OKLAHOMA CITY - Tyrone Corbin on Friday morning wasn't ready to criticize Gregg Popovich for his decision. Nor would he directly question Commissioner David Stern's promise of "substantial sanctions" for the Spurs' coach's decision to send his four of his best players home in advance of the team's marquee matchup at the Miami Heat.
However, the third-year Jazz coach said he subscribes to the philosophy of his predecessor, Jerry Sloan, that fans have the right to see players play.
"I think they mark games on their schedule and franchises sell different games on their schedule because of the personnel that's playing against that team," he said. "I think that's something you have to take into consideration, that [for] those games people may have bought tickets to see certain players play."
Even without Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Danny Green, the Spurs nearly beat the Heat before falling 105-100.
Even more stunning, however, was the statement Stern made, first to TNT, in which he apologized to NBA fans for an "unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs."
On Friday, Tribune columnist Kurt Kragthorpe questioned Stern's statement, saying Popovich, for better or worse, must be allowed to make decisions for his team.
Last year, the Spurs left Duncan, Parker and Ginobili in San Antonio for a game at Utah during the lockout-compressed season, prompting Corbin to say on Friday he didn't know what made that different from Thursday, when the Spurs were coming off their fourth game in five nights and playing their 11th road game of the month.
"I don't know why [Stern acted] now," Corbin said. "I thought [Popovich] did some of it last year, didn't he? I don't know what the huge difference is now."
Corbin said he thought it was a "great place for your team and your organization to be and confident with where your team is."
Asked if he would ever consider such a strategy - after all, Saturday at Houston marks the Jazz's 12th road game of the season and comes at the end of a back-to-back - Corbin said, "I don't know if I can, if I would ever be at that place. I'm not there now, so I can't say I wouldn't ever do it."
— Bill Oram