Monday, April 9th, 2012 at 10:15 am  |  48 responses

Scott Brooks: Resting Players is ‘Cheating the Game’

by Marcel Mutoni @marcel_mutoni

Depending on the situation each particular team is facing, it’s not entirely uncommon for NBA coaches to occasionally sit out key players.

Some do it for strategic reasons, such as ensuring rest and health for a Playoff push (ie. Gregg Popovich with Tim Duncan, Erik Spoelstra with Dwayne Wade); others are simply tanking games and looking forward to the Draft.

According to OKC Thunder head coach Scott Brooks, regardless of the motivation for teams making players sit out games, the act in and of itself is wrong.

From the Oklahoman:

With 10 games left in the regular season, Thunder coach Scott Brooks has no plans on resting any of his players in an attempt to enter the postseason rested and working with a clean bill of health. [...] Brooks has never subscribed to sitting players. He has likened the strategy to “cheating the game” and the fans. And on Sunday, he confessed that his team’s youth plays a part as well.

“If we had a bunch of veteran guys in their 30s, there’s no question things would be different,” Brooks said. “But our guys, if you take out some of the guys, they’ll think I’m benching them twice a game. They want to play every minute. They love to play and they want to keep playing. It’s like pulling teeth to get five or six minutes out of them per half.”[...] “I always focus on the game and not focus on the minutes,” Brooks said. “I always believe that guys can muster up enough energy to win an NBA game (even if) it’s a back-to-back. If the guys need to play 40 minutes, they have to play it … I’m not worried about the minutes. I’m worried about how we play and how we can get better the last two weeks.”

To Scott Brooks’ credit, he fully admits that his squad’s youth allows him to avoid “cheating” the game and the paying fans. Brooks can afford to push his guys to the limit in terms of playing time.

Resting players is and will always be a part of the NBA game, and though some people may not like it, for certain teams the strategy makes a lot of sense.

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  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Sorry Scotty, but you shouldn’t be the one questioning Pop. That said, I can see how the Thunder wouldn’t lend themselves to resting.

  • lakernation

    I agree but the NFL has been doing this for years.

  • http://www.slamonline.com spit hot fiyah

    me makes sense, i don’t know about cheating the game, it’s just strategy. whatever it takes to put your team in the best position

  • abaci

    It’s more like strategy, not cheating the game.

  • abaci

    @Spit ya beat me to it.

  • vtrobot

    Just have a team as young and as good as the Thunder and then you don’t have to cheat. OK, great. Thanks.

  • arjae828

    Easy for Brooks to say when his players are in their early 20s. Moreover, cramming a billion, primarily poorly played, games into such a short stretch is cheating the game. I blame Stern & Jackson, not Pop & the like.

  • shutup

    Pop does this regularly. Long term gains are better than short term success. To quote the movie white men can’t jump….”sometimes when you win you lose, when you lose you win” Cheating is a bit harsh but hey he will never be half the coach that Popovich is.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Why would he rest them? they just lost the 1st seed to SA, ride them like a government mule.

  • http://www.fullc0urtpress.com KHOLIDAY

    The average age of the Thunder Roster is 26 years old, and that’s including D Fish who is 37! Without him, the average age of this team is 23 years of age. You shouldn’t have to rest a team that is younger than some college teams! He should get fined for this comment.

  • fitzy

    it’s cheating the fans, as a person who does not have a local nba team and must travel 6 hours or so to see a game (usually my schedule only permits it during the latter months of the year). I normally pay around not 200 not 300 we’re talking 400 for my ticket however my father and I always go to a showcase game (in Boston)usually sitting between 5-10 rows off the court. I pay that money fully expecting to see those players play. With that said I also know that miles are on some of these guys legs and they need to rest; it’s a double-edged sword.

  • Jimmers

    How can you say its cheating and then say your teams youth plays a part and if they were 30year old vets it’d be different. Seems kind of like he built hypocrisy right in to his argument. lol.

  • lakernation

    I think he meant cheating the fans…. did San Antonio do this last year if so it didnt help much. They lost in the first round.

  • iLL wiLL

    How about you stop hating on Ibaka and play him some more, huh?

  • justme

    I don’t think it’s cheating the game, but it is cheating the fans. It’s like going to a broadway show and the director decides to rest the leads so that they can perform in a ‘more important’ show next week. At least the fans should be pre-warned that they are resting players and the ticket prices dropped or something. If I go to a Heat game I want to see Bron/Bosh and Wade. Injury is one thing, but to sit a player and cheat the fans as part of ‘strategy’ just isn’t right (although I do understand why they do it).

  • http://www.michaeljordansworld.com/statistics/triple_doubles.htm nbk

    “Well, I realize I’m not a very good coach, and my stint with a team this talented probably won’t last forever, I don’t want to try anything too complicated, so I am going to try and force one of my guys into micro-fracture surgery by their 28th birthday in the hopes that in the meantime I win a title and will be forever overrated”

  • thetalkingcomb

    Eh, is Scott making an early excuse for not winning the championship this year? “We don’t cheat that’s why we don’t win!”

  • Rainman

    Its Funny, Pop’s resting his players and his teams STILL doing better than urs LOL!

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    nbk, that was funny.

  • Mike Mihalow

    Oh, I get it. The Spurs just took your #1 spot in the West, and now you’re gonna talk sh!t about them. I thought the Thunder had more class than that. Maybe if they had more older players, they’d understand why. Now I’m REALLY hoping the Thunder lose.

  • Mike Mihalow

    Or maybe he’s taking a shot at Stern and the BS lockout schedule.

  • RedRum

    Lets see what he says when the Spurs beat them for the WCF…

  • dsleepy

    this was a misleading headline. he said “If we had a bunch of veteran guys in their 30s, there’s no question things would be different.” So he’s not knocking the practice that other coaches employ (ie. Pop). He’s giving an explanation that applices specifically to his group of guys.

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

    Co-sign Dsleepy.
    Did y’all actually read what he said?
    He said if they were an old team, he would do it. Since they aren’t, he won’t. Makes perfect sense.

  • http://www.michaeljordansworld.com/statistics/triple_doubles.htm nbk

    I read it. But the play on him being a bad coach was too easy to pass up.

  • Greg

    Pop has figured this thing out ages ago. He has been monitoring the spurs minutes for years now and makes no excuses for doing so. Momentum & health are the 2 most important factors that home court advantage. remember when pat riley ran the lakers to death just a few days before the ’90 finals? both Magic and byron scott both tore their hamstrings and cost them a ring.

    Whats the point of running your team into the ground? Its called striking a balance between playing winning basketball AND winning the games which are important. They are called play off games by the way for the uninformed.

    Kobe wants to play every game & every minute so he pad his stats (specifically he wants to top Mike in scoring & KG plays hard every minute every game as it gives him an excuse not to perform when it matters.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    He’s lying, he consistently rests Serge Ibaka when dude should be out there averaging 10 blocks a game. lol

  • Sarah

    Haha it’s too early to be sensitive about the Spurs already, Scotty.

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

    Its just Slam with their theme of misleading headlines. Had it read “Brooks beleives resting his young players would be cheating the game.” There’d be nothing to discuss.

  • Michelle

    Easy said Scotty, i wonder if he would say the same if Durant or Russel had been dealing with injuries this season

  • Otis

    If anyone’s cheating the game, it’s Lamar Odom

  • http://www.google.com/news BETCATS

    He isnt contradicting Popovich. He said if the team was older he would. The Spurs are. Stop reaching for hidden meaning in his statement. I’m glad that KD/Westbrook will be playing the last 10 games.

  • bike

    Pop and tim look at each other, shrug, laugh, then get back to work

  • ClydeSays

    I’d argue if you’re blowing out a team out in the 4th quarter, you definitely sit your starters and give your bench some run. See if they can execute plays, build the lead, etc. If Durant got injured in the 4th when the Thunder had a 25 pt lead, Brooks would find himself explaining his ‘philosophy’ to the GM & Owner…

  • http://Juanm.garcia@comcast.net KingsWithRings

    Je’ll be eating his words when KD and Russell are over 30. Pre-ejaculation of the mouth.

  • Y.C.Chen

    i think the fans dun mind winning. rather than seeing their star players getting injured or being tired through back to back games, i think they would understand and respect the coach’s decision to at least make an attempt to win the championship.

  • IamYOU


  • Al

    resting players really screws over some teams who are trying to make the playoffs. If one team fighting for a spot in the playoff with another team, and the other team faces a weaker opponent because they’re resting, its just not right

  • yoda

    Easy to not worry about resting players when your two stars are under 24

  • RedRum

    so what was the point of this statement? I don’t rest my players because they are young but if they were old I would rest them. I don’t know any really young team that rests their starters (unless they are tanking…). Actually this statement from Scott started to worry me that he does not have the intellect to lead a team to a championship. Say what you want but any champion coach is sharp as a razor, and Scott does not strike me like such a a guy. I like OKC but I worry he will collapse at crunch time…

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    I wish in the NBA, if you are a top 4 team in playoffs, you can pick your opening around opponent, starting from the one seed to fourth seed. It would change how teams try to win number one seed. Then no team would be resting players, because they might get left with a tough 1st round opponent. BOOK IT!!

  • LA Huey

    Finally, something The Seed and I can agree on. They do this in the D-League.

  • Jackki

    What if teams rested players to get into the lottery, would that be cheating? If a player is healthy and you need to rest them cut their playing time, fans pay to see the stars.

  • Joe Black

    Did you expect anything different from an organization that threw away two losing seasons to steal center w/ the first draft pick? Actions define true character, and leopards don’t change their spots.

  • Joe Black

    @ KHOLIDAY: You state that some college teams have an average age over 23 years old. I don’t believe you. Go ahead and provide your proof that you didn’t just make that up.

  • John

    In addition, it’s not “cheating the game.” If the other team gets the win because their opponent didn’t start their best players, then they get the WIN. How is that bad? That win goes on their record towards getting them a better seed and that’s all that matters. What nonsense this is!

  • John

    What happened to my first post? Why is it not there?

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