He's had off-court problems. There was that little matter of the Malice in the Palace.
But then you read where Tim Duncan once called Jackson the "ultimate teammate." And that Don Nelson said Jackson was one of the finest people he's met, in or out of the game. If fact, so many players and coaches and reporters have vouched for Jackson's character that I'm waiting for the Pope to weigh in.
Character matters in a place like Milwaukee, especially after the Hill-Mason-Caffey debacles. But the Bucks have had enough nice guys who can't play, which only gets people fired in the NBA.
Jackson has been a prolific scorer, but somebody's got to score for bad teams. And he's 33. Besides, Salmons, Simmons, Jefferson and Maggette were supposed to score. Except for half a season the year before last, you've seen where that's gotten the Bucks lately.
But against all reason, I'm willing to give the Bucks and Jackson the benefit of the doubt this time because of how the latest import answered a very important question.
Near the end of last season, Brandon Jennings truthfully said the Bucks had players who didn't care about winning. It was clearly a locker room drained of some of its energy by guys such as Maggette.
How would a veteran such as Jackson go about changing that polluted atmosphere?
"Whatever it takes. If it takes a slap, a fight," Jackson said. "We're here to win games. This is not high school. We're not doing any baby-sitting. We have to be on the same page to win, not just the players but the coaching staff. It's no time for being babies or being scared. Scared? Go to church."
Well, hallelujah. Can we get an amen?
On this particular team, I would take a big, enthusiastic personality attached to a player who had something left and was eager, like Jackson, to show it.
"I'm definitely happy to be here," Jackson said. "If you want to know, you come ask me."
So much for the secondhand stuff.
Jackson probably won't average 15 points. He won't have to if Jennings, Andrew Bogut, Carlos Delfino, Beno Udrih, Shaun Livingston and Drew Gooden remain healthy. What the Bucks really need is for someone with Jackson's credibility -- the guy graduated from the CBA and Europe to win a championship ring -- to righteously get up in some faces and change that static, directionless locker-room mood.
Jennings is too young to do it. And if Jackson got up in Jennings' grill, I'm certain Jennings would welcome it. Bogut, too. A forceful leader would threaten neither. By the very fact that both texted Jackson on draft night, they're both ready for a little creative tension to replace the bad air that helped bring down last season.
Is Jackson the proper guy to advance that agenda? Based on the revolving door that never seems to stop with that particular salary slot, only a fool would take it on blind faith.
I was wrong last year when I wrote Scott Skiles could make the ill-fitting pieces fit. It was more than that. Beyond everything, it was the injuries. But it also was chemistry that took a hike. The question is whether Jackson can help the Bucks recapture it.
"This is the right player for us, no question whatsoever," Bucks general manager John Hammond said.
I know. We've heard it before. But, heaven help me, I'm willing to give it another chance.