When Marc Jackson was an NBA rookie, he was told a prediction that seemed irrelevant, but stuck with him.
“I’ve got a secret,” his godfather Frank Marciano said. “You’re going to be on television when you retire.”
Twenty years later, the words Jackson once deemed absurd have proven true. After playing professional basketball across the world for more than a decade, Jackson found his second calling in sports media.
In 2017, he began working as a TV studio analyst for NBC Sports Philadelphia. Jackson appears before and after Philadelphia 76ers games to give his thoughts on the team’s performance.
Jackson starred as a center for the Owls from 1995-97 and was inducted into the Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame on Feb. 12, 2012.
Born at Temple University Hospital, he grew up on 11th Street near Girard Avenue, just four blocks away from McGonigle Hall, where he would lead the men’s team to the NCAA tournament two years in a row.
“He is Philly through and through,” said Paul Hudrick, who worked alongside Jackson at NBC Sports Philadelphia. “When you talk to him, there is no question where Marc Jackson is from.”
Combining his work in television and sports is the perfect match for Jackson, he said.
“When I see the players on the court before the game, it gets my adrenaline pumping,” Jackson added.
Long after his NBA career ended in 2006 and he retired in 2008, Jackson remains incredibly passionate about the sport, he said.
Jackson spent his first year of college playing basketball at Virginia Commonwealth University. It was his first time leaving Philadelphia, and Jackson’s playing time was sparse, and he felt there were better opportunities for him elsewhere, he said.
That’s when he decided to transfer, but the change of teams wasn’t a difficult transition for Jackson because he was coming home.
“It was surreal for me and for a lot of people who knew me growing up for me to be playing at Temple University,” Jackson said.
Jackson spent two seasons as an Owl and was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder during both seasons. He led Temple to the NCAA Tournament both years with an aggressive scoring mentality and rebounding ability.
Following his career at Temple, the Golden State Warriors selected Jackson in the 1997 NBA Draft. Before playing in the NBA, Jackson spent three years playing professionally in the Euro league for Turkey and Spain.
When Jackson came back to the United States to play in the NBA, he had a remarkable rookie season for the Warriors. He averaged 13.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game and was named to the 2000-01 NBA All-Rookie Team.
Jackson’s rookie performance earned him a six-year, $24 million contract with the Houston Rockets, which the Warriors matched.
What Jackson didn’t know is he would return to Philadelphia again soon.
After a brief stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Philadelphia 76ers traded Jackson in 2003. But instead of being a young, impressionable kid, he was growing as a person, and he had become financially stable, he said.
“The biggest difference is once you become an NBA player, you get more relatives popping up … you have to learn to tell people no,” Jackson said.
Now, Jackson has gone from a maturing adult to an elder statesman.
“Marc is always sharing,” said Danny Pommells, who works with Jackson at NBC Sports Philadelphia. “He’s comfortable being who he is, so working with him is a really insightful and joyful experience.”
Jackson credits Temple’s camaraderie and coach John Chaney’s leadership as some of the reasons he found success, he said.
“For those guys to really embrace me and treat me as family, I think it really showed how John Chaney developed us as men,” Jackson said. “Not just as basketball players. As men.”