ESPN: San Antonio Spurs Sit 4 Of Top 5 Scorers Vs. Miami Heat, Face League Sanctions (VIDEO)

Source: Brian Windhorst / ESPN

MIAMI — The NBA’s most powerful man and its most respected and iron-willed coach plunged into an unexpected battle of wills Thursday over a basic tenet: A coach can decide what is best for his team.

San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich sent stars Tim DuncanTony Parker and Manu Ginobili, plus key role player Danny Green, on a commercial flight home instead of playing them in a nationally televised game against the Miami Heat so they could rest ahead of the Spurs’ Saturday home game against the league-leading Memphis Grizzlies.

NBA commissioner David Stern issued a statement before the game started apologizing to fans and saying, “This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.”

After the game, Popovich was informed of Stern’s statement and declined to comment.

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