Blogtable: Popovich And The Veteran Spurs

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Gregg Popovich rested his best players the other day – once again – effectively surrendering yet another game. What’re your thoughts on that? (And, please, remember the ticket-buying fans in this …)

Steve Aschburner: The league ought to respond swiftly and forcefully to Popovich’s stunt. Seriously. It matters to San Antonio fans that their team’s coach is doing what he thinks is best to win that organization a championship. But that’s not what Utah fans bought tickets to see – or anyone in any market buys tickets to see. It was a rip-off and an insult to hard-working NBA fans to leave not one, not two but three star players at home, never even bothering with the trip. Keep that nonsense at home, where San Antonio fans at least can feel complicit when they pay their money for less-than-full entertainment. And frankly, a fine from league HQ isn’t severe enough, so how ’bout if commissioner David Stern selects a game of his choosing in which Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker will not play. Perhaps, say, Game 1, round 1?

Fran Blinebury: Pop’s response is always that his primary responsibility is to have his team best prepared for the playoffs and contend for a championship.  That is a valid, but narrow view.  There is also a greater obligation to the game and to the ticket buyers.  For one, Pop and the Spurs are affecting the playoff race by sacrificing games and thereby tainting the integrity of the NBA.  For another, all fans who spend good money for tickets to a regular season NBA game have the inherent right to see two teams field their best players and give their best effort.  Under the letter of the law, Pop is probably within is rights.  But in the spirit of competition and fair commerce, it just stinks.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Gregg Popovich’s responsibility is to the Spurs organization and the Spurs fans. His job is to deliver a championship. While it is understandable if fans feel cheated, especially on a road game and a rare chance for people in another city to see the Spurs, this is the reasonable decision of a coach who understands better than anyone in the entire league what it takes to win a title.

Shaun Powell: I understand it. I get it. And part of me buys totally into the idea of doing what’s right for your team. That said, there’s something amiss when teams go against the spirit of the game and deprive the customer who paid big money to see certain players, only to get the B-lineup instead. It’s like exhibition games, only at the tail end of the season. The Bulls ran into this problem constantly with Michael Jordan in Aprils past. I wish I were bright enough to come up with a compromise. This is one instance where teams rip off the customer and there’s no outcry from the masses. So maybe I’m wrong.

John Schuhmann: Pop has to do what he feels is best for his team long-term. Maybe he didn’t have to rest all three guys in the same game, but if they alternate DNPs, then he’s comprising the Spurs’ chance to win multiple games instead of just one. I’m sure Spurs fans care more about seeing their team deep in the playoffs than seeing Duncan and Parker playing a particular game in early April. And I’m sure Jazz fans were happy to see their team stay within shouting distance of a playoff spot.

Sekou Smith: I understand the ticket buying public’s need to get every cent out of those tickets. But the ticket buyers in San Antonio trust Popovich to do the right things by his players and for the Spurs. If he senses they need a rest, then he should rest them. You don’t pile up as many wins and championships as the Spurs have under Pop and start worrying about anyone questioning your tactics. And from what I remember, the Spurs aren’t exactly a hot ticket everywhere they go around the league. So I don’t think folks in  these other markets are too concerned about this issue.

133 Comments

  1. stephen says:

    Still waiting on the article for the heat resting lebron, wade, bosh. and the article were LA rested Kobe. Can someone please
    give Steve Aschburner something else to wine about.. Give me a break, this sort of thing has been going on for years. Last year the spurs play Manu in the final game against phoenix and he breaks his arm. Some of you colunmist are so predictable. Anything to get your name in the news.

  2. Steve T says:

    The way I see it, the league wanted to get as much money as they can in this shortened season, so they scheduled too many games in too short a space. And no training camp. No time for practice. No time for strength training. Many guys weren’t in shape until after the all-star break – at least that is what commentators are saying. How can teams get rhythm and practice defensive and offensive sets if they don’t get to practice. Teams are playing badly. Individuals are playing badly, and tired, and getting injured, and sitting out significant times. Have you seen the number of injuries this season to significant players? So who is cheating the fans? Is it Pop for sitting his guys for a game here or there? Or is it MB/Kobe for playing close to 40 minutes per game until injury strikes and keeps him out for 7 games? Is it Derrick Rose/Tom Thibodeaux for running Rose full out until he gets injured, then having him miss close to 30 games? Is it the league? Is it the owners? If you will look, some of the other teams are holding out players now, some to tank, some to rest players, some using “injury” excuses, and some like the Heat, just outright resting their players. I don’t hear anybody saying the Heat are cheating fans.

  3. jorge says:

    players are people… and always integrity and health of people are over show and business.. great work pop keeping players health!!

    if theres any fault, is on the league, by compress schedule and putting sthat much games in limited time!

  4. Cameron says:

    Haha this is rubbish! So does this mean that Kobe, LeBron, KD, Wade, Griffin all have to play 82 games a season. Spurs didn’t have much to play for, may as well give the older legs a little bit of a rest.

    I can’t believe these guys are the “experts”. If they were in Pop’s situation they would be stupid not to do the exact same thing.

  5. John says:

    Give me a break, this condensed season is nuts, now love is hurt??? add that to Rondo, Wade, Rose, Rubio …………….. etc and the coach is OBLIGATED to dress vets on all of 13 games in 16 nights even if their UNBELIEVABLE effort put together 11 wins twice that no OTHER team has had more than 9 straight. See u on river walk with number 5 ring on Timmy and NO fans understanding but us SA cultists.

  6. Louiemdc says:

    The Utah Fans was So Happy when they win against Spurs!

  7. INDIE-Afro says:

    The issue here is not Popovich’s coaching and obviously Spurs fans are not happy with this article. Anyways, I just want to say that Popovich did the right thing, but the right thing is not always good.

  8. Paul says:

    Every year at season’s end, when team’s have their spots locked up, etc., the benches are out full force and the ticket prices are the same – so it’s the fan’s fault (majority of them) to pay the same money ‘KNOWING’ the great possibility that stars will be benched. Nobody forced the fan to buy a ticket with this risk…

    HOWEVER, it is not fair to the minority of people (not fans) that come to see a game for once (or twice) in a span of years without the understanding of ‘benching stars’ and then having hopes of seeing stars that imminently don’t play.

    Therefore, it is the responsibility of the NBA to announce (well before the end of the season) that this risk may occur – and not just one announcement, but constant announcements; with fineprint on the tickets too!
    Because the NBA doesn’t do this, they are charging exorbitant fees and ripping people off, just like most of the business world does.
    I thought the NBA were above other businesses, ethically, etc. I guess not…

    • justplayball says:

      ….Don’t come to ‘see the stars'(leave that to watching the clear night sky)…..come to watch Your TEAM……

  9. Romesh says:

    If the Utah Fans really want to see the big 3 play, maybe they can make get to 7th place and then they’ll get to see Duncan/Manu/Parker in a 4 game series. . haha
    And I like it how people bring up Kobe in an unrelated topic, you’re all Kobe haters.. GO LAKERS! hope we get SAS in the 2nd round!!

  10. anonymous says:

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  11. herpaderp says:

    Why should the commish control the way Pop coaches? What kind of dictatorship would he be running? What a waste of an article

  12. Kimar says:

    Would the fans be complaining if that game the big three missed gave them a win which put them into the playoff. I think not. It all about timing and Pop did what is best for his team ; his job and the NBA. you wnt to make sure that going into the platoff tha that your team is firing on all cylinders and if that means resting some of your stars and fine tuning your second unit , making sure that your bench is deep enough to withstand the likes of OKC and LA well all I can say is “it works for me “Good Job Pop”

  13. SportsFan says:

    Here’s the thing. I support my team. I go to see my team. I don’t buy a ticket to see the opponent. Could give a rat’s @$$ if they have to sit someone when they come to play my team. I’m sure Spurs fans weren’t losing any sleep or grousing becuase Kobe didn’t come to play. I don’t see the NFL fining coaches for sitting elite players for “meaningless games” in the last 2 weeks of the season. Geez people, get over yourselves. When you start paying the teams’ salaries, then you can decide who sits, starts, or stays home…

  14. Jon says:

    Even though we benched the big three to obviously rest them, does anyone else see that Pop is trying to improve the bench of the spurs by giving them more minutes than most other teams bench’s? Just sayin’ Spurs bench is obviously improving as well from Pop’s tactics against Utah, and the so-called “B” line up, kept up a good game against a starting line-up vs Utah.

  15. Ms. Lotus says:

    Honestly, this is ridiculous anyone reading more into the big 3 not playing is simply an idiot, I’m sorry. But the schedule this season is also not under normal circumstances with all kinds of back-to-back games. Pops responsibility isn’t even to Spurs fans (certainly not Jazz fans), its about his players and maintaining a healthy team for a championship, nothing more, nothing less. Just be happy with the win! As a spurs fan sure I want all players competing hard for every game but you have to look at the bigger picture and that is why the spurs are where they are now. A history of good decisions on Pops part and in Pop we trust.

  16. edgar says:

    When you buy movie or concert tickets if the main attraction is unavailable you will get a refund or be able to come back at another performance. The league should have partial refunds and/or raincheck for when the majority of star attraction do not play.

  17. Sure, I was disappointed but having the best opportunity to win in the player offs is # 1. We will enjoy a better playoff contest than just another game with Utah.

  18. Jon in Iowa says:

    By Aschburner’s reasoning, the best punishment would be for all the other teams to rest their stars when they come to San Antonio. I’m sure Popovich and the Spurs’ fans would be quite broken-hearted if they did.

  19. Jon in Iowa says:

    “Steve Aschburner: The league ought to respond swiftly and forcefully to Popovich’s stunt.”

    Sitting the big three was Popovich responding swiftly and forcefully to the league’s stunt. Let Stern play sixteen games in twenty-three days, and I guarantee he’ll bench himself in the first game of the playoffs.

    I guess it’s unfortunate that Spurs fans in Utah didn’t get to see the big three. But are we really supposed to believe that Jazz fans were greatly disappointed they didn’t get to see the other team’s stars? Or that a tight game decided in the last few minutes wasn’t worth their money? Or that the “W” is somehow worth less?

  20. HEATNATION says:

    Im just mad he rested Parker I needed him for my fantasy team!

  21. dbarr1960 says:

    Didn’t Pat Riley and the Lakers get fined for the exact same thing in the 80’s?

  22. WhereWinningHappens says:

    Reduce minutes of the players, maybe just 5 minutes in the first quarter even, but dont let all 3 stars completely sit out during games. What would it mean to the fans of the NBA if all the coaches in the league started to buy into this idea? For instance, one pays a sufficient amount of money to let his 12 year old watch his favorite visiting player, Kobe… but Brown sits him out. In disappointment, the parents brings their kid to the next game which highlights the visiting big 3 of Miami, but again their coach sits them out too. If this trend happens around the league, expect a larger call out by the public rather than the few comments written here for this article.

    • justplayball says:

      ….why are you worried what a kid with misaligned allegiances(his favorite player plays for another team) thinks about who plays…. if you are going to just see the other teams ‘stars’ you are Not a fan anyway. So why does your kid like the media hyped players best …. I just told you… parents have or are supposed to have a little control over the tv….wait a minute…..that was a long time ago, not anymore. So just let the media tell your children who the best players are, because obviously you don’t want to or know how to encourage them to root for the home(geographical) team. just sayin’

  23. Wes says:

    Now can someone please explain to me the effort put into competitive balance, like the salary cap, luxury tax, the union, the lockout. I am sure Denver, Houston, Phoenix and any other team fighting for a playoff spot would love someone to give them a game also.

  24. JT says:

    This is ridiculous, maybe the NBA should have not scheduled so many games in a shortened season, then maybe coaches would not have to these lineup changes. San Antonio is a small market and we can’t afford having players hurt just to please some fans outside of the city. Steve A needs to chill, that’s the difference between an organization competing for a championship and one that just doesn’t care and plays their starts 40 minutes a night,m will he complain about that next.

    Does Steven A realize that even if they play, they could still lose on purpose, what can the NBA do about that, it is a game after all, and playoff positioning if part of the game, who cares? All teams do it and there’s nothing wrong with it.

  25. david sw says:

    What a ridiculous article! Pop has won 4 NBA titles and won more games with the Spurs since 1999 than any other organization or coach! He knows what he is doing. Spurs fans trust him. We want championships and he delivers. I am sure the Jazz was more than happy to have the big 3 sitting at home while they fight for a playoff spot! If he wants to rest his aging stars so they can be more prepared for the playoffs so what? It is better than these old guys getting injured and totally exhausted again like last year when they were knocked out of the first round. STUPID ARTICLE, STUPID!

  26. growndhawgg says:

    The players aren’t slaves that perfom for fan entertainment. Maybe the MLB should outlaw sluggers from getting walked.

  27. ChrisTx says:

    wow spurs finally got the media attention and what you know its mostly negative.
    This is why we Spurs fans loves Pop, he knows how to get to the playoff and be good at it. We don’t just built to get to the playoff we prepare the team to get to the playoff and win the ring.

    I support what Pop is doing its good for the team and its future.

    GO SPURS GO!

  28. Bobby says:

    Rather have the writers here put out one thoughtful, well-written article a week instead of something as mind-numbing as this discussion…congratulations, the writers that actually agree with this argument…you have hit a new low.

  29. joblagz says:

    pops did not surrender.. he treated the game as any other just without duncan, manu and parker… plus fans do understand that everything is for the better and the end should justify the means..

  30. John says:

    A fews years back, the Lakers sat Kareem, Magic, and Worthy prior to the playoffs. Resting them… Stern fined the Lakers stating that this was not acceptable, not good for the game.
    What is the differance Stern?
    Why is their a double standard?
    What has changed to make this acceptable now?

    • justplayball says:

      ……. a “few” years back??????????????

    • justplayball says:

      ….what has changed……. a 66 game season due to greed…tons of back-to-backs….. and this new thing called(I guess) back-to-back-to-back ….and doing that twice in one shortened season….thats whats Changed…… don’t you think?

      • john says:

        You must be too young to remember that playing back to back to backs was the norm then. In fact the 3rd game was a day game many times, something that doesn’t happen this year. So Stern must have another reason.

  31. Pat says:

    So the bulls rest Rose, Lakers rest Kobe, Spurs cant rest their stars?? granted rose & kobe have injuires & didnt rest andrew & Pau the same game, however i think Pop is doing the best thing for his team. Also gives some of their younger guys a chance at some bigger mins..

  32. mavs fan says:

    doesn’t even matter, spurs still have the second best record in the west and i think they might actually win the championship this year.

  33. rakehell_rychy says:

    it’s not even an argument.. most of us would have done the same thing if we are in pops shoes.. pops decision gave san antonio 4 championships period..

  34. lakermig says:

    very stupid argument at the end of the day what the spurs fans want more than anything are titles and with all the stars on the team being 30 or above this is what you have to do to get those titles, especially in a hardcore season like this one.all teams should and would be doing this if they had the chance and teams that can and aren’t such as okc can simply afford to do so cause their average age is like 25 huge difference,at the end of the day if fans don’t wanna see b teams play don’t go watch the games at this point in the season when in my opinion this is and should be expected.Pop do what you gotta do.

    • justplayball says:

      …..great point, lakermig…… btw the Spurs got alot younger this year…approx avg, age is 26.5…. but still gotta limit minutes and games in this weird season!!….especially the 3 starters who have been her the longest….

  35. Eddie says:

    I’m not sure it’s as big a deal as you’re making out guys. The spurs are a top team in the NBA and cannot do that without quality back-ups at every position. Neal, Capt. Jack, Bonner etc would be starters in most NBA teams and should be trusted to make as good a go at winning any NBA game. I would certainly back them to win over any teams that the wizards, the hornets or the bobcats could put out. I think the problem here is that the Jazz arent a bad team and that you feel that it’s ok to rest star players, yes even all 3, against one of the aformentioned teams but not somebody with the Jazz’s quality. That’s fair enough but at the end of the day, this game didnt matter as much as having 3 well rested stars for the run in. I’d pick pop’s way over repecting ticket sales any day. They can give you 3 reasons over the last ten or so years why it works. Keep up the good work, i keep an eye for blodtable every week.

  36. duro says:

    And, by the way, I’d give my Coach-of-the-year vote to Popovitch just for this masterful management fo the teams’ strengths and opportunities.

  37. duro says:

    It seems like having to write something every day. Better if it’s a “critic” thing.
    Pop’s doing what’s best for his team – and he does it perfectly.
    What’s that stupid thing about not adhering to the spirit of the game? The NBA introduced stupid things like the “smile” and tolerates travelling and offensive fouls which are clearly NOT along the spirit of the game. They do it for obvious business reasons. Evidently they think there are more stupid ticket-buyers appreciating those things than competent ones preferring good, honest play.
    So, please, don’t try and fool us with “spirit of the game” nonsense by NBA.
    Then again, how do you state Pop has done it wrong? ‘Cause he rested three “stars”? Well, WHO decides who are the stars? Or NBA just decide one-side that Pop is doing wrong and fine him?
    To sum it up: this fuss is about envy of a coach able to achieve what other fresher or more star-stuffed teams cannot achieve (i.e. consistent winning, not just ups and downs) or is it just ’cause we (they) need something to blog around?

  38. sands says:

    Even people who pay to be entertained ought to accept the big picture that ultimately these teams play to win championships—that’s part of their being NBA fans, not fans for just one game. Do they need to see medical results that a player is injured or hurting, like Derrick Rose, just so that they don’t complain about that player not playing? Real fans of sports and the league should know to respect the coach’s decision of what’s good for his team, hectic schedule or not. Would they rather see tired and sore players gut it out every game on the schedule risking getting hurt and ruining the team’s playoff prospects just so that fans “get their money’s worth”? Maybe it’s different for sportswriters: they get paid to write so they go on writing even their brainless and silly ideas. Personally, I’d rather read a well-thought out article once a week than read a stupid opinion daily from someone who just goes on to write just because he gets paid to do so.

  39. Dodgson says:

    What an incredibly dumb discussion. If a coach limits a player’s minutes to 30 a game would there be an outcry (but it would be so much better if he played 40!)? No, because sometimes you need to do what you need to do to make sure your players can play up to their potential. It is the NBAs fault that they scheduled so many games b/c they wanted more money. If Pop thought this was necessary than it probably was. It is up to him to determine what lineups to use to maximize his team’s talent. If that is not something you want to pay to see then don’t go.

  40. mcado1068 says:

    First of alI, I guarantee that 99% of the people who attended that game were more pleased to see the Jazz win than they would have been see SA’s big three play and beat their team.

    Period.

    A REAL NBA fan knows that its about NBA titles.
    I know its hard for some fan base to understand that since some of the same teams has won the NBA title over the past 10 years.

    Pop did the right thing for his fans, his city and his team.

  41. AK says:

    Come on now… Its the spurs… Who really goes to watch the spurs when they’re visiting..?

    • justplayball says:

      ….that’s right….. they aren’t famous for anything other than playing team basketball and great defense …..& winning championships…… no headlines , no whining, no contract blackmail, no trying to beGM(Kobster), no locker room issues, no fingerpointing, no celebrities — oooops, sorry eva housewife, no goofy drafting, no big free agent signings EVERY YEAR(markC), etc……ya’ know things that many find interesting and fun but the Spurs play uninteresting(not really watching are you) but Spurs fans find all that(above) Boring and Amusing and great winning basketball (for over a decade…..and counting ! —in case you aren’t) the Really exciting part….the basketball part for goodness sake!!!

  42. Dew says:

    Sure Pop is entitled to sit his players. I do not even care which fans get to see what starters. I have been to many games where I have not got to see other teams superstars in the process. It is just the chance you take going to any game on any given night. I do not like that that Spurs rested their best players when they needed a win to keep their streak and momentum going for the Lakers however. The big 3 looked separated from the rest of their team mostly shooting 1 and done instead of moving the ball around. Spurs looked horrible against LA and resting their best players to rust was not the way to go especially with a day of rest after a road win. Not smart. However, this loss does not mean we drop from 2nd seed or even with a win would have improved our standing anyhow. So even with an LA win nothing changed either. So really, the Lakers game did not matter one way or another…but we could of had a 14 game win streak going instead of dropping 2 in a row now.

  43. Ted says:

    WTH is Popo thinking? They are the one seed before and if it wasn’t for the loss in Utah they could still be on top. I agree he has to rest players but rest 3 of them at once?! Its not like they are playing 40 minutes per game. They just played 25 minutes each in the Lakers game. He is costing his team more than helping it.

  44. Edjumacator says:

    This is nothing new, and especially in Salt Lake and Denver, fans are used to stars tanking it. I lived in Denver for ten years and saw it regularly. Olajuwon sitting out the second half, Barkley getting himself ejected in the first quarter, I could go on and on. No one likes the altitude, especially near the end of a grueling road trip.

  45. Roy says:

    Why is this even worthy of discussion? The Spurs stars? This isn’t 2004. These guys are old now, I don’t get why anybody would get angry because they payed to see Tony parker, or Timmy and they weren’t playing. They aren’t that exciting to watch.

  46. NBACRITIQUE says:

    the lockout should be blamed period

  47. Ann H says:

    The problem is that by this action, San Antonio is manipulating the playoff race in the Western Conference. If the Spurs play Denver, or Houston or Phoenix, will the big three rest again? They handed Utah a win. In a close playoff race, the team who doesn’t make the playoffs may lose by as little as half a game. If Utah barely makes it to the playoffs; the team or teams they beat out should be furious. There is big money involved when a team makes even the first round of the playoffs, and the Spurs are selfishly affecting more than their own team by their self serving shenanigans.

    • Dusty P says:

      How can the Spurs be manipulating the playoff seeding? Maybe other teams should win more games rather than “blame” the Spurs for not beating Utah. They also didn’t HAND Utah a win, it came down to the last couple of minutes

  48. Mudcat says:

    Gee sportswriters, your concern for the quality of the NBA product is touching. Maybe, rather than disparaging one of the game’s better coaches for making a smart move, you should address some of the concerns that make this an issue in the first place:

    Don’t want coaches to rest players? Reduce the schedule to 2 games a week from 4. Cut out back to backs, especially when they stack up to create scenarios where it’s 4 games in 5 nights or otherwise quick turnarounds (didn’t SA have something like 10 games in 15 days at one point?). The Spurs have a packed schedule to end the season; Pop is making the best of a rough situation. Yes, this season is worse because of the condensed sched, but players are rested every season toward the end, mainly because of the effects of the long haul. A shorter, more forgiving season would take away some of the incentive to do this, improving the overall product.

    Want to protect the quality of the game? Stop allowing players to hold teams over a barrel with their contracts in hopes of forming a superteam. Resting stars now and then is in no way as damaging to the overall quality of the NBA product as the drama and disruption of any real parity that occurs thanks to this practice.

    Talk about the systemic issues that make Pop’s decision a necessity and that keep bad teams trapped in a cycle of failure–don’t blame Pop for making the best of what he’s got to work with.

  49. micheal says:

    Utah fans “might” have wanted to see the big three, BUT above all else they wanted a W for their team, Pop gave them that. As for the idea of punishing the spurs by suspending the big 3 from a playoff game? That’s a joke, I don’t see the point in punishing a team for “Ripping off the fans” by ripping off another group of fans in a much more serious manner. The only place the spurs are really appreciated is in San Antonio.

  50. matthew says:

    im with both because pop wants his best players ready for the big playoff games but im sure if you were going to a game ud want to see tim duncan and manu play but im on pops side

  51. CanadianHoopsFan says:

    Does it really matter? Pop can rest all his star players up to his heart’s delight because come playoff time they’ll be immediately eliminated anyway. Spurs is a big joke for a first seed. They’re only good in the regular season…

    • justplayball says:

      …… bring back the memphis cubbies to spurs at full strength and it WILL be proven ….last years early exit was a fluke…….btw, is ‘Your’ team the timberdogs….they are closest to winterland, correct? just sayin’

  52. Bob W says:

    I doubt very much that the Utah fans minded getting an unlikely (the Spurs had won 11 in a row) and critically important (they are fighting for their playoffs lives) win, s let’s stop talking on their behalf, as if they felt cheated.
    SA has been plagued with so many injuries to its star players in the past 2-3 years that it’s utterly ridiculous to question the validity of this move. Moreover, this is a condensed season, in which many players have already been out, including Manu Ginobili, who has only played in 25 (!) games so far.
    Pop is the best coach in the NBA and always thinks outside the box. If anything, give him credit for willing to risk losing the top spot in the West to OKC – yes, that Utah loss was a significant one – in order to save his star players for the playoffs.

  53. JR says:

    There is no unsaid rule about satisfying the needs of NBA fans—we as fans pick and choose what team to root for. If we don’t like the Spurs leaving their star players out of games, then we can choose to not root for them. It’s that simple. The Spurs can do whatever they want within the rules of the game. They can choose to bench Duncan for the first 25 games of the season if that’s what is in the best interest of that organization. So long as the owners agree and the city of San Antonio still supports them.

  54. Brian says:

    A coach is there to coach. His job is not to please or entertain the crowd, he is hired to win championships, and bring home rings. As far as I can tell, Popovich has done both. Four rings and the best regular season record over the last decade? You can’t argue with that. Utah fans are there to see their team win, and they got that. Let Arenas, GMs, and promoters worry about filling seats and providing a game day experience that fans appreciate, that’s not the coach’s job.

  55. Alejandro says:

    Hello, all, that was a great choise for pop. For spurs is more important go rest to play vs LA at wensday.

  56. Steven says:

    First of alI, I guarantee that 99% of the people who attended that game were more pleased to see the Jazz win than they would have been see SA’s big three play and beat their team. Secondly Gregg Popovich is the most successful man currently coaching in the NBA, and he knows better than all of us, including the above writers, how to manage his team. Did any of you really believe the Spurs would be this good this year? IF they win it all (a big if, OKC is still looking scary), NOBODY will look back on this game and think (Gee I really wish Timmy would have played against the Jazz back in April.) Anybody who is really worried about whether or not they will get to see any given player on that night should A) do a little research, because except in game time decisions it’s usually really easy to find who will or wont be playing and B) watch the game from home.

  57. MMMM I THINK MR DAVID STERN IS SCARED ABOUT THE SPURS WINNING ANOTHER CHAMPIONSHIP!
    dON´T WORRY DEAR DAVID, IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN!!!!!

    THE FANS DON´T DECIDE WHO PLAYS, THAT´S WHY WE HAVE A GRAET COACH!AND A GREAT FRANCHISE!WE UNDERSTAND THAT!

  58. Please Ask the the utah fans if they are sad because Manu, TD and Tony didn´t play!!!why don´t you do an article about the sucsess of the Spurs Franchise( a small market team as you call it) and asking yourselves how come other teams with a four time bigger market hadn´t win a ring in the last 15 years at least! NY, NJ, Chi, ORL, LAC etc….THAT WOULD BE REALLY INTERESTING!GO spurs GO!

  59. Please ask the Utah fans if they are sad because they couldn´t see Tim, Manu and Tony. Please make an article talking about the sucsess of the spurs franchise!!!A small market team as you call them! and ask yourselves why other teams with a four time bigger markets and help from the NBA can not win a single ring in the last 15 years!!!Go spurs Go!

  60. Zach Gillette says:

    I keep seeing posts about “it’s all about the championship.” No, it’s about entertainment; you know, what the NBA actually is. People pay real money to see really good players. I really think the NBA should price tickets according to the rosters that night. I mean, a Metallica ticket isn’t the same as a local rock band’s. Why do fans pay the same price to see players that aren’t as entertaining?

    • Anonymous says:

      Really Zach?? I go to games to see my team try their hardest and play well as a whole. If one (or more) of the stars isn’t playing i may be disappointed, but the team isn’t just made of one or two people. I support my team, not just my favorite player. Also, consider the fact that people buy tickets months in advance. I don’t believe that Pop was planning on resting the Big Three during that specific game at the beginning of the season. Injuries are unpredictable as well. I for one would rather have my team win the championship than lose, but put on a good show.

    • justplayball says:

      hey, razorboy….. It is about competition…… and music is NOT……. thank goodness for metal icka….

  61. Nitsuga says:

    Last year Memphis tanked to play the Spurs and it worked.
    I didn’t see any complaint, coby is resting, howard is resting, no body have a problem, sure they say, back problems,,,,, sure.

  62. cody j. says:

    I can’t believe some of the criticism thrown at Pop here. This guy is a no B.S. coach that sacrificed two 11 game winning streaks in the interest of his players’ health. The fans still get to watch an NBA game.

    • Bball fan says:

      man, you are absolutely right about the pop, he is one the best coaches today (him and doc rivers). he has every right to rest his players for a long run and best interests of spurs organization. but the argument is this, is it fair to basketball fans who paid big money but not getting what they paid for. think about if OKC or Miami is visiting your home team and you spent your hard earned money on the ticket, and later you find out by coach’s desicion, Lebron, D. Wade and Bosh or Kevin durant, Russel Westbrook and James Harden are all sitting out, how would you feel about it

      • Mamart says:

        That would be great! That would be another chance to rest SA’s big three, let the bench play the bench… In this scenario, I’m 100% sure its going to be a spurs win! Why? Because these SPURS bench are supposed to be starters for other teams!

  63. Observer says:

    “Gregg Popovich rested his best players the other day – once again – effectively surrendering yet another game. What’re your thoughts on that? (And, please, remember the ticket-buying fans in this …)”

    “Effectively surrendering yet another game”? I’m pretty sure that’s loaded language since up until the last 5 minutes, the Spurs bench was winning that game. It went back and forth, but seriously… “surrendering”?

    • justplayball says:

      ….oh, don’t think that they actually watch a whole Spurs game…..that would be too ‘boring’ for them as they have more immportant things to do, like the incessant ‘big3′ chatter out of nba land …OR what kobster had for breakfast(or what he does at night)…. or if the annointed will win as hoped !! With all of that to do they probably just read that the 3 players sat out a game and they lost and started writing….OR shoud I say “what they call” writing …..Like I said a**burger….sukanegg !!

  64. Cody says:

    Really? Really Steve Auschburner!? Really Fran Blinebury?!

    How about this article from the Lakers website. Quote: “head coach Mike Brown has repeatedly supported the plan of making sure Kobe’s both healthy and rested.”

    If Mike Brown is allowed to support this through Kobe’s injury (which I guarantee you Kobe would play through given the option), then why on EARTH is Gregg Popovich supposed to be fined for sitting his stars on a night close to the playoffs, a back-to-back game against the same team requiring a quick flight out of SA into Utah after a hard-earned victory? Answer me that. I don’t care what FANS pay to see. I care that this coach is doing his freaking job, and doing it well. Until you can find that the prospect of this man doing his job as a coach is incriminating in any way, I will continue to laugh my head off the whole through the playoffs until you see banner #5 hanging from the rafters of the AT&T Center and a ring on Tim Duncan’s thumb.

  65. Spurs4Life says:

    Why is there such a big debate about Pop’s motives in resting the Big Three? I personally believe that he had every right to rest Timmy, Tony, and Manu and in the long run, the extra rest will greatly benefit the team. First of all, the Spurs have a tough set of games ahead, playing the Lakers three times, Phoenix twice,and Memphis. Also, the Spurs are a veteran team and injury prone and resting the team helped to prevent any unlucky injuries. In addition, the Spurs’ bench is a very important part of the team and resting the Big Three gave many of the younger and/ or newer players a chance to step up, acquire more minutes, and improve there understanding of Pop’s expectations. Furthermore, it gave the Spurs coaching staff the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the bench and figure out how to improve it (in the event that Manu, Tony, and/ or Timmy got hurt.) Pop’s goal right now is to keep his players healthy so that the Spurs can take home a fifth championship. He is not responsible for whether or not the fans enjoyed the game. Fans of Utah should be happy that they got to see their team pull out the victory and real Spurs fans should support the team as a whole, not just the Big Three. I understand that some fans are disappointed, but there is no reason to criticize Pop’s intentions. He is one of, if not, the best and most experienced coaches in the NBA and does not have to justify his actions to anyone.

  66. David says:

    When you buy a ticket for an NBA game, you’re not buying a ticket for the Tim Duncan Exhibition Show. You’re buying a ticket for an NBA game. Fans don’t determine who plays. Coaches determine who plays. Plus, Utah won. Shouldn’t that be more important for Utah fans?

  67. Franz Atencia says:

    If y’all are complaining about seeing the best possible entertainment in the NBA, don’t blame the Spurs. People have always found them boring, even with their full team intact. Secondly, the NBA office should seriously reconsider the number of games played during the season. 82 games (or 66) is way too many. Popovich is well within his rights to rest his 3 best players.

  68. KINGJAMESBALLIN says:

    LOL?

    Utah getting bent out of shape because Pop wants his team to have another championship run? Big deal.

  69. Mike says:

    They can rest until the end of the season and if they face Memphiz, they can rest more with early fishing trip….

  70. Tanya says:

    I dont understand how any ticket buying basketball fan can be OK with this. I understand POP is a great coach, 1 of the greatest ever, but ticket prices are insane. It’s 1 thing to buy tickets to a game months in advanced then the star player get injured, THESE GUY WERE SITTING AT HOME CHILLIN. C’mon now have some integrity for the people spending their hard earned $$ to support these teams. It does make it worse that its a road game because those fans only get them once or twice a year. I’ts just really sad that in ALL BIG BUSINESS noonce cares about the little people.

    • Bball fan says:

      that was my thought too. rest those 3 players at home games, see how spurs fans (ticket buyer) react. i am in CA, my home team is GSW, if i spend $150.00- $250.00 on a game, i’d like to see not only my team but opponents elite players. ask this question, if you knew the best players from the visiting teams are not playing, would you have spent the big money on the ticket?

  71. Thomas says:

    Coach Pop knows exactly what he is doing. The spurs is one of the oldest teams in the NBA — combine that with a compressed schedule — You are going to get some very tired veterans.

    If the NBA forced players to play — They would just take certain games easy and not play hard.

    What would a fan rather see – the bench trying their best, or the big 3 of SA not trying on the court??

    and what if the NBA doesnt like that? What will they do? Force them to play hard?

    The opinions of those who support the NBA forcing players to play is RIDICULOUS! They NEED the rest for the play offs and coach pop is great at choosing which games to rest his veterans.

  72. Mamart says:

    In response to Fran… Spirit of competition and fair commerce… well for one the SA 2nd unit sure did give a competitive effort, even scaring the hell out of the insulted millsap and the jazz before pulling off the hard earned victory. Fair commerce, If i am a jazz fan, i would be very much happy to see none of the big three playing because that would give us a better chance to win and a better shot at the playoffs. RIGHT?

  73. Mamart says:

    To steve… It would be better for commish stern to sit out SA’s big 3 in game 1 of round 1 than to risk losing one of the three amigos in all of the games in round 1!

  74. Mamart says:

    So basically you guys are telling us that resting tim, tony and manu deprives the fan of an nba caliber game? I don’t think so!! If those guys (s.jax, tiago, leonard, diaw etc..) are notcapable of giving out an nba caliber performance, then why on earth are they in the NBA in the first place? Heck! Those guys are starters for other teams. I even bet those guys can beat charlotte 4 games out of 7 anytime. So please enough with this cheating the fans nonsense! If pop allows tim, tony or manu to be injured in a non impacting game, then thats cheating the fans of san antone!

  75. Dave says:

    what a dumb article. People tend to forget that this is a business and in the business of basketball, it may sometimes be in the best interest of the organization to rest their aging core players; especially organizations that have a legit shot to win it all. People tend to make a big deal about the spurs early exit in the first round last season, but lets not forget what led up to that. Meaningless injuries to key players in games that meant little to nothing. I mean, lets be honest, the game where manu got hurt against the suns? that was a complete waste. Resting the big 3 also allows the rest of the club to find their niche by working together. Sure the big 3 weren’t playing against the jazz, but i thought it was pretty entertaining game because they still almost came away with the “W.”

  76. BIG EAZY210 says:

    I believe the the fans got a pretty good game. The Jazz struggled the majority of the game with San Antonio’s B team and had to work really hard for the W. Fans would have been cheated getting blown out thanks to the BIG 3 and having a game over by the start of the 4th quarter. The media just finds reasons to count the Spurs out of Championship discussions and give them the credit they deserve. Us Spurs Fans have been dealing with it for years including during our 4 titles. To be honest, we havent cared to be the topic of discussion and if POP wants to rest our players its whats best for team our city and our chance of a 5th title!!! GO SPURS GO!!!

  77. Renato says:

    It´s absurd to say that ha has a commitment to ticket buyers.Are you Kiddng me?Unless they are building a time machine in San Antonio,the main players need desperately to rest,specially at the end of a shortened season. Popovich is totally right.And getting a number one seed is not nearly as important as getting the starters rested for the playoffs.If there’s a team experienced enough to win on the road come playoff time,is San Antonio.

  78. Jay says:

    The big three are getting old and the other players need to know how to play without them so they can learn. The spurs probably have the most talented young players in the league next to Sacramento and you guys have to remember that being old means being more prone to injury. By having some of these guys play without the big three it makes the team stronger overall. Greg Popovich is an expert, ya’ll are not, so sit back and shut up.

  79. another random NBA fan says:

    Resting players doesn’t really help them anyway, they’re always going to be tired. It’s his decision, but really, why are you giving away games? I don’t see why he needs to give Duncan and company a DNP – Old, unless he’s planning on playing the Jazz in the first round…

    • justplayball says:

      ….there was No giving away of a game….. Utah had to play its best to ‘come from behind’ to win (if you bothered to watch) and that would qualify as and ‘exciting’ game to the Jazz fans……… And, you will see if anyone is “tired” come the first round of playoffs. the ONLY thing that is “TIRED” is all the talk about how old the team is ……NOW you want to slam the Championship coach for doing what Any coach would do…… Protect your teams playoff chances so you have the ‘best’ chance of winning a ring….. ANOTHER ring in this case.

  80. spursfan says:

    David Stern has absolutely no say in who will be playing in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs given that the players in question have not committed any technical or flagrant fouls or violated any rules. It is not the business of the commissioner or the league to evaluate the internal decisions of one its teams given that no rules have been violated. The only thing Coach Pop can be accused of is having incredible vision because the Spurs only care about one thing: winning a championship. Sacrificing a road game is nothing in the face of a healthy Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker. With a healthy trio, the Spurs are the team that knocked off the Pistons in 2005 and swept the Cavs in 2007. Had Ginobili been healthy last year, the Spurs would have been NBA champions. So the Spurs can care less if the Utah Jazz is disappointed. Maybe if the Jazz played better they would have better ticket sales. A team’s ticket sales shouldn’t solely depend on who they are playing.

  81. Just another NBA Fan says:

    What Pop did is what’s best for the Spurs. And I am pretty sure Utah (including the fans in Utah) is happy since they got a win and got closer to the last spot of the playoffs. BUT what this is not good for are Denver and Phoenix, since this game which should have been a lost for Utah, might have cost Denver or Phoenix the chance to be in the final spot of the playoff.

    • BFoulds says:

      That is non of Pop’s concern. Maybe the Suns and the Blazers should have won more games earlier in the season.

  82. kyle1020 says:

    My question to those whose primary concern is the fairness to the fans is: are you genuine Spurs fans or are you merely concerned on our behalf? Those of us who have followed the Spurs for many years know that our team has always been about more than just the stars. Yes,it is nice to the stars play, but our team is not designed to showcase the talents of one, two, or three players. Our team is designed to win championships through an entire team effort. If we cannot play our bench with confidence against the starters of other teams, then we cannot say that we have faith in our bench. Coach Pop believes in giving the bench a chance to perform at a higher level because he needs to be able to believe in our team as a whole. And as fans, we should trust our coach and try to see what he sees: that every component of our team is important and capable of earning the championship. But to a casual fan or anyone looking at the NBA from a purely business perspective, that complete trust in the entire team isn’t there which is why we now have this whole discussion in the first place.

  83. SavoyFaire says:

    The sports writers clearly have a lot of free time on their hands to even make this an issue. No one know the physical condition of its players better than the Head Coach. San Antonio is the oldest team in the NBA and Coach Popovich is very good at monitoring minutes vs. player’s health. Its a good move in resting your players for the playoffs to allow for injuries to heal, especially in this truncated season. Everyone seems to forget how Memphis beat a very hobbled Spurs team last year in the playoffs as the Spur’s players limped up and down the court. As for the ticket buyers in Utah who feel “CHEATED”…………..if I recall, they are fighting for a playoff spot and I am sure they were more than happy to pick up a win to keep in the running, for the last 2 playoff spots.

  84. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what Popovich is doing. His obligation is to the San Antonio Spurs organization and his job is to do what he thinks will best help that team win a championship.

    Besides, when a fan purchases a ticket there are no guarantees that player x, player y or even player z will even play in the game. Injuries, suspensions, life matters can all affect whether a player will play in a game or not. Fans are guaranteed an NBA game when they purchase a ticket and attend a game, nothing more and nothing less. As long as all the players that play in the game are NBA players, the league and the teams have fulfilled its obligation to deliver an NBA game to its fans.

    In fact, Popovich’s prudent management of his players and their playing time makes him one of the favorites for this season’s Coach of the Year Award.

    • Jon says:

      That is all true, but fans aren’t stupid either… The NBA better not complain if they see ticket sales plumet the last few weeks of upcoming regular seasons as fans wise up to this strategy and CHOOSE to spend their money when they are most likely to see a NBA and not D-League quality game.

    • Sarge says:

      Well put. What’s worse, depriving the fans in one game of seeing three stars, or depriving their team of a deep playoff run in which people can watch those stars more often? It’s pretty apparently what Popovich’s plan is, and it’s to win a championship. That trumps a regular-season game any day.

      And, as pointed out, I’m sure Utah appreciated being able to pull out the W in the game. That race for the last playoff spot is super-tight.

    • Linsanity says:

      What’s next? Fans crying about a coach benching a player for a miserable quarter? It’s understandable that fans pay to see stars but at the same time its entirely a coaching decision. The coach decides it, he gets paid to do it. Utah got the W thats all they should care about.

      • Andy H says:

        Exactly. I dont know why Utah should be upset. If the big three play, they lose that game. Im sure they are fine with the W.

  85. charles says:

    THis is not a good long-term solution for the NBA. We go to McDonalds because they have consistent product and service. Once NBA product and service becomes inconsistent – maybe Lebron will play and maybe he won’t – it will impact its perceived value by the fans. That perceived value will have an impact on the NBA – including the Spurs. He could have had them play minimum minutes rather than keep them out.

    • Lepiv says:

      …”maybe Lebron will play and maybe he won’t”, let me rephrase: Maybe LeBron will show up and maybe he won’t …
      Isn’t this what he actually does?

    • Perceived Service? says:

      Try saying that after 30 days of eating that trash. If you feel let down, why don’t you write a poem or joint the Hari Krishnas? Pop’ is the one that got them the championships with his coaching nous and smarts. How many NBA Titles have you won? When you’re as experienced as Pop’ is you (as fans) just need to relax, trust the old campaigner for his moves and just shut up and enjoy the ride.

  86. welcome back to reality says:

    pop did the right thing and that is to stay loyal to spurs fans and focus on winning it all by looking at the big picture than pleasing some rough rowdy fans of the energy solutions arena in utah..

  87. ZULU says:

    No Popovich can’t slide all the way on this. The big three should have had to make the trip, period.

  88. JAmel says:

    Leave pop alone it’s a smart move if it was Kobe Bryant there will be no comments he is doing what’s best for the team. Yall talk about the, in age all the time but when pop rests them its a problem ? He got 4 rings how can you even question his coaching

  89. Gerald Butler II says:

    AS LONG AS I GET TO SEE THEM IN SACRAMENTO ON THE 18 IN SUITS OR UNIFORM IT’S WORTH IT TO ME

  90. brdavision says:

    dumb article…..

    • spur 4 life says:

      dumbest comment by aschburner. let the league/commissioner david stern chose a game where the big three will be sidelined?!? steve aschburner and fran blinebury are both dumba*** and absolutely overdramatic. actually the entire article is nonsens. as a spurs fan let me tell you that the san antonio spurs are not only the big three parker/duncan/ginobili. there are more players on the roster and all the fans that are buying tickets do it to support the team. everyone that buys tickets only because of one player isn’t a true fan and his opinion isn’t worth to listen to. aschburner (and blinebury), quit your job!!!

      • Alexzo48 says:

        I understand the owners point but it should be in their best interest & RESPONSIBILITY to keep us fans happy as well. I agree with Steve on this one.
        Picture this…
        “Im a HARDWORKING fan who plans to travel from Paris to New York to see family. I start saving my HARD EARNED money. It is my DREAM to see KOBE play live so I look at the NBA sked for 2013 and take note when the Lakers will be in town vs the Knicks to co-incide with my itenerary. I circle the date & take my leave A YEAR in advance to get approved. Fast forward 2013, i am at madison square garden & the lakers are in town. I traveled half way around the world & spent a fortune on the tickets to make my dream come true of watching Kobe play live! …
        ONLY TO FIND OUT THAT COACH BROWN DECIDES TO REST HIM & LEAVE HIM HOME!!!!!!!  
        Now put yourself in my shoes… What would u do? I should be able to SUE the Lakers & the NBA for this!

      • Alexzo48 says:

        We are talking of PROFESSIONAL Athletes here not retired veterans. This  is their job. They are paid to play! It they want to sit WITHOUT INJURIES just to rest, they should RETIRE! I do not hate on Duncan but this falls on him. He has a responsibility not only to his organization but to his fans as well. People who PAY to see him play.