By John Schmeelk
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Last night in a nationally televised game against the Miami Heat, Gregg Popovich not only rested his three stars, but he sent them home on a commercial flight before the game. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker and Danny Green all sat out the game and the Spurs lost. Right or wrong, Popovich had every right to do it.
Was the move bad for the NBA, TNT and its fans? Sure. I was looking forward to watching the Spurs and Heat go at it as much as the next guy. Does it make the league look bad? Yes, again. Is it something I would have done? No. But here’s the rub: none of that matters to Gregg Popovich. He has one job and one job only: winning a championship. If he thinks this is the best way to do that, it’s absolutely what he should have done. Everything else be damned. Popovich’s responsibility is to one thing and one thing only: The Spurs winning a title.
Some are arguing that resting players on the fourth game of five nights will have a negligible effect on games in May and June. That might very well be true, but once again: it doesn’t matter! Do you think Gregg Popovich wants to lose any games he doesn’t have to? Of course not, but this was a sacrifice he thought was worthy for the larger cause. He lost a battle to try to win the war. He has every right to do that. I’d argue, it’s his duty to do that. Ask Spurs fans if they win the title six months from now if this little controversy was worth it. I know what their answer will be. That’s the team’s first responsibility, not to the league, TNT or the national TV audience.
David Stern and the NBA has absolutely no right to penalize the Spurs for this. The NBA season is an 82 game marathon, and San Antonio is treating it that way, rather than a sprint. The NBA can’t tell a team who to play or who not to play, unless a team is purposely trying to lose games to get a better draft pick. Tanking is far different than what the Spurs were trying to do last night. If David Stern takes action against the Spurs it sets a ridiculous precedent that the NBA can go after teams for personnel or managerial decisions. No one wants that.
The NBA and TNT should also look at themselves in the mirror. This is the second year the Spurs have rested players in back to back situations. When the schedule came out, the NBA and TNT should have looked and seen that this game was the Spurs’ fourth game in five nights, with ALL FOUR GAMES on the road. If there was ever going to be a game where the Spurs were going to rest their stars, this was it. They should have known this was a real possibility, and either not scheduled it on national TV or altered the NBA schedule and put the game on another date.
The bottom line is that that the move Gregg Popovich made was bad for NBA fans, the league, and TNT. But in the Spurs opinion, it was good for their team. That’s all that matters. It’s the Spurs right to do whatever they want as long as it is going towards the greater purpose of winning a title. The NBA has no right to penalize them for it. It’s too bad that it has other negative repercussions. It’s one missed regular season NBA national game, and the season and the fan base will move on. So will the Spurs, and deep into the playoffs.
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Was Popovich in the wrong or did he do the right thing for this team? Sound off below…