Stephen Jackson suffered an injury in Thursday night’s loss to the Knicks that was completely avoidable. And Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, as you might imagine, was none too pleased.
Late in the first quarter after taking a three-point attempt from the corner, Jackson’s momentum carries him slowly backward and out of bounds. A waitress taking an order from courtside fans was crouched down in the exact spot Jackson was headed, and inadvertently tripped him, causing him to leave the game and not return.
Speaking about the incident before his team’s win over the Sixers on Saturday (which Jackson was forced to miss), Popovich called for the league to do something about the issue.
From Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News:
“It’s maddening,” Popovich said of the incident in which Jackson lost his balance after running into a waitress during the first quarter of the Spurs-Knicks game. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”The policy on wait staff serving courtside customers likely varies from arena to arena, in terms of when they should or shouldn’t be taking orders and delivering them. But the sideline areas are much closer to the court than say, the photographers along the baseline, so it’s more dangerous to have someone in that location, especially in a low position like that while the game is being played.
The baseline photographers are a similar hazard that should be looked into while the league is at it. But despite the long list of injuries to players who’ve tripped over either a camera or person sitting on the floor under the basket, there’s been no change to the distance between the court and where those photographers are allowed to be stationed.
The sideline thing seems like a much easier policy for the league to get its head around, so hopefully this injury to Jackson can further the cause to put a spotlight on player safety, and force the powers that be to put some stricter rules on the matter in place.
Related link: Rockets suspend Royce White | ProBasketballTalk
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Spurs’ Popovich says Jackson’s waitress-caused injury was ‘maddening'
By BEN GOLLIVER of SI
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is looking to the league office for a little help when it comes to keeping his guys out of harm’s way on the sidelines.
During the first quarter of a Thursday game against the Knicks, Spurs forward Stephen Jackson suffered a sprained right ankle when he backpedaled after shooting a jump shot onto a waitress who was kneeling while serving New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who was seated courtside at Madison Square Garden. The injury immediately forced Jackson from action and he did not return. He also did not play against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.
The San Antonio Express-News reports that Popovich referred to the incident as a “Mayoral mishap”, calling it “maddening” while making it clear a player should never find himself injured in such circumstances.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen.”
Popovich expressed confidence the incident would spur the league to better control the sidelines during games.
“After what happened, I have no doubt the league has contacted teams to make sure everybody shores up their discipline in that area,” he said. “It’s obvious people shouldn’t be ordering beers or Cokes or hot dogs when the game is going on.”
As noted here at The Point Forward on Thursday, there’s just no excuse for this. Hopefully Popovich is correct and the league office has indeed taken steps to explain the appropriate protocol for courtside serving.
Adhering to a “no serving during live action” rule shouldn’t be that difficult to stick by, given how much non-live time is built into an NBA game by way of timeouts, television timeouts, quarter breaks, halftime and all the other possible stoppages in play (video reviews, etc.). In bigger markets, the number of celebrities and their demands surely increase. So do the prices, though, which should be sufficient to maintain an appropriate waiter-to-customer ratio that doesn’t require cutting corners or taking unnecessary risks.
Given the stakes, it’s reasonable to suggest that home teams should be subject to fines if their employees influence live action in this manner, regardless of whether the players impacted are their own players or the opposition. This situation isn’t any less serious if it’s J.R. Smith being carted off with an ankle injury rather than Jackson. The issue here is player safety and not competitive advantage.
Not to mention, this is just bad business. The Spurs are paying Jackson $10.1 million this season, which equates to roughly $122,000 per game. In other words, the Spurs are on the hook for roughly $214,000 to Jackson for the time (seven-plus quarters) that he wasn’t able to play during the Knicks and 76ers games. That’s no laughing matter, even if the original incident was ripped from the pages of a television sit com. The NBA can and must do better.
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