The NBA was founded in 1946, so it took more than 60 years before a coach like Gregg Popovich finally came up with an idea:
“Hey, I should give my players extra rest during the regular season so they play better during the playoffs.”
While it seems like a strategy that totally makes sense, there are people that actually think that such a move is cheating the fans.
The NBA doesn’t like that this has become a thing and has fined teams in the past when it affects nationally-televised games.
Just about every team has a sad story about a fan (usually a kid) that finally goes to a game to watch their favorite player only to have that player resting on the bench.
In a recent ESPN report, the NBA appears to be severely reducing back-to-back sets, teams playing four games in five nights, and practically eliminating five games in seven night.
This creates an interesting debate about who players and coaches are accountable to and what their goals should be during the season, not to mention the implications of making the season longer.
True Spurs fans have accepted and even embraced the strategy as it’s helped the team win multiple championships and extended the careers of beloved veterans.
Did Pop rest Manu a few years ago during a game that you went to? You’ve got another full season to see him if you missed your chance in the past!
But there are some people (usually not fans of that team) who feel that the players owe them something and that time on the court and marketing responsibility should take precedence over a strategy that’s been proven to help teams win titles.
The NBA doesn’t care. They’re not beholden to any fans base that wants titles. They want to market themselves and make money. A new report from USA TODAY says that there will be new rules punishing teams for resting uninjured players during the season.
The problem with both arguments is that they’re cyclical.
No matter what argument you make for resting players, you can’t change the fact that there will always be people in the league office who care more about casual fans buying tickets and watching on TV than the hard-core fan base that will watch every game no matter what.
No matter what argument you make against resting players, you can’t change the fact that you’re trying to get the league and fans to start dictating a team’s long-term strategy, which affects a player’s health and takes decisions out of the hands of coaches and the team’s front office.
So how do you feel about the NBA telling Pop what to do with Spurs players? Do you think it will change the way he coaches?
Given his history, probably not.