David Stern Defends His Decision To Fine The San Antonio Spurs $250,000 For Resting Players Against The Miami Heat
Last Thursday, NBA Commissioner David Stern was really mad. In the hours leading up to the San Antonio Spurs nationally-televised game against the Miami Heat, the Spurs announced that their four best players—Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Danny Green—would be sent back to San Antonio to get some rest. The league was caught completely off guard by the decision that was made by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, and it resulted in TNT broadcasting a game between the Spurs and Heat that featured none of the Spurs star players. And, although it turned into a pretty competitive game anyway, Stern still released a statement that night chastising the Spurs for their decision, apologizing to fans, and promising that a punishment was on the way.
That punishment arrived swiftly and was harsh. It came in the form of a $250,000 fine for the Spurs. And, it had many people out there wondering if the fine was justified. After all, the Spurs were simply doing what they felt was best for their team at the time. They weren’t concerned about the league scheduling them to play on national TV. They wanted to rest some of their star players to avoid tiring them out down the home stretch later this season. At least, that’s what they claimed (many analysts believe the Spurs chose that specific game on purpose in order to take a stand against the rough early-season schedule they were given by the league). So, was the league justified in fining them such a large amount of money? It’s not like they refused to play the game at all.
David Stern thinks so. And, earlier this week, he spoke out and defended his decision to fine the Spurs $250K.
“The organization agreed they would take away four players, including a 26-year-old and a 30-year-old—their four best players,” Stern said. “And they did it without notifying the league or the media the way they’re supposed to for injury and illness. That, and the totality of all the circumstances, if this wasn’t appropriate time for exercising the discretion then there would never be an appropriate time. This is not about the coach, I’m fine with Pop…This is not about a coaching decision. This is more about the relationship among our 30 teams and 30 owners.”
Translation? If the Spurs were planning on pulling a stunt like this, they should have at the very least given the NBA a little bit of notice. And, you know what? The Commish has a point. Initially, I was on the Spurs’ side and felt like they should have been able to sit guys if they wanted to. But, for the good of the league, the Spurs—and any other NBA team out there—has to tell the league if they’re going to give half the roster the night off when they’re supposed to be putting on a show for the entire country. Otherwise, the league ends up looking bad for putting a subpar product out on the floor.
With that in mind, David Stern deserved to be really mad—and the Spurs deserved the punishment that they got. Case closed.