NBA fines Spurs $250k for resting players

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In a pretty paramount decision on Friday, the NBA announced that the San Antonio Spurs organization has been fined $250,000 for head coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to send Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green back to San Antonio ahead of the Spurs’ 105-100 loss to the Miami Heat on Thursday night.

According to the NBA’s press 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.”

I don’t pretend to know the NBA rule book much more than anyone else who follows the league at something like an arm’s length away. But I have never heard of this league policy, and if it’s been in place since April 2010, why haven’t we heard of it before, when Coach Pop was resting his starters during the lockout-shortened season? Or the year before, when he rested the big three before a nationally-televised road game against the Denver Nuggets?

Also in the press release is a statement from NBA Commissioner David Stern:

“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.”

Again, these things weren’t problems before, so I struggle to see why they’re problems now. Because it’s still November? Because the game was on TNT and there was only one other game on that night? I’m sure all of these things came into play.

This is very thin ice that we’re walking on here. Coach Pop’s job is to win games. Is it wrong to sacrifice one game so you can possibly win two more? His responsibility is to his owner and his players. If both of those parties approve of his decision to send his players home, then Pop’s move is fine with me.

It’s entertainment to all of us, and I understand the point of view for fans who live in the Miami area that paid to see Duncan, Parker Ginobili — and even Danny Green — that didn’t get to because of Pop’s decision. I also sympathize with the folks who live outside the Spurs broadcast area that don’t have the luxury of watching the Spurs on League Pass. Coach Pop understands their position as well.

I don’t know the specifics of Pop’s contract with the Spurs, but I would guess there’s nothing in there about entertainment value, TV ratings or ticket sales, otherwise they would’ve run his ass out of town years ago when he was starting Rasho Nesterovic and Bruce Bowen, and winning games 83-70. He does what he thinks is best to put his team in a position to win in June, it’s up to other people in other positions with teams and the league to polish the turd he sometimes leaves behind.

  • Bruno

    I will laugh my @ss off in 13rd december, Pop will call a timeout after the tipoff and bench the starters.

  • RayM

    Can they appeal the fine?

  • http://www.facebook.com/TonyLe76 Tony Le

    Us against the world.

  • STIJL

    Meh. Wouldn’t surprise me if Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, Pop, and Holt paid 50G a piece.

  • Nomostew

    I just can’t see this going well for Stern or the league.

  • Blaze

    Is stern gonna fine the heat for almost losing to our bench, thereby giving an inferior product to the world?

  • Francesco

    It’s sad when you realize someone who meant a lot has just gone senile… NBA and owners together should just nudge him out of the door tomorrow, say he was under medication, make way for Adam Silver

  • Guest

    If the NBA wants to micromanage the coaching, then all the coaches should be hired by the NBS

  • Pops

    If the NBA (Stern) wants to micromanage the coaches, then the NBA should hire all the coaches.

  • Andrew G

    He made it pretty clear in the statement: “…that was the team’s only regular-season visit to Miami.” Why else would he stress that point other than to blatantly say: playing in Miami is more important than anything else in the league. Screw player safety, screw the rules of the game. But don’t let me catch you openly mocking our player safety policies, that’ll be a fine as well. Gotta love double standards.

  • Melbourne Spur

    This is the same David Stern that complains when the Spurs are in the finals because no one wants to watch them, but now fines them on the basis that everyone wants to watch them???? One of the most ridiculous decisions I have ever heard of in sport.
    Stick it to them every chance you get Pop, and do it in your own, understated way where there is no need to attack him through the media. Hit him where it hurts most and get to the finals again I say.

  • Melbourne Spur

    This is the same David Stern that complains when the Spurs make the finals because no one wants to watch them, but then fines them because everyone wants to watch them?

    Stick it to them Pop by making the finals again.

    Interesting Spurs vs Stern article here (apologies if links aren’t allowed) – http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nba–david-stern-stumbles-again-in-his-failed-culture-war-against-the-spurs-194828970.html

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  • RGVSpur

    Something that has gone largely overlooked by the NBA office. The Heat have sold out the next 2 seasons (in fact they fired moat of there sales staff) no one knows whether any of the big 3 would have been healthy anyways when these tickets were sold out, or even any of Mami’s big 3 for that matter.
    The only thing I can think of where this was truly a violation would be from a gambling perspective. Although, even in that case the line was set at 205 and the Heat at -5 (it went up to -13 when the roster change was announced). The spurs pushed And the finale line was over. Eat it Stern…

  • Pablo

    Adolf Jozef Stern did it again. First, he accomodates the schedule to
    make sure Miami has the biggest chance to win. There are different ways
    to make business, right and wrong ways. Stern has chosen the wrong one,
    by creating biassed matchups in which one team (the one he prefers)
    starts with a big advantage (four days rest against six games in night
    days). If you pay to see a prime game between to powerhouses, wouldn’t
    you want them to be both at full strengh? What kind of show is Mr. Stern
    trying to sell us, Basketball fans? Shouldn’t he appoligize to us fans
    for digitating the schedules in order to give advantage to his favourite
    teams, while using the ones he dislikes as sacrificial lambs? Now he is
    infuriated with Pop because he didn’t allow his full plan to
    happen.Yes, the Heat won, but Spurs starters where mostly not there, so
    there will be not much merit behind this win. He won’t find as good an
    opportunity to feed a full Spurs team to the heat as tired until next
    season. We all know this is a bussines, I agree, but it is still a
    sport, and integrity is a non replaceable aspect of it. For that, you
    have to give both contenders the same opportunity. Let their talents
    play against each other and don’t pick.I think thiese kind of things are already exceeding
    the league’s contexts and should start to call the attention of the
    Federal Government. Above everything, United States are not the Nazi
    Germany or the Soviet Union. Dictators should not be allowed

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