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Like it or not (and I know how we in Utah feel about this issue) Spurs curmudgeon Greg Popovich can play who he wants, where and when he wants and for as many minutes (or none at all) as he wants.
In some world the heavy ticket prices NBA fans choose to pay would guarantee max effort, total professionalism, absolute investment in winning and complete concentration by NBA players. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live, cheer (or boo) and spend in. Wish it were different but it is not.
The Sports Beat:
Popovich did the same thing at the end of last season - rested his key older guys against the Jazz, creating a pregame uproar. The 'faux' Spurs pushed the Jazz hard, almost won that game, and that one game was the margin the Jazz needed to sneak the 8th and final playoff spot.
Now Pop's DNP- Coaches Decision to send 4 starters home, skipping the Miami game is drawing more criticism.
"Purists" would've preferred those old warhorses saddle up against the Heat, really eying Saturday's much more important game (to them) against Memphis, maybe fall behind early then have Pop (you've seen this surrender-to-the-schedule before) clear his bench and rest those guys. Is that a "good job, good effort" show? No!
If (can't retire fast enough) NBA Commissioner David Stern had really wanted a true test at the top of the NBA on Thursday night's TNT Showcase, the schedule-maker would not have put any team through the four games on five nights, 2nd night of back-to-backs and expect a show worthy of two of the leagues top teams.
As it was the Spurs showed how deep and feisty they are and should've beaten LeBron and DWade. Great showcase for Paddy Mills, Tiago Splitter, Gary Neal, James Anderson, etc. Don't you think Miami fans (who don't always see max effort) loved that game?
Spurs rest guys for a huge game w/Western rival Memphis but also build team chemistry, keeping the bench guys sharp and confident.
At least Popovich was brutally honest! And his team hardly laid down. As he explained in his own (don't really give a hoot what you all think) pregame explanation. His older team has already had to endure an eight day roadie and this six games in nine nights roadie.
Pop feels his only recourse against this business-first league strategy is to find rest where he can. At the expense of us fans, forking over hard-earned cash.
But this no different than managers giving older stars day games off after night games, deciding to skip a pitchers turn in the rotation to rest him.
So now David Stern, who has never made questionable decisions, has never chosen good business over better principle and has always been the friend of the smaller market and the littler guy will make up some "serious consequences" punishment for the Spurs. I can't wait to see what Emperor Stern makes up.
Ironically, its Pops' Spurs (like Sloan's Jazz) who night in and night out give NBA fans as much or more effort, more 'want to' more bang for their entertainment buck than any other NBA team, that will be punished. For being honest and making a decision that turned out to be for the "greater good".
Will Stern's last stamp on his NBA be league oversight of every teams' substitution patterns? Unless Blake Griffin plays the same minutes in every city, some fans will miss a dunk (then a stare-down) or two. Can't have that.