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.