The San Antonio Spurs are once again defying the perception that they are getting old, taking their record into account, but veterans Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker won't play Thursday night in the team's high-profile showdown with the Miami Heat.
UPDATE: Friday, Nov. 30 at 6:12 p.m. ET by Michael Moraitis
Well, David Stern certainly lived up to his promise and will punish the Spurs for resting their star players with a hefty fine, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
David Stern has fined the Spurs $250,000.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) November 30, 2012
Stern's anger stemmed from coach Gregg Popovich resting his top players for a nationally televised game against the Miami Heat. The reaction from this fine should be an interesting one and there's no doubt it won't be positive.
---End of Update---
UPDATE: Thursday, Nov. 29 at 8:15 p.m.
Apparently, NBA commissioner David Stern is not at all amused with how the Spurs have handled this situation. Heat reporter Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports took to Sulia to document an explosive excerpt from a statement issued by Stern:
David Stern just sent out this scathing statement criticizing the San Antonio Spurs.
"I apologize to all NBA fans. This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.''
As if the league didn't slam San Antonio with a difficult-enough road schedule this month, it appears Stern is ready to exact some sort of disciplinary action. Check back here in the coming days as this suddenly intriguing situation develops.
---End of Update---
Spurs Nation blogger Jeff McDonald reported the news on Thursday, which included head coach Gregg Popovich's justification for holding his marquee stars out:
“We’re getting tired,” Popovich said. “We’ve had a six-day trip and a 10-day trip. Usually you don’t have that in one month.”
[Thursday]’s game will be the 12th road game of the month for the Spurs, who have been on their current six-game trip since the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It is the Spurs’ fourth outing in five nights, and comes against a Miami team that hasn’t played since Saturday.
After Wednesday's win in Orlando, these players simply headed back to Texas instead of taking their talents to South Beach.
Clearly, San Antonio has encountered an unbelievably brutal schedule in terms of how many road games the squad has endured in the month of November. Even in spite of that, the Spurs continue to succeed.
As McDonald notes, too, Popovich has shown that he will hold his players out regardless of the circumstances if he feels it will be to the long-term benefit of the team.
This may be an unfortunate development for NBA fans, since the Spurs—who hold the league's best record—will be severely shorthanded in squaring off against the East leaders.
But Popovich isn't interested in what might be the popular decision, and it may be happening with increasing frequency as the season progresses, assuming the Spurs continue to perform well.
Last year was a lockout-shortened situation, and the Spurs' three studs sat out just three games in the 66-game season. With Duncan, Ginobili and Parker all 30-somethings and not getting any younger, the regular-length schedule may result in the players sitting for even more time in 2012-13.
This weekend, the Spurs get to return home, but will take on the Memphis Grizzlies in what should be a very physical affair. That is likely another factor behind Popovich's decision, since that will be a conference game with the Southwest division lead potentially at stake.