In a move that would not normally be scrutinized, Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich decided to send his big three plus one back home to San Antonio to rest up and prepare for the NBA leading Memphis Grizzlies.
But, with rare exception, NBA Commissioner David Stern took umbrage with Pop’s move and found it necessary to issue the following statement:
“I apologize to all N.B.A. fans. This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs, and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.”
For Popovich, it is all about strategy and the health of his team.
“Perhaps it’ll give us an opportunity to stay on the court with Memphis on Saturday night,” Popovich told reporters before the game. “Historically, when you’re on a long road trip, that first game when you come home is really tough. And Memphis is one of the best teams in the league. They’re of much more concern to us than playing four games in five nights. It’s pretty logical.”
While there was no intentional snub on Pop’s part, he must have known that the commissioner would not appreciate the move with only two NBA games scheduled Thursday night. But, when Popovich did pretty much the same thing back in April against the Utah Jazz, NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said the following:
“The strategic resting of particular players on particular nights is within the discretion of the teams.”
So whether or not the NBA decides to “sanction” the Spurs remains to be seen but it hardly matters to Pop as Gary Neal made this point.
“Coach Pop is the coach of the San Antonio Spurs, and he did what’s best for us.”
The Spurs face the Memphis Grizzlies on December 1st.