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Sports Commentary 11/3012

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The Spurs bench 4 star players to rest at the end of a long road trip..Agree/Disagree ?

UNACCEPTABLE TO WHO?

What is it with major league sports commissioners? They can’t seem to resist any opportunity to expand their scope of power. Last night San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich, one of the best basketball strategists in the business, held four of his star players out of a game against the Heat in Miami. The Spurs were playing their fourth game in five days, sixth road game in nine days, and Popovich sent Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and Danny Green home to rest up. The Spurs lost to the Heat by five points after holding a lead until Ray Allen buried a trey for Miami with 22 seconds left. After the game commissioner David Stern said Popovich’s action, holding out star players, was “Unacceptable” and the Spurs will be sanctioned by the league. Unacceptable to who? Understandably fans who pay premium prices to go to NBA games want to see the best giving their best, but it’s hard to argue that last night in Miami the fans didn’t get everything they paid for, or that Popovich was attempting to throw the game. He coached the Spurs to a near win, against the best team in the NBA, on the road, something a group of tired aging veterans might not have delivered for the fans. Isn’t that the product the NBA brags about putting on the floor night after night? Few coaches are veterans of more NBA seasons than Popovich, who knows the wear and tear the regular grind, let alone the demanding stretch in which the Spurs are currently mired, can have on aging veteran players, players who are invaluable when the real money goes on the table. It’s doubtful that Spurs fans would object to Popovich’s strategy, knowing that rested and healthy stars are far more valuable in May and June than in November. Last year Celtics coach Doc Rivers did a masterful job of resting his veterans in a shortened season that led to a number of gruelling stretches and, when the time came, the Celts were rested and ready and nearly pulled off an improbable championship. But commissioners love power, and where they don’t have it, they make it up. Bud Selig, after a momentary, uncharacteristic pang of ethics, finally came to his senses and ruled that the Miami Marlins fire sale was in the best interests of baseball and what the fans really wanted. No matter how well intentioned he was, Roger Goodell, who really believes NFL personal seat licenses are good investments, was ill advised to try to set himself up as judge, jury and executioner in the New Orleans Saints bounty case. No need to get into Gary Bettman, who’s demonstrating the best he’s got right now, in a league gone dark. And now, David Stern, trying to tell a coach how to coach his team. These guys get big bucks to work out the best strategies for getting those teams to the post season. Last night Greg Popovich came up with a pretty good strategy and David Stern should just butt out and let him do his job. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.

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