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December 1st, 2012, 03:07 PM

Friday, November 30, 2012
Updated: December 1, 9:31 AM ET
Spurs fined $250,000 for 'disservice'
Associated Press

Gregg Popovich sent his best players home, deciding they reached the end of the road before the trip was finished. For that, and for keeping it a secret, the San Antonio Spurs (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/sa/san-antonio-spurs) were fined $250,000 by the NBA on Friday.
Commissioner David Stern said the Spurs "did a disservice to the league and our fans" when they didn't bring Tim Duncan (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/215/tim-duncan), Tony Parker (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/1015/tony-parker), Manu Ginobili (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/272/manu-ginobili) or Danny Green (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/3988/danny-green) to Miami for the final game of the six-game trip.

"The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case," Stern said in a statement. "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."

Teams are required to report as soon as they know a player will not travel because of injury.
The league's statement said the Spurs were in violation of league policy reviewed with the board of governors in April 2010 against resting players in a manner "contrary to the best interests of the NBA."
The Spurs didn't comment on the penalty.
The issue of resting healthy players has been debated before, though usually at the end of the season, not a month into it. And the Spurs have been right at the center of it, Popovich using the rest strategy for an aging team that could use more time off than the NBA schedule often allows.
They even made a joke out of it last season, the box score listing "OLD" next to the 36-year-old Duncan's name as the reason he didn't play.
Stern wasn't laughing Thursday.
He has a nearly $5 billion a year industry to protect and can't like it when teams aren't willing to put their best product on display in a marquee game televised by national TV partner TNT. Fans and viewers were excited about seeing the Spurs try to complete an unbeaten road trip against LeBron James (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/1966/lebron-james), Dwyane Wade (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/1987/dwyane-wade), Chris Bosh (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/1977/chris-bosh) and the NBA champions, so there was an understandable letdown when they learned of the absences.
But there's never a guarantee that any players are going to play, and Stern himself has previously made it clear he wasn't going to impose rules to change that.
The Cleveland Cavaliers (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/cle/cleveland-cavaliers) rested a healthy James for four straight games at the end of the 2009-10 regular season. Owners discussed the issue later that week at a meeting in New York, and Stern reported that there was "no conclusion reached, other than a number of teams thought it should be at the sole discretion of the team, the coach, the general manager, and I think it's fair to say I agree with that, unless that discretion is abused."
In the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts (http://espn.go.com/nfl/team/_/name/ind/indianapolis-colts) rested a healthy Peyton Manning (http://espn.go.com/nfl/player/_/id/1428/peyton-manning) even with an undefeated record late in the 2009 season, and the league eventually started trying to schedule as many division matchups as possible for the final two weeks of the season in an effort to make late-season games matter.
Popovich doesn't wait until the end of the season to start resting players.
He was both praised and ripped for the way he navigated the lockout schedule last season, twice surrendering 11-game winning streaks by playing without his Big Three. Even those who didn't like it conceded that a coach who had won four championships with what's long been considered the NBA's model organization probably knew what he was doing, and more defense came Thursday night.
"Popovich has done this before and he knows what's best for his team," former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/614/shaquille-o'neal) said on TNT. "It's his job to manage his players and do whatever he'd like. He's thinking about the big picture."
Another former player turned TNT analyst, Steve Kerr (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/425/steve-kerr) -- who played for Popovich -- also defended the franchise's actions.
"If the NBA punishes the Spurs for sitting players, it opens up a huge can of worms," he wrote on Twitter. "This is a serious legal challenge for the league."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't think the penalty would keep teams from resting players.
"I don't like it," he said. "It's a tough one. You've got to coach your team to win in the long run and you have to do whatever you need to do. If that's sitting players, you sit players."
That San Antonio -- largely unloved in its championship days but suddenly a plucky underdog cheered by those who felt Stern overstepped his bounds -- nearly won the game before the Heat rallied for a 105-100 victory didn't sway the commissioner.
The league has an expectation that fans paying hundreds of dollars should get what they paid for. On Friday, the Phoenix Suns (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/phx/phoenix-suns) announced a "satisfaction guaranteed night" next Thursday against Dallas, offering fans a rebate if they didn't enjoy their experience in what the team called a first-of-its-kind promotion in the league.
But nobody buying a ticket can be assured of seeing his/her favorite players. The Heat occasionally sat their superstars late last season for what the organization termed a "maintenance program," and a late-season matchup against the Celtics included the following DNPs: James, Wade, Bosh and Boston's Ray Allen (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/9/ray-allen), Kevin Garnett (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/261/kevin-garnett) and Rajon Rondo (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/3026/rajon-rondo).
Then there are the neutral-site preseason games the league stages in markets where fans rarely get to see the NBA live. Signs outside the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., before a Celtics-Knicks matchup in October featured pictures of Paul Pierce (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/662/paul-pierce) and Carmelo Anthony (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/1975/carmelo-anthony), although neither played despite being healthy.
With Stern reaching in now, does he reach that far? Or are there be a separate set of guidelines depending on the calendar?
The league wouldn't clear that up, not commenting beyond its statement. The Spurs were unavailable Friday after the long trip.
They were resting.

December 1st, 2012, 03:10 PM
Ah, STFU Stern! You didn't exactly have the integrity of the game in mind when you helped Micheal Jordan win all those championships.

June 7th, 2013, 12:02 PM
These finals are a great segue to the stupid aforementioned Stern-created "controversy" earlier, this year.

BTW, who does Tony Parker think he is.... Eli Manning???

Parker’s Manic Final Shot Helps Give Spurs Game 1 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/07/sports/basketball/parker-and-spurs-take-opener.html?hp

(all-time c-l-u-t-c-h move, dribble persistence, shot ;))

June 19th, 2013, 12:47 PM
Albeit the outcome was not the one desired, this was a gorgeous game by what I, IMHO, consider to be the most beautiful of all the sports....

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/nytlogo152x23.gif (http://www.nytimes.com/)
Game 6: Heat 103, Spurs 100 (OT)

Heart-Stopping Survival as Heat Force Game 7

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Dwyane Wade competed with San Antonio’s Boris Diaw for a ball in the second half. The Heat overcame 30 points and 17 rebounds by Tim Duncan. More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/06/19/sports/basketball/NBA-Finals-Game-6.html)

By HOWARD BECK (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/howard_beck/index.html)

Published: June 19, 2013

MIAMI — The rope was being laid along the baselines, a braided border signaling finality, a familiar indicator of the revelry to come. Security guards crouched along it. Somewhere, just out of sight, the Larry O’Brien trophy awaited its reunion with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Gregg Popovich.

Twenty-eight seconds were left on the clock Tuesday night when the N.B.A. began prepping for the San Antonio Spurs (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/sports/probasketball/nationalbasketballassociation/sanantoniospurs/index.html?inline=nyt-org)’ coronation — their first in six years, their fifth since 1999. The lead was 94-89. The Miami Heat (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/sports/probasketball/nationalbasketballassociation/miamiheat/index.html?inline=nyt-org) were wheezing, their fans turning away in despair.
Legacies were hurriedly being revised and enhanced — Duncan’s legend growing, LeBron James (http://london2012.nytimes.com/athletes/lebron-james?inline=nyt-per)’s shrinking. The end was that close.
The trophy never did see the court, its moment postponed by Ray Allen’s shooting stroke, by James’s stubborn insistence, by Chris Bosh’s spiteful palm.
The Heat wiped out the deficit on two shots, spaced 15 seconds apart, then overpowered the Spurs in overtime, taking a 103-100 victory that will rank among the greatest games in finals history. The series is tied again, 3-3. The championship will be decided here Thursday night.
James, his much-debated legacy still intact, posted a triple-double and led the Heat back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, leaving no doubts about his will or his intent.
“It was by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” said James, who had 16 points in the final 17 minutes, finishing with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. “The ups and downs, the roller coaster, the emotions, good and bad, throughout the whole game.”
Every player, coach and team official looked spent afterward — the Heat exhausted and giddy, the Spurs simply shattered.
James was shaky early and brilliant late, scoring when he had to, feeding open teammates and shutting down Parker down the stretch. Mario Chalmers was vital, with 20 points. And Bosh was absolutely essential, with two huge blocks in the final minute, including a swat of Danny Green’s 3-point attempt at the final buzzer.
“It’s a hard one to shake off,” Green said. “We’re going to have to.”
Duncan scored 30 points, his highest total of the postseason, but he went scoreless in the fourth quarter and overtime. Parker had 19 points and 8 assists, but he missed a 12-footer at the regulation buzzer and had his shot blocked by Bosh in the final minute of overtime. And Ginobili, whose re-emergence keyed the Spurs’ Game 5 victory, this time undermined their chances with eight turnovers.
“I have no clue how we’re going to be re-energized,” Ginobili said. “I’m devastated.”
Seconds away from a championship, the Spurs are now faced with a Game 7 and a truly daunting task. No road team has won a Game 7 in the finals since 1978. Five others since then have failed.
The Heat are now 7-0 in this postseason after a loss. But to claim the title, they will have to win consecutive games — a feat they have not accomplished in weeks, having alternating wins and losses for 13 straight games.
After four straight routs, two by each team, the victor alternating throughout, the series at last reached equilibrium, neither team capable of shaking the other. This was the closest, tensest game since the finals began, which was only appropriate under the circumstances.
The Spurs took a 100-97 lead in overtime. The Heat promptly erased it, going ahead 101-100 on James’s 7-foot jumper. But James missed his next attempt, then lost the ball out of bounds on a fast break, leaving the door ajar for the Spurs to take the game, the series, the title.
Bosh snuffed the Spurs’ first chance, just grazing Parker’s jumper with his fingertips. Allen stuffed the next chance, stripping Ginobili in the lane — a play the Spurs insist was a foul. Allen hit two free throws with 1.9 seconds left to seal the victory.
The Heat’s uncanny streak of resiliency remains intact: They have not lost consecutive games since Jan. 8-10.
Trailing by 12 points with less than a minute to play in the third quarter, their title defense slipping away, the Heat quickly went from barely breathing to breathtaking. They cranked up their defense and their aggression, retaking the lead with a frantic 21-7 run, fueled by James.
“I basically just told myself, give it all I got,” James said. “If we go down losing, I’m going to go down with no bullets. I’m just going all out. And I can be satisfied with the results.”
Chalmers hit a 3-pointer to open the final quarter. Mike Miller hit a 3 after losing his shoe. James dunked while losing his headband. For the next several minutes, he stayed on the attack, driving to the rim, blocking Duncan’s layup at one end, converting a layup at the other. Miami took an 89-86 lead on Wade’s two free throws with 2 minutes 9 seconds left, and the arena rumbled in anticipation. Game 7 seemed promised.
It all unraveled quickly. An offensive foul on James. A James turnover in the lane. An errant James jumper. The Spurs scored 8 unanswered points, pushing ahead, 94-89, with 28.2 seconds left.
The ropes came out, as they usually do when the title is about to be decided.
“I noticed it,” James said. “It kind of did the same to all of us. A few guys in the locker room talked about it.”
The emotional roller coaster was only just beginning.
James missed a 3-pointer, got a second chance and hit a 3-pointer. Kawhi Leonard made 1 of 2 foul shots, making it 95-92 with 19.4 seconds left.
James missed another 3-pointer, and it appeared the Heat had run out of chances. But Bosh corralled the rebound and fed the ball to Allen, waiting in the right corner, his Hall-of-Fame shooting stroke at the ready.
“If it’s not me taking the shot,” James said, chuckling, “I have no problem with Ray taking the shot.”
Allen launched, the ball swished with 5.2 seconds left, and the game was tied.
“There’s a lot of shots that I’ve made in my career,” said Allen, who helped the Boston Celtics win the title in 2008, “but this will go high up in the ranks because of the situation.”
An hour before tipoff, James was on the court, shooting jumpers — a deviation from his usual routine, an unsubtle hint about his mind-set — his swishes accompanied by chants of “M.V.P.”
The warm-up did not help. James converted just 3 of 12 shots through three quarters — 10 fewer than Duncan, who had already scored 30 points by that time, nearly matching the combined output of James, Wade and Bosh (34 points).
In the hours before tipoff, tension and hope filled the building. Inspirational messages littered the home locker room.
“Take everything. Give up nothing,” read one handout sitting in every stall.
Laminated notecards contained a quote from Tony Dungy that read, in part, “Your integrity demands that you step up and follow those dreams to a better place — to pick yourself up yet again and push on.”
The first “Lets go, Heat!” chants erupted before the national anthem — a desperate plea for one more stand.
Early on, no one was better than Duncan — 48 minutes from his fifth title and looking absolutely determined to claim it. He attacked the basket with gusto and a laser focus, making his first eight shots and 10 of 13 in the first half. By halftime, he had scored exactly half of the Spurs’ points — his first 25-point first half since May 17, 2006, 13 months before his last championship.
This was Duncan at his finest, his fiercest, his most precise. He nailed a jumper to open the game, drove hard for a layup, converted a trademark bank shot and a tough, off-balance hook. As the half came to a close, he dunked viciously off a brilliant over-the-shoulder pass from Boris Diaw.
By the end, he seemed gassed, shellshocked, along with the rest of his team.
“Bad,” Ginobili said. “Very bad.”


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/06/19/sports/basketball/NBA-Finals-Game-6-slide-LVIC/NBA-Finals-Game-6-slide-LVIC-thumbWide.jpg Slide Show (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/06/19/sports/basketball/NBA-Finals-Game-6.html?ref=basketball)
Game 6: Heat 103, Spurs 100 (OT) (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/06/19/sports/basketball/NBA-Finals-Game-6.html?ref=basketball)


June 19th, 2013, 02:46 PM
what I, IMHO, consider to be the most beautiful of all the sports....

Boy do I disagree with that. How 10 sweaty giants pushing each other around and throwing a little ball at a small net can be regarded as beautiful is beyond me. Down the court miss, up the court score, down the court, up the court, down, up, down, up. Shoot me already.

June 19th, 2013, 03:44 PM
^ Before I can effectively give you my "beholders" view, if I may ask, have you ever played team basketball of any sort?

June 20th, 2013, 06:10 PM
I can give more obvious reasons for its beauty, but one thing is apparent as I think back to a misspent youth and countless pickup games.

You can play basketball while high on MJ. Not stoned, just high. You won't play as well, but the symmetry of the game remains.

Doesn't work for other sports; outright dangerous for baseball.

June 21st, 2013, 09:40 AM
^ Before I can effectively give you my "beholders" view, if I may ask, have you ever played team basketball of any sort?

Before answering, let me point our that I was giving my opinion on what the sport is like to watch, on TV primarily.

No, I have never played basketball as any part of an organized team (this discussion applies equally to ice hockey, another sport I find un-watchable on TV). I wholeheartedly sat down to watch game 7 last night and lasted 9 minutes into the first quarter before flicking the channel. So much of what happens in the game is meaningless; other than the final minute flurry which itself is ultra-abused by time outs. So many scores/misses are a hair's width apart and the motions so repetitious that I honestly believe the sport is open to (and victim of) match, score and individual achievement fixing. (Game 7? Really?)

Even the best plays are often repeated within 5 seconds. LeBron airs a great 3 pointer...the crowd goes crazy, down the court and some nobody does the exact same thing. It's all a muddle to me. And to be really petty, why are shoes squeaking on the hardboard mic'ed? It's maddening.

Unlike football, or soccer (actual football), where we can clearly see tactics in play and are able to sit back and see them take shape, basketball looks ugly to me, a jumble of massive bodies orbiting a tiny ball hoping for a backwards dunk that might make the ESPN highlight reel. Toss in the egos, the showboating and the offensively prevalent tattoos and eh, yeah, it's not for me.

June 21st, 2013, 11:29 AM
Having played plenty of team basketball in my youth I have gained a lot of endearment towards basketball by understanding what it takes to play it. Out of all the sports it is the one that challenges your body’s stamina the most not just in the endurance aspect of it but in the maintenance of the hand-eye coordination and persistence of mental aptitude to make the best possible play –on and off the ball. And, no, you can’t just run with the ball but steadily maintain the instinct of dribbling (an instinct because you never look down at the ball while you do it). The balance of a team of the shorter fast players and the strong tall ones to create a flow of offense-defense (making and/or preventing dribble penetrations, passing to the open man) and resolution (making and/or preventing an open shot) is symbiotic. To me it’s been a great combination of all the main sports in that it flows without the stop-and-go choppy sequences of baseball and football, yet it maintains many of the strategic setups (specially by the master head coaches) that move it apart from the constant chaotic and (at points) sloppy nature of [especially] hockey and soccer; because dribbling the ball or puck doesn't come off as gracefull as dribbling the basketball.
But most of all, what I love about the sport is how you can impart your will in a game more so than any other sport through sheer effort, especially on the defensive end. Playing defense is such a rigorous activity that the most impassionate pleas of the arena are reserved to the chant of D-FENCE in order to galvanize the home-team’s players through its exhausting nature. There is a lot of individual passion (that can bear impact on the contest) to be left on the court. Coaches setup elaborate, multistep strategies to exploit each other’s weakeness. As such, with so much interrelation between game outcome and individual play and overall scheme employed by coaching it is a great marriage between the brains of a coach and the athletic talent of the players. It may not prolong the suspense as long as baseball does, or have the exact expected strategic outcomes of football but the frantic endings (like last Tuesday night J) where all the players are leaving their hearts out on the court to get an open shot, or staying in front of a shooter disrupt his attempt to get a comfortable shot off, muscling and hustling position for a rebound, or diving for a loose ball, or execute a play by a positioning dictated by their coaching captures many of the beauties of sports.…. Watching this continuous controlled raw effort under a strategic discipline, the grace and ferocity displayed in the same stage is very entertaining, and at points poetic to me.