Lawyer drops lawsuit against Spurs for resting players against Heat
By Ben Golliver
A lawsuit seeking damages from the San Antonio Spurs for sitting star players in a game against the Miami Heat has been voluntarily dismissed.
A notice recently filed by attorney Larry McGuinness in Miami-Dade Circuit Court says all claims are being dropped. McGuinness had sued the Spurs on behalf of himself and about 16,000 other fans who paid what he called premium prices to attend the Nov. 29 game in Miami.
McGuinness alleged in a lawsuit filed in January that the Spurs violated Florida's "deceptive and fair trade practices law" when coach Gregg Popovich sent Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Tony Parker to San Antonio rather than suit them up against the Heat. ESPN.com reported the details.
On Monday, Larry McGuinness filed a class action suit in Miami-Dade County, stating that the team's head coach, Gregg Popovich, "intentionally and surrepticiously" [sic] sent their best players home without the knowledge of the league, the team and the fans attending the Nov. 29 game against the Heat. McGuinness contends that he, as well as other fans, "suffered economic damages" as a result of paying a premium price for a ticket that shouldn't cost more.
"It was like going to Morton's Steakhouse and paying $63 for porterhouse and they bring out cube steak," said McGuinness, who said he bought his ticket on the resale market. "That's exactly what happened here."
NBA commissioner David Stern fined the Spurs $250,000 for Popovich’s strategic resting.
“The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case,” Stern said in a statement explaining the fine. “The Spurs decided to make four of their top players unavailable for an early-season game that was the team’s only regular-season visit to Miami. The team also did this without informing the Heat, the media, or the league office in a timely way. Under these circumstances, I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans.”
Stern also issued an apology to fans shortly after Popovich’s decision to rest his players became clear.
“I apologize to all NBA fans,” Stern said. “This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.”
Popovich, who had strategically rested players before without incurring a fine, didn’t see anything wrong with resting his players against the Heat.
“We’ve done this before in hopes of making a wiser decision, rather than a popular decision,” Popovich told reporters, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “It’s pretty logical.”
This lawsuit was a waste of time from the start, as noted back in January.
The Spurs who showed up against the Heat didn’t exactly play like “cube steak” or chopped liver, pushing the defending champions to the final minute before losing 105-100. Of course, the “$63 porterhouse” McGuinness compares his ticket to doesn’t quite work if he paid above face value on the secondary market. No one besides McGuinness can be held responsible for any price above the original value of the ticket and, it’s worth noting for total clarity’s sake, McGuinness paid for a ticket to a game between the Spurs and Heat, which he received. If he purchased his ticket solely to see specific players, he surely assumes the risks that go with them not being available. Here's a better steakhouse analogy: McGuinness took a risk by paying premium to go to an elite steakhouse on a busy night. There, he was served a top-dollar steak that came out looking noticeably different from the picture on the menu, but still offered a top-shelf taste and was crafted as described. Is it understandable if he left a tad disappointed? Of course. Was McGuinness due exactly the steak pictured on the menu and are the Spurs legally obligated to refund his bill plus provide “economic damages”? Of course not.