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Spurs owner Peter Holt takes a shot at Phil Jackson

Jun 20, 2014, 12:01 AM EDT

Peter Holt Peter Holt

When the Spurs beat the Heat to win the 2014 NBA title, it was San Antonio’s fifth championship of the Tim Duncan era, one which has spanned 16 seasons since the first was won back in 1999.

That first championship was secured in a lockout-shortened season, however, which has caused some pundits — and even those inside the game — to diminish the accomplishment.

Phil Jackson, who coached the Lakers as San Antonio’s primary Western Conference rival during that span and won five titles of his own in Los Angeles, has been among the Spurs historical detractors. And after San Antonio matched Jackson’s Lakers in total trophies, the team’s owner decided to fire back at Jackson, who had landed plenty of jabs of his own over the years.

From Jeff Caplan of

Spurs owner Peter Holt couldn’t help himself, or more accurately he simply didn’t want to. The opportunity to turn the sharp stick back on Phil Jackson, San Antonio’s longtime nemesis and Spurs dynasty denier, was much, much too delicious to pass up.

The smile that spread broadly across Holt’s face and the hearty chuckle that spilled from it revealed his satisfaction in doing so. Holt, basking in the immediate glow of his team’s fifth championship Sunday night, was asked if this title is the sweetest of them all. Holt said, yes it is, although the first in 1999 will always be special, and that’s when you could start to see Holt’s face light up and the smile begin to build…

“Even though it was a shortened, asterisked season,” Holt said, now sporting a full-on grin. “Phil, Phil, Phil, Phil, we all played the same amount of playoff games, didn’t we, Phil?”

Holt was quickly reminded that Jackson was retired that season, his first out of the league following a second three-peat with Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

“Yeah, uh-huh.” Holt said. “Well, he bailed out.”

The reality is that if that 1999 title is put under close examination, it simply doesn’t measure up to those won in non-lockout seasons. Not all players returned to the game in shape and ready to play, and San Antonio beat an eight-seeded Knicks team in the Finals that year, with the most memorable highlight of the series coming from a wide-open, baseline jumper from Avery Johnson, which is hardly the stuff of legend.

But on the other hand, even when setting the 1999 title aside, San Antonio accomplished something that Jackson was never able to, despite his incredible success as a head coach. This Spurs run has essentially lasted 17 years, and is still going strong — every one of those full seasons resulted in at least 50 wins, and the team hasn’t missed out on the postseason since 1997.

Holt had just won a title, and he has a right to run a little smack back at Jackson. But in a more quiet moment of reflection, he likely realizes that what the Spurs have accomplished might be even more impressive.

  1. rexgrossman8 - Jun 20, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    What was the most memorable highlight when the Lakers and Spurs beat the Nets to win titles? Do the Heat get an asterisk for their lockout win? You play who’s in front of you. If Phil stuck around that lockout shortened season and the Bulls win, everybody would be celebrating the win and the extension of dominance without question or issue. The asterisk statement is PJax’s mind game that’s stuck around longer than it needed to.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 20, 2014 at 12:46 AM

      Jackson said he only brings up the asterisk talk because it’s “fun poking fun at San Antonio.” He’s trolling them, in other words.

      • apkyletexas - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:13 AM

        Pop could have coached the Bulls past the Knicks and Magic in 94 and 95.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:53 AM

        I don’t see how. What would he have done differently?

      • apkyletexas - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:13 AM

        Riley could have too.

    • Kevin S. - Jun 20, 2014 at 7:17 AM

      The Mavs won the lockout season.

      • Kevin S. - Jun 20, 2014 at 7:17 AM

        Nevermind, I’m an idiot. Bring on the downvotes.

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 20, 2014 at 7:23 AM

        No Kevin, this doesn’t make you an idiot…

        Just read what was a sizable chuck of posters write on here…

        They are idiots… and it’s a little scary too… and sad.

    • azarkhan - Jun 20, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      Anti loves Phil because he sees himself in Jackson. They are both smug, arrogant pricks.

    • thesixersbench - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      Well said.

  2. antistratfordian - Jun 20, 2014 at 12:42 AM

    I don’t think Jackson gives a rats about the Spurs regular season successes – not with 11 rings and the fact that he won 6 championships in 6 years of work from 1996 to 2002. He won more in that short run than the Spurs ever have, and he still has 5 championships outside of that!

    • kavika6 - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:05 AM

      I’m sure he had a lot to do with Michael and Scottie as well as Shaq and Kobe ballhogging their way to championships. Phil just accepted all the credit.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:51 AM

        See, the ballhogging is kind of the point though. It is easier to build a winning team around Tim Duncan or LBJ than it is around MJ or Kobe, because the latter two often fought against what their coaches asked them to do. Pop never has to coach through those kinds of problems because he avoids those types of players from the outset. But, for the majority of his rings, Phil didn’t have the luxury of preselecting players who would be most pliable and coachable – he had to find a way to win with the players that were given to him.

      • blameitonlebron - Jun 20, 2014 at 8:07 AM

        ballhogging could be good or bad for the team, in Kobes case the result is out there to see. Wins and rings with and without shaq. could he have won more? possibly, but he has accomplished a lot doing what he does best.

      • billstraehl - Jun 20, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        That’s one thing I will always respect about Pat Riley. At a time when everyone was proclaiming his greatness as a coach, he humbly replied, “it’s not really that hard when you have the greatest center and point guard in the history of the game”. Makes what Pop has accomplished that much more impressive.

    • tyterry7155 - Jun 24, 2014 at 1:31 AM

      Good thing the championship teams Jackson coached ALWAYS had 1 or 2 star players IN THE PRIME OF THEIR CAREERS, who could dominate games
      and/or series, ..or else he would NEVER have been able to coach those teams
      to championships.

      In contrast, Pop’s last 2 championships were WITHOUT ANY star player(s) who were dominant forces or could dominate the court on the way to an NBA title.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        When you have a dominant big man you don’t have to worry so much about their prime like you would with a perimeter player. Those guys can play until they’re 40, no problem. They don’t rely on quickness, speed and agility like guards do.

        Tim Duncan dominated the paint defensively in the Finals. He’s still a major force down there – and, like I said, he was the best big in the series. He was playing against a team that doesn’t really have one.

      • tyterry7155 - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:27 AM

        @Anti ,.. Apparently, you don’t have sense enough to know that just because a big man (Duncan) is effective defensively in the paint, in a series where the opponent (Heat) had no true bigs to oppose him, DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY MEAN that he is now or ever was a so called “dominant force” or dominant big man in the NBA.

        Sure, you could postulate Timmy was very effective protecting the rim ..IN THAT SERIES. But what about the other series he played this year, or in recent years past? Some series he’s still quite exceptional, ..many others he’s not been. In years past, yes he was CONSISTENTLY terrific at defending the rim, and remarkably at this late stage in his career, he can still occasionally be a defensive force. But c’mon, it’s just as obvious his days of USUALLY being defensively dominant have long since past, and thus, TODAY, he is clearly NOT as you say “a major force” defensively, and hasn’t been for quite awhile!!

        Yes ,of course,once upon a time, WHILE IN HIS PRIME, Timmy was truly dominant BOTH defensively AND offensively throughout the regular season right through the playoffs on the way to leading the Spurs to an NBA Championship …just like MJ, Shaq, and to a slightly lesser degree Pippen and Kobe were dominant while in their primes when they lead those Jackson coached teams to their multiple titles.

        So in regards to Pop’s legacy as an all time great coach,…
        Since Duncan’s dominant days were over by 2006 (and to a lesser degree Ginobli’s too). And since Parker’s HOF career has nonetheless NEVER seen him be a “dominant force” in the league, .. that means Popovich’s last 2 championships were won not only AFTER he significantly revamped the Spurs offensive philosophy away from one player (Duncan) to another player (Parker), but even more impressively, they were won at the time (’07, ’14) WITHOUT him coaching a team led by even ONE dominant player!! – a tremendous feat achieved only a scant few times by a select few coaches! …and those few coaches NEVER included Phil Jackson.

  3. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 20, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    Still wish Pat and Camby had been healthy.

  4. elcapitanfiscal - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:12 AM

    Lakers suck.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 20, 2014 at 7:25 AM


      Lakers or Knicks… who will have the worse record this coming season?

      Too bad they can’t tie with like 18 wins each…

      If Melo leaves and Kobe remains on the court, it will be the Knicks with the worst record in my opinion…

  5. mazblast - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:47 AM

    If he’s so in tune with the universe (the Zen Master BS), why does Phil feel the need to denigrate the success of others? Aren’t all his titles enough?

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 20, 2014 at 7:27 AM

      He practices a new age Zen… zen with zingers…

    • 1historian - Jun 20, 2014 at 8:21 AM

      He likes to mess with people’s heads – and they let him, or they zing back, and he likes that too.

      Move on folks, there’s nothing here.

  6. ravenswhat - Jun 20, 2014 at 7:15 AM

    Phil gets way too much credit for his wins. Hell, Spo’s got to 4 straight finals and he’s clearly not a brilliant coach. MJ, Pippen, Shaq, Kobe..,there’s literally no better tandems in NBA history. Sorry.

    • Kevin S. - Jun 20, 2014 at 7:19 AM


    • sportsfan18 - Jun 20, 2014 at 7:31 AM

      Bird, Parish & McHale…

      If you insist on a tandem, pick any two of the three above then…

      Or go back decades and decades ago and pick Wilt and any other stiff on the court with him…

      Last point, they STILL had to WIN…

      Having stars does not always work…

      See Lakers with the glove, Karl Malone, Kobe and Shaq.

      See Lakers with Kobe, Dwight, Nash and Pau.

      Managing those egos is not easy…

    • 1historian - Jun 20, 2014 at 8:23 AM


    • paleihe - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      Jackson also won a championship in 1984 coaching the Albany Patroons. Don’t know who was on the team, but it doesn’t really matter.

      Do you discredit Riley for having Magic, KAJ, Worthy, and Cooper?
      Auberbach for having Cousy and Russell?
      Pop for having Duncan, Robinson, Parker and Ginobli?

      I doubt you discredit them. You coach and win with the players you have…that’s it.

  7. ace3hundred - Jun 20, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    Yes you have to have stars. But really almost always you need stars in their prime and healthy so we can eliminate both examples of lakers teams you put forth. And there is no combo of 2 from those celtics that even comes close to mj/pippen or kobe/shaq

  8. metalhead65 - Jun 20, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    I love how nobody is ever suppose to respond when jackson says anything. he knows damn well he would he gladly and proudly taken full credit had the lakers or any team he was coaching won the title that season lockout or not. you play the schedule you are given and the spurs did and won it all. there is no asterisk beside their trophy and unlike his teams the spurs are always in contention and do not fall apart after winning titles and have to rebuild. they may not win it every year but they are always in the mix and that makes them a dynasty whether phil likes it or not.

  9. andreboy1 - Jun 20, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    No asterik at all. Spurs won that title and were the best team in the league. Jackson is just the rare coach who doesn’t like other coaches. Most of those guys always stick together but Phil is a petty weirdo like that.

  10. eagles512 - Jun 20, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    The 99 championship is every bit as legit as any other.

  11. xonxrocket - Jun 20, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    You give Pop too much credit. The last 17 years they had the best power forward in the history of the NBA. Let’s wait and see how the Spurs fare once he retires. I don’t think Pop is sticking around to find out.

  12. seagram757 - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Phil Jackson is 68 and worried about the Spurs? Smh…

  13. sportsfan18 - Jun 20, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    They say and do those things (Pop, Phil and others) to play to their teams fans…

    Pop and Phil don’t care, anymore. I’m sure they did when they were younger but they are both far too successful to care about playful jabs like this, especially in their 60’s.

    FANS care about it.

    It doesn’t occupy Phil or Pop’s mind or thoughts during their days.

    Sometimes you just have to go with the flow… I mean POP was at the rally celebrating the title and he had some fun.

    This is NOT something Pop will do 3 months from now, 7 months from now (count on his hands the 5 rings). He was having fun in San Antonio with his team and the fans celebrating their title.

    It isn’t like Craig Sager was interviewing him during a basketball game and while Pop was answering him (or not answering him actually) and he broke out and began counting his titles on his fingers…

    These guys are allowed to have a bit of fun sometimes too…


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