Suns owner Robert Sarver made a grandstanding gesture of sorts on Thursday, when he took the mic and announced to the fans in attendance that he was sorry for the Spurs resting so many players during a (meaningless) preseason contest.
It was a nice idea in theory, and Sarver offered financial credit to those who showed up as part of the apology. And honestly, had he done something like this during one of the many regular season games where the Spurs do the very same thing, it would have seemed more sincere.
But every team rests players in the preseason, so Sarver’s actions rang hollow. And Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who was among those that stayed home for the game in question, fired back at the Suns’ owner in spectacular fashion.
“As I said, the silliness begins,” he said. “Most wise individuals would check facts before they made statements. Unless you’re interested in putting on a show. In that case, the facts get in your way, as in this case.
“We had five guys we didn’t send. Patty Mills had a shoulder operation over the summer. Tiago Splitter (calf) has been out the whole preseason. Kawhi Leonard (eye infection) was out and is still out for 10 more days. The other two, Duncan and Ginobili, are two of the oldest guys in the league who just came back from a 13-day European trip.
“The only thing that surprises me is that he didn’t say it in a chicken suit. I’ll just leave it at that.”
If that last line seems a bit strange … well, it is. Unless you are extremely well-versed in your Suns-Spurs history.
It was not the first time that Sarver had a reaction to the Spurs holding out Duncan and Ginobili. In 2005, he flapped his arms like chicken wings at the Spurs bench when San Antonio chose to hold out the same two stars from a regular-season game. He again drew negative social media reaction Thursday night from Spurs fans.
Popovich goes deep here, referencing an incident that occurred nine years ago. He obviously hasn’t forgotten, and continues to exhibit one of the sharpest minds in the game — even when it comes to finding ways to take creative shots at those who would dare to challenge his decisions.