The NBA announced Friday the "substantial sanctions" commissioner David Stern promised to levy against the San Antonio Spurs for sending Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Danny Green home before their nationally-televised game against the Miami Heat Thursday night.
NBA announces Spurs have been fined $250,000 for leaving four players home last night.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) November 30, 2012
The statement from the league:
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The NBA announced today that the San Antonio Spurs organization has been fined $250,000 for its decision to send four players home prior to the Spurs' Nov. 29 game in Miami. The Spurs' actions were in violation of a league policy, reviewed with the NBA Board of Governors in April 2010, against resting players in a manner contrary to the best interests of the NBA.
NBA Commissioner David Stern stated: “The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case. The Spurs decided to make four of their top players unavailable for an early-season game that was the team's only regular-season visit to Miami. The team also did this without informing the Heat, the media, or the league office in a timely way. Under these circumstances, I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans.”
This is a fairly unprecedented event for today's NBA. The fact that the Spurs needed to notify the Heat, media and league office in a timely way seems to imply something could have been done differently had everybody known well in advance. Would they have moved a game to Thursday and forced someone to play a day early, bumping LeBron James away from the spotlight? Would we have had a very special episode of Bones or Franklin & Bash instead of the Spurs-Heat game?
The Spurs run their team the way they want to run their team within the rules of the NBA. By fining them for choosing when or when not to play certain players on their roster, we're headed into very dangerous territory of the league telling a coach how to run his team.
Regardless, at least suspending Gregg Popovich from coaching for a game or two as a punishment for not playing certain players didn't end up happening. Perhaps this will result in a punishment for tanking games at the end of the season, which seems like a far more dastardly infraction than choosing when a team can rest its players throughout the grind of an 82-game season.
Seems like the league is promoting the Spurs to either play players they don't want to over-work or asking San Antonio to treat us like we're asking if the Tooth Fairy is real and just lie to us about injuries.