Substantial Sanctions: Spurs Beware

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Friday, November 30, 2012 with No comments
The NBA/Twitter universes erupted yesterday afternoon once the news of Tim Duncan, Tony Parkers, Manu Ginobili, and Danny Green's absence from Miami spread.  Last evening when the Spurs faced the Miami Heat, it was their 4th game in 5 nights and that led to the team being "tired" which resulted in Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich sending his stars home.  As head coach, Popovich has every right  to rest his players when it is both beneficial for his team and the league and that's where the disconnect happened.

Generally on Thursday evening's during the NBA season there's only 2 or 3 NBA games with two being aired by TNT.  The games that TNT airs on Thursdays are considered the games of the week for the NBA until Christmas Day.....they are a big deal.  Gregg Popovich has a history of resting his stars but never in a situation like this which is what prompted the stern response from NBA Commissioner David Stern.

"I apologize to all NBA fans. This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming."

David Stern is now under fire for his statement last evening as fans/bloggers feel that he overstepped his boundaries.  This concept that Stern is the bad guy and Gregg Popovich is the good guy in one that is jaded.  Defenders of what Popovich did have stated the Spurs were "tired" and the Heat had 4 days off.    This is true but the two previous Spurs games were against the Washington Wizards who at the time were winless and the Orlando Magic and those games weren't nationally televised.  If Popovich would have decided to rest his stars during both of those games, the Spurs would have had a 3 day rest period before facing the Miami Heat in a measuring stick game.  Why not play the NBA Champions, the measuring sticks of the league to see what you'd have to improve upon or to see if you are a championship caliber team?

In a way Stern created this problem years ago due to the NBA marketing of stars such as Magic, Bird, and Michael.  This resulted in teams raising ticket prices in order for fans to see certain stars.  A Spurs/Heat matchup would be in the top echelon of NBA games due to it being a potential NBA finals matchup and despite last evening's game coming down to the last few precious seconds, there will always be the thought of what it.  Truth is the game was missing half of its star power appeal. 

The NBA, its coaches and its players are locked in a fragile partnership, a harmonious balance that can't be rocked or the entire structure will come crumbling down.  What Popovich did in resting his stars was blatant attempt at disrespect towards the powers that be in the NBA, the "Basketball Gods" if you will.  David Stern had every right to state that the Spurs would face substantial sanctions as it is his responsibility to protect his brand, his league, the NBA.  He has every right to do so and again, Popovich has every right to rest his players but there is a fine line that has to be walked to maintain the balance.  At this point in time no one knows what the substantial sanctions will be but David Stern is a very intelligent diplomat and his decision will be one that has the best interest of the NBA in mind.