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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

David-Stern-all-star-2012

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. jmays77 - Nov 29, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    It’s legal, right? Then why not? Publicity doesn’t mean anything if a championship isn’t won. Shame on David Stern for thinking he can run the NBA like a dictator. This happens with an old team. Get over it. Why is this breaking news?

  2. gbar22 - Nov 29, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    I have to say david stern threatening sanctions and fines for not breaking any rules is pretty ridiculous. Popovich is the head coach and should be able to decide when to rest and play his players ad honestly fans of the spurs will be happier advancing in the playoffs than watching the spurs maybe but not likely beating the heat in a November game.

  3. tifosi73 - Nov 30, 2012 at 12:05 AM

    Bogus for anyone to think Stern is right on this. Pop has only to answer to one set of fans…his own in SA. Pop has done this before with no reprimand. Now it’s an issue? Stern needs to go now. I side with the Spurs on this one…and I HATE the Spurs.

  4. glink123 - Nov 30, 2012 at 12:10 AM

    Actually, you watched basketball tonight purely and solely because TNT paid a sh!tload of money to televise the game. Period.

    • savvybynature - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:30 AM

      To say that I watched “purely and solely” because of the money TNT spent on broadcast rights doesn’t make much sense.

      TNT could spend trillions to broadcast horse polo, that doesn’t mean I’d watch it.

  5. chicagofan - Nov 30, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    Some of those tickets were going for $900-1000 prior to gametime and who would pay even regular prices to see the Spurs sit Duncan and Company–this may be the last time to see Duncan vs Miami for some fans.If it was the last games of the regular season it would be okay but now? He should give them a huge fine to discourage this abuse of fans and our money.

    • jmatos06 - Nov 30, 2012 at 11:16 AM

      when a top horse gets scratched from the field should give all the betters their money back???

  6. plaguedog519 - Nov 30, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    What next? Stern coming out in the playoffs saying: “I apologize to fans who wanted to see the series go to seven games. I assure you (insert your favorite playoff team) will be fine appropriately for sweeping the series and not allowing fans to enjoy more ‘basketball.’ The league will do more to ensure that fans and our broadcasting partners gain more from the playoffs in the future.”

    NBA is a joke

  7. phillyfan1217 - Nov 30, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    Stern had a rash reaction to a premier team not just resting players, but going to the level of sending his top 3 players home completely. While there is nothing wrong with it legally, and he doesn’t “owe” it to the Miami fans directly, I do believe there is somewhat of an integrity factor that so early in the season he basically concedes a game on the road, at the end of a rough stretch notwithstanding. This is a great debate topic, where I feel both sides of the argument hold very valid points.

  8. imthedudedude - Nov 30, 2012 at 12:26 AM

    With Coach Pop on this one. As a suns fan I can’t stand the sight of the man, but damn do I respect him. Devil Stern at it again.

  9. jasndc75 - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:04 AM

    while i can understand fans who paid for tix being a little bummed, the idea that the league office can mandate who must play would cause the league to lose all integrity. oh, wait, this is the nba so that’s long gone. continue on, nothing to see here….

  10. hauts81 - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    Stern is probably getting some heat from TNT. Screw ‘em all. Popovich is a proven coach with multiple championships and should be able to run his team how he sees fit.

  11. codysteeler - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:45 AM

    Spurs gave viewers an amazing game to watch…its not like this was a huge blow-out for the Heat. Dont tell a coach how to coach…PLAIN AND SIMPLE!!!

  12. magicbucs - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:12 AM

    The nazi Jew stern is trying to rule the world again. The coaches can play or sit whoever they want. How come the heat have 4 days rest and spurs are on a back to back and played 4 out of 5 nights.

    Good for you pop. Stick it to the nazi Jew. Oh and Brett the magic aren’t that bad to be called dreadful. The writing on pbt is dreadful.

    • dko83 - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:18 AM

      I won’t waste my time explaining “contradiction” to you, but seriously, go play in traffic.

  13. stebutt - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:10 AM

    Good for Popovich. Hope he does it again. Screw the league.

  14. larrybrown43 - Nov 30, 2012 at 5:11 AM

    Oh please. What’s the difference if a team gives players off for a game, they fake an injury to not get fined, or they just go through the motions during a game?

    The season is too long!! Chop 25 games from the schedule and adults will tune in. The regular season means nothing. 82 games to play 1 extra playoff game isn’t worth the effort.

    Plus, the playoffs are too long now and lack intensity as it becomes a battle of attrition. Wake me four games into round two please.

  15. bbk1000 - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:10 AM

    Stern is out of his mind…….

  16. pastabelly - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:17 AM

    If Stern cared at all about the players, teams wouldn’t have all of these back to back games in different cities. Stern is trying to make money. The coach is trying to win championships. Stern has different rules for nationally televised games involving certain players.

  17. westof1club - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:39 AM

    So when Donaghy says Vegas runs the league, is he lying? Stern, his refs, and the rest of the NBA are a joke. A fraud. Censor that

    • wsuperman4445 - Dec 6, 2012 at 7:08 PM

      that is really a great Observation westof1club, fining the Spurs 250,000 does seem to play into TNT, and Vegas running the show. I cannot understand how the Spur’s don’t protest this fine as it’s been reported their were no rules until now on not playing your players for any game then getting fined. the the “real world a Judge would have thrown Mr Stern out of court for fining a person or in this case a team since there was not a rule against doing it… Stern should have just warned the Spurs THEN announced NEW rules to follow against a coach doing this kinda thing at least the Spurs would then have a warning… before enacting the fine..

  18. allen227 - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:59 AM

    To be clear! It’s not your decision or the crook commissioners decision. Being that it was his decision last year to see to it that the Heat didn’t choke again and not win the championship. I respect poppovich for being the Man that he is and standing by his decision. It’s his team, not yours or any other dumbass commenting negatively on it.

  19. ntur1 - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    What is ridiculous is Stern thinking it appropriate to interfere with a coaching decision on who to play. The season is long and Spurs were on the 6th away game in abbreviated time while Heat was on 3rd home game in 12 days. Pop is a proven coach. Let him coach. Perhaps Stern should direct some of that energy at decreasing the number of games–which might make a regular season game worth more thus providing incentive to play for a win for each game.

  20. maxakabirdpilot - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:58 AM

    And now there is no mystery as to why I’d rather watch a game between two decently matched Division II teams than an NBA game.

    Know it all League bosses, coaches not able to coach and players who carry fights into the spectators.

    This AIN’T the GAME of basketball. It ain’t sport. It’s pure, selfish business.

    Screw ‘em all. I spend my money elsewhere.

  21. dafranchise03 - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    NBA should have also known that the Spurs might do this because they have done this in the past.

    I blame the NBA for this. NBA got paid to only schedule 2 games on Thursday nights and it messes up schedule for everyone. Look at any teams schedule and you can see that they will play 3/4 games a week. For most teams that’s 3/4 games in 6 days because they don’t play on Thursdays.

  22. paulhargis53 - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    The Spurs went to the WCF last year lakerslurper. Something the lakers haven’t been able to do for 2 going on 3 years.

    1-8 in the last two SECOND round exits.

    How can you not be embarrassed by your ignorance? I’m being serious now.

    Up until 2 weeks ago you were saying the Spurs last title was 05, you brushed that off by calling it a typo-but you typed it SEVEN times.

    Stop posting moron, you’re a laughingstock on this site.

  23. omniusprime - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Last I checked Greg Popovich was coach of the San Antonio Spurs, not that lame-brianed corrupt David Stern. If Popovich wants to rest his star players during the season that’s his call as coach and the arrogant, ignorant Stern just has to get over it. All that jerk Stern is interested in is money, not the players, not the teams and not the fans. While I hate Popovich and the Spurs I stand up for them because they have the right to run their team the way they want. I say we need to punish Stern for his arrogant ignorance, a shame we can’t fire that incompetent fool commissioner.

    Fire Stern!!!

  24. riterboy - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    If it’s true that Spurs played 4 games in 5 nights while Heat was off for multiple days, then Stern has no legs to stand on. There’s absolutely no reason for that kind of ludicrous scheduling.

    • savvybynature - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:25 PM

      Yes, 4th road game in five days for the Spurs, but the Heat were off since Saturday.

      Also, Spurs play the best team in the league so far and their division rival on Saturday, the Memphis Grizzlies. It actually makes perfect sense why Pop would rest his starters.

  25. AlohaMrHand - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    The same fans he looks down upon he apologizes to.Such a phony and such a hypocrite.Btw who made the schedule?Spurs 4 gaes in 5 nights while the heat had 4 nights off.Yeah real consistent

    • bougin89 - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:19 AM

      Two thumbs up. Well said.

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