You’re the average guy living in the Chicago suburbs. You don’t go to too many games because of the expense. But you know the San Antonio Spurs are coming to town and so you pony up for four seats at the Bulls’ average price of $82.33.
And then you find out that Kawhi Leonard isn’t playing. And neither is Tony Parker. Why is two-fifths of the starting lineup not starting? Rest period. Long season plus games on back-to-back nights may well mean the stars aren’t coming out.
On March 11, when the Spurs were at home against the Golden State Warriors for a game to be televised nationally by ABC, almost nobody played. Not Stephen Curry nor Draymond Green nor Klay Thompson nor Andre Iguodala nor the injured Kevin Durant for the Warriors. Not Leonard, Parker, LaMarcus Aldridge nor DeJounte Murray, though, to be fair, Leonard, Aldridge and Murray were also hurt.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to the league’s board of governors on Monday calling the resting of starters “an extremely significant issue for our league.” He was, of course, more concerned with corporate partners than the folks in the stands. And he didn’t show a whole lot of empathy for the players. When the Warriors sat their best at San Antonio, the game was their eighth in 13 nights with some heavy travel involved.
Scheduling is clearly a problem. So is an 82-game slate. Because the better players on the better teams could well be playing into June. Some schedule changes are in the works for next year that might make this less of an issue. But there’s not any way the league can tell coaches which players need to be active at a given time. And you as a fan can’t necessarily know way in advance when you buy your ticket.
Rest matters, says Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, a longtime believer.
“Do you want to see this guy in this one game or do you want to see him for three more years of his career?” he asks. “And do you want to see him through the playoffs because he didn’t get hurt?”
Interesting arguments. Can someone please think about the guy who just spent $329.32 on four tickets to see backups? Next time he’ll stay home and not watch it on TV.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman