By now you all know what happened. Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich wisely sat several of his key players Thursday night in Miami since it was the team's 4th game in 5 nights, their 7th in 11, the last 6 of which were on the road. Since he's a smart coach, he values the long-term well being of his team over the short-term trap of killing his players in order to try to win every game. If resting your old core now makes you more likely to win a title later, then you'd have to be an idiot (or every other coach in the NBA) to not do that.
Of course Stern is most interested in the most short-term and off-the-court concerns like TV ratings and which players appear on TV the most, so he was upset and threw a hefty fine down on the best run franchise in all of pro basketball. In case you forgot, he's also had it out for the Spurs for years and has twisted the thorn in their sides on many occasions, so this is only the latest in the little Napolean's gross abuse of power that if anything is counter-productive to the actual product on the court.
But if this is the new benchmark for how stupid Stern is going to get about punishing teams that hurt his goal of putting the biggest names in front of the most paying eyeballs while helping their own goal of best preparing themselves for the playoffs, then he has a lot more fines to dole out in the near future. Some of them include:
Portland Trail Blazers: Although Damian Lillard is a first-year player and far from being consistent, he is also already Portland's most marketable star, bypassing LaMarcus Aldridge somewhere around the second half of their pre-season win over the Lakers on October 10. Sure it's probably not great for his development or body to simply keep playing 37-plus minutes every night on a schedule that's brutal on rookies, after suffering a terrible foot injury just two seasons ago, and when his team sucks so more minutes in “lost cause” games will only hurt his spirits, but Stern should drop the quarter-million-fine treatment on Portland for not rolling out the rookie more regularly since he's the only Blazer worth mentioning now that we see 6-6 was without question their season high point. Although he's playing a historically high amount of minutes for a rookie, he's only playing the fourth-most on his own team. That's not what's best for Sterns' TV ratings and marketing machine that is fronted by a basketball league.
Orlando Magic: Realizing Dwight Howard was going to bolt at the end of the season when his contract was up and they'd have nothing to show for him, the Magic traded their franchise center for a bunch of “pieces” and are currently in a rudderless rebuilding year. Although the actual details of the trade were a bit disastrous for Orlando (oh my god, GM Rob Hennigan still has a job), the concept of trading Dwight in order to start thinking long-term with the franchise was very smart. They weren't expected to do great in the short-term with him, so they decided to at least not obliterate their long-term prospects as well by holding onto him – at least they have Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo, and 3 draft picks spread out over the next 5 summers. The problem is that now when the Magic are forced to appear on national TV, they have no real stars to show the TV audience. This line of reasoning and its result of no star to showcase apparently goes directly against what David Stern stands for, so they deserve a fine.
New Orleans Hornets: We all had a good feeling before the year that the Hornets were going to be terrible, and lo and behold they have the least amount of wins in the West. It's unfortunate that Anthony Davis is injured during his fantastic rookie campaign, and as much as coach Monty Williams called out the league's stance on concussions and tried to get Davis on the court even when it was in his and the team's best interest for him to rest his concussed head, somehow Stern was OK with the Big Easy's best player sitting down (major conflict-of-interest for what Stern is trying to project, I suspect). Now a left ankle injury is keeping Davis in street clothes and the team truly has no chance, so shouldn't they be doing whatever it takes to get their most well-known player on TV? That would be playing way-out-of-his-league rookie Austin Rivers as much as possible. Although he showed pretty much nothing as a starter, making him come off the bench for the last 4 games is not in the best interest of casual fans who aren't smart enough to notice that Greivis Vasquez and Roger Mason are easily their two best guards right now. They know the Rivers kid's name and that he's theoretically supposed to be good, so why the hell aren't the Hornets getting fined for benching him and his 32% shooting?
Miami Heat: The Heat have this generation's most transcendent star. They also have one of the league's most dynamically exciting players of all-time. They also have some guy named Chris Bosh who we're supposed to pretend is as interesting as those first two. They also have a sure-fire Hall of Famer named Ray Allen who is the greatest 3-point shooter in the history of the NBA...who is currently hitting a career-high 52% of those bombs! I have to assume he's starting and playing huge minutes so everyone can watch him. Oh wait, he's coming off the bench and playing considerably less minutes than he did as a rookie, which were considerably less minutes than he played at any other point in his career. If I paid money to see the Heat, I'd expect to see more of a HOFer than much-less-well-known lackies—yet Miami starters—Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier. Kick these losers in the wallet, Mr. Stern.
Some others who should be fined: The Sixers for not forcing their biggest name player, Andrew Bynum, to play even though we're all aware he misses games at the beginning of every season because he's a huge wussy who milks stubbed toes for weeks...The Celtics and every good team for continually (and wisely)resting everyone not named Rajon Rondo before the playoffs...The Warriors and every bad team for (wisely) tanking down the stretch of every season and not playing their good players in order to secure better draft position. I think that pretty much covers everyone.