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).
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!”
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.