NBA teams resting star players, and cheating the fans, networks and their sponsors of the best possible matchups, the matchups they all thought they were getting when they threw down huge jack, is an issue once again.
It come up several times over the years, but most recently when Golden State rested their stars against Spurs. And then again, Saturday night when Ty Lue rested LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
I see both sides of this. If you’re a network, you’re paying crazy right fees for these games; you’re paying for the stars. You’re paying for the marquee matchups, especially in prime time. So there’s an expectation that you’ll get that, because generally you get what you pay for. And where does the money come from to pay those exorbitant rights fees? From your sponsors, and even more importantly, the fans. The fans and sponsors have the same expectation. You’re charging everyone a premium, so they expect to see the very best you have to offer. They’re paying to see LeBron, Kyrie, Kevin Love, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green etc. They’re not paying top dollar to see you run your scrubs.
So the fans, networks and sponsors are pissed. And have every right to be. Period. In this regard, they’re not getting what they paid for. Clippers coach Doc Rivers was the beneficiary of the Cavs resting their stars and even he feels bad for the fans.
On the flip side of that, as Cavs gm David Griffin said, his job is to win championships. Same with Ty Lue, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich and everyone else who is resting star players after the All-Star break to make sure his players are at their best when it matters most.
And if one of their guys plays in a back-to-back in the regular season and pops a hammie or jacks up a quad, and does in a meaningless March game, who’s going to be congratuling him and his coach for making sure that he played every single back-to-back. No one.
Just like the league and teams aren’t giving any refunds to their broadcast partners and fans when they run out their b squads for certain games. I get why the league is angry, and I get the argument about how bad it is for their TV partners and the fans, but if the Cavs are busted up and beaten down by the time they get to the playoffs and they don’t finish, Ty Lue doesn’t get to hang a banner for “champion of league partnerships.”
Again, I see both sides: and if the league wants to avoid this, it needs to do a better job of scheduling. It needs to reduce or eliminate back-to-backs after the All-Star break. And… or… start the season earlier with fewer back to backs. Because while they have reduced the number there are, to a certain extent, it’s still not enough. It’s the ones that take place between Febr- to April which put coaches and players in the toughest spot. And at the end of the day, while they do care about the fans and their broadcast partners, they don’t care as much about them as they do the ring. And I get that.