Was Popovich right for Resting his Vets vs the Heat?

The aftermath of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich for resting four of his stars players will go on to cost them more than just one game. Commissioner David Stern has issued a public apology to NBA fans, and says that quote “substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.”

It was a bizarre thing to do from a bizarre, but brilliant coach like Popovich, who said that he’d planned to rest 4 of his starters for that game since July. The four starters in question were: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green. The core of a veteran team that was going up against the returning champions in the Miami Heat.

The Spurs had embarked on a lengthy road trip that saw them play 4 teams in 6 nights. Of those 4 teams were the likes of Pacers, Raptors, Wizards and Magic, with the exception of the Pacers who have a 7-8 record, the rest of those teams are at or one spot above from being at the bottom of their respective divisions–why didn’t Pop rest his players in one of those games? Why rest your best players in a game against arguably the best team in the league? That’s the part that makes one scratch their head.

But of course, Stern’s reasons for the upcoming ‘sanctions’ will be for the economic impact for benching stars– the game was labeled a marquee game because of Tim Duncan going against Lebron and the dramatics of stars vs stars. It’s almost as if Pop intentionally decided to thumb his nose at ‘business first’ Stern by sending his vets home hours in advance. All we the fans and journalists alike can infer from Pop’s decision is that it was done just to rest his players. But again, I ask, if it was just for rest why do it against one of the best teams in basketball?

Everyone knows the NBA is a star driven league, made off the backs of the faces of franchises. The end result of the game was quite close, but at the end of the day none of that matters if your diehard NBA fan and casual fan alike, turn to the game and see one team with Lebron, Wade and Bosh and another team with what at first glance appears to be the Spurs ‘hand-me-down’ players going head to head. Call it wrong, call it right but people tune into NBA games to see the best in the world play against each other. Popovich does these bizarre moves for seemingly no reason, and far be it for me to ever criticize his decisions, but until he provides evidence of the contrary I’m going to have to label this a huge gaffe on his behalf.