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League fines Spurs $250,000 for not playing stars vs. Miami

Nov 30, 2012, 6:17 PM EDT

Gregg Popovich, David Stern Getty Images

David Stern has drawn his line in the sand… we think. There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered about where that line is and what is and is not allowed.

But the NBA has brought the hammer down. A big hammer.

The NBA has fined the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 for sending Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green home and not having them available to play against the Miami Heat in a nationally televised game on Thursday night. Stern pretty much had no choice but to fine the Spurs after he came out before the game with a statement saying there would be “substantial sanctions” on the Spurs for their actions.

Here is Stern’s statement with the fine:

“The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case. The Spurs decided to make four of their top players unavailable for an early-season game that was the team’s only regular-season visit to Miami. The team also did this without informing the Heat, the media, or the league office in a timely way. Under these circumstances, I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans.”

As for what rule the Spurs violated, here is what the league said in its release: “The Spurs’ actions were in violation of a league policy, reviewed with the NBA Board of Governors in April 2010, against resting players in a manner contrary to the best interests of the NBA.”

The large fine was aimed at the ownership group led by Peter Holt, clearly wanting them to be the heavies next time Gregg Popovich wants to rest his best players.

This move by Stern leaves a lot of questions going forward that the league should clarify with teams.

Can teams rest players later in the season as we get closer to the playoffs? Is this simply a matter of notification — if Popovich had said he was going to do this three days in advance could the Spurs have avoided the fine? Is the league now going to be into scrutinizing lineups, especially since you can be sure some teams will suddenly have players who have minor injuries that need a night off to rest?

This completely feels like David Stern sending the message to NBA coaches and teams not to mess with nationally televised games, the marquee games. Don’t go resting Kobe Bryant on Christmas, Mike D’Antoni.

106 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. ron05342 - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    Stern needs to retire. NOW.

  2. fventricle - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    Wow, that’s a big fine for a very “generic” violation: resting players in a manner contrary to the best interests of the NBA. In other words, anything Stern doesn’t like is not in the interest of the NBA.

  3. goraidersgospurs - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    Thats crazy

  4. cramsinned - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    Stern is bogus

  5. patsfanvt - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    How can he legally do this if there are no rules against resting players? I hope the Spurs fight this.

  6. eugenesaxe - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    It won’t happen, but I hope someone in SA rips Stern a new one for trying to tell them how to run their team. Pop’s brought home 4 titles and very few distractions. If anything, Stern should be praising that organization and recommending other teams follow their lead.

  7. frobaggins - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:27 PM


  8. twentyofive - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Let Pop Coach!

  9. magicbucs - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    What about what best interests of the players?

    This stern weasel needs to get back handed by a spur on his chin fat.

  10. zidanevalor - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Rajon Rondo started a fight, and he was fined $268,292.68 ($11M salary over 2 games).

    • sabatimus - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:34 PM


      • zidanevalor - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:51 PM

        I just found it interesting that a fight warranted a similar fine (or less had Rondo’s salary been less) than resting your starters for a game.

  11. cramsinned - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    He should also fine Bobcats, wizards and other uncompetitive teams for tanking a season to get a high draft pick.

    Hell the 9 man rotation against the heat was more competitive than these teams.

  12. frobaggins - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    would it have been the same if they played indiana or detroit?

    • eventhorizon04 - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:05 PM

      If it were nationally televised, yes.

      Stern didn’t care when Pop did this on nights when the Spurs weren’t on national TV.

  13. paulhargis53 - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    I’ve never liked this little toad of a man. This clinches it. No way the Spurs don’t fight this. This is a ridiculous display of a man drunk with power. He needs to freaking go NOW!

  14. dalucks - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    Good job Stern, that is the way to lower your approval rating. Your retirement cannot come soon enough.
    Make sure you start fining teams for tanking for lottery picks and also starting fining teams for consecutive losing seasons. I am sure these additional fines will help all those owners who are losing money, if those owners even exist.

  15. sportsfan1949 - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    Just watch – teams will only be fined for resting players when they sit out games in Miami, Boston, New York or LA. Aren’t those the only teams this commissioner cares about? It is time for this man to go – remember the phrase “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Sound like that applies to anyone we know?

    • eventhorizon04 - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:12 PM

      What you said makes no sense.

      The Heat BENEFITED from playing a weaker Spurs team. I think a full-strength Spurs team would have beaten the Heat.

      So it makes no sense to say Stern is punishing the Spurs’ decision to rest their starters as part of a conspiracy to benefit high-profile teams – high-profile benefit from the Spurs resting their starters.

      This isn’t about rigging games in favor of the Heat or big market teams – again, those teams would PREFER to face the Spurs without Parker, Manu, and Duncan – this is about Stern being upset those guys were benched in a nationally televised game.

      It literally makes no sense to say, “I think Stern wants high-profile teams to win, so he’s upset that the Spurs’ stars didn’t play against a high-profile team.”

      If Stern’s goal is to rig games for high-profile teams, Stern would be HAPPY that the Spurs’ best players didn’t play against big-market teams.


  16. mungman69 - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    Dis don’t make no sense.

  17. dirtyjerseysports - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    Stern sent a clear message that he doesnt care about the fans of the Utah Jazz or the Portland TrailBlazers the two teams that Pop chose to sit his big 3 in last yr and that Stern said nothing about. The NBA is fixed and is the basketball equivalent to the WWE.

    • eventhorizon04 - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:08 PM

      …..How is this an example of “fixing” in favor of big-market teams?

      The Heat BENEFITED from playing a weaker Spurs team.
      I think a full-strength Spurs team would have beaten the Heat.

      This isn’t about rigging games in favor of the Heat or big market teams – again, those teams would PREFER to face the Spurs without Parker, Manu, and Duncan – this is about Stern being upset those guys were benched in a nationally televised game.

      • dirtyjerseysports - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:19 PM

        The “Fix” statement is about the power this guy is trying to weild enforcing teams to play the players he wants. Have you ever heard of any other commish doing that? Combine this with Tim Donaghy, CP3 trade, and the numerous phantom calls in big games and the NBA is spelt F-I-X

    • eventhorizon04 - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:14 PM

      Why would fans of the Jazz and Trailblazers be upset that the Spurs’ stars were benched?

      The decision to rest the Spurs’ stars gave those 2 teams a competitive advantage over the Spurs! It made it easier for those small-market teams to compete.

      • savvybynature - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:31 PM

        They would be upset because, according to Stern, they bought tickets to the game to see superstars not to watch a basketball game.
        Hence, they were deprived of the experience of seeing Duncan, Manu and Tony. Try to keep up.

  18. 13arod - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    and the heat almost losed too

  19. andrewproughcfe - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    David Stern? You mean the guy who used to clean up all of Michael Jordan’s messes, and order officials to call phantom fouls on Jordan’s defenders?

    Is Stern still around? Shocking – absolutely shocking what geriatric medicine is capable of these days. Those new anti-Alzheimer’s pills must be absolutely remarkable.

  20. mrchainbluelightning - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    What a scary and stupid precedent to set. My God, this is dangerously close to the league telling teams who they can play on a nightly basis.

  21. baywatchboy - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    “Stern pretty much had no choice but to fine the Spurs…” Seriously? That’s almost as asinine as Stern issuing the fine in the first place.

  22. savvybynature - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    Send Stern an email and let him know what a joke this decision was:

    I would mention the blatant disregard for player health and the fact that this is completely contrary to recent precedent and was without warning. Also, demand a response. They love that.

  23. honkerdawg - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    Stern has screwed this league up so bad now he wants to be God and fine those who want to run their own teams. He can’t GO soon enough.

  24. chargerdillon - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    What i want to know is where this figure of 250k comes from. Who exactly lost 250k by the Spurs not playing a few players? Did the NBA lose any money because of this?

    Sure seems to me like they just took 250k from one team that’s ultimately going to go back into the collective pot that is the NBA, so how much exactly did the NBA really lose, how much did the Spurs lose, and how exactly did they come to the figure of 250K…..

    Seems like a mighty big number for something that isn’t in any way against the rules or a crime. And somehow Rondo gets a 2 game suspension for violence on the court in front of a full crowd on television……… PRIORITY CHECK

    • starks3 - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:26 PM

      The NBA could lose a lot more than 250k if more teams start doing what occurred last night. The NBA currently gets 930 mil. per year from their TV deals. Hopefully you can understand the financial impact that can be created by last nights ‘coaching decision’. On Jan. 21st is the next time Spurs are scheduled to play on TNT. Say TNT gets 50k from Pepsi for an ad normally, but Pepsi sees Nielson ratings from last night and the audience goes low. Then Pepsi goes to TNT and says we can’t confidently feel that Spurs will play a real game on 1/21/13 so we will only give you 30k instead or else we just wont advertise that night period, take it or leave it. Multiply Pepsi scenerio times 30 other ad spots for the night.

      When the next tv contract comes due in 4 years TNT says hey NBA we cant make enough on ad revenue like we used to so instead of a 930 mil deal, we will offer you 800 mil. Oh and by the way if the TV money goes down the players and COACHES will make less and Popo wont be the 5th highest paid coach in ALL of sports anymore. So to answer your question 250k is nothing compared to the potential windfall of losses to the NBA/owners if more coaches decide to sit star players during national tv games.

      • savvybynature - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:33 PM

        The ratings from last night were NOT adversely affected at all. In fact, they were up slightly from the previous Thurs. night games.

        In other words, the facts do not back up your argument.

      • blueintown - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:51 PM

        Savvy, you couldn’t possibly expect that trend to continue if this were to become a recurring theme.

      • electstat - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:39 PM

        That’s because there wasn’t time for people to even know what was happening. The ratings for Heat/Lakers would be really high too, but if everyone knew a day in advance that Howard, Kobe, Nash, Lebron, Wade, and Bosh were going to sit this one out, it would matter to everyone (inc fans, sponsers, venders, etc)

      • savvybynature - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:14 PM

        blueintown: I wouldn’t expect it to be a reoccurring theme. The Spurs are one of the few if only teams that have an older core of stars that are also good enough to rest them occasionally and still lead their conference in wins. Teams like Lakers and Celtics may be tempted to rest stars because they are older, but they haven’t earned that luxury because they are struggling just to get wins. Who else would do this besides Pop and the Spurs? And even they only do it occasionally when their schedule demands it.

        electstat: Are you suggesting that people watched the entire game without even realizing that Duncan, Manu and Parker weren’t playing? People aren’t that stupid and they harped on it the entire broadcast. If people were only watching to see the Spurs’ Big 3, they would have realized they weren’t playing and switched channels, thus affecting ratings. That didn’t happen.

  25. savvybynature - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    Also, I can’t wait for Pop to rest his players again. You know he will, and the league will probably let it go if it’s not a nationally-televised game. Stern is a corporate shill.

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