For football coaches and coaches alike, do not bench your star players. If you decide to, rest assured you and your organization will be sued. On Monday, the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs were sued for sitting four of their top five players during the fourth game of a five game stretch back in November.
On November 29, 2012, the Spurs traveled to Miami to take on the Heat. Much to the dismay of paying fans, the Spurs’ Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green were noticeably absent from the line-up. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich sent his players home to rest them for its upcoming game against Memphis (which the Spurs won, 99-95).
With the absence of the Spurs’ fire power, Miami edged San Antonio 105-100. As a result of the coach’s decision, the team is now facing a class action lawsuit in Miami-Dade County alleging Popovich and the Spurs violated Florida’s deceptive and fair trade practices law. In a nutshell, the class action contends that paying fans “suffered economic damages” because they paid top dollar to see San Antonio’s star players but the organization failed to properly notify the public or the league of its intentions to rest key players.
Apparently, the suit does not take into consideration Miami, the home team, won and in exciting fashion. Additionally, there is no guarantee that players will play for a certain amount of time on any given day. The players in question may have had the ability to play, but the coach, at his discretion, thought it was best for the team and organization to rest his star players. If the class wins, it will certainly change the dynamics of coaches controlling who sits and who plays. This ruling would ultimately open Pandora’s Box and adversely affect all major and minor league sports.
As a side note, the NBA did fine the Spurs $250,000 for this incident, but the league was not named a defendant in the suit.