Most likely a lack of lube and possibly some rust and corrosion on the upper 2-3 shift lever at the bottom of the shift tube near the steering box. There is only a tiny hole provided in the side of the tube for adding a few drops of oil which will run down inside the tube. As that drip of oil runs down enough leaks out the slot where the pin engages the selector tongue that the bottom R-1 lever is somewhat lubed. There is absolutely no provision for the upper lever. In addition to no lube any moisture and dirt that condenses on the shift tube also runs down and gets between the lever and tube where it can corrode and rust the metal. Both levers must be absolutely free to rotate individually on the tube. With the upper lever stuck to the tube, even if R or 1 is selected the upper lever will want to move at the same time. Any slight motion of both levers at the same time will activate the interlock in the trans. The linkage geometry sort of favors the 2-3 motion first which can lock out R or 1.
With luck you can get some penetrating oil to run down between the upper lever and tube to free things up. If not you may have to resort to some light tapping and even disassembly and cleaning if the problem is severe. Remove the half clip and slide the shims and/or upper washer up the tube to be able to get enough oil around the lever so it can run down in the space and do some good.
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