Friday, David Stern decided to fine the San Antonio Spurs organization a whopping $250,000 for Gregg Popovich’s decision to rest key players Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Danny Green and Manu Ginobili. But Stern is 100% wrong for his actions.
Granted, NBA fans pay good money to watch the best players compete night in and night out. And with the Miami Heat-Spurs match up being televised nationally on TNT and one of only two games on the NBA’s schedule, the potential for ratings for the league was huge. But who is to say the Popovich should put ratings over doing his job; which is to ultimately put his team in position to win an NBA championship?
The fine would be easier to understand if this was the first time that a coach rested his players in an early season game. But it isn’t. Popovich rested his starters on more than one occasion in the lockout-shortened schedule for last season. Even then, there was little backlash regarding Popovich’s decision. He was simply managing his roster as he best say fit.
But Thursday night’s game was in the spotlight. This was Spurs-Heat on TNT!
Even further, this is a game in November, less than a full month into the NBA season. What’s the big deal?
The Spurs were on a road trip that had them playing four games in five days. That’s a pair of back-to-back games, on the road at that. The Spurs even have a divisional match up with the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday night. Do the math; that’s five games in seven days. That’s too much. Popovich had every right to give a few players the game off due to fatigue.
But with Stern levying the fine, what does this say about his authority? And exactly what league policy was violated? Can he tell coaches how many minutes the stars should play as well, just to save ratings? Can he tell them who should start? Logic says no, but this is David Stern we’re talking about here.
Stern overstepped his boundaries first by commenting on Popovich’s coaches practices, then again by slapping a ridiculous fine on San Antonio. Let the coach do his job. Judging by Popovich’s.681 career winning percentage, he’s pretty good at it.