DEERFIELD, ILL. As a man who has been heavily scrutinized as of late regarding his rotation decisions, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau can empathize with San Antonios Gregg Popovich. On the other hand, as a coach who pushes the pedal to the metal for all 82 games of the NBAs regular season, he can also comprehend league commissioner David Sterns point of view.
Popovich, the longtime Spurs head coach, chose to sit regulars Tim Duncan (one of the NBAs elder statesmen, which is understandable), Manu Ginobili (the aging sixth man started the season banged up, so that makes sense), Tony Parker (though hes had some nagging injuries, the speedy point guard is in the prime of his career) and Danny Green (at only 25 years old, this was the most egregious addition to the sideline quartet) for Thursday nights primetime, nationally-televised showdown with the Heat in Miami.
In fact, the aforementioned players didnt even make the trip as Popovich reportedly sent them back to San Antonio via commercial flight from Orlando.
Those actions, although Popovich has used the tactic of resting healthy players throughout the regular season several times in recent years, prompted Stern to issue a statement that included the phrase substantial sanctions, in reference to the Spurs forthcoming punishment. Thibodeau was diplomatic when asked about the saga Friday.
I have a hard enough time worrying about my own team. I think every team understands where they are and you have do whats best for your team, but I also think youre part of the league, too. Youve got to pace your team and you play the guys you think you should play, he said after the Bulls afternoon practice at the Berto Center. Im not concerned about it. Its not my issue, but you always want whats best for the league.
Its each individual case. Theres two sides to it. I certainly understand where Pops coming from. Pops one of the all-time great coaches, so I would never question what he was doing with his team. I think he understands his team, he understands the makeup of his team, he understands the age of his team. Those things are all critical, he continued. The commissioners always charged with what to do, with doing whats best for the league and so, theres two sides to it. So, hopefully in the end, it will be resolved in a good way.