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Stern discussed issue of resting players with teams in 2010, was fine with it unless ‘discretion was abused’

Dec 1, 2012, 4:00 PM EDT


In April of 2010 after a meeting of the league’s Board of Governors, David Stern addressed the media, as is his custom. The topic of when teams should or shouldn’t be able to rest players came up then, and Stern said he and the teams discussed it.

No conclusion was reached in terms of outlining exactly when it was OK for teams to do so, but Stern said it would be on the league’s radar, and that he believed it should ultimately be left to each team’s discretion — unless that discretion was abused.

From Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

While Stern and owners do not publicly detail every discussion from those meetings, Stern indeed told reporters at a news conference on April 16 that owners discussed resting players.

“And we also had what I would call a spirited discussion on the subject of players being rested down the stretch. And I think it’s fair to say that there was no conclusion reached, other than a number of teams thought that it should be at the sole discretion of the team, coach, general manager, and I think it’s fair to say that I agree with that, unless that discretion is abused.

“And so it’s something we’ll be watching carefully with respect to next season, recognizing that it probably should be a team issue, and I’ve seen my colleagues in other sports deal with it or not deal with it, particularly in the NFL this last time leading into the playoffs.”

Flash forward now to November of 2012, and the San Antonio Spurs seem to have discovered the level of abuse it takes, in the eyes of the commissioner’s office, for that discretion to be punished.

As you may have heard by now, the league fined the Spurs $250,000 for resting Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Danny Green for Thursday night’s nationally televised game in Miami against the defending champion Heat. All four starters were perfectly healthy, but Gregg Popovich cited the team’s schedule, which had the Spurs playing their fourth game in five nights, as the reason for giving his starters the night off.

Whether you agree with Stern’s decision or not, and despite there being no formal rule in place detailing when this is OK and when it isn’t, we now know that the subject was at least discussed with team owners not that long ago.

Based on what we know now, the fact that the Spurs not only rested four starters for a marquee game, but flew them home that morning feels like a slap in the face, and seems to be in line with the abuse of discretion Stern was talking about.

With this discussion having already taken place, Stern clearly felt that he had to do something about it.

  1. rayray5227 - Dec 1, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Someone should start a petition to get this idiot to step down this year.

    • kinggw - Dec 1, 2012 at 4:23 PM

      Without that idiot, the NBA would’ve ceased to exist years ago. Stern did the right thing. I could understand what Pop did if the season was winding to a close, we weren’t even a month into the season when this happened.

      • savvybynature - Dec 1, 2012 at 4:55 PM

        NBA would have ceased to exist without Stern? That’s laughable dude. Exaggerate much?

      • scalfor3 - Dec 2, 2012 at 11:37 AM

        I must have forgotten when Stern created Magic Johnson and Larry Bird in his secret laboratory…

  2. pastabelly - Dec 1, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    He is an idiot. Coaches do what’s best for their teams. What he did was within the rules. Soon that moron will define “marquee” games. What’s ridiculous is the NBA scheduling.

  3. eventhorizon04 - Dec 1, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    See, here’s the issue. Stern said resting players “down the stretch” is fine, but teams shouldn’t “abuse” that discretion.

    However, if you think about it, that’s VERY vague.

    When does “the stretch” start? A month before the playoffs? 3 months before the playoffs?

    Also, is it fair to hold all the teams in the NBA to the same standards? The stars on OKC are younger than the stars on the Heat and the Clippers, and the stars on the Heat and Clippers are younger than the stars on the Lakers and Spurs. Defining “down the stretch” earlier helps the older teams, while a later threshold hurts the older teams.

    And another issue – What counts as “resting?” Does it not count as “resting” if they only play 5 minutes? How about if there’s a listed injury, is that “resting?” What if the injury is minor (“leg soreness”)?

    There’s a lot of negative consequences to this decision because of the uncertainty it creates.

    • kinggw - Dec 1, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      You raise some interesting points, but I think we all can agree that less than a month into the season, does not qualify as “down the stretch.”

      • mashoaf - Dec 1, 2012 at 4:39 PM

        Beating the dead horse; it was the 4th game in 5 days. What happens if Manu goes down with an injury (which is common early in the season for him)? It doesn’t matter if it is down the stretch or not. The Spurs players have a history of injuries. Pop saw it better fit to rest his players now than to risk injury and have the whole season get blown up.

      • eugenesaxe - Dec 1, 2012 at 4:42 PM

        It’s an 82-game season. The whole thing can be considered a “stretch”, which can be broken down into smaller “stretches”.

      • raidmagic - Dec 1, 2012 at 4:45 PM

        . No but we can certainly all agree that 4 games in 5 nights is just stupid and it’s not all that shocking that the 30+ bodies of Duncan and Manu could use the rest they were given. As for Parker he’s on the wrong side of 30 for an NBA player. Just last year everyone was saying Jason Richardson was over the hill and his knees were dead. He’s only 31.

  4. eugenesaxe - Dec 1, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Translation: It’s OK unless I feel like fining you for violating an undefined non-rule.

  5. savvybynature - Dec 1, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Let Stern know what you think about his decision:
    We won’t change his decision but you can at least annoy him and demand that he address the subject with the media, which he has so far refused to do.
    Playing time should be up to the coach’s discretion, not left to the whim of some guy in an office in NYC. It’s a joke that Stern allows teams to blatantly tank for ping pong balls but punishes the Spurs for trying to win a championship with older stars.

  6. dadeyemi - Dec 1, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    Folks may not realize this, but Tony Parker is 28 and Danny Green is 25. The resting excuse isn’t valid for either of those guys. Sorry

    • savvybynature - Dec 1, 2012 at 7:17 PM

      Parker is 30 and has been a professional basketball player since he was a teenager, and has had the responsibility of leading the French team as well as playing in the NBA. Lots of miles on those legs.
      Green’s play was starting to decline and Pop reasoned that it might be from fatigue — so he gave him a night off. It’s a long season after all.
      Why people think they know more about the Spurs’ players needs than their coach and trainers is beyond me, especially when they can’t even get simple facts like their ages right.

  7. BigBeachBall - Dec 1, 2012 at 6:39 PM

    Stern is a clown.. but this decision was a valid use of a commissioner’s power. The league would crumble like Rome if decision’s like Pop’s became a regular thing around the league… the fans pay everybody’s salaries… don’t screw them… bottom line….

  8. clevelandschronic2 - Dec 1, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    I dont wanna hear anything from stern about this BS. Pop did everything within his rights as a coach. Stern isnt coaching the spurs so he has no idea if/when duncan parker ginobili could use rest. The game was in miami so i dont wanna hear about how the fans got ripped off by the spurs star players resting. Miami fans barely show up to see lebron and wade , let alone duncan parker or ginobili. Miami couldnt sell out their own arena during the playoffs last year ( do these S***y fans know they have a basketball team?)! Also Maybe if stern didnt allow all the stars to join up n create theses “super teams” the league would be way more competitive. At the start of the season everyone can name 3-4 the teams that have a chance to win the title unlike in football where there is competitive balance throughout the entire league and all it takes is a team to get hot at the right time to win the superbowl. Stern is the worst commissioner in all of sports!!!!!

  9. dysraw1 - Dec 1, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    again this guy as it all wrong been fan since i could say basketball, all i ever wanted was to see a good game. its not who the coach puts out there, but what they get out of those individuals. i feel insulted that this guy thinks that i would needs to see Tim Duncan in order to enjoy the game. when someone is penalized or fined that’s saying crime has been committed.personally i think pop really thought he had a chance to win with team he put on the floor,now how is that crimminal

    • BigBeachBall - Dec 1, 2012 at 11:21 PM

      they have a league for what you are talking about… it’s called the D-league…
      And no, pop’s reserve team had no chance against lebron, dwade, allen and bosh… sorry.

      • paulwoodsby - Dec 2, 2012 at 1:11 AM

        No chance? Are you kidding me? Did you watch the game?

      • dko83 - Dec 2, 2012 at 2:02 AM

        You’re wasting your time Paul.

      • dysraw1 - Dec 2, 2012 at 3:20 PM

        ok they didn’t, but pop still coached well, an did you see how fresh those guys were today

    • BigBeachBall - Dec 2, 2012 at 2:03 AM

      from the beginning… heat coasted for 45 minutes … kept the game close and suspensful for the fans.. then allen, lebron, and dwade put on a show… sas reserves couldn’t do anything about it…

  10. allen227 - Dec 1, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    He needs to resign sooner and get someone with a backbone in there.

  11. ninthwardfriend - Dec 1, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    The Jew gotta go. O wait there is another one waiting. Yeah I’am Muslim.

    • calmdownandthink - Dec 1, 2012 at 11:31 PM

      Good work giving Muslims a bad name, moron.

      • thraiderskin - Dec 2, 2012 at 1:51 AM

        That happened years ago. This dude is just validating it.

  12. dirtydrew - Dec 1, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    Stern doesn’t govern the league the same. Different teams get different treatment. When the warriors tanked last year, or the nets, he was quiet. But a nationally televised game, it is now his business. What a clown. Don’t let the door hit you..Lyon know e test. Beat it Stern. Your not relevant.

  13. plymouth11 - Dec 2, 2012 at 12:53 AM

    IMO the NBA really tows the line between a franchise focusing on winning vs a franchise entertaining and making money. Stern realized this long ago and he and the NBA have been successful because of their marketing of “stars” and by selling the drama of a playoff format that takes 6 weeks in which you can see those players almost every night. To Stern the livlihood of the league is based on money not whether a franchise wins or not. I wonder if this would even be an issue if the game wasn’t a national tv game – it damages the brand of the league. I am sure Popovich’s ego is off the charts and that plays into how cavalier he was about this by sending those guys home before the game, but I think he should be able to sit guys whenever he wants – he wants to win in June not November! This is all part of the territory with the nba.

    • savvybynature - Dec 2, 2012 at 1:14 AM

      I mostly agree with you but I wouldn’t say Pop is arrogant. He has a lot of respect for the game of basketball and just as one example, he was the only coach that called Pat Riley to congratulate him on landing Lebron in free agency. He is definitely a confident person, but he has also shown class and humility.
      And, they just barely had enough to get a much more important win tonight against Memphis, their division rival. I think that justifies Pop’s decision right there, and Stern is fining them for making a good basketball decision. I think that shows a lack of respect for the game and for one of the league’s best run and classiest organizations.

  14. paulwoodsby - Dec 2, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    I think what Popovich did was a little unethical to fans but he didn’t break an actual rule. He had a loophole since there isn’t any defined rule and dictator Stern made a decision that he doesn’t have the right to make.

  15. thraiderskin - Dec 2, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    There were other games they(the spurs) could have sat their best players. They could have even rotated their stars’ off days during their away stretch. This was a prime time game, a marquee (sp?) match-up, one that fans paid big bucks just for the chance to see. Pop is a brilliant coach, but this was a terribly poor decision and one that goes well beyond what Stern warned all the teams about. There isn’t even a solid argument for it, unless you suspend the idea that the NBA is a business.

  16. paulwoodsby - Dec 2, 2012 at 4:55 AM

    Two years ago Memphis tanked their last few games so they could get the eighth seed and play against the Spurs in the first round because they were a better matchup than the Lakers. It worked and the Grizzlies became heroes for toppling the Mighty Spurs. Did Stern care about that? If he did, I never heard anything about it.

  17. mrgeek100 - Dec 2, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    @thraiderskin thanks for making the most sense the best comment on this subject so far, and to you other idiots the NBA has made the biggest come back in the last 3 years because of super teams, and has rebuilt franchises like miami, la, ny, and Boston just to name a few. Hats off to David and the whole NBA governors

    • savvybynature - Dec 3, 2012 at 1:17 AM

      So you support the fine because you only want “super teams” in major markets?

      Wow. Obviously you don’t care about the fans actually filling seats then, because the majority of them want a fair system where smaller markets are allowed to compete.

      You are the typical bandwagon, only-when-it’s-trendy, fair weather fan who watches on cable TV here and there until the playoffs, yet expects the league to bow to your preference on every decision. You care more about the drama with players than you do the game of basketball! From all the league’s loyal fans of the game, not the names: No. Suck it. Your ideas are terrible and we unequivocally reject them!

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