Spurs Nation has held a special grudge against Phil Jackson for a long time.
It’s not just because he always seemed to end up playing the Spurs in a competitive playoff series with the Lakers.
Most Spurs fans have never forgiven Jackson for branding the Spurs first title team in 1999 as an “asterisk” team because they won the championship after playing in a truncated 50-game schedule after tghea lockout.
Now with the league in the midst of the same kind of work stoppage, Jackson is talking about the Spurs first championship again. He’s remembering that season in a way that he believes would be bad for the league after the lockout ends.
Jackson told the Chicago-based Waddle and Silvy Show about his and how different that 1999 season was from a normal one.
And yes, Spurs Nation, he has another not-so-subtle tweak about that championship season. (Hat tip: Sports Radio Interviews.com/Project Spurs.com)
“You want to have a season that is comparable to what it is like to play a season of basketball,” Jackson said. ” The year they patched together [1998-99 season] when they played 50 games they lost more than a third of the season and then they rushed to play those games into a magnified schedule and it questioned the teams that were really going to have a chance to win it like Indiana and Utah.
“New York finished 8th that year and obviously an up-and-coming San Antonio team, which turned out to be quite a great team, but those were the teams that ended up in the finals. When teams would play 18-19 games in the last month of the season it broke down some of the older steady teams because of that impact of a heavy schedule.
“I always kind of term that as an asterisk season out of this fun at poking fun at San Antonio. In reality it changes the complexity of how you play the game and what you make your team up with. You have to have young players and you have to have healthy players to win. So they want to have a representative season and we have some terrific teams in the NBA right now and there are some teams that are very, very good. It should be interesting to see how a lot of them come out and a lot of teams don’t want to lose that opportunity.”
A shortened season will pose some unique challenges for Gregg Popovich and the Spurs this season. They are much older than that 1999 team, so a shortened season would be favorable in that sense. But cramming multiple games into too short of a period with a lot of back-to-back games could be catastrophic for an older team.
It will be interesting to see. But whoever emerges as the champion will have to battle the same stigma the Spurs have faced since that first title because of playing a less-than-complete season.