On Thursday night, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich did what coaches do: Make decisions that they feel will help the team succeed in not only the short term by the long term.
He elected to sit Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Danny Green against the Heat in Miami. After all, the Spurs' November looked like this: a nine-day road trip, a ten-day road trip, and seven games in 11 days to start the month. They had two days off in a row just once -- on the road -- too, and let's face it, they're getting up there in age.
Maybe it wasn't a decision to help the team win in the short term, as in that game, but San Antonio still made a game of it, eventually falling victim to a Ray Allen three-pointer seconds before it ended.
But before that happened -- before anybody even gave the Spurs a chance to compete without their stars -- NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that there would be 'substantial sanctions' for the Spurs.
Those sanctions were announced today: the Spurs were fined $250,000.
You know Popovich is furious, but he's certainly not the only coach in the NBA upset at Stern sticking his nose where it shouldn't belong, commissioner or not.
"I don't like it. I just don't like it," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said. "I think we should have our- I do get the other side of it, but it's a tough one. You gotta coach your team to win in the long run and you gotta do whatever you need to do. If that's sitting players, that's sitting players."
It might be a bit on the extreme side to sit all four starters in a big NBA game near the beginning of the season, but the strategic rest of certain players is something that has been going on since, well, the game began.
What happens in the middle of the season? The end? How is a head coach supposed to know when it is or isn't allowed — in Dictator Stern's eyes — to sit his own player on his own team? And how closely has Stern been watching each of the 30 NBA teams to know where each player is at health-wise at any given point in the season?
Those are all questions left unanswered, because Stern doesn't have any answers. Nonetheless, Rivers isn't worried about it.
"I'm not going to give it a lot of thought." Rivers said. "Listen, we'll do it when we want to do it, and we should be able to do it. It could be early in the season, end of the season. Now if we give a guy off because he has a family thing — it's just so many things here. Hopefully we all figure it out."
The only thing figured out is that Stern doesn't have anything figured out. Now the topic of sitting out players has come to the forefront of the NBA, certainly not a place for it. Rivers feels that Stern's quick (and most likely thoughtless) statement forced him to do something
"I think it was an action and a reaction, personally," Rivers said. "I thought the reaction was probably overdone yesterday, then all of a sudden you have to have an action. So let's just hope we figure it out."
Despite the fine, Rivers doesn't think teams will think twice before sitting a player for any reason they feel necessary.
"I doubt it, I doubt it," he said. "Whatever is going to help your team win, a coach has got to do. Because if you don't, and it hurts your team, then you're the one who won't be around. So you have to do whatever is best for your team."
Stern and Co. did such a good job running the Hornets, you'd think they'd know that by now. Oh, wait.