The NBA fined the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 for coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to send home starters Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green when the team had a game against the champion Miami Heat.
Whether Popovich considers the move in the best interest of the team or not, it is unlikely he will handle the matter in a similar situation in the future.
Commissioner David Stern said the Spurs “did a disservice to the league and our fans” when they didn’t bring the four players, electing to rest them for a Saturday night game against Memphis.
“The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case,” 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.”
Teams are required to report as soon as they know a player will not travel because of injury.
The league’s statement said the Spurs were in violation of league policy reviewed with the board of governors in April 2010 against resting players in a manner “contrary to the best interests of the NBA.”
The Spurs didn’t comment on the penalty.
The issue of resting healthy players has been debated before, though usually at the end of the season, not a month into it. And the Spurs have been right at the center of it, Popovich using the rest strategy for an aging team that could use more time off than the NBA schedule often allows.
They even made a joke out of it last season, the box score listing “OLD” next to the 36-year-old Duncan’s name as the reason he didn’t play.
Stern wasn’t laughing Thursday.
He has a nearly $5 billion a year industry to protect and can’t like it when teams aren’t willing to put their best product on display in a marquee game televised by national TV partner TNT. Fans and viewers were excited about seeing the Spurs try to complete an unbeaten road trip against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the NBA champions, so there was an understandable letdown when they learned of the absences.