The San Antonio Spurs aren’t exactly known as a team with a mean streak, especially after they waived volatile forward Stephen Jackson before the playoffs began.
So for Tim Duncan – the gentlest of giants and the man who has set the tone and (lack of) attitude for the team – to push a former teammate during Game 5 of the Spurs’ series against the Golden State Warriors, and glare at him for most of a timeout, well, Richard Jefferson must have done something.
It appears as if Jefferson is blocking the sideline traction mat as Spurs guard Cory Joseph is trying to use it. Manu Ginobili seems to take exception first, and as Duncan returns to the scorer’s table he gives Jefferson a shove and proceeds to stare him down. Jefferson turned away and rejoined his teammates, and didn’t return Duncan’s stare.
The only other thing I can think of that might have prompted this is that it seemed as if Ginobili was talking with an assistant coach and the Spurs may have thought Jefferson was trying to eavesdrop on their strategy. You don’t see that happen often in basketball, but full-scale brawls have been started in baseball for stealing signs.
Whatever the reason for the strange scuffle, neither the Spurs or Warriors seemed to harbor any lasting ill will. While it would be shocking to see either of these teams resort to unsportsmanlike conduct on the floor, let’s hope that Game 6 in Oakland doesn’t feature any more extracurricular contact. This series has been so good, it would be a shame to see anyone get suspended for a thrilling Game 7 or an opening game of the Western Conference Finals.