David Stern defended his $250,000 fine for the Spurs in a statement this week. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
NBA commissioner David Stern defended the $250,000 fine that he issued to the San Antonio Spurs last week for head coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to send home three of his starters and one key reserve player hours before the team tipped-off in Miami against the Heat.
According to a report Wednesday from John Reid of NOLA.com, Stern said if this incident wasn’t the right time to make a statement about a team not notifying the league about a roster change, then he’s not sure when would be a good time:
“The organization agreed they would take away four players, including a 26-year-old and a 30-year-old – their four best players. And they did it without notifying the league or the media the way they’re supposed to for injury and illness. That, and the totality of all the circumstances, if this wasn’t the appropriate time for exercising the discretion then there would never be an appropriate time. This is not about the coach, I’m fine with Pop. [Th]is is not about a coaching decision,” Stern said. “This is more about the relationship among our 30 teams and 30 owners.”
Popovich had sent home Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and bench player Danny Green and the team still managed to make it a close game against last year’s champions. The Heat ended up winning 105-100. Popovich said he made the decision in July, when each NBA received its schedule, because he wanted his players well-rested for a home game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Dec. 1 after ending November with a six-game road trip that finished in Miami.
Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers defended Popovich, saying that a coach has to look out for his team over the course of an entire season. Our own Chris Mannix wrote about the precedent Stern is now setting by issuing the fine, questing the commissioner’s timing given that teams have been resting starters on certain games for years and said that the NBA has now opened a Pandora’s Box with this action.