Nov 29, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich reacts during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 105-100. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

David Stern right to Sanction Greg Popovich, Spurs For Devaluing Nationally Televised Game


Before the basketball even was launched into the air at mid-court in Miami Thursday night, David Stern had already issued a statement about the Spurs leaving their four best players at home for the game.

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

Almost immediately, a rush of support poured forth from every corner of the basketball world for Greg Popovich and the Spurs.

Popovich, after all, has done this before. Popovich, after all, knows how to win championships. Popovich, after all, almost coached a bunch of scrubs to a win over the Miami Heat (which I think says more about Erik Spoelstra than Popovich, but that’s for another time and place).

Please.

It’s not like Popovich only rested Tim Duncan OR Tony Parker OR Manu Ginobli OR any combination of just two of them. He rested all of them (and Danny Green), and didn’t even bring them to Miami.

And it’s not like David Stern has never done this before. He did it to the Lakers back in the 80s. He’s got a business to protect (more on that later).

Get off your “basketball strategy” “integrity of the game” “coaching decision” high ground and remember what you were saying a few months ago when last year’s lockout shortened season was coming to a close.

“TEH BOBCATS R TANKING! WE DON LKE THIS! WHY THIS ALLOWD BY MEAN OLD STENR! THEY SHULD NO BE ALLOWD DO THIS!”

Remember that?

I do.

I even remember ESPN’s True Hoop bloggers (who I love and read every other day… most of the time) trying to come up with ways to eliminate tanking last year.

What the Spurs did last night and a few times last year and what the Bobcats are perceived to have done all of last year are really no different. Sucking in the short term to get better in the long term. For the ‘Cats that meant fielding an awful team to get draft picks which landed them Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffrey Taylor, who’ve been pretty good so far in just 14 games this year. For the Spurs that meant resting their best players to ensure their health for the playoff push.

The only problem is no one watched the Bobcats last year.

People want to watch the Spurs’ Big Three. They won’t be able to see Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili much longer.

The NBA is a business, and if Greg Popovich and all of his supporters don’t like that, they should get as far away from pro sports in America as possible.

Networks like TNT and ESPN pay big (like, unfathomable to me and you) money to showcase games like this featuring the best players in the league.

Speaking of which, I just came up with the perfect sanction for the Spurs.

David Stern should announce that the Spurs will no longer be broadcast on anything but local television the rest of the year. Or, he should at least threaten the team with that sanction over a nice phone call with San Antonio’s upper management.

I have a feeling Peter Holt (owner of the Spurs) wouldn’t like that very much and might have a few words with Popovich about resting all of his best players at the same time ever again.

Oh. And if the the Spurs won the game? I’d still feel the same way! I still had to watch Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, someone named Nando de Colo and a bunch of people I’ve only ever heard of because I looked up the Spurs roster after I found out Duncan, Ginobili and Parker weren’t playing.

Actually, I didn’t have to watch it. There are plenty of other shows to watch while NBA games are being played without players I want to watch. Like Ancient Aliens, which while the Spurs game was on, explained how Bigfoot could be an extraterrestrial being.

Much more compelling TV than watching Gary Neal go 7-20 from the floor.

Tags: David Stern Miami Heat San Antonio Spurs

  • dmiller

    Last time I checked, the Bobcats haven’t won a championship…Pop has 4. He knows how to coach – is one of the best – and to heck with anyone who questions his strategy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.wolf.501 David Wolf

    Popovich has zero accountability to the league for coaching and player decisions. Stern doesn’t sign his paycheck. What the League did do was to put the Spurs on a six game in nine night roadtrip and then schedule them to play Memphis at home after one night off. There is NO rule or bylaw that prevents a coach from playing whom he chooses, whether it be in the middle of the season or at the end to rest up for the playoffs. “He did it to the Lakers back in the 80s”? Seriously? that’s your precedent? a 30 year old action with no rule or substantiating regulation made in the meantime? ha! All I hear from you is “I’m not a fan of the sport; I just like watching big name players.” Maybe you should cover..I dunno…golf?

  • http://www.facebook.com/nick.stewart.7399 Nick Stewart

    The spurs almost won the game moron, so id say you should start paying a little more attention to someone named nando de colo because he and the other spurs bench players mentioned are going to play a big roll in their run deep into the playoffs, which they will undoubtedly make. All that aside, if you did not appreciate possibly the hardest played game ive seen in the nba in a decade on the part of the spurs then you should stop watching professional sports and stick to surfing the history channel for frivilous explanations of imaginary beasts.

  • Guest

    The spurs almost won the game moron, so id say you should start paying a little more attention to someone named nando de colo because he and the other spurs bench players mentioned are going to play a big roll in their run deep into the playoffs, which they will undoubtedly make. All that aside, if you did not appreciate possibly the hardest played game ive seen in the nba in a decade on the part of the spurs then you should stop watching professional sports and stick to surfing the history channel for frivilous explanations of imaginary beasts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nick.stewart.7399 Nick Stewart

    Whoever hired this writer to cover professional sports should be fired immediately. Based on the myriad of posts bashing his article, i’d say it is abundantly clear that he has no idea what he is talking about and we are all dumber for having read it. David is right, you’d be much better off covering a leisure activity like golf because you clearly have no appreciation for competitive sports.

  • steppxxxxz

    an idiotic article and just wrong. Spurs are an elite team and almost beat miami. This isnt celebrity bowling, its a game show……..you dont pay to see “stars”. You pay to see professional hoop. Popovich was burdened with an awful schedule…thanks to stern…..but regardless of that he has every right to sit who he wants.