By now you know what happened before last night's Spurs-Heat clash… Spurs' Popovich sent the team's "Big 3" back to San Antonio plus Danny Green, Stern didn't like that, and vowed "substantial sanctions" coming towards the Spurs' way. That's it in a nutshell.
So now the fallout begins.
You can understand both sides. Stern knew it's was a national televised game, the Spurs only come to Miami once a year, and was worried the fans at last night's game were cheated out of seeing stars Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Moreover, Pop has been doing this many times in the past and this may have been the last straw for Stern which caused him to finally punish Popovich and the Spurs.
However, Popovich is the head coach and knows his players best. If the four players involved were banged up and needed rest, then he will do it. Furthermore, the Spurs had been in the midst of a six road game jaunt in nine days and the grind was too much to risk on key players. In addition, the Spurs' "Big 3" are no spring chickens and Pop felt it was best for him to send them to San Antonio for some much needed rest. Plus, Pop knows games won or lost now do not matter come June. Continuing, Miami hadn't played a game since this past Saturday and Pop may have seen that as an unfair advantage for the Heat.
But this wasn't some new thing Stern has done. He fined the Lakers in 1990 for the exact same thing when then head coach Pat Riley sat Magic Johnson and James Worthy.
In the end, you can't blame Pop for sending his stars home. Any coach will gladly take whatever fine Stern hands them if it means having a healthy roster come playoffs. If anything, it gave Pop more respect from his roster, more respect among fans, and made Stern look like a "Grinch" during this holiday season.
And as many said last night, where was this "fan concern" sentiment during the recent NBA lockout from Stern? Well seeing how this game between two of the best in the NBA and the lockout involved major dollars, of course Stern is going to be very concerned. It is just a question where his concerns really come lie.