Despite the lack of big-name performers, the Spurs managed to lose by only five points.
But the mere fact that head coach Gregg Popovich decided to rest his players in one of the more high-profile early-season games was a problem for the commissioner of the NBA. Immediately after the game, he released a statement apologizing to the league
Stern has had a rocky relationship with both owners and players prior to this, and this incident is simply a continuation of that.
By fining the organization $250,000, he is indirectly straining his current relationship with other team owners. Stern is ultimately working for the league’s 30 teams. Unjustly fining one organization brings up the question of whether or not he will do this again, despite having teams habitually tank at the end of the season to improve their chances in the NBA Lottery.
But Stern did not mince his words in a statement released on NBA.com on Friday regarding the fine:
The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case. The Spurs decided to make four of their top players unavailable for an early-season game that was the team's only regular-season visit to Miami. The team also did this without informing the Heat, the media, or the league office in a timely way. Under these circumstances, I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans.
This begs the question: Is it acceptable to throw games later on in the season? Stern made it clear in his statement that the fine did take into account the timing of the resting.
He also points out that resting the players is a disservice, but the commissioner is focused on the short-term results and not the long-term ramifications.
Three out of the four players who rested are established veterans who realistically cannot play long stretches without the possibility of an injury.
The youngest of those three is point guard Tony Parker, who is 30 years old and has been in the league since 2001. Power forward Tim Duncan and shooting guard Manu Ginobili are 36 and 35, respectively.
Gregg Popovich was definitely focused on the entire season and not the individual game.
The strategy behind it seemed to pay off. Even without their core, the San Antonio Spurs were able to compete against the reigning NBA champs. It took a Ray Allen three-pointer with 22.6 seconds left to secure the win, according to NBA.com.
The fine is an insult to coach Gregg Popovich, who is arguably the best active coach in the NBA. His unorthodox coaching techniques may be off-putting to some, but he has won championships to support his unusual coaching methods.
Popovich has rested players like this before. In one instance, he even rested Tim Duncan because he was, according to the box score, old.
The fine should worry the other coaches in the league since a small decision can result in a fine. Thus, coaching decisions may become slightly more conservative than they would have been otherwise.
Having uneasy relationships with both owners and coaches ultimately has harmed the brand that David Stern has been fixated on managing his entire tenure.
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