In the middle of an 11-game winning streak last season and in the midst of playing three games in four nights—and already without Manu Ginobili to an injury—San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich benched starters Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.
The Spurs went into Portland that night and were blown away by the Trail Blazers, 137-97.
On Thursday, in a meaningless game in the middle of an 82-game season, the four-time NBA champion as a coach of the Spurs decided once again to bench his top players—Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green—for a showdown with the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.
Pop did one better this time. Not only did he bench the four starters, he sent them back home to San Antonio early to rest up for Saturday's game against Memphis.
When NBA commissioner David Stern found out about Pop's actions, he immediately issued the following statement (per USA Today): "I apologize to all NBA fans. This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming."
The funny thing is, this wasn't the first or even second time that the Spurs had pulled this kind of trick off.
Where was David Stern in 2009? How about 2010? 2011?
Yet all of a sudden, in 2012, Stern comes out whooping and hollering about sanctions being made against the Spurs and apologizes to the fans?
Really? Really, David Stern? Really?
So, apparently, the Spurs benching their big three and Danny Green has somehow watered down the NBA product on display on national television?
David Stern seeks to protect the integrity of the game, yet under his watch, allowed teams like Miami and the Los Angeles Lakers to take advantage of small-market ballclubs, the end result of which is a watered-down product in cities like Washington, Cleveland and Toronto.
Nobody tells David Stern how to run the NBA, and in turn, he shouldn't tell the coaches how to run their teams—let alone a coach who is the owner of four NBA titles.