When Gregg Popovich decided to rest four of the Spurs' best players last night—a decision made well in advance of their game against the Heat, if Pop is to be believed—he took all the air out of a hotly anticipated, nationally televised contest. In the kindest light, it was a savvy move by Popovich designed to keep his aging stars fresh through the end of the season. It was also unquestionably a "fuck you" to the NBA and, collaterally, its fans. Why did he have to rest his guys en masse? Why did he have to rest them against the Heat last night and not against, say, the Wizards on Monday?
David Stern, with his usual showboating heavyhandedness, promised "substantial sanctions" before the game. This is what Pop does, though. He reductios all the absurdums. If there's a hole in the rules, he doesn't just walk through it; he throws a parade and marches through it, beating a drum with one hand and twirling a baton with the other. This latest was a variation on the same theme that brought us Hack-a-Shaq and "DNP-Old." He is as cynical as the rules allow him to be. If you don't like it, Popovich says in effect, then change the rules.