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David Stern releases statement apologizing to fans for Spurs resting healthy stars against Heat

Nov 29, 2012, 8:38 PM EDT


When Gregg Popovich decided to rest Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili for Thursday night’s nationally televised game in Miami against the world champion Heat, it may have been disappointing, but it certainly wasn’t a surprise.

Popovich has done this for years, resting perfectly healthy players for no reason other than he feels it’s best for his team over the course of an 82-game season.

Exactly how much the rest of one November game will help his aging team in the postseason over five months from now remains to be seen, but there are currently no rules against dong so, so Popovich and the Spurs organization are well within their rights.

David Stern, however, didn’t seem to be as rational when delivering his statement on the matter, which was shown in a graphic on TNT prior to tip-off during the pregame show, and later sent out by the league in an official release.

“I apologize to all NBA fans,” the statement from Stern said. “This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.”

Good for the league for putting its foot down on this issue. It’s completely ridiculous for fans to buy a ticket for one product, only to be bait-and-switched for no good reason at the last minute.

The fact that Spurs-Heat is a matchup between two of the league’s best teams and is being televised nationally on TNT also factors into the equation. The league’s broadcast partners pay a fortune for the right to televise the best teams playing one another, and having a coach willfully mess with one of these matchups is just bad for the league, pure and simple.

If resting San Antonio’s aging stars at the end of a road trip was Popovich’s main priority, he could have given them the night off on Wednesday against a dreadful Orlando Magic team that they very well might have beaten anyway. Then, the league, the fans, and TNT would have gotten their marquee matchup, and the Spurs players would have gotten their rest. In that scenario, everyone wins.

Instead, we have this controversy brewing where the league is trying to tell a coach how to manage his players, without any precedent, and without any rules in place that state it’s against policy to do what Popovich and the Spurs decided to.

To be clear, I’m firmly on the side of Stern and the league on this issue. I just don’t see how anything can be done about it now in terms of a fine or other sanctions being handed down, since there was nothing specifically in place prohibiting the Spurs actions.

If nothing else, this issue is now firmly on the league’s radar, and will likely be addressed with some sort of guidelines for teams to follow in future seasons, with penalties attached for non-compliance.

112 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. qwest12 - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    A precedence has already been set with healthy players being rested and without an actual rule violation Stern would be ill advised to try to issue fines or any other sanctions. He should just relax his last year and change or whatever it is and enjoy the ride.

  2. qwest12 - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    Good point about the schedule four in five nights and a six game road trip. If it was supposed to be such a marque important matchup that hardly seems fair.

  3. draconian1111 - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    Sorry, no rule violated. Don’t like it – make a rule.
    What – does the commisioner want to control player minutes? Thought that was why we have coaches!
    Simple advice to Stern – stay in your lane.

  4. Tim's Neighbor - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Baseball has done this for years and years on getaway days. It’s a long, drag of a season. Winning in the end is way more important than winning now. Good for Pops.

  5. mkil1390 - Nov 30, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Want to do something about it? play a 50 game season, or only have 6 playoff teams from each conference. Until then, you can’t tell a coach how to handle his players’ minutes or season. He is taking advantage of the rules you handed him.

  6. mogogo1 - Nov 30, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    Crazy that a decade ago Stern was universally seen as being the best commissioner in sports. Now, he looks like the worst. He wants to control player minutes? Sanction teams for resting guys even though there are no rules in place regarding that? And he’s acting all concerned about the fans in this situation, but still wants the Olympics to ban players over 23 which is a total stick in the eye to the fans? He’s become a joke.

    • scalfor3 - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      All four of the major sports league commissioners are assclowns, but lets be honest here. Gary Bettman takes the cake.

  7. dareesecpa - Nov 30, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Seriously, this is an issue for the league, but allowing players to decide to load up a few teams isn’t?

  8. mashoaf - Nov 30, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Which game had the better ratings? The Spurs game or The Warriors game?

  9. bbk1000 - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    Stern reminds me of Mayor Bloomberg a bit, only Bloomberg sometimes backs down.

    Bloomberg was going to run a marathon through a disaster area after Sandy and had no idea how stupid that action would have been, but he eventually backed off…much too late, but he did it nonetheless.

    Stern is a bully, albeit a tiny one. This is the NBA, not the WWE…..

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