MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat knocked off the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night, but the biggest news from the game came before tipoff when Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich decided to send Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker, and Danny Green back to San Antonio for rest.
The move is not uncommon at different parts of the season for one or two stars. Popovich’s move shocked NBA fans and those covering the game in the media Thursday night. But, Popovich team had played five games in six days culminating with the Miami game Thursday.
Popovich made the move to rest his stars against the Heat to have them ready to play Western Conference foe the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday night. Plus, the stars sent home are not exactly NBA spring chickens. Duncan is a 15-year veteran and both Ginobli and Parker have more than 10 years in the league.
Still, NBA commissioner David Stern was fit to be tied after Popovich’s move. Fans and the media took to Twitter to voice their complaints and Stern made a shocking announcement Thursday night.
“I apologize to all NBA fans,” Stern said in a statement before the nationally televised game. “This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.”
If Stern chooses to punish the Heat, he would be setting a dangerous precedent of saying the league has better knowledge of what his players need than the coach. Plus, Stern would then have to decide whether to punish any coach who decides his stars need rest.
Additionally, at certain points in the season, most teams rest their stars; does that mean that Stern will now punish them? If not, where is the threshold to punish and when can stars legitimately be rested?
Stern will have to answer all of these questions if he chooses to move ahead with sanctions against the Spurs. As of late Friday morning, the commissioner’s office had yet to make any announcement about a possible sanction.