Gregg Popovich, in sitting Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Danny Green against the Miami Heat, did the NBA and its fans a great disservice last Thursday. Therefore, the fine of $250,000 handed down by David Stern to the San Antonio Spurs is more than justified.
What many people do not understand is that this is a player’s league. How often do we, as fans, debate the greatest coach of all time, or who the best coach in the NBA is? Maybe once in a while. More often, discussions of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant arise in daily fan conversations.
Fans that bought tickets to that game were undoubtedly let down. How many fans are going to brag about being at the game when Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal narrowly lost to the reigning champions? And that is taking nothing away from Splitter and Neal, who scored 18 and 20 points, respectively, but they just aren’t the big name players that Popovich decided to sit. Do you have any idea how expensive NBA games are? To give you a scale, the Heat’s upcoming contest against the New York Knicks is selling for upwards of $17,648.00. Now imagine being courtside for the Spurs-Heat game, and your disappointment in not seeing some of the best players in the world on the floor.
I realize that the Spurs had played five games in seven days, and I also realize that three of the four starters who didn’t even travel with the team are aging (with the exception of Green). However, the Spurs did violate NBA rules that state that teams must notify the league ASAP when a player is not going to travel with the team because of injury. Also, San Antonio neglected to alert the Heat, media, or fans in a “timely fashion,” as the NBA statement said.
Why couldn’t Pop have sat his players at different times? Did he really have to sit them all at once?
No, he didn’t. The reigning Coach of the Year just didn’t want his Spurs to be exposed on national television by a Heat team that is simply better than them.