Outside of NBA League Pass junkies and hard court diehards, Nando de Colo doesn't have a huge following.
Suffice it to say, he isn't the NBA's most marketable player, the guy who the league wants to showcase against LeBron on their Wednesday night slate.
Unfortunately for the NBA, reigning Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich doesn't care a whole lot about the league's business broadcasting model.
That's why he chose to sit his three biggest stars -- Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, along with minutes-eater Danny Green -- against The Heat so they could fly back to Texas ahead of the team and skip what the league was pegging as the de facto game of the week.
Instead of watching those three square off with Miami's big three, fans got to see the Spurs roll out the super team of Nando de Colo (who?), Patty Mills, Boris Diaw, Thiago Splitter and Matt Bonner.
Popovich's call was undeniably a smart one for the Spurs in the long run. The team's big three are aging, and the Spurs are in the midst of a grueling stretch in their schedule, playing six road games in eight nights.
Today, following Popovich's decision, David Stern has vowed to punish the famed head coach and the Spurs.
"I apologize to all NBA fans," Stern said in a statement that was released after the Spurs-Heat game had tipped off. "This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.
Popovich didn't comment on Stern's statement, but across the league, players and coaches are standing by the legendary coach, who they agree knows what he's doing and should have the right to manage his team however he pleases.
“Pop has won a lot games. He's won championships. He knows what he's doing," veteran Heat guard Ray Allen told news reporters after the game.
Popovich three times last season benched his big three, incurring no wrath from league offices. LeBron James didn't take umbrage with the Spurs' decision to roll out a weakened squad against his team.
“He's done it before, and he has a great feel for his team. And you can't question him as a leader or question him as a coach," James said.
Some basketball writers feel that Stern is more annoyed with the timing of the decision than the philosophy behind it.
“Stern's response Thursday was a knee-jerk overreaction that seemed geared toward pacifying a major television broadcasting partner more so than it was designed to deter the next coach from resting a star veteran for maintenance, ESPN's Michael Wallace wrote.
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