ESPN.com reported earlier today that San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich decided to send Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green home early rather than playing the healthy stars against the Miami Heat.
NBA commissioner David Stern responded by saying that there would be "substantial sanctions" against the Spurs for the move, and he would go on to apologize to NBA fans for it. Well you know what, commissioner? The Spurs were right in making the move.
Before we get into the basketball side of things, let's ask ourselves, who did Stern really need to apologize to?
Certainly not the Heat and their fans. Rather than playing a true contender, they get a much easier game against San Antonio's backups.
What about the Spurs and their fans? They don't need to be patronized with a fake apology. They are among the smartest fans in basketball and understand that Gregg Popovich knows what's best for this team.
Point is, I don't think anyone really minds this move. Stern needs to put his ego aside and realize that Popovich is doing what he thinks is best for the long-term prospects of his team.
What is better for the NBA: the Spurs running out of gas in April, or staying fresh through June? Stern needs to ask himself that question before making such a ridiculous statement.
This is the type of savvy, farsighted decision that has made Gregg Popovich one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. On some level, he must have realized that beating the Heat in Miami without Kawhi Leonard was a nearly impossible proposition, so by essentially throwing the game, he is saving some energy for his best players.
He also gets to kill two other birds with this one stone. With only nine active players, everyone who dressed will get significant minutes against the defending champions. Guys like Nando De Colo, Patrick Mills and James Anderson now get a chance they otherwise wouldn't have to see how well they can play against elite competition.
Although he'd never admit it, I'd guess the Gregg Popovich also didn't want to reveal any of his team's secrets to Miami. For the Spurs to win the championship, they will likely have to beat the Heat in the NBA Finals.
The Spurs don't have nearly as much raw talent as Miami, but they are a much smarter team. They'll be prepared for the Heat with or without experience against them. The Heat may not be able to say the same thing.
You can point to any of these reasons as to why Popovich truly decided to rest his starters, but what can't be argued is that it was the right move, whether David Stern likes it or not.
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