Commissioner David Stern thinks so as he said in a statement that they face “substantial sanctions” for benching Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Many Ginobili, and Danny Green in last nights contest against the Heat. Obviously, this calls into question the integrity of the game as a team pretty much conceded a game (although it ended up being a close game 105-100 Heat victory). The biggest issue at stake for the league office here is that fans paid good money to go to a game, hoping to see a match-up between two NBA powerhouses. What they got instead was there hometown Heat facing the Spurs B unit lead by Tiago Splitter, Gary Neal, and Nando de Colo (who?). While these players fought hard and kept it close until the Heat buckled down in the final minutes, it definitely was not what the fans had hoped for. This I understand, and from the NBA’s standpoint I can understand there frustration, however I side with the Spurs here.
|“Count my rings David Stern. One game in November is not important, I coach for April, May, and June”
Who’s to decide NBA rotations for a team? Obviously it’s the teams’ coaches. So Pop could have avoided this by playing his stars for a few minutes coming out of either half, but really, what’s the point in that. He made the decision that it was better for his team in the near future (Saturday in Memphis) and in the long term (playoffs) to have his players well rested. I don’t think it’s for the league office to decide who needs to play and with an 82 game season, one game is just not that important. The Spurs were playing in their 4th game in 5 nights, there 11th road game in November, and have an aging roster; for Pop it didn’t make sense to wear out his guys this early in the season.
While I understand where the league is coming from, I strongly believe it is the coach that has the ultimate right to make decisions he feels are best for his team if there are vying for an NBA championship. This is not benching players to get the first pick in the draft, nor did he try and lose this game. I don’t doubt Stern will do something, whether it be suspend Pop or fine the Spurs, but from my point of view, any sanction is wrong. You can be sure, that he won’t be the only coach to rest his players this season, however i don’t know if anyone else will bench 4 of their top 5 players.
We will let you know once we hear word from the league office on this….more to come.