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Clippers' Stephen Jackson doesn't hold a grudge against former boss

Veteran swingman was released by Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs in April just before the playoffs, but says he has 'great respect for Pop.'

December 17, 2013|By Ben Bolch

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Gregg Popovich kicked Stephen Jackson off his team last spring.

Eight months later, he stole Jackson's headband.

The latter deed actually triggered a smile from Jackson on Monday night at Staples Center during a playful exchange between the coach and his former player.

Moments after Popovich's San Antonio Spurs lost to Jackson's Clippers, 115-92, the coach walked behind Jackson and swiped his blue headband, removing it from Jackson's head with his right hand. Jackson turned toward Popovich and put his hand warmly on the coach's shoulder before they shared a laugh and Jackson embraced Spurs veteran Tim Duncan.

"Me and Tim are great friends and I have a great respect for Pop," Jackson said, "so it was good to play against them."

It was even better to contribute to one of the Clippers' best victories of the season, Jackson scoring six points and making three of five shots in the fourth game he has played since signing a contract for the veteran's minimum last week.

Clippers point guard Chris Paul marveled at how Jackson could be effective so soon after joining the team considering he did not participate in a training camp for the first time in his career.

"I was just working out, sitting in the steam room a lot and just praying. ... Obviously, I'm not even close to where I'm going to be, but I'm just thankful I'm able to contribute now," Jackson said.

Jackson and Popovich have remained close, literally, since Popovich waived Jackson in April on the eve of the playoffs when he feared the veteran swingman could be a divisive figure because of his dissatisfaction with a diminished role.

They're neighbors in San Antonio.

"Today was the first time seeing him" since being released, Jackson said, "but I did talk to him before I signed here. He called me, reached out to me and wished me good luck. They're great people, a professional organization, as you know, one of the best teams in the last 10 years in the league, so you have to respect them.

"But like I said, this is another chapter of my career. I'm with some more Hall of Famers in Blake [Griffin] and CP, so I'm happy to be here and I'm ready to fight for these guys."

Willie Green contributes in a big way

Clippers reserve guard Willie Green is beloved by teammates for his supportive presence and professionalism in never sulking about a bit role.

Of course, they also like it when he has a big game.

Green tied a season high with 11 points Monday and made four of five shots, including three-point baskets that started and ended the Clippers' 19-0 second-quarter run that turned the game in their favor. He did it while playing with recently suffered ligament damage in his left pinkie.

Clippers guard Jamal Crawford was so impressed that he interjected his thoughts while standing nearby when a reporter asked Green about his production.

"He was huge," Crawford said. "He kick-started us in the second quarter."

Green didn't seem to mind the interruption.

"I was able to get open, my teammates were looking for me," he said, "and I hit some big shots."


The Clippers did not practice Tuesday.

Twitter: @latbbolch

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