Sick and tired of complaints from fans (and television partners) that some of the league’s biggest stars were sitting out huge games just because they were “tired,” the NBA implemented new rules in the off-season that would punish teams for intentionally benching players without a good reason.
Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs were arguably the pioneers of this tactic, as they attempted to keep the aging trio of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili fresh for the inevitable playoff run. They have been fined in the past, but Popovich was unfazed. He said he would continue to manage his roster in the way that he thought gave the team the best chance to win a championship, and not worry too much about some random road game in early January.
On Wednesday night, the Spurs played the lowly 76ers in Philly, and they did it without a number of key players. But check out this tweet:
Rudy Gay (right heel bursitis), Manu Ginobili (rest), Danny Green (tightness, left groin), Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management) and Tony Parker (return from injury management) are all out for tonight’s Spurs-76ers game. pic.twitter.com/maWmwHYH1g
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 3, 2018
That’s right. Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker missed out due to “return from injury management.” In case you were wondering, that’s a brand new term that the Spurs basically invented. They aren’t hurt, having played previously this week. But they are both coming back form injuries, and the Spurs are arguing that it’s their decision to ease Leonard and Parker park into regular playing time. And that doesn’t even mention that Ginobili missed the game due to “rest,” which is now an NBA no-no.
Ironically enough, the Spurs were upset by the 76ers by a score of 112-106. We wonder if the NBA will take a closer look at this game and whether it had a negative effect on the integrity of the league. The 76ers are currently in the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference. Let’s say they make the playoffs over another team by a single win at the end of the regular season. That other team would have a pretty legitimate gripe that the Spurs could have (and therefore should have) put their strongest team on the floor for that “meaningless” early January matchup.
In the meantime, we’re going to see if using the term “return from injury management” will score us any extra time off with our bosses. Wish us luck!