The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the most consistently good NBA teams over the past decades and much of the thanks for that has to go to head coach Gregg Popovich. Popovich, or 'Pop' as he is often referred to, knows where his bread and butter lies and that's winning playoff games, not regular season games. Pop is a firm believer in giving his veteran team games off in what he considers 'meaningless' games.
This philosophy, while obviously a working one, has brought him face to face with the ire of the league on numerous occasions. After Thursday, we can chalk one more up there with the potential of possible league punishment.
On Thursday night, the Spurs were scheduled to play the defending champion Miami Heat on a nationally televised game. The Heat came into this matchup having played just one game in the past week while the Spurs were on the final stop of a month that saw them play 12 road games and six in the past eight days.
Because of the weariness brought on by this harsh road trip, Pop resorted to basically handing this game to the Heat by sending Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Danny Green home early, allowing them to skip the Heat game. This move was not met with approval from NBA Commissioner David Stern who issued an apology to fans before the game and a threat of punishment to the Spurs.
"I apologize to all NBA fans," he said. "This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.''
The San Antonio Express News broke this story earlier in the day, reporting the following:
“The four were spotted on a Southwest flight making a pre-lunch escape from central Florida. ... In retrospect, Popovich was probably hinting at the decision to come before Wednesday's game in Orlando, when he admitted the most road-heavy November in team history was taking its toll on his players. 'We're getting tired,' Popovich said. "We've had a six-day trip and a 10-day trip. Usually you don't have that in one month."
Last season, Popovich sat Duncan, Parker and Ginobili three times together.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: Getty