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Gregg Popovitch’s Problem [Male; Age 14; New Jersey]

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A few weeks ago, the San Antonio Spurs were ending a long road trip in Miami playing the defending champions the Heat. The following night, they were scheduled to play the Memphis Grizzlies, who were fighting the Spurs for top seed in the Western Conference.

English: Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San...

English: Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, against the Denver Nuggets, Dec 22, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Spurs are an elite team built upon elite players, however their star players are older and get tired more easily. Gregg Popovitch, the Spurs head coach and last year’s coach of the year decided that since the team was coming into Miami after a long road trip, it was unlikely that they would win, so he told his star older players Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli to fly back to San Antonio and rest up for the big game against the Grizzlies.

Coach Popovitch has done this in the past, and the league didn’t give him any problems with it, however this time was different. The fans in Miami were very upset as well as disappointed that they were not going to be able to see three of the best players in the NBA. They claimed that they purchased their tickets with the expectation of seeing Tony Parker and co., not the Spurs bench players. As a punishment for Coach Popovitch’s actions, David Stern, the commissioner of the NBA fined the Spurs $250,000.

My question is: Is it right for the league to fine the Spurs for the actions taken by Coach Gregg Popovitch?

I am very against the decision to fine the Spurs for many reasons.

  1. If Gregg Popovitch allowed his players to miss a game to rest in the past, and he was not punished, why is he being punished now? Popovitch was probably under the impression that if it was okay in the past, why wouldn’t it be okay now?
  2. Can the league tell a coach that he has to play a certain player(s)? Every coach is paid a large salary, and their job is to coach to the best of their abilities and do what is best for the team. It is up to each coach whether or not to play certain players depending on his reason, not because the league is making them.
  3. During the season, star players such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant etc. are not playing so well during a game, so their coach pulls them out of the game. Does the league fine them for that? NO. I don’t see how this is any different. In both cases, the coach is doing what is best for the team. And in both cases, the fans are upset that the star player isn’t playing.
  4. Coach Popvitch is an all around great coach, and he wasn’t thinking of playing that one game in November, rather he was thinking of playing in April, ie. the playoffs. He prioritized the two games (Miami and Memphis), and realized that it was more important to win against the Grizzlies, who are competing for first place with the Spurs. Winning first place in your conference gives you a better opportunity to succeed in the playoffs.

However, I do understand the fan’s disappointment. I recently went to the Knicks vs Lakers game, and Carmelo Anthony (my favorite player) got injured halfway into the game. Sure I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to see him play for the rest of the game. However it was okay, because I saw other superstars such as Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Jason Kidd. Similarly, the fans in Miami had the opportunity to see Lebron, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh play, and that itself is a real treat!

What do you think about Gregg Popovitch’s actions?  Let me hear your thoughts.

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