You’ll recall that right before the 2013 playoffs started, the San Antonio Spurs surprisingly released swingman Stephen Jackson. The journeyman small forward was a pivotal member of the team’s 2003 championship turn, and had played well during San Antonio’s three-round run during the 2012 playoffs. Because the 2012-13 version of Stephen Jackson was shooting 37 percent from the field, while attempting a whopping 5.7 three-pointers per 36 minutes despite shooting just 27 percent from long range, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was forced to limit his minutes.
And you probably remember how Jackson, now with the Los Angeles Clippers, reacted to that. From Adrian Wojnarowski:
Nevertheless, disagreements over Jackson's role resurfaced in recent days, and the Spurs believed that Jackson had started to have a negative impact on the team's younger players. Within the Spurs, the organization didn't believe Jackson was playing well enough to bring him into the playoffs under these circumstances, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
This is why the Spurs dumped Jackson, bringing in the relatively benign Tracy McGrady to fulfill his non-role (T-Mac played just 31 minutes in total during the postseason) as the Spurs nearly pulled off another title. Jackson, publicly at least, claimed not to be bothered by the release because he “got my money,” even flying down to Miami to take in the NBA Finals as a spectator last June.
This is why the post-game scene following the Los Angeles Clippers’ 115-92 thrashing of the San Antonio Spurs could have been a little nervy. Following the final buzzer, Pop decided to go over and take Stephen Jackson’s headband off. Because Gregg Popovich likes to live on the edge, apparently. Via Reddit’s NBA community, watch:
He even threw it at him? And Jackson, who has been known for his anger issues in the past, took it all in stride. Sweet.
Coach Pop swears there’s no hard feelings, in spite of how things went down last spring. From Mike Monroe at the San Antonio Express-News:
“This will sound crazy because I booted him before the playoffs,” Popovich said, “but I love the guy. He lives in my neighborhood. He's a great guy. He's one of those guys who's got a great sense of humor. He's got a great heart.
“He's got a few idiosyncrasies I might not buy now and then, but he's a great kid, and he gives an edge to your basketball team.
“He's getting older, and all players when they get older have to face certain situations and change roles. He's got an opportunity to do that here with Doc (Rivers) and, hopefully, he will. I wish him nothing but great success.”
Jackson easily had his best game as a Clipper in Monday’s win, scoring six points on 3-5 shooting in nearly 17 minutes. That and the eventual 112-95 score apparently coupled to develop the needed bit of good humor. And after dealing with a late bus, some nosy kids, and the tail end of a long road trip, apparently Coach Pop was in a goofball mood following the loss as well, telling the media that “It's just basketball. You win. You lose. Life goes on.”
Who is this guy and what has he done with Gregg Popovich?
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