Friday, November 30, 2012

Is David Stern Fair to Punish the Spurs?

The San Antonio Spurs receiving the “substantial sanctions” statement from David Stern last night seems puzzling. With just over a year until retirement, Stern continues to lay down the law by making slightly questionable decisions which keep adding up. The Spurs resting Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, and Danny Green against Miami rattled Stern to a point where consequences are now heading towards them.

Whose decision is it to rest these players?

What motivated Stern to do this? It was either about the money, pleasing fans, or even both. Both logical reasons, yet the Spurs are the ones putting the money in those players’ pockets so some could argue that Stern made the wrong decision. If Gregg Popovich wanted to rest his stars, the franchise is the one paying the price by paying these guys to sit, right? The Spurs signed these players and if the head coach sits a player, it’s the coach’s decision. Maybe the Spurs have a case and can appeal to this.

Then again, an argument can be made that the Spurs can’t fire back since they are privileged to have a spot in the NBA. The NBA is run by David Stern, while David Stern is run by the players. The players bring in the leagues revenue which makes Stern angry when Popovich rests some of the league’s most highly distinguished stars.

Stern has handed out penalties for resting players in the past. In 1990, the Lakers were fined for resting Magic Johnson, Mychal Thompson, and James Worthy on the final game of their regular season. Stern back then said that “fans buying tickets deserve the best product and that the Lakers did not supply that”. The Lakers endured a 42 point blowout by Portland and no playoff seeding arrangements changed. Now, many teams do this every year and receive no punishment.

Teams rest players every year, so is resting players at the beginning of the season any different from the end? 

Clearly, Stern stopped this trend and allowed coaches to rest players at the end of the season. Is it any different? At the end of the season, sports fans may know to avoid buying tickets because they are aware that players are getting rested. At the end of the first month of basketball, fans most likely were beyond upset to have purchased a ticket expecting to see a battle of champions. Miami only see’s San Antonio once a year at home and the fans were treated to Matt Bonner, Tiago Splitter, and company. I’m not saying the “Red Rocket” isn't fun to watch raining three’s with his unusual rocket launcher shooting form. I’m just saying Tim Duncan probably didn't watch the game himself.

On TNT, this game was the first of the double header on the night. It was actually a very good game with both squads battling until the end. But what if it was a twelve-game Friday night and the Bucks had a good enough record to rest Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, and Dunleavy against the Wizards? Would the Bucks receive “substantial sanctions”? No, they would not. Only a “super team” would gain such attention of the commissioner.

Tickets against prime-time teams are just as pricey at the beginning of the season as they are at the end. People are often disappointed in Toronto when they spend hundreds of dollars on tickets in April to see the Raptors face a top-notch team, just to watch the scrubs play and the stars rest on the sideline.

It’s also a matter of timing. 

People don’t tune into the games as much at the end of the regular season as they do at the beginning of the season. The NHL is locked out leaving the NBA to have to battle the almighty NFL’s Thursday night game between the Falcons and Saints. Television ratings definitely didn't favor the NBA.

So Stern has a reason to do whatever he’s going to do but it just goes to show how much the NBA relies on their high rating games and high profile stars.

(Image Source: Photobucket)


vern said...

Nothing wrong with resting your older players, all teams do it, but that's the coaches perspective. On a fan perspective Stern realizes the fans are the reason those guys have million dollar contracts. Thinking of the young fans who may not get a chance to go to a game for whatever reason (cost,etc).The kid that finally earned paper money to get tickets to see one of their role models or hero's and when he gets there nobody is playing.That could crush a kid.

Jacob Noble said...

Well said Vern. I take this situation in terms of do you want to win a November game or do you want your team to win titles? I look at the bigger picture and find it shameful that the league can tell a team how to run its organization. Considering Stu Jackson was a horrible NBA coach, i dont think he can tell Pop how to run a roster...

Mitch McClure said...

The game actually got more attention then I thought. Stern does have reasoning but like you said, should it be his decision at the end of the day?

But again, it was a terrible choice of games to rest the big three. A Thursday night with only two games and that game was the highlight game of the night. Only twice a year these teams meet. A opposite conference match-up is less important for the team but very important to the league.

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