Gregg Popovich compromised the game?
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
The business argument is as open and shut as they come, if only because thriving companies just don’t make a habit out of slicing away at their own bloodlines. A TNT game was marred because of Gregg Popovich’s decision to send his four core San Antonio Spurs players home on Thursday rather than have them take on the reigning champion Miami Heat, and so it was that the economic model of the NBA’s $5-billion business was unquestionably threatened.
But lest anyone think the league’s basketball people don’t see it that way, that the prevailing view in that camp is that the sanctity of the game was forever compromised by commissioner David Stern’s decision to fine San Antonio $250,000 for conduct unbecoming of the league – think again. Several front office executives contacted by USA TODAY Sports revealed plenty of agreement with Stern’s decision, with numerous team officials indicating that – in a twist to what your parents always said – it’s not what Popovich did that deserved discipline but how he did it.
Popovich’s choice to keep his decision quiet before sending Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green home rather than have them sit courtside in their suits was likely a major factor here. Perhaps that decision should have been communicated to the league in advance with the hopes that it would have received approval.
One Eastern Conference general manager agreed with the premise that there is nothing wrong with resting players, but said it would have been better if the players had been at the game. Having them not even make the trip is what made this situation one that deserved a fine, said the GM, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Coaches are an old-school lot, confident in their ways on matters of player rotation and rest and stubborn to succumb when those above them – be it owners or the commish himself – weigh in with an opinion about how the team should be run. Popovich, meanwhile, is as accomplished as they come, with four championships and … [For more on San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich compromised the game, click here.]