Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Giving Restgate A Rest

Who knew that 3 DNP-CD's would set off a week's worth of argument and debate among the NBA players, coaches, owners and analysts. San Antonio Spurs HC Gregg Popovich decided that as part of a 4 game in 5 night road trip and with the Western Conference leading Grizzlies coming to down in 2 days, he would give his Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker the night off against the Miami Heat. The trio would fly home a day early and get rest for an early season battle. Those that follow the NBA know that Pop has done this plenty, especially last year in the shortened season. Of course, because it was against the NBA, err, Miami Heat, the Commish didn't like the move and threatened "serious sanctions" against the team. As we learned a day later, the sanctions were a hefty $250k fine and days of debate among sports fans and media alike.

Let me start off by saying you'll never confuse me for a Spurs fan. Having fellow Aztec alum Kawhi Leonard has given them a few points but I am not a fan of Parker/Ginobili and every time I hear the name Tim Duncan, this song seems to stream in the background (yes, Celtics fans are bitter...deal with it!) and I lose any chance of being unbiased.

With that being said, you can't be a hoops fan and not respect the franchise. They've done it the right way for years, won rings and reload year after year. Popovich is in my opinion right there with Phil, Doc and Doug Collins as the guys I'd choose from if I was running a team (listening, Team USA and Mr. Colangelo? More on you another day...) and needed a coach. Pop knows what he's doing, the players respect the hell out of him and he manages those players perfectly to maximize results. He knows when to push, when to rest and you really can't argue with his methods...unless you're David Stern. Or Mark Cuban.

Stern and Cuban didn't approve of the unscheduled mass day off for the Spurs, citing the TV deals the league has and it being a national TV game and the only trip the team makes to Miami, robbing local Spurs fans of seeing their team. I get that. TV money is what makes the league run. Plus, if I made the 2-hour trip to Orlando to see the C's and Pierce, Rondo and KG were DNP-CD's I'd be bent. But I'd also trade a November win for fresh legs in May and June. Again, I trust Pop just like I'd trust Doc.

Here's my list of questions...would anyone care as much if this was late April and the Spurs were locked into a playoff position? What about if the trip was in reverse order and the night off was against the Wizards? Did everyone miss Pop doing this twice last year when it cost his team 11-game win streaks? The answer to all: NO.

Stern didn't like a light schedule night getting even lighter on the national stage. Ironically, the game was great and the Spurs hung till the very end (would the fine have come if they won? add that to my list) before falling short. Cuban took an opportunity to jab an in-state rival. Typical.

My take: 

Relax. It was a night off. There are 82 games. These guys are not young. Missing 20 games to have legs for the playoffs is important. I'm surprised more teams don't do it. Could Pop rest 1 guy a night over 3 games, sure. But why put yourself in a vulnerable spot nightly when you just take your lumps once every few weeks? I personally like the move. I get the TV deals and the respect the teams need to have, but if the ownership didn't bark at Pop, maybe Stern should have backed down, especially seeing there were no warnings in the past. My guess is it will happen again and you'll see more teams doing it. Who knows...maybe its what leads to a shorter schedule with more rest, something that isn't the worst idea in the world. Regardless, it is time to give Restgate a rest and focus on who is playing, not sitting!

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