It all started with Greg Popovich when he would rest his Big 3, Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili, in meaningless games, but the media took notice when he rested them during a national televised game against the Heat in 2012. He was subsequently fined $250,000 subsequently
Fast forward to 2017, many teams have taken an opportunity to sit players especially after the all-star break. Giving players a chance to heal-up and rest as the Playoff picture shaping up has been a tactic as of late.
From the Cavaliers to the Warriors, to the Spurs to the Suns, to the Clippers teams have reasoned the decision as a way to avoid injury and lessen fatigue in a long season.
Good for the Players bad for Fans
Though beneficial for the athletes in the long run, it’s the fans who are losing out. Fans are paying thousands of dollars to see their favorite all-stars play at arenas around the country. Often there is little to no notice of who will be resting for a particular game. The NBA has taken notice especially when it comes to nationally televised games.
Seven minitues after the Cavaliers announced that Kevin Love, LeBron James, and Kyrie Irving were to sit out the game vs the Clippers, GM David Griffin ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the league office called him. “Yeah, and they’re paying me to win a championship,” he told Shelburne. “I’m not overly concerned about the perception of it. We literally had one guy rest tonight, and everybody else was reasonably injured, so I don’t feel like we did anything terribly egregious.”
Griffin continued to explain the team’s position to ABC sideline reporter Lisa Salters. “It cuts both ways,” Griffin said. “We’re protecting the Cavaliers fans that are watching us and have expectations that we’re going to compete at the highest level.”
There are Options
Once the 2017 season reopens in October, the league must find a way for teams to avoid resting players especially in national televised games where they get most of their income. Maybe lessening the games and lessening the back to backs could be an option moving forward.