Two days after Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver apologized to his fans for the San Antonio Spurs bringing a depleted team to an exhibition between the Western Conference foes, Gregg Popovich fired back in a way only he could. Calling Sarver’s comments “silly,” the legendary Spurs coach upped the ante by quipping that he was surprised the CEO of Western Alliance Bank wasn’t wearing a chicken suit when he took the mic during Thursday’s game.
Here’s Sarver offering third-party regret to fans at the US Airways Center:
“Hey everybody, I want to thank you for coming out tonight. This is not the game you paid your hard-earned money to watch. I apologize for it. And I want you to send me your tickets if you came tonight, with a return envelope, and I’ve got a gift for you on behalf of the Suns for showing up tonight.”
“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 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.”
Sarver’s comments initially struck us as ridiculous. Not only can the Spurs do as they please within league rules at any point during the NBA calendar, but it was a preseason game. Teams continue to and always have rested players for entire exhibitions, and San Antonio’s age and long summer means it’s more likely to do so than most squads.
Then there’s the fact that, you know, three of the five regular Spurs that didn’t make the trip to Phoenix were unable to play due to health maladies. Perhaps it would have been more respectful if Popovich coached the game as opposed to staying home, but fans don’t come to see elderly men in suits wildly gesticulate at players and officials.
Good for Popovich for taking a typically wry stand. If this was as big a deal as Sarver makes it out to be, every owner in the league would have a chance to go on a similar rant during at least one game of the exhibition slate. Players routinely sit-out during the preseason – this is nothing new. You’d think Sarver would know that after owning the Suns for 10 seasons.
(Video via Basketball Orbit)
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