Ex-Spur Stephen Jackson says Gregg Popovich played “mind games” with him


When Stephen Jackson was waived by the San Antonio Spurs right before the playoffs, the move left many scratching their head. Jackson had often spoke about some of the best years of his NBA career being in San Antonio playing for head coach Gregg Popovich. So what went wrong? Jackson said he didn’t want to play Popovich’s mind games which included wanting him to play behind two players he knows he’s better than.

He began this past season looking slower, and his shooting percentages fell. So did his minutes. He admits now he sparred with Popovich for about half the season. And after Popovich released him just days before the regular season ended, Jackson posted this on Instagram:

“I would never say a player is better than me when I know their (sic) not. Not for no one. #uandiknowwhatsgoingon”

Tuesday he revealed who he was talking about: Danny Green and Manu Ginobili.

Jackson insists Popovich wanted him to admit Green and Ginobili were better. More than likely, Popovich simply told Jackson they were better. That’s why they were playing instead of him.

Pride wouldn’t let Jackson accept that, and he admitted as much Tuesday. After showing the initial flash of anger when talking about Popovich, he later said Popovich knows him well, and that the release “was best for me so I wouldn’t go crazy.”

Or, as Jackson said Tuesday, again smiling, “I wouldn’t want me on the team, either.”

I suspect these issues were there below the surface following Jackson’s trade to the Spurs following his trade from the Bucks to Golden State. I interviewed him last summer and he mentioned that his status with the Spurs wasn’t a lock for the upcoming season but didn’t elaborate as to why he felt that way. Check it at the 6:54 mark. Guess we now we know.