OT: Popovich rests 4 starters tonight against Miami. Stern vows sanctions.

Submitted by Bosch on November 29th, 2012 at 10:04 PM

Spurs are playing their 6th game in 9 nights.  They won the first five.  Game tonight is against Miami.  Popovich opted to send Duncan, Parker, and Ginobli home.  Figured the old men needed rest.  He also sent Danny Green home, as he felt he has been playing too many minutes.

Stern is pissed off, as it affects the fan experience....  and promises punishment.

Link here

I think I'm siding with Popovich here....  Yeah, it would suck to have tickets to the game expecting to see two of the best teams play, only to learn that 4 of the starters from one team are going to sit it out.... but ultimately Popovich should be able to make decisions that he feels are best for the team.  Hell, if his team trips up as some point, it's his ass on the line and Stern won't run to his rescue.

FYI, the second string for SA is leading the Heat 76-73 at the end of the third.  Probably won't hold up but if it does.... Wow.  It would be a humiliating loss for Miami.

Edit:  Damn.... so close. It's still embarassing for Miami though.  They had to play their core the majority of the game to squeak by a depleted Spurs team in Miami none the less.....



November 29th, 2012 at 10:10 PM ^

I mean, I see Stern's point, but how could he possibly justify sanctions in this situation? The coach's job is to win as many games as possible. If he thinks this will help him win more games, he's making the right decision.


November 29th, 2012 at 10:14 PM ^

if hes does impose sanctions that could set a terrible precedent in the NBA, coaches rest players during the year, give guys nights off or an extra day to recover and stuff like that. if this was baseball it would be outrageous for the comissioner to complain about giving players a rest. coaches always rest players its a long season


November 29th, 2012 at 10:30 PM ^

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November 30th, 2012 at 1:01 AM ^

True, and that is why starters come out during blowouts.  Completely giving up on the game before it's even started is a whole different story.  You have to enter every game with what you believe is your best chance of winning that game.  If you're down big after the first inning/period/quarter, then you adjust your strategy once it's clear the outcome is all but official.

South Bend Wolverine

November 30th, 2012 at 1:03 AM ^

The badminton decision was a horrible one, though.  I believe the players were absolutely right to tank the games, and I would've done the same thing - if the IOC didn't like it, they should have structured the competition differently.  The goal of an athlete or team is to win the championship in their sport.  Other wins are subordinate ends.  If sacrificing one win will help you to achieve more wins in the long run, that is what should be done.


November 30th, 2012 at 1:02 PM ^

that the IOC deserves a lot of blame for that whole fiasco, but I don't think these situations are really analogous. If San Antonio had followed the badminton model, they'd be doing things like chucking free throws into the stands and nicely handing the ball to Miami. The badminton players weren't trying to win as many games as possible, they were attempting to get an easier draw by way of losing an extra game.

If the Spurs were doing things like that, Stern should definitely step in and stop it. As it were, it sounds like San Antonio decided that their best shot at winning the most games (and not finding an easier opponent the next week) was to play a rested bench and simultaniously rest the starters for the next series of games.


November 30th, 2012 at 8:19 AM ^

.....at the end of the season.  Teams out of the running for the post season or teams with their position locked up will sit players and tanks games.  It can affect the post season position of another team or screw up draft orders.  Tough!

If a coach thinks it is in his best interest to rest his starters or get the younger players valueable game experience, that should be completely up to him.  Ultimately, he is judged by his team's performance over the course of the complete season.  Stern's decision is ridiculous.



November 29th, 2012 at 10:31 PM ^

They've done it before, though not to this degree and the NBA wasn't happy about it before.  To do it for a nationally televised game is just asking for it.  4 NFL teams have been fined this year for not reporting injuries.  Vegas has a huge influence over professional and college sports and stuff like this creates problems for them.


November 29th, 2012 at 10:20 PM ^

with the Wizards, I got preseason tickets to see him play the Pistons at the Palace.  He played but I remember that it was very few minutes and not past the first quarter...... I was slightly annoyed, but I also accepted that I wasn't watching the Harlem Globetrotters.  The players weren't there to maximize my experience as a fan. 


November 29th, 2012 at 10:31 PM ^

I guess I disagree there.  I think it is the job a of professional athlete (less so with college) to provide the best experience for the fans.  They're not given these huge multi-million dollar contracts because they're good at the sport—there are a lot of people who are just as good at a lot of other things, but without the amazing financial benefits—rather they are paid that much because fans enjoy watching there sport and are willing to spend lots of money on tickets/merchandise/everything.  If they're taking the fan's money (and a lot of it for that matter), then they are at least somewhat obligued to provide them with a good experience.


November 29th, 2012 at 10:43 PM ^

I see your point, and I agree with you in theory, but what is the goal of every NBA team at the beginning of the season? To win a championship. If you ask anything less of your team, you arent a good coach. Pop knows his team is old and won't stay healthy through 82 games and have enough in the tank to win a championship. And the way this game played, I cant imagine more people watching if the Spurs played all their old stars. The goal is to win when it matters and Pop does that as well as anyone. I really hope Stern doesn't get away with this. If he does, why can't he set the starting lineup for every team in the league?

Hardware Sushi

November 29th, 2012 at 10:55 PM ^

Should win championships, agreed. I had no problem with my all-time favorite player Lidstrom sat out if it helped the Wings get closer to the Cup.

Entertainment is a goal of an organization, but not part of the competitive staffs' duties, meaning coaches, players and equipment staff. They are paid to win.

Team doctors have a priority to manage the players safety. It's Operations job to sell tickets and plan stupid intermission gimmicks. Coaches and players should try to win. If it were different withy favorite team, I'd be pissed.

Mr Miggle

November 30th, 2012 at 7:24 AM ^

but it's not in the league's interest to have teams choosing opponents they aren't really trying to beat. It was not the only reasonable way to get their players some rest. There are limits on what teams are allowed to do even if it's in their own interest. Would the NFL tolerate teams admitting they were intentionally losing games to move up in the draft?


November 30th, 2012 at 12:51 PM ^

That's the problem..... Pop doesn't work for the league.  He works for the Spurs' organization and has to answer to them if his team fails, not Stern.  As stated in the OP, SA was playing it's 6th game in 9 days?  Did you also realize that Miami's previous game before yesterday was Saturday?  Why should Pop bend over for Stern when it appears that this "marqee" mid season match up was set up in Miami's favor from the beginning?  

Hell, Popovich could take this to a mediator and plead a case that he felt playing his well rested reserves gave his team the best chance to win.... and it would be a case worth listening to since SA almost pulled it off last night.


November 29th, 2012 at 10:14 PM ^

What right does the commissioner have to punish a coach for making coaching decisions? Sounds like a totally douche move by Stern. Even if there is more to this than meets the eye, the league should not be able to interfere with roster decisions. If it's really a problem, let the Spurs organization deal with it.

Also, is there a precedent for this in any major US sport? I've never heard of a league commissioner punishing a team because of a coach's roster decisions.


November 29th, 2012 at 10:14 PM ^

I can't stand Stern. He has no right to punish the spurs or Popovich. If the game wasn't against the Heat and on TV, there would be no sanctions. Pop and the Spurs management has the right to do anything and everything to reach their goals this season. I would guess that their goals include some playoff wins, not a win against any specific team on any specific night. 


November 29th, 2012 at 10:17 PM ^

Let me put this out first- I don't really follow the NBA.

That said, how in the world can Stern justify this? Popovich acts in the interest of his team and sanctions are threatened? Is this just Stern talking out of his ass? 

This is ridiculous, I must be missing something. Surely the NBA can't be that transparently indifferent about the actual strategy, just ticket sales. 

swan flu

November 29th, 2012 at 10:20 PM ^

To hell with Stern's opinion regardless of its validity. Coaches have the authority to do whatever they see necessary for their team to win a championship. It's not Popovich's job to concern himself with fan experience.

I don't blame Dave Brandin when Hoke puts in the second string when we're beating cupcakes by 59 points


November 29th, 2012 at 10:36 PM ^

College athlete's "salary" - Free room/board, meals and tuition.

Pro athletes salary - Millions.

Believe it or not, these guys are paid insane amounts to entertain, and by the average man's standards, the stud players make enough money to be easily set for (a very comfortable) life a couple months into a single season. Michael Jordan even understood that and played every game like it was his last, even if his body tried its damnedest to stop him. College athletes on the other hand have yet to earn a dime towards their name and have their whole lives ahead of them. While I can't stand Stern and will never say I openly agree with a single thing he says or does, those Spurs have a damn job to do, and that's to give fans their money's worth.


November 29th, 2012 at 10:43 PM ^

Ok, but then how do you determine whether or not the fans are getting their money's worth? Do you measure that by looking at one game, or by looking at the bigger picture and realizing that some sacrifice may be necessary along the way to best position your team for the championship?

swan flu

November 29th, 2012 at 10:44 PM ^

I don't care about any of that. Greg Popovich's job is to win championships. If he feels that it is in his teams best interest to rest the starters then he should do that. Doing anything else is absurd.

Say whatever you want about ts being entertainment, that's not Popovich's job.


November 29th, 2012 at 10:48 PM ^

Teams pull their starters all the time when a game is blow-out, win or lose.  Jordan didn't fucking play 40 minutes in blow-out wins or blow out losses.  How is what the Spurs are doing any different?? 

Wait until week 17 of the NFL season.  How many starters are playing that week??  Should they all be fined too?  You're a fucking idiot.


November 29th, 2012 at 11:51 PM ^


Fine, you don't agree with my opinion and you have some decent points to consider of your own, that's cool.  However, my opinion is not uncommon in the least, and thusly is not so outrageous of a thought that you need to pop a blood vessel getting so worked up about it while you attempt to belittle and cuss out a guy you don't know through a computer screen.  Learn to state your opinion like an adult and not a little brat that never learned to acceptably filter his thoughts before speaking.

By the way, Jordan averaged 38.25 minutes per game in his career.  With how damn good his teams were for a long time, sure as hell seems mathematically impossible for him not to have played a full (or close to) 40 mins in a majority of those blowouts.  Also, unless your team is perenially on the cusp of the playoffs, you don't buy tickets for week 17 of the NFL expecting to see starters.  That's a given.  While I'm sure the fans of this Spurs/Heat game got their money's worth by seeing the Heat in action, I don't think many of them were under the impression that almost half of the starters wouldn't even be dressing up.  Lastly, I don't ever recall saying I agreed with fines of any sort.  Pretty much said I disagree with anything Stern does.  I was just stating my humble opinion that I think because pro athletes are paid millions to put on show, they should be out there whenever they're able to.


November 29th, 2012 at 11:26 PM ^

Just because it's pro sports doesn't mean its only purpose is entertainment. The jets are entertainment too. Their job is to win. If you can win without your stars since they've played 4 games in 5 night or whatever, why wouldn't you rest them when they've been run ragged? It will help in the long run.


November 29th, 2012 at 10:24 PM ^

The Spurs have done this several times over the last couple years. The only reason Stern is saying anything now is because they're playing Miami and it's a national TV game. If the Spurs were playing the Bobcats and it was on Fox Sports Southwest or whatever no one would care.


November 29th, 2012 at 10:30 PM ^

Sometimes I imagine David Stern and Gary Bettman are like the Duke brothers from Trading Places. They bet each other a dollar and see who can be the dumbest league commissioner ever.