Thursday, January 17, 2013

Are basketball players more important than teams?

By Caleb Butler 

A recent news story reminded me of the Spurs-Heat game I watched on November 29, when San Antonio Spurs’ coach, Greg Popovich, sent home four of his starters before the game against the Miami Heat. In case you don’t remember, this was the Spurs’ fourth game in five days, all in different cities. Even without four of their best players, the Spurs barely lost this game – they were within two points with 22 seconds left and only lost by five.

As the game began, NBA commissioner, David Stern, released a statement that promised to reprimand the Spurs for their decision to rest star players. Naturally, a national debate ensued, as analysts, reporters, players, and coaches weighed in with their opinions. LeBron James said after the game: “I don’t think [Coach] Pop was in the wrong," and Chris Bosh went further to say, “We survived. They have a bunch of talented guys over there. I know that nobody's going to really give them credit, but they are a tough bunch.”

While the Miami fans missed their one chance this season to see future Hall-of-Famer, Tim Duncan, they got to see a great game and a Hall of Fame coach. However, news broke on Tuesday that a Miami Heat fan, Larry McGuinness, has sued the San Antonio Spurs for their game against the Heat on Nov. 29. It seems strange to sue a team for losing by five points, but that is beside the point.

McGuinness is suing the team for keeping their superstars at home, which serves as a blatant reminder of how the NBA markets itself: players are more important than teams. The entertainment level of a game is measured, according to McGuinness’s lawsuit, by who played in the game more than by how the game is played. David Stern’s fine of $250,000 against the Spurs solidifies and encourages this belief.

In most cases, there is no problem with keeping the focus on “superstars” in the NBA; however, Stern’s fine, along with McGuinness’s lawsuit, directly contrast Coach Popovich’s decision to do what is best for his team. One of the most respected and most successful coaches in the NBA has been told he was wrong to rest his best players; the players have been told they must participate in each game possible; and the fans have been reminded that star players are to be treated as commodities rather than as humans.

Finally, I cannot help but imagine the real possibility of these two teams meeting in the NBA Finals, which would promise the Miami fans a chance to see their coveted Spurs superstars for at least two exciting games.

The Basketball Project

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