SBD/Issue 96/Franchises

Was Gregg Popovich Inconsiderate Of Fans In Sitting Spurs Stars?

Spurs' Decision To Sit Healthy Tony Parker (l)
Does Not Go Over Well With Fans In Denver
Spurs Fs Tim Duncan and Michael Finley and Gs Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker were healthy scratches from Tuesday's game against the Nuggets, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made a "joke of an NBA game more than 18,000 people paid good money to see," according to the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS' Dave Krieger, who writes under the header, "Popovich Rips Off Nuggets Fans." When a fan buys a ticket to a Spurs-Nuggets regular-season game, "you're paying for Tim Duncan & Co," to play when healthy. Krieger notes he received a message from a fan who paid about $500 to attend the game with his family to celebrate his birthday, but instead watched what the fan called "an NBADL game." Krieger writes the "disregard Popovich showed for the fans still willing to drop these ridiculous sums in very tough economic times is simply astounding. And repugnant. And repulsive." Popovich "gave the old single-finger salute to NBA fans and got away with it free and clear." Krieger: "Just imagine if Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had done what Popovich did" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2/5).

OUT OF LINE? ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser: “If I went to that game in Denver and I paid probably $300 for two seats, at least, and they gave me (Spurs G) Roger Mason Jr. … and I missed out on all the great talent, I’d be very upset because how many times am I going to go to a game?” He added, “If you’re David Stern, you have to care about the ticket-buyer. So strategically, (Popovich) may have done the right thing, but I’m not sure anybody in the league is happy” (“PTI,” ESPN, 2/4).'s Brett Pollakoff wrote, "What about the fans? What about all of those people that voted to have the game televised on NBATV?" (, 2/4). ESPN’s J.A. Adande: “It’s disappointing to the fans in Denver who paid their money. (But) guess what? Gregg Popovich does not have to answer to the fans of Denver. He has to answer to his owner and his Spurs fans, and he’s doing what’s best for them.” Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan: “There’s no sympathy for the fans in Denver because anyone who buys a ticket in pro sports it’s ‘Caveat emptor.’ You take your chances” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 2/4).

BAD PRECEDENT TO SET: In San Antonio, Buck Harvey writes the NBA should "hope others don't copy this, and so should Spurs fans." Maybe the Cavaliers for the February 27 road game against the Spurs should rest F LeBron James the "only night he's in San Antonio" this season. But Harvey writes, "How can the NBA lecture Popovich about hurting the product -- when the league hurts it more?" The NBA "can't fine a franchise for not playing certain players, especially after an inactive list replaced a system that once encouraged teams to invent phantom injuries" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 2/5).

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