Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker* did not play last night against the Miami Heat. As a result, David Stern has fined the Spurs organization $250,000. They were sent back to San Antonio while their teammates traveled to Miami to lose to the Heat, 105-100. It was San Antonio’s third game in four nights so Gregg Popovich decided to rest his stars who were coming off grueling 20-point wins over Washington and Orlando. Since this was a regular season game in the middle of an 82-game season, you wouldn’t think it was that big a deal. Well, you would be wrong! This was a showcase game against the defending champs on TNT! After warning that it was unacceptable and substantial sanctions would be coming, Stern said:
“The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case,” commissioner David Stern said in a statement. “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.”
By sitting Duncan, Ginobili and Parker, Gregg Popovich was fucking with David Stern’s product. You do not fuck with David Stern’s product. You can rest starters at the end of the season to get ready for the playoffs. You can shut players down so your team can tank for better draft picks. You can do a lot of things – But you DO NOT sit guys who sell jerseys when the game is going to be nationally televised.
For the Spurs, this was the right move. Would it have hurt the Spurs to play their Big 3 20-minutes a piece? No, but the season is long and the Spurs have the most wins in the league. This is about the marathon and the playoffs and the big picture and not about giving Shaq the opportunity to give Tony Parker a pointlessly stupid nickname. Just look at that video up there. That’s Pop coaching his younger players who are playing instead of sitting and watching. And they had a 6-point lead with 3 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. David Stern fined the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 for that because TNT didn’t get to mention Tim Duncan during The Mentalist reruns Thursday afternoon.
*And Danny Green. I just hate mentioning him with three Hall of Famers.