Maccabi Tel Aviv point guard Pierre Jackson has hailed the quality of the EuroLeague, but admits that his goal is to ultimately return to North America and the NBA.
The 26-year-old was a draft pick for the Philadelphia 76ers back in 2013 and made his NBA debut with the Dallas Mavericks in late 2016, but his career in the top league in his home country never took off due to a combination of misfortune and injury.
However, since July 2017 he has been on the books of Maccabi and become one of the top players in the Israeli Premier League and the EuroLeague.
“Maccabi has been great and welcomed me with open arms. I had some brief stints in Europe in the past, but I didn’t get a chance to stay long with those teams. But being here, it has easily been one of my best experiences as a professional basketball player,” Jackson told Hoops Hype in an interview.
He added, “I think the EuroLeague is easily the second-best league after the NBA, just due to the fact that there are so many former NBA players here. There are even former lottery picks in the league; if they don’t make it in the NBA and they decide to play overseas, they either go to China or they come to the EuroLeague.
“There are also guys who play over here for a good portion of their career who then make the transition to the NBA and have a lot of success, like Milos Teodosic and Bojan Bogdanovic. Both of those guys did a great job in the NBA this year. With guys like that and all the former NBA players, there are no nights off in the Euroleague.
The Las Vegas-born point guard is arguably one of the best players outside of the NBA at present, and admits it is his aim to return to the elite league in 2018/19.
“That’s my ultimate goal – to play at the highest level in basketball, play against the guys I grew up watching, and be able to stay at home [in the United States] to play in front of my family. Getting back to the NBA will be my goal until I can’t walk any more,” he explained.
“But EuroLeague is the second-best league in the world and I had an opportunity to play an entire healthy season in the EuroLeague, so this year was great to me. I had an amazing time with these guys this year. We had our ups and downs, but it was still an amazing season.”