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If Stern penalizes players who sit to rest, watch “injuries” rise

Nov 30, 2012, 4:09 PM EDT

David Stern AP

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

David Stern has a lot of questions to answer if he is going to fine Gregg Popovich or Spurs owner Peter Holt for sitting Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili on Thursday night against the Heat. We have already covered those questions in detail.

It is within Stern’s right to make a league rule about playing healthy players (and 20 years ago he did fine Pat Riley for resting a healthy Magic Johnson in the final game of the season, although that same thing has gone unpunished since).

However, coaches want their players to rest. There are all kinds of studies that will show you rested players not only play better but also are less likely to be injured. They will find a way.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN was thinking along the same lines.

For years in the league, players that were not one of the 12 allowed to dress for each game had to be put on the injury list. To be put on the list officially teams had to announce an injury. In the absence of a legit condition, teams started routinely to announce players had been diagnosed with various forms of tendinitis.

If you researched the transactions from the 1990s and early 2000s, you’d have seen an incredible wave of patella tendinitis and Achilles tendinitis that sprawled across the NBA. Remarkably it often struck end of the roster players who rarely played. Thanks either to medical science or a change in paperwork, games missed due to such injuries have been eradicated like polio.

The magical cure was not a vaccination, but rather the league changed the rules so you could just designate a healthy player to sit.

But if Stern comes down on high with an edict about resting healthy players where fines could be forthcoming, suddenly the cases of tendonitis — or mild sprains, or other such maladies — will suddenly be on the rise again.

Just something to watch. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

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