Thursday evening, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich sent several key players home rather than have them suit up for a road contest with the Miami Heat. NBA commissioner David Stern called Popovich's decision "unacceptable" and promised "substantial sanctions."
Friday evening, Stern revealed what substantial meant in this instance: a whopping $250,000 fine for the Spurs organization.
The league release:
NEW YORK, Nov. 30, 2012 -- The NBA announced today that the San Antonio Spurs organization has been fined $250,000 for its decision to send four players home prior to the Spurs' Nov. 29 game in Miami. The Spurs' actions were in violation of a league policy, reviewed with the NBA Board of Governors in April 2010, against resting players in a manner contrary to the best interests of the NBA.
NBA Commissioner David Stern stated: "The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case. The Spurs decided to make four of their top players unavailable for an early-season game that was the team's only regular-season visit to Miami. The team also did this without informing the Heat, the media, or the league office in a timely way. Under these circumstances, I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans."
Popovich sent Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green back to San Antonio prior to the team's game with the Memphis Grizzlies. San Antonio was playing its fourth game in five nights on Thursday, and sixth game of a road trip. Popovich felt justified in resting his players, though from the statement above it is clear the commissioner and the league strongly disagreed.
This is not the first time Popovich has rested his players during regular season games, though it is the first time he has done so in November. Since 2008-09 the Spurs have been known to rest players, but until Friday the league had not issued sanctions against the team.