The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Sunday, April 19, 11:08 p.m.

NBA fining of Spurs coach Popovich is unfair

The NBA fined San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich $250,000 on Friday for sending his star players home instead of having them play the Miami Heat.

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and role player Danny Green were sent home to rest instead of traveling to Miami, a move Popovich has done in previous years before the playoffs.

It is ridiculous that the league fined a coach for doing what he thought was right for his team. I understand that the fans suffer and it was a big game against a good team, but if you’re a San Antonio fan, I would think you’d rather have your best players rested come playoff time.

I’d rather win a championship than lose in the first round or even lose a bunch of regular season games because my stars are tired.

The Spurs were coming off five games in seven days before playing Miami, so I see why Popovich would want to rest them. Another thing people need to keep in mind is that all of these players besides Danny Green are older:  Duncan is 36 years old, Ginobili is 35, and Parker is 30.

Also, Popovich wanted them fresh for a big upcoming game against the Memphis Grizzlies, who are currently the No. 1 team in the West. The Spurs ended up winning the game against Memphis and the Spurs big three, being well-rested, contributed greatly.

Popovich usually sits his older players and stars later in the season before the playoffs. He sat them early this season because of the five games that were scheduled within a week. He didn’t want to subject his best players to so much wear and tear this early in the season.

Commissioner David Stern didn’t see it this way. He saw it as a business opportunity that was wasted. Stern apologized to fans and said that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and its fans.

This is just untrue. Again, if you’re a Spurs fan you should want your best players rested. There’s no reason they wouldn’t still have fun watching their team play the Miami Heat. There’s enough star power on the court.

Stern also said that the Spurs violated league policies and didn’t give enough notice to the Heat or media. He thought it was unfair because it was the Spurs only trip to Miami this season.

Grizzlies head coach Lionell Hollins, whose team is the reason the Spurs star players needed rest, said Popovich has the right to manage his team however he wants.

More coaches should have spoken out in defense of Popovich. As with all sports, the coaches and management should be able to handle their teams in the best way they see fit. Whether it be making lineup changes or sitting players, the league shouldn’t infringe upon managements jobs.

If my favorite teams sits my star players, I’m OK if the decision is made in the best interest of the team in the long run.

Unfortunately, Stern sees basketball as a product instead of a sport. Popovich was looking to keep his best players well-rested, thinking about his team and the rest of the season — not how much he could sell.