AT&T Center – Following their 108-101 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday, the San Antonio Spurs finally had to face the media after completing their first game without former Spur Stephen Jackson, who was placed on waivers a few hours before tip-off.
“It’s a hard one,” said guard Tony Parker. “That’s Pop’s decision; you’ll have to ask him.”
Gary Neal on the other hand, said though he wanted Jackson around, he knows a championship is the team's focus even if it meant losing a close friend of his.
“You know Jack’s one of my close friends,” said Neal. “I wanted Jack around, but Coach Pop decided for whatever reason Jack wouldn’t be a member of our team anymore.”
A Yahoo! Sports report surfaced immediately after the Jackson-waiver news was broken, and the report stated Jackson was frustrated with his role and lack of playing time on the team. Neal though, said he never saw that from Jackson.
“That’s the first time I heard that,” said Neal. “Coach Pop didn’t elaborate on it,” continued Neal of Popovich informing the team of Jackson’s release.
“He just told us the news and we move on.”
Losing a key role player four games before the NBA playoffs begin would usually have a major impact on a team, however Neal says that the Spurs’ team leaders, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, just went out and played.
“Timmy shows up and does his job,” said Neal, “Tony just shows up and does his job. There is not a lot of gossiping about the situation. It is what it is and we just have to try to move on.”
After the game, Popovich summed up his team’s ability to move on quite simple.
“Players play. They just move on and play.”
Next to Manu Ginobili’s locker now sits an open locker space that once read “JACKSON.” The “Captain Jack, #Trill, #JackBack” era might be over, but there is still plenty of basketball to be played for the 14 remaining members in that locker room.