The Spurs and Stern
Let’s talk a little about the Spurs. Last night on their second back to back on a road trip that had them play five games in six nights (of which they had already won four), the Spurs decided to give their starters the night off. As I said yesterday, it’s not a bad idea. A back to back, away from home, and against a good team is a rough game to win. And the Spurs tend to think about long term success. Since their stars were being rested, the Spurs didn’t bother making them come along. And this has drawn the ire of David Stern.
“I apologize to all NBA fans. This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.
As Kevin Pelton astutely noted on Twitter, this has happened before.
Does anyone else remember Pat Riley getting fined for resting players at the end of the 1990 regular season? bit.ly/YvIB2Z
— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) November 30, 2012
There’s a very weird dilemma here. The NBA wants to ensure every team is going to try to win every game (let’s keep that premise up for now, shall we). The problem with this is that the goal of an NBA team is a bit different. The first thing, as I’ve mentioned, is that to make money they want to draw good crowds at home. On the road, the opposing team keeps most of the gate. Additionally, winning NBA teams have an incentive to keep their star players healthy. Finally, NBA teams want to succeed in the playoffs (which can hinge on star players staying healthy). All of this means that teams have very little incentive to play their stars when they run into a situation like the Spurs were facing last night.
My end takeaway is that if the NBA doesn’t like this scenario, then perhaps having a team play two back to backs in five nights — with the final game being a marquee matchup on national television — is a bad idea. If they want to change this then a change in scheduling or gate revenue sharing may be in order. If not, it seems ludicrous to penalize teams for using strategies that amount to trying to win a title. And the situation gets even stickier when the Spurs managed to keep the game very close, holding the lead until the very end of the game and only losing by five points.
A look at why the Spurs are good
I got roped into answering a question on Quora that’s a personal favorite of mine. While I don’t have the insider status to name names, so I can’t tell you WHO makes the Spurs good, I can tell you what makes them good. Enjoy!