Over the years, the San Antonio Spurs have been described as many things. Tim Duncan and his teammates have been labeled as "boring." The stout defense played under coach has Gregg Popovich has led to the group being described as "disciplined." Also, and most importantly, they've been called "world champions" on four occasions. But one thing that the Spurs may never have been called is the thing that Pop was imploring them to be on Sunday night during the decisive moments of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
"I'm seeing a little bit of unconfidence, a little hesitation. It's not supposed to be easy. Every round gets tougher. Penetrate hard. Good passes. Shoot with confidence. I want some nasty!"
The Spurs entered the final 12 minutes of Game 1 trailing by nine. During a stoppage in play, Popovich channelled his inner Jimmy Dugan and demanded "some nasty."
The Spurs responded.
San Antonio went on an 11-3 run. They drew four charging calls and outscored OKC by 12 to win Game 1, 101-98. Manu Ginobili scored 11 of the team's 37 points in the fourth quarter. Stephen Jackson blanketed Kevin Durant and held him to a mere six points.
If the Spurs get past the Thunder and go on to win the NBA Championship then this speech will certainly be replayed over and over. "I want some nasty" would then be the signature saying of the season in which stately Tim Duncan gets his fifth ring. Even if that doesn't happen, this moment captured by the TNT cameras was certainly a key moment of both Game 1 and the broadcast of the game.
"I said that?" Popovich said after the game when asked to elaborate on his "nasty" speech. "The heat of the game you know stuff comes out of my mouth and sometimes it's embarrassing. I thought that we were playing for most of the first half, and even in the beginning of the third quarter, a bit unconfidently, on our heels, a little bit unsure of ourselves, on the dribble too much. The ball movement wasn't the same as usual. So I talked to them about how they got to get a little bit ugly and get a little bit nasty, play with a little more fiber and take it to these guys."
With their Game 1 win, the top-seeded Spurs have won 19 straight games, the longest streak in franchise history, and scored the team's most fourth-quarter points since 2008.
But they needed every single one of those points to take down the Thunder in the series opener. If the Spurs are going to beat Oklahoma City three more times, they might have to get even nastier.