The San Antonio Spurs lost to the defending world champion Miami Heat 105-100 last night. Well, some of the Spurs lost to the Heat. Most of their good players didn’t play or even make the trip to South Beach.
Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Danny Green all stayed home and presumably watched streaming movies on Netflix instead of battling LeBron James & Co.
As you might imagine, NBA Commissioner David Stern is pissed.
''I apologize to all NBA fans,'' Stern said. ''This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.''
Stern's statement was released roughly the same time as tip-off in Miami for a nationally televised game.
Before the game, Popovich said he decided to sit his core when he saw how challenging this particular part of the schedule was for his team. Thursday's matchup ended a six-games-in-nine-nights swing for the Spurs, who won their first five on the trip.
''Everybody has to make decisions about their schedule, about players playing and back-to-backs and trips and that sort of thing,'' Popovich said before the game. ''In our case, this month we've had 11 away games, after tonight. We've had an eight-day trip and a 10-day trip, and we're ending it with four (games) in five nights here. I think it'd be unwise to be playing our guys in that kind of a situation, given their history.''
While fans are rightly upset about not getting a chance to see some of the game’s biggest stars, it’s not exactly a black-and-white issue. Popovich has one job and that’s to make sure his team challenges for a crown come June. If he truly believes that saving some of his older players undue wear and tear in late November is prudent, who’s to say that’s the wrong decision in the long run?
Personally, one of my biggest complaints about the NBA is the glut of pointless games all winter. And while San Antonio clearly has a better chance of winning with this foursome, they didn’t exactly get run out of the gym by the Heat.
What do you think of the decision? Fair or foul?