NBA commissioner David Stern penalized Gregg Popovich and the Spurs for their decision to send home Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Danny Green before their Thursday night match-up against the Miami Heat. But does the commissioner have the right to tell Popovich how to coach his team?
It’s understandable to see why fans would be upset with the situation. Heat fans probably spent a pretty penny to see their team take on the Spurs, but instead of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker they were given Boris Diaw, Patrick Mills and Nando de Colo. While this easily looks like a blowout on paper, the Heat needed a late three pointer from Ray Allen to put the Spurs reserves away and barely escaped with a 5 point win. To me, it looks like fans got their moneys worth.
Stern claims that Popovich’s decision was “a disservice to the league and our fans,” but it seems that he was only doing what he thought was best for his team. Their match-up against the Heat was the last of a 6 game road trip and the Spurs had just played 5 games in 8 days. San Antonio was also getting ready for their match-up against division rival Memphis Grizzlies who are 12-2.
It’s true that teams are supposed to notify the league when players are going to miss games due to injury. But if there is one coach that Stern shouldn’t question, it’s Gregg Popovich who is easily the best coach in the league right now.