The last time Stephen Jackson played in a game at the Bradley Center involving the Spurs, he scored 34 points.

He was suiting up for the home team then, and his season high single-handedly lifted Milwaukee to a 106-103 victory.

Jackson's offensive eruption of Jan. 10 would be the lone highlight of his contentious, 26-game Bucks career.

Two months later, amid constant clashes with coach Scott Skiles, the firebrand small forward was traded back to the Spurs via Golden State, napalming the bridge out of Milwaukee as he left.

"I just wanted to be around a positive organization that's used to winning and plays the game the right way," Jackson says now. "Milwaukee, they're not used to winning. I just wasn't going to go for it at the end of my career."

Jackson, 34, returns to Milwaukee tonight for the first time since his March 13 trade, unmoved by the chilly reception he is sure to receive on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Coming off the bench for a Spurs team again vying for the best record in the NBA, Jackson is healthy, productive and — perhaps most puzzling of all to the basketball fans of Milwaukee — happy with his new life in an old stomping ground.

Averaging 7.2 points and shooting 37.3 percent, Jackson is not the same player he was in 2002-03, when at age 24 he helped push the Spurs to their second NBA championship. But the 12-year veteran has found contentment in a consistent role on coach Gregg Popovich's bench.

"Being with great players, a winning team and a winning organization, everybody respects us," Jackson said. "It's definitely what I wanted to be a part of. I came into the game a winner. I want to go out a winner."

It's a state of Zen that Jackson was never able to achieve in his short-lived stay with the Bucks, who obtained him from Charlotte in a three-team draft-day trade in June 2011.

Never keen on joining Milwaukee in the first place, Jackson butted heads with the hard-nosed Skiles almost from the introductory news conference.

On Jan. 17, one week after Jackson had a career night against the Spurs, Skiles benched him for the fourth quarter of a loss to Denver.