Posted December 01, 2012

Van Gundy slams Stern over Spurs fine

Ben Golliver, David Stern, Gregg Popovich, Jeff Van Gundy, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs
Commentator Jeff Van Gundy had a harsh assesssment of David Stern's decision to fine the Spurs. (Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

Commentator Jeff Van Gundy had a harsh assesssment of David Stern’s decision to fine the Spurs. (Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

Hours after David Stern fined the Spurs $250,000 after coach Gregg Popovich rested four of his players during a Thursday night game against the Heat, television commentator Jeff Van Gundy came out strong against the commissioner during ESPN’s broadcast of a Friday game between the Nuggets and Lakers.

“To me, fine yourself too, $250,000, because you’re just as culpable for what happened in the league office as Gregg Popovich is,” Van Gundy said.

Van Gundy, the former coach of the Knicks and Rockets, defended Popovich’s decision to rest Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green against the defending champions on the final game of a six-game road trip for a number of reason. At the top of the list: the fact that Popovich has used this strategy previously in recent years without drawing a fine.

“The commissioner to me, I understand his disappointment and frustration,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t understand him fining a team. This has been happening forever under his watch, healthy players sitting out games. I don’t understand the outrage today about that thing. Last year, Gregg Popovich sent all three guys home for two games at the end of the year. People said, ‘This one was on TV.’ Well, every regular season game is either important or it’s not. I just don’t understand opening up this can of worms.”

San Antonio, currently 13-4 on the season, was playing its fourth in five nights and the second half of a back-to-back. Popovich called his decision to sit his players “pretty logical” given those circumstances and the fact that the Spurs face the Grizzlies, a division rival, on Saturday. The Heat, meanwhile, had four consecutive days of rest prior to their game against the Spurs. Miami eventually won Thursday’s game 105-100, but San Antonio held a lead until the final minute even without their stars.

“The schedule that was put out is as much to blame as anything,” Van Gundy said. “You don’t have to play a national TV game on a back-to-back and you certainly don’t have to do it on four games in five nights. … It’s ridiculous to ask those guys to play four games in five nights on a national televised game when the other team is sitting there rested.”

As you would expect, Van Gundy also defended Popovich’s right to manage his own team without Stern or the league office looking over his shoulder.

“The league is not right,” he said. “I don’t think Gregg Popovich is wrong. … He’s trying to [rest his guys together] in one game so his team plays together as much as possible, to give himself the best chance of winning. A big part of any coach’s job is to pace your team correctly. That means how much you play them, how many minutes, how long you practice. That’s what his job is. To say he doesn’t have the right to do that [is wrong].”

NBA coaches, of course, don’t always play their best players every game for a variety of reasons. Young players, or players with larger contracts, are given extra opportunities depending on the circumstances. Veteran players are given rest throughout the season. Stars sit at the end of the season once playoff seeding have been locked in. Struggling teams have been accused of purposefully playing bad lineups to improve their draft lottery positioning. To Van Gundy, these realities must be considered when assessing the fining of Popovich.

“Where’s the outrage previously to this? Why now? Why now? How about teams tanking whole seasons, tanking down the stretch? Why aren’t we saying anything about that? If you want to start saying it’s about the credibility of the game then there’s credibility [issues with tanking] there too.”

Van Gundy, 50, holds a career record of 430-318 (.575) in 11 seasons. Popovich’s Spurs defeated Van Gundy’s Knicks to win the 1999 NBA Finals, Popovich’s first title.

15 comments
RobertHillstrom
RobertHillstrom

Little David Stern simply doesn't know basketball. It's like the Chief Justice not having gone to law school. In an illustrated dictionary Stern's picture would appear with the word martinet.   The players and their teams shouldn't have to live with this little Hitler holding the threat of huge fines over them. Popovitch who is one of the great coaches in the history of the game shouldn't be demeaned by Stern at any time. The only thing I can think of that would make this sawed-off twerp act the way he does is the opportunity to  assert his manhood when he's up against a real man like Popovitch. There are some great retired players from which the owners could select a real man for commisioner. Popovitch's choice to rest his players is a choice for him to make and for him only.

g-Man
g-Man

Van Gundy needs to shut hs FAT MOUTH!.  There is no doubt that the TNT executived called Stern and there is no telling what threats they made concerning todays and future contracts.  If the NBA players want to make the exorbitant money that comes from the TV contracts, then they better not bite the hand the feeds them.  Rest during their 3 month vacation at the end of the season!

mharris672
mharris672

“Idiot” derives from the ancient Greek, “idio”, meaning “person lacking professional skill” or “mentally deficient person incapable of ordinary reasoning.”

mharris672
mharris672

In California, idiots are one of six types of people who are not capable of committing any form of crime.  Maybe Stern is from California...

mharris672
mharris672

In Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Ohio, idiots don’t have the right to vote.  I wonder what state Stern claims to be a resident of... also wonder if he's allowed to vote.

Richard17
Richard17

respect to Van Gundy, the man speaks his mind. Stern has lost alll credibility with this stunt by impsosing this huge fine when Popovich and the Spurs haven't violated any league rules.

topnoah787
topnoah787

Can the Spur's front office battle this outrageously-biased fine by suing the money-loving pig called Stern? Resting- players-in-a-manner-contrary-to-the-best-interests-of-the-NBA statement is nothing but a pathetic joke. So from now on, this moron is going to impose on the coaches how to play their players for the benefit of TNT or any other network. Can anything be done against this little dictator? I was to buy my league pass but after this incident ... forget it! The hell with the NBA and its bunch of lackeys. Oh, just one more thing. Was Stu Jackson fined when he called Bruce Bowen (bypassing the Spur hierarchy) to warm him about playing? No, of course not. Stern is the root of all evil in the league right now. Hope he gets a heart attack and is replace by the new comish.

mharris672
mharris672

A vast majority of respondents (and the Nation) believes Stern was totally wrong.  Of idiot, imbecile, & moron, which is worst?

An IQ between 0 and 25 are Idiots;

IQs between 26 and 50 are considered Imbeciles;

An IQ between 51 and 70 are considered Morons.

Stern & committee = 'Idiots'

mharris672
mharris672

Stern needs to shut-up and let the professionals coach and play the game (as long as there were no rule violations).  Can you believe this guy?!  He makes some announcement that the Spurs will pay dearly for not playing some of their ordinary starters!  The announcement scrolls across the TV nationwide...as the game is being played.  San Antonio played a great game at Miami, and nearly won.  Popovich looked intense throughout the entire game...you know he wanted to win!  Unbelievable!  Stern needs to resign…or be forced-out of his position for failure to promote a positive attitude and image for the NBA.

sagasha
sagasha

Yet again, nobody is considering the fan. Every discussion talks about this as a strategy and how the league should butt out of a coach's decision to rest his players but Stern's not concerned with the strategy of the game. He's concerned about the reputation of the league which is in serious jeopardy when a coach does this kinda thing. The fans at that game were probably seriously irate that the Spurs mailed in the game and essentially lost on purpose. Don't give me that crap about the score either. The Heat played down to their opponent and were probably just as surprised as everyone else when the fearsome foursome wasn't even in the building and ran on cruise control the entire night with the exception of the last 30 seconds. If I was a fan attending that game it would be my last for a long, long time. The average Joe can barely afford to take his family to see ONE game and when you pull stunts like this you most definitely lose fans regardless of how your "strategy" works out in the end. If this is going to be "just part of the game" then count me out or simply throw out the regular season and bring on the playoffs!

ThadN
ThadN

Jeff van Gundy is consistently a voice of clarity in the NBA--and here's why:

 

You may disagree with his ideas, especially his urges to change rules, etc.

 

But he NEVER makes a comment with "the business" side, PR or image in mind.  His willingness to speak for himself (even if its not what you would say) is exactly what a business-focused league like the NBA needs.  He calls people out during the game, when everyone is watching on TV.  Love the guy (though I don't agree with everything he says).  The league needs that contrarian voice.  

mharris672
mharris672

 @Richard17 Well spoken.  I agree completely.  This is total BS to be 'fined' when no rule violations occurred.  What is this?  Opinionated dictatorship from the Idiot Stern & puppet sub-committee.  Outrageous!  Unbelievable!  I watched the game... it was a great game; down to the wire!  Stern needs to be forced-out.

AjReygadas-Realtor
AjReygadas-Realtor

 @sagasha Lol did you just say Stern is concerned with the reputation of the league? lol Please this is clearly not about the fans. If it was he sure didnt seem to care during the lockout. Where was his caring there? It was business then wasnt it? Thats exactly how pop and the front office in San Antonio work. Its business and its a way to stay healthy to make a shot at the finals again. Van Gundy made a good point defending POP and so did Rivers and Lebron james. So for  you to believe that Stern actually cares for the Fans saddens me that you have fell in to his trap. Just like Van Gundy said its the NBA commission that should be held accountable just as much as the Spurs. They Handle the years schedules. If you put two good teams together to play each other and want to put it on National Television to get a great outcome and game rest both teams to give one team 4 days off and then the other 4 games in 5 nights. Especially coming off a back to back. Like POP said its logical. Plus the Spurs front office has not interest to satisfy Miami Fans. They have no Obligation to them. Thats left for the Heat to deliver a blow out which clearly didnt happen!

 

jazzsamba
jazzsamba

 @sagasha That's why you're a fan and you don't even go to the games. Right there you're out of the equation. The Heat played down down to their opponent? Did you watch the game? No. The Spurs should've won this game and the Heat played to their talent.  It's ignorant fans like you who are spoiled and opinionated who give this sport a bad name. Your quote says it all. ' IF I was a fan...' Go play your fantasy league and jerk off!

Marcus1
Marcus1

 @sagasha You make a valid point, but unless the league has clear guidelines stating teams cannot rest healthy players then the Spurs did nothing wrong. Many teams have rested healthy players in the past.