The other way of looking at it is this: ultimately, as we so often hear when it comes to the NBA, it is a business. The fans pay money to see certain players play. They tune in to watch what Tony Parker will do to the defense of the Heat, and how LeBron James would overcome a veteran team with the best record (prior to Thursday) in basketball. No one is lining up to see the Heat play a Spurs team featuring Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner (regardless of the results), and loss of fan interest is loss of money for the league. The NBA schedules are specifically designed on nationally-televised game days to bring us the best possible contest, and Popovich certainly found a way to mess that up.
The question is, why sit all four? Sure, the schedule isn’t exactly favorable for the Spurs – they’ve played 10 of their last 13 games on the road. But so what? Every team goes through an unpleasant stretch at some point. Are the players really so tired that they need a day off in a game in November? It’s understandable to rest the older guys like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, but Tony Parker is only 30 and Danny Green is a fresh 25. Age is not an excuse in this situation.
The problem with Popovich’s decision keep his talents away from South Beach is this: it’s as if he was out to make a point and show up David Stern, more so than to simply rest his guys. If he, at the very least, played Parker and Green, this wouldn’t be as big of an issue, and David Stern wouldn’t be making threats to take action against the Spurs. Popovich is a smart man, and he knew his decision would cause a stir. He is generally recognized as a boss around the league, and perhaps this was his way of telling Stern that he didn’t appreciate how his team’s games were scheduled this season. Based on Stern’s reaction, though, Popovich just may have overplayed his hand this time. Not that he really cares either way.
This wasn’t the only controversy of the day, as Rajon Rondo only received a two-game suspension for his involvement in a shoving match with Kris Humphries. Here’s what Chris Sheridan had to say about the matter, but yours truly correctly assumed the proper length of Rondo’s suspension here.
Onto other news from around the league on Thursday: