By Randy Renner
When Thunder backup point guard and first team hero Reggie Jackson got home early Sunday morning from the basketball night of his life in Memphis his thoughts were probably still on the game.
Or maybe crawling into bed to get some desperately needed shut-eye.
But most importantly he wanted to set his alarm so he didn't miss morning church service.
Jackson has made a habit of giving the glory to God for the blessings in his life but he figured after finally being able to live out the dream of winning a playoff game for his team, he really wanted to be able to praise the Lord.
But as I said, his thoughts were a tad scattered and when he set his alarm he mistakenly set it for 8:30 PM, instead of 8:30 AM.
But as many of us know God works in mysterious ways.
"Fortunately I woke up at 8:15 AM, so I felt it was a blessing," Jackson said today after the Thunder's practice session.
But Reggie was a little late getting to church anyway. He didn't realize the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was being run Sunday morning and he drove right into the midst of the action, found a place to park and watched the runners finish.
"I was blessed to be out there and witness it and the best part about it was I saw my pastor's wife finish and she said my pastor was a few minutes behind so I got to meet up with him. I felt like God put us both there to meet up with each other."
Jackson lived his early life on U.S. military bases all over the world. He was born in Italy, grew up mostly in Colorado Springs and went to college in Boston.
Through it all it has had ONE. BIG. DREAM.
To be out there on an NBA court, making big shots to win a big game. The man out there at the end, with everything, his team's playoff life, riding on whether he made the shots or missed them.
"You grow up thinking of moments where you get a chance to really impact a game and to feel like you helped take over a game and win." Jackson's 32 points off the bench were more than superstar teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had combined. "I was just so happy."
So happy he cried a few tears of joy when Durant was the first one who run up to him and gave him a big hug because he was finally actually living his dream.
"We have a great relationship," Durant said. "It's up and down, we get on each other, we almost go to blows sometimes but I'm there for him when he needs me and he's there for me when I need him and that hug symbolizes our relationship. It was good to celebrate that moment with him."
"The embrace just meant so much," Jackson agreed. "We all may have our moments where we're barkin' at each other back and forth, trying to get things done. But we've all put in the work and watched each other put in the work and that moment was just about gettin' it done. It didn't matter who got it done we were just happy we were able to win."
Jackson brought the Thunder back from the brink of a near death experience and a 1-3 series hole.
In the closing seconds Saturday night, with superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each struggling through the worst combined shooting night of their playoff careers, it was Jackson who took over.
He might as well have said to his teammates climb up on my shoulders, I've got this. He then splashed a 3-ball to bring the Thunder to within a basket then stole the ball on the Grizzlies next possession and scored that needed basket to tie the game.
And in overtime he played nothing but string music in calmly nailing four straight, pressure-packed, game-on-the-line free throws.
"I think I surprise myself sometimes with my mental strength. It's kinda hard to tell yourself that you can, even though you may not have been in those moments, just preparing each and every day."
"There's been some tough times," Jackson admitted as he remembered what he called his journey. All the work, all the long nights in gyms, all the days trying to reach the moment and live the dream that seemed to always escape his grasp.
"Just having my teammates trust me that I could make the shots, it was a very emotional moment for me."
And for everyone wearing Thunder blue.