Suns owner Sarver, Spurs coach Popovich trade shots over rested players

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich loves to rest his players, making sure they stay fresh for their usual deep runs into the playoffs. Given that it’s preseason, he has even more incentive to play out his bench, since you know, IT’S MEANINGLESS BASKETBALL.

And that’s what he did last Thursday (Friday, PHL time) versus the Phoenix Suns. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili sat this one out, along with three other injured rotation players. In fact, Pop himself wasn’t there, giving his assistants an opportunity to call the shots.

The result was a 121-90 blowout, but what was unusual about the result was the fact that Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver asked for the mic with 2:31 remaining to apologize to the Suns fans:

“Hey, everybody, I want to thank you for coming out tonight,” Sarver said. “This is not the game you paid your hard-earned money to watch. I apologize for it. And I want you to send me your tickets if you came tonight with a return envelope and I’ve got a gift for you on behalf of the Suns for showing up tonight. Thank you.”

The Arizona Republic later revealed that fans in the lower bowl got $50 in credit that could be used for future tickets or food at the arena, while fans in the upper bowl got $25.

Sarver also later said the Suns had heard from disappointed fans who complained that they weren’t seeing the entire Spurs team.

That’s a nice gesture if you’re a Suns fan, but when Popovich was told about what had happened, he wasn’t very pleased:

I think most wise individuals would check facts before they make statements. Unless you’re interested in putting on a show, in that case, the facts can get in your way, as in this case. We had five guys we didn’t send: Patty Mills had a shoulder operation, Tiago Splitter has been out the whole preseason with a calf, Kawhi Leonard was out and is still out 10 more days. The other two, Duncan and Ginobili, are two of the oldest guys in the league and just came back from a 13-day European trip. The only thing that surprises me is he didn’t come out and say it in a chicken suit.

In case you’re wondering, the chicken suit comment seems to be a callback to an incident in 2005, when Sarver flapped his arms like a chicken in protest of the Spurs sitting Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili out of a regular season Suns game.

So who ya got in this issue? Are you Team Sarver or Team Pop?

Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images