In one of the most controversial coaching decisions of the 2012-13 NBA season, Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs sent his four leading scorers home to rest on a night in which they were scheduled to play the Miami Heat. The move resulted in a fine of $250,000 by the league offices (via ESPN).
All the Spurs' massive fine proves is that David Stern cares more about image than the integrity of the game.
This is the largest fine since the NBA docked Miami Heat owner Micky Arison $500,000 for voicing his displeasure with the 2011 NBA lockout on his Twitter account (via ESPN's Heat Index).
The move has been debated internationally across platforms such as Twitter, television and sports-talk radio. Even your local barbershop is likely to be discussing this move, as the Spurs' pockets took a substantial hit for...
Well, for what? Even Stern might be wondering that.
Decision Before Evaluation
By the time Gregg Popovich could finish the sentence, "I'm resting my players," David Stern had already decided there would be a penalty. In fact, Stern released a statement stating there would be substantial ramifications.
Pardon me, it was "substantial sanctions" which Stern had referred to (via The Los Angeles Times).
"I apologize to all NBA fans," Stern said. "This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming."
Forgive me for my skepticism, but shouldn't Stern have seen how it all played out before he made a decision? It only seems logical to evaluate all of the issues at stake before handing out fines with illegitimate knowledge, does it not?
Didn't stop Stern this time. Likely won't next time, either.
What's the Rule?
Am I the only one who took a step back and said, "Wait...that's a rule?"
This is far from the first time in which a head coach has rested his stars. For proof, why not evaluate every final week of the regular season in the history of the NBA? You're certain to see coaches sit their leaders on the end of the bench.
Even the team San Antonio played, the Miami Heat, is guilty of such. In fact, the Heat rested their starters on April 24 and April 26 of last season.
Where is their fine?
The issue with this decision is not the debate about whether or not it was the right decision to make. It is the fact that there is no rule in place to state that Popovich could not rest his star players.
After all, Stern's claim that there would be repercussions came after the Spurs had sent their players home. How does that offer fair time to react and play by the commissioner's rules?
Plain and simple, it does not. Which is almost as ridiculous as the facts Stern overlooked.
End of a Six-Game Road Trip
The San Antonio Spurs entered their game against the Miami Heat preparing for a Thursday-night showdown on TNT, the NBA's equivalent to Monday Night Football.
With that being said, the Spurs also had reached the final game of a six-game road trip. A perfect explanation as to why their starters were rested.
The Spurs had traveled over 5,100 miles from the time they left San Antonio on Nov. 19 until their battle in Miami on Nov. 29. In other words, their players were clearly fatigued and Gregg Popovich was in the right to rest them.
Clearly, Stern believes that NBA players are invincible. I'm sure he would have rather seen an injury keep these players out for an extended period of time, as opposed to just one night.
Nearly Won the Game
When the San Antonio Spurs announced that they would be sending Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Daniel Green home for rest, fans were disappointed. The thought of the Spurs' second unit facing the Miami Heat was preposterous.
What David Stern and the angry minds of the NBA world appear to forget, however, is that the Spurs nearly defeated the defending-champion Heat.
Aside from the fact that they only lost by five points, 105-100, the Spurs also led the game entering the fourth quarter. San Antonio was up, 76-73, after three quarters of play.
The Spurs even led, 98-97, with 43 seconds remaining.
If coaching a memorable game is doing wrong by the fans, how in the world is Gregg Popovich supposed to do them right?
Had the Spurs' stars not shown up and the Heat won by double-digits, the NBA would have a leg to stand on. Instead, we saw one of the most highly competitive games of the entire season give way to these outrageous sanctions.
Are you going to fine them for that, too?