Last night there were only two NBA games, both of which were televised on TNT, the first game of the double-header was the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat.
It was touted to be an entertaining game, although the common narrative is the Spurs are just a boring team, there was some fan fare considering this game.
Except Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich did what he deemed best for his team. He thought it would be best to rest his advanced aged players — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili — against the Miami Heat.
Commissioner David Stern perpetuated the situation — and in the meanwhile probably increased television viewing interest at the same time — when he stated “I apologize to all NBA fans. This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.”
Ah, yes, the riveting Stern used the old “NBA Fans” excuse when Stern, along with a multitude of NBA owners and even coaches don’t give two cents about what a fan likes or dislikes. Stern is an opportunist; it’s what has made Stern the successful dictator he is. Soon after he released that statement, I observed the faux uproar that was exhibited on twitter. To be clear, there was a mild response when it the news was dropped, but it quickly turned from laughable sarcasm to “Oh. My. God. Popovich should be fined for this disgraceful act.”
Stern perpetuated the discussion and I witnessed asinine statements from “Popovich is an overrated coach” to “This is a disgrace to the institution of basketball.” May I also add, these lame ass comments were from mainstream journalists, bloggers and quote unquote NBA Heads. I may have bought into the hoopla if it was a blowout, after all that was the narrative; except it wasn’t a blowout. It was an entertaining game that Miami was barely able to push out a win.
Was LeBron James not playing? Did Chris Bosh not perform? Was Norris Cole not his usual Norris Cole self?
For the rhetoric of “Fans go to see stars” well I can disprove that easily, given multiple teams don’t even have a star on their roster; role players? sure, but not stars. Would this same excuse hold if there was a Phoenix Suns-Charlotte Bobcats game? Probably not.
Sure, it sucks for the fans that wanted to see Tim Duncan, but I think back to the time the Denver Nuggets played the Chicago Bulls back in November of 2010 — it was Derrick Rose’s MVP year — and I bought near courtside seats to see Derrick Rose rock against Denver. Of course, D-Rose wouldn’t play that game and I didn’t know until an hour or so before the game. Did that stop me from watching a basketball game? Hell no. It was a clearly entertaining game as Carmelo Anthony nailed the game-winner; the place went nuts and I was hugging strangers and blowing kisses to douches.
My point is, when a fan purchases a ticket in hopes to see the glitz and glamour of stars, it doesn’t always happen. Players are rested because of age, schedule, and injuries frequently, but often times that isn’t indicative of a sloppy game.
Once again, Gregg Popovich’s — despite your personal opinions and narratives — priorities aren’t to the fans at the game, or at home, critics, or journalists. His priority is ensuring that he is given his team the best chances at winning and having a competitive edge, and just look at Popovich’s response to one fan:
I got a letter from a gentleman who was disappointed because he came to the game with his cousin, they paid money and they wanted to see so-and-so and so-and-so. I wrote him back and I said, ‘If I was in your position, I would write the same letter. I agree with you totally. You’re right. But my priorities are different than yours.’ In the general sense, frankly, everything doesn’t go our way in life. Everything go your way every day? Sometimes things happen. That’s the way it goes.”
I’m sure media, jilted fans, and David Stern will spin this as an atrocity, but the simple fact is, Popovich is just playing the game.