In true “Gregg Popovich fashion,” Coach Pop sent Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Danny Green home to San Antonio just a few hours before the Spurs’ game against the Heat in Miami. While this was a bit surprising, at the same time it wasn’t because it’s something Pop has this done before. He’s made it very clear that he puts the health of his players ahead of a regular season win, no matter who the Spurs are playing.
The game is being televised nationally on TNT, so the Spurs are in the spotlight, a rarity considering how good they’ve been for the last decade and a half. Surely NBA commissioner David Stern was hoping to see a good game, and when Pop decided to rest his stars, Stern was outraged, already issuing a threat against the team.
“I apologize to all NBA fans,” said Stern in a statement shown during TNT’s pregame show. “This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.”
I’d like to see a rule in the rulebook that says you have to play your “best” players every night. I understand that Stern wants his league to put out the best possible product, especially in such a high profile game, but he also approved the schedule that has the Spurs playing four road games in five days.
Pop has every right to rest his players and look ahead to the postseason. I think he’s accomplished enough that you can’t question his logic.
Craig Sager reported that there will be meetings on Friday to discuss the Spurs’ decision and a possible punishment. I still don’t think Stern has a leg to stand on here, but now that he’s come out and already said the Spurs would be reprimanded, can he go back on his word?