The San Antonio Spurs have had a change of identity of sorts this season. They've had more controversies this season than any others put together during the Tim Duncan era.
They sent their main stars home for a nationally televised game and got fined, there was a photo that leaked with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker with a fake Joey Crawford, and most recently Stephen Jackson having some "words of advice" for Serge Ibaka that resulted in a fine.
Are we seeing a developing trend in attitude for San Antonio?
During Parker's French radio show, "The Tony Parker Show," (h/t MVPTexas.com's forum Spurs Report) TP took some questions and was asked about this subject. He jokingly responded to the controversies, "the Spurs want to become the new 'bad boys' like the Detroit Pistons."
Is he right that the Spurs are building a new identity of being less "soft" as they once were known during their championship years?
When the team had the likes of Robert Horry on the team, he was usually the only one with that mentality. Now that the Spurs have Jackson for a full season, it seems his tough attitude is rubbing off on the team.
This is going to be very interesting to see how the Spurs' identity evolves during the season. They're playing a quicker style than past years with tough attitudes and also playing better defense than last season.
They seem to be developing the best of both types of styles in the NBA.
Spurs were never "soft" really, just less talkative. The Bruce Bowen years always gave the Spurs the mental edge with players constantly concerned with his "dirty" tactics instead of playing the game. Bruce had an edge to him despite being so soft spoken. Before DeJuan hopped on the Whataburger train, he was a player with some edge who wasn't afraid to tussle with you underneath the basket.
Jackson just takes it to another level, which many fans become uncomfortable with. Talking trash from the bench is one thing, but playing with an edge like SJax did in game 6 of the WCF took some major cojones. I still suggest that teams that end up winning the NBA championship need a player to give that team the "edge." Whether it be DeShawn Stevenson in 2011, or the artist formerly known as Ron Artest in 2010, or Sasha in 2009, or Perkins/Posey in 2008. The list could go on and on. The common denominator here is that there was a player, who was not the star, that provided some grittiness to the team. They played with a meanness about them, and it meant that you didn't want to get in with it with a member of that team, because that "gritty" player was lurking, waiting for revenge.
Bottom line is that Jackson embodies this character and when he plays hard, it inspires his teammates and everyone sacrifices every once of energy when he's on the floor.