San Antonio — Excerpts from a media interview Monday with Spurs forward Stephen Jackson.
Jackson on how Tim Duncan has changed and stayed the same: Still weird. Still crazy. Still an action junkie. Tim has been — he's the same guy when I was here last time. A leader. Only thing he cares about is winning. Ultimate team player; doesn't mind passing the ball. He's just, like, everything in the back, especially on defense. You know you're going to get beat, you know Tim's going to be there. I know a lot of times when I get frustrated — even Tony [Parker's] taken a role now of talking to me, keeping me focused in the game. But Tim's been great, man. I don't expect anything less. And he's the same guy ever since I met him.
What's it meant to have Duncan stand by him after everything he's been through: Well, because Tim's a real guy. He's a real dude. What you see is what you get, and that's how I am. And he knows that about me. He knows that I'm one of those guys that — I'm a very humble guy. I'm just real humble about having the talent of basketball and the gift of basketball and he knows anything I do is about me being competitive and wanting to win, and he knows that. And that's one person that know me better than anybody. And I think he's never let that — that hasn't changed, even though I've made some mistakes in my career, he knows my heart. And that's one guy I consider a close friend of mine.
Has Duncan heard him rap: No, he hasn't. But he has both of my CDs. And I didn't ask for them, so that was a good thing. He asked for them.
Does Duncan have them just to be nice: Tim's never nice to me. That's one thing. He's never nice to me. He's always real with me, and that's the relationship we have. He knows that basketball's first and rap is always just a hobby — it's nothing that I'll put before basketball and he understands that.
How he's changed since his first run with Spurs: I've grown as a player. I've grown as a man. I've grown as a teammate. I've gotten a lot smarter in my basketball game on both ends of the court. And the older I get, the more coachable I become. I'm more able to play roles and understand situations and stuff like that. I've just matured over the years and been happy with the way my life has been going and the career I've had so far.
Comparing 2011-12 Spurs to past title-winning San Antonio teams: What I see is ultimate focus. Nobody's talking about the next series. Nobody's talking about two games ahead. Everybody's focused on what's ahead. Guys don't really go in the locker room and talk about, 'Man, we've got a great chance to win the championship.' And that's not the attitude of this team. Everybody's still worrying about getting past Utah, and that's great. I think last time I was here, we had a good feeling about winning the championship, but we was the same way — we didn't talk about it.
What he's like to be around when he's not in the playoffs: It's horrible, because I'm not playing basketball. Anytime I'm not playing basketball, I'm miserable. Especially not being able to play in the playoffs. This is what you play for. This is what you work hard all summer for. … Being in the playoffs is sweet. This is definitely going to make my summer better.
Understanding why coaches are 'crazy' about playing starters after watching the Clippers rally to beat the Grizzlies: Yeah, that's the one thing about [Gregg Popovich]. Pop never gets too high, never gets too low, and I think he tries to keep us on an even keel, too. Memphis was so excited, jumping around, everything like that when they go up 20 points. But in the playoffs, everybody knows you have to play four quarters.
How he'd stop Tony Parker: Maybe kidnap him? [Laughs] I mean, I don't think there's any legal way you can stop him. Tony's been great. But I don't know — Tony's one of those guys who's in the zone right now. He's been in a zone all year. Anytime people been screaming your name, 'MVP,' you must've been doing something right all season.
Brian T. Smith
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