Popovich Stands Up To Stern

A year ago, The San Antonio Spurs' schedule would have made sense.

Last year, opening day occurred on Christmas (which, by the way, was awesome) after a lengthy lockout cost us many months and many games. The NBA then crammed 66 games for each team into 119 days. There were back-to-backs on top of back-to-backs, and each team dealt with a dreaded back-to-back-to-back at least once. It was rather brutal, but the teams suffered through it and gave us a strong season.

This year was supposed to be different, but it doesn't seem like it for Spurs who just played their fourth game in five nights. 

Gregg Popovich took the opportunity to rest four of his players; Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker, and Danny Green. He did the same thing a year ago when he earned coach of the year honors and had the best record in the NBA. 

This time, David Stern wasn't amused. 

"I apologize to all NBA fans. This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming," said Stern after the game.

Stern is right on one count: the fans who bought tickets to last nights game didn't get to see their favorite players. Instead, they watched a hard-fought game between the Heat and Spurs backups that went down to the wire despite not really having a chance. Classic Pop.

The substantial sanctions are way out of line. It's like the dealer at a poker game taking your chips after you fold a terrible hand. What exactly is Pop supposed to do? Timmy's knees need all the rest they can get. And what if Duncan did go down? Isn't that far worse for the NBA than a close-game loss that no one will remember next season except the schedule maker? 

Which was exactly Pop's point. He could have rested each player on a different day, which would have helped his team but not fix the problem of overscheduling. He chose the Heat as his target to get the biggest audience. The conversations about sports and the almighty dollar are well known, and Pop took the strongest option he had to try and put a stop to it.

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