Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 at 10:50 am  |  68 responses

Paul Millsap Thought Gregg Popovich Resting Stars Was ‘a Slap in the Face’

by Marcel Mutoni @marcel_mutoni

The issue of resting healthy players during a game came to the fore once again last night, as Gregg Popovich had the San Antonio Spurs’ three stars – Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili – watch the festivities from the comfort of their own homes.

This act, apparently, provided the Utah Jazz with plenty of motivation, as they defeated the visiting and short-handed Spurs.

Paul Millsap called it a “slap in the face”, but Pop openly admits that resting his aging veterans is far more important than securing the top Playoff seed in the Western Conference.

From the Salt Lake Tribune and NBA.com:

Jazz forward Paul Millsap said it was a “slap in the face.” Respected San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich continued to try and outsmart the 2011-12 lockout-compressed season, refusing to bring Spurs stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to Salt Lake City on Monday for Utah’s 91-84 win. Millsap acknowledged his team was insulted by Popovich’s gamble, saying the Jazz took extra inspiration from the no-show. “I think that was a little motivation that … got us through, just thinking about that,” Millsap said.

“Well, we’re trying to survive,” Popovich said. “Our schedule speaks for itself. If you look at the schedule, you figure out real quickly. No matter how look at it (five games in seven nights this week), eight games in 13 nights, 16 games in 23 days, it’s just crazy, so I got to do something about it. It just doesn’t make sense to have those guys playing four times in five nights, or three in a row.”

Opposing coaches and players may characterize this as “cheating the game”, or use it as motivation to beat the Spurs in games they already conceded ahead of time. But Gregg Popovich knows what he’s doing, and he told anyone who’d listen at the start of the season that he would strategically rest his star players.

Pop and the Spurs are smartly taking the long view here, and betting that health and fresh legs (rather than Playoff seeding) will play a larger role in their success once the postseason rolls around.

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  • http://www.huwlhopkins.com #6marjon

    I’m behind Pop all the way on this one, but good on the Jazz for using it as motivation

  • underdog

    Best coach in the L.

  • Joe

    Shut up Milsap nobody cares what you think, Pop can tell you to kiss the ring’s boy.

  • abaci

    Get over it Paul, its a strategic move by a proven coach.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Nick Tha Quick

    Mr Millsap, you do know that if TD, TP and Manu played last night, they would slap another L to your record, right?

  • LA Huey

    Nick The Quick had it right.

  • Top$helf

    So motivated that they were losing after 3 quarters and beat the Spurs B team by a whopping 7 points

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iF30WneDtQc Datkid

    everybody taking shots at popovich lol

  • http://nba.com GP23

    It’s not cheating at all.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Did Millsap just enter the league? Pop’s been doing this.

  • ALD

    i would too.. The jazz are not a badd team but the jazz needed that win so i wouldnt have been mad. But i understand, its like being picked after someone that isnt worthy.

  • Mike Mihalow

    Pathetic, especially when the Spurs REALLY slapped Milsap in the face the night before.
    When the playoffs start, not only will the Spurs star’s be rest, but their bench will be more prepared and the Jazz will be sitting on their asses at home because they missed them.
    And when did everyone in the NBA have to go to the media and become such a f*cking crybaby?

  • ab40

    So they were all motivated and riled up and they won by 7?!

  • Old Long Johnson

    lol @ telling a future HoF coach that his genius is a slap in the face. That’s why youre a player and not a coach millsap.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2012/04/phil-jackson-everyone-should-relax-when-it-comes-to-andrew-bynum/ BIKE

    It kinda stinks for the fans. As a fan, I would rather see these guys get limited minutes but Pop is simply following a time-tested formula he knows works. This shortened season seemed to really take a toll on a lot of players.

  • underdog

    ^he let them sit out the away game, not the home game, for a reason…

  • jay

    Pop should do this once a month every season just for the DNP explanations. “DNP–Tummy Ache”, “DNP–Old Age”, “DNP–Boo-Boo”. He’s used all three.

  • Ellen

    I’m wondering why Bleacher Reort thinks anyone cares what Paul Milsap thinks. You think he’d be happy for a win, instead of the loss they would have had if Duncan, Parker and Ginobili were playing.

  • http://www.twitter.com/_dfrance DFrance21

    @underdog You think fans in Utah only come out to see their stars play? I don’t have a problem with what Pop did, but as a fan I’d be pissed if I paid good money to see the Spurs and I’m stuck watching Gary Neal and Dajuan Blair play pick and roll.

  • Truthtell4r

    Pop knows what he’s doin!!!

  • http://theurbangriot.com The NUPE

    If I was a fan who paid to see this game I would feel cheated. I understand why Pop (or any other team) does this, but I don’t like it. I guess the ‘answer’ would be to have fewer games this season or extend the season so a team doesn’t play as many games in a week. I’m not sure if this will ‘stop’ a coach from resting a player perfectly able to play, but maybe it will reduce it from happening. At the end of the day what should be expected is the best possible team playing every day. No tanking to get extra ping-pong balls in the lotter and no resting players for a later date. I know this will likely never happen, but just accepting the fact that it does happen and even understanding why it happens doesn’t make it “right”.

  • Rainman

    …they still almost beat u guys…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Pop is the best coach in the league by a long shot.

  • http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/shotchart?gameId=320404014 Allenp

    I mean, it’s entertainment in the long run. The whole enterprise is entertainment.
    But, since it’s been elevated to a position of importance far beyond most entertainment, people feel like “strategy” is important.
    But, it’s entertainment. They are playing a game. Sometimes we lose sight of this. It’s interesting.

  • tshane

    Haha yeah Pop knows whats up, he does this all the time. Last year it worked pretty well losing in the first round as a 1 seed to Memphis

  • 1Spur

    @The NUPE~When your team wins 4 rings, then you can second guess the coach. Until then, you let Pop do what he does best.

  • Jackki

    What would happen if you paid to see Lebron and wade and they sit out for rest? David Stern would slap that team with a fine.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    lol, I hope Paul Millsap shows up for the lottery. It would be a slap in David Stern’s face for him to rest on that oh so important day for the Jazz

  • bike

    Pop simply does not give a flying fukk! Ask shaq

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Shouldn’t he thank Pop for resting his starters?

  • Anon

    It’s entertainment. But those players and coaches’ job is to win championships while entertaining. Entertain fans now and lose games and you are the stinking Cavs. Find that balance and you have the top teams in the league. You have to keep both goals in mind.

  • Rrfanatic

    Millsap should tell david stern and sterling that The real slap in the face is some players got injured because the impact of lockout

  • underdog

    @DFrance21: Why do you think Pop gives a damn about the Jazz fans? Should he? Because he doesn’t and probably won’t. I get what your problem is with the situation, but it’ll keep happening until Stern makes some rule to prevent it.

  • http://slamonline.com The Philosopher

    Everyone needs something extra for motivation sometimes.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2012/04/phil-jackson-everyone-should-relax-when-it-comes-to-andrew-bynum/ BIKE

    In Phil Jackson’s book ‘The Last Season’ he talks about the typical nba coach’s season strategy. You want to win all the home games for the fans and a certain percentage of away games. It’s a given that if you have to cut corners, better to toss an away game than a home game. But the objective is to make the playoffs. That’s all that really matters. The season starts over at the playoffs and the stakes are much, much higher in the playoffs.

  • 23

    you think if this was the playoffs kobe would be out??? pop aint the only one who does this. stern would not fine anyone for this. lebron sat out games late in the season as a cav. and we all know basically lebron has never had any serious injury. a broken cheek bone may be the worst and he played thru that. but at the end of the season nobody wants to see a star go down. especially in a meaningless game.

  • Mike Mihalow

    So would a ticket-buying Jazz fan have been happier to see Duncan/Parker/Ginobili kick their team’s ass, or see the Jazz win?

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com albie1kenobi

    also, tanking games are a slap in the face too. why didn’t you complain when the Warriors visited Utah after they gave Monta Ellis away, Millsap?

  • shutup

    The Spurs still competed its only a loss by 7, not a blowout. With the playoffs 11-12 games away its a smart move. @Allen- its entertainment for us. For them its a job, basketball players get paid to play basketball and coaches to coach. He is doing what he feels is best for his team, he should not make decisions for the fans point of view, any coach shouldn’t. Phil Jackson not calling timeouts was a big deal early on. I understand the fans being disappointed , but the ultimate goal should be for that team to compete and hopefully win a championship. As for Paul Millsap he is a good player has a ton of potential, but I think with a proven track record like pop has he should just show a little respect.

  • LA Huey

    I’d rather be disappointed in the regular season if it means I’ll be thoroughly entertained in the playoffs.

  • vtrobot

    as a fan, don’t buy tickets for some of the last games of the season if you want to reduce your chances of not seeing some of the stars play. they can’t ever make any rules to “fix” this. they’re gonna start forcing “hurt” players to play? c’mon, now. p.s. if you don’t respect pop and duncan, you are an idiot.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Who buys tickets to watch Tim Duncan at this stage in his career

  • robb

    Gregg’s NBA’s best coach, he can do whatever he wants

  • lakernation

    No F dat!!! this aint cupcake land…. You getting paid millions to perform day in day out. I dont wanna hear dat resting crap. Rest after the season. Us regular ppl or ballers would love to play basketball for a living. REST!!! GTFOH

  • lakernation

    @ nbk, dude is a future hall of famer… I would buy tickets to watch him play anytime… I would also buy tickets to watch Jordan play right now if i could. But I wont buy tickets to watch a bunch of no names play. I could go to the local gym to do that for free.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    No you couldn’t go to a local gym to watch NBA players play. And that’s fine if you buy tickets to watch a player because of the name on his jersey, doesn’t make that a good reason…especially if we are talking about buying tickets for the actual purpose of watching basketball….you know, to watch the best possible players play. Say Poppovich played Duncan and Ginobili every minute of every game just to keep you sensitive people who buy tickets to watch a guy play because of the name on his jersey, how would you feel when they physically break down and CAN’T play in the Postseason, when you paid MORE money? You ever consider the long term ramicifications of playing guys who have been in the NBA for decade every game during this season with this schedule? No? Obviously.

  • lakernation

    I said if I want to watch a bunch of no name players play i could go to the local gym for free(you know what i meant stop being so literal)… Nobody plays every minute of every game (I object that statement cause that was stupid) If they physically break down and can’t play in the postseason then so be it.(unhealthy azz shouldnt be in the league) Put it like this, if your only job in life was to play a sport for a living and got paid very well to do so, why would it be hard for you to maintain your physical fitness? Furthermore, if your’e old and cant take playing as many games as your contract states… QUIT!!!

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    why? they are still winning more than everyone else. You have no logic to your argument. The point about them playing every minute is just an extreme example of how ridiculous it is to expect these guys to play every game just to make fans happy. THeir job isn’t to make you happy. It’s to win. It’s to win. It’s to win. ANd if they don’t need to win against Utah because they have already won so many games against everyone else then good for them. Too bad for you.

  • lakernation

    The logic of my argument is this, it is wrong for a coach to sit players in the regular season games when fans are paying to see them play. For example, if it is advertised the spurs are coming to town get your tickets today! with a poster highlighting star players ginobli, duncan and parker.. YOU, being a fan of those people purchase your expensive tickets to sit close and when you arrive and watch the game those players arent there. Thats being bamboozled I would want my money back…..Dats not even a good strategy to me if you’re talking strategics, Green Bay did it last year and they lost in the first game of the post season. To me you want your players warm and ready to perform. Not stiff and rusty. AND WHAT IS A PLAYER TO FAN IF ITS NOT ABOUT YOUR FANS? At the end of the day the NBA is a business and everything they do is about Fan Support. With out us there’s no NBA.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    It’s not Gregg Poppovich, Tim Duncan, or Manu Ginobili’s job to advertise. If anything, The Utah Fans should be mad at the Jazz for false advertisement. Not the Spurs. Do you not know anything about how the NBA business works?

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    They play in the majority of games dope. They wouldn’t have the best record in the West if they didn’t. And this is not football, they don’t play once a f*cking week. You have to be completely stupid to think missing one game or even two or even three is going to make a player rusty and stiff. Absolutely stupid.

  • LA Huey

    If a fan hasn’t figured out that the Spurs have done this sort of thing for the PAST SEVERAL SEASONS, you’re not the type of fan that would appreciate the kind of basketball the Spurs play. You’d be glad that your team has a better chance of actually winning the game.

  • LA Huey

    Also, you’d want to consider the circumstances of this compressed season before citing the argument of players becoming “stiff and rusty” from sitting out games. Just sit down.

  • Mccade

    I hope the jazz make the playoffs and beat the spurs in the first round and say GO REST NOW u had a chance to knock us out but uhad to rest so GO REST NOW


    Tomorrows headline: Paul millsap has three way with Greg poppovich and nbk

  • shutup

    Although a little aggressive NBK is 100% right. When people try to bring up the fact that these players signed a contract and should play just to makes fans happy is…sorry to say just stupid. What happens when a team is blowing someone out should a coach not rest his best players? and to address the if they are too old to compete they should quit bullsh!t, think about it they are competing at the highest level right now, they have had two of the longest winning streaks this season. Now glance back to last year when the Spurs entered the playoffs injury ridden, did anybody have sympathy for them? Oh and the thing about disappointing the fans, if the lockout didn’t deter you from watching NBA games then seeing the Spurs without their stars shouldn’t really matter.

  • Y.C.Chen

    The Jazz should be thankful that Pop rested their stars. lol. If Jazz wants to prove something, they still have a chance in the playoffs, so, relax Millsap!

  • Y.C.Chen

    if the Jazz make the playoffs. :P

  • Y.C.Chen

    if the Jazz make the playoffs…. otherwise they have nothing to prove all this season.

  • iLL wiLL

    Paul Millsap does not have any rings. Pop has multiple rings. Therefore, Millsap’s comments do not hold any weight.

  • http://www.yahoo.com The Fury

    People who complain in this comment section that players shouldn’t need to rest are the same people who doesn’t play real/organize basketball at all. Yes they are payed millions, but try to be in their shoes man. Practices, travel and then playing high level ball after playing the previous day (doing the same exact thing) is damn difficult (mentally and physically). I know, because I play basketball.

  • http://www.yahoo.com The Fury

    ..and why people care right now?? Everybody says that the Spurs’ a “boring” team to watch..been a Spurs fan for a long time, yet I still don’t find their play “boring”. Is winning boring?? But that’s a different topic so moving on….

  • Sarah

    Whatever works for you, Paul. It was fun watching the Spurs thoroughly frustrate him in the first game (2 pts Monday night) and do almost as well against him without the big 3.


    Tomorrows headline (updated) Paul millsap and greg poppovich reject nbk from their three way and use la huey instead

  • BBaller

    Resting players is really only an issue when playoff places are being jeopardized. For example if 2 teams like Utah and Phoenix are fighting for that last Playoff spot and say the Spurs rest their big 3 against Utah and Utah win and again lets say OKC play KD and Russell for 45 minutes and beat Phx. Does Phoenix have a reason to be annoyed?

  • lakernation

    @nbk I rest my case…. Resting ur players benefits no one! U know nothing about basketball and neither does ur sidekick @shutup!

  • lakernation

    @thefury, I’ve played basketball in middle school, high school and division 2…. I love the game and would play on a sprained ankle, I would slap the ish out my coach for telling me to stay at home for this game cause u need the rest. Gtfoh with that son! U don’t play basketball. These players love what they do why u think they keep playing when they’re bodies scream ” please retire”. No player wants to sit out when the team is hot and winning. Losers sit out.

  • John

    Is Paul Millsap an idiot? Apparently, yes. Dear Paul, you WON the game. What you’re complaining about is foolish! All that matters is the W to try to get your team into the playoffs. You should’ve thanked Gregg Popovich because with his starters in you probably would have another L on your record, increasing the chance of your team NOT making the playoffs.