Commissioner David Stern: ‘It Was a Game’
NBA commissioner David Stern said Thursday that he has no regrets about his decision to fine the Spurs $250,000 for strategically resting four players during a nationally-televised game against the Heat in November and that the fine was warranted because he felt San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich’s desire to give his players extra time off wasn’t genuine.
“Pop is a great coach, a Hall of Famer, and a visionary,” Stern said, before the Spurs beat the Heat 92-88 in Game 1 of the Finals in Miami. “But on this one he wasn’t resting Danny Green. It was a game that was being played. I know it, you know it and he knows it.”
That’s hard to swallow. The only game Popovich appears to be playing is called “win a fifth championship.”
A quick rewind: Popovich elected to send Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Green back to San Antonio rather than make them come to Miami and sit on the bench in street clothes. The game against the Heat was San Antonio’s final game of a six-game, nine-day road trip. The Spurs were 5-0 on the trip entering Miami and faced a key game two days later against the Grizzlies, a division rival that wound up advancing to the Western Conference finals this season. By sending his four players home, Popovich was able to give them three days off consecutively.
This was not the first time Popovich has strategically rested his players in recent years. He’s used the second night of back-to-backs or other trying schedule circumstances to allow his key players extra recuperation and rest.
“We’ve done this before in hopes of making a wiser decision, rather than a popular decision,” Popovich told reporters before the Heat game, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “It’s pretty logical.”