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Doc Rivers really feels for Gregg Popovich and the $250,000 fine

Doc Rivers [1] admitted before Friday’s game with the Blazers that he didn’t like the $250,000 fine handed down by NBA Commissioner David Stern [2] Friday night against the Spurs for sitting four of their stars and sending them home for Thursday night’s game against the Heat in Miami.

Gregg Popovich [3], a close friend of Rivers, did not dress Tim Duncan [4], Tony Parker [5], Manu Ginobili [6] and Danny Green for the game on national TV Thurday night, sending them home on a Southwest Airlines flight. Popovich said he did what he needed to in the best interest of his team, which was playing a brutal stretch of four road games in five nights and finishing up a road trip.

Stern said in a statement announcing the fine that the Spurs did a “disservice to the league and its fans.”

Rivers said he understood but sympathized more with Popovich.

“I don’€™t like it,” Rivers said. “I do get the other side of it, but it’s a tough one. You’€™ve got to coach your team to win in the long run.”

Rivers said Stern and the league made a big deal of it when it happened right away, when the league issued a statement Thursday night.

“I apologize to all NBA fans,” Stern said in his statement Thursday. “This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs [7] and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.”

Rivers thought that was a bad move.

“I think it was an action and a reaction personally, and I think the reaction was probably overdone [Thursday], and then all of a sudden you have to have an action,” Rivers said.

Rivers was asked if he’d consider a similar move to rest veterans like Paul Pierce [8] and Kevin Garnett [9].

“We’€™ll do it when we want to do it and we should be able to do it,” Rivers said.