David Stern was flat out wrong in the way he handled the San Antonio Spurs benching of their four top players in last Thursday’s nationally televised TNT game against the Heat.
The immediate apology to all NBA fans was disgusting, and the $250 thousand dollar fine was completely uncalled for. How can the NBA commissioner apologize to fans for the way a coach coaches his team? Not any coach, but a 3-time championship winning coach. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was making the best decision for his team. They were playing the second game of a back-to-back and two days later were facing the number one team in the Western Conference in the Memphis Grizzlies. There is no possible way with the age of the Spurs players they would be able to play 3 good games in four days against two of the best teams in the league at the time. It’s not like the Spurs benching their starters is unheard of, Popovich has done it numerous times over the past few years as Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker have aged.
The only thing I might have done differently if I were Popovich is forewarning the league that I was planning on resting my star players for the game. However, if he had made the decision public well before the game, other Spurs players might have gotten injured, and unforeseen circumstances might come up that cause the reserve players to miss games. Popovich couldn’t follow through with the decision until the day of the game just based on those circumstances. I understand Stern being disappointed, he has every right to be. If I was putting a game in prime time to go up against the NFL, I want my league’s stars playing. Popovich deprived Stern of show casing the league’s stars, there’s no debating that.
What makes Stern look even worse is that the Spurs nearly beat the Heat, the game got a great rating, and the Spurs ended up beating the Grizzlies two days later. The plan essentially worked to perfection. The only thing David Stern has to apologize for is the way he acted. The Spurs want to win a championship, and Stern punished them for trying to do that. Ridiculous.