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Phoenix Suns owner goes back to the future, mad at Spurs for not playing stars

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USA TODAY Sports

It's preseason, but Phoenix Suns managing partner Robert Sarver was sufficiently miffed at the San Antonio Spurs organization to take the microphone during a fourth quarter timeout to address the fans and offer a gift for their trouble.

The Spurs announced earlier this week that coach Gregg Popovich and stars Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili were too tired to travel for the NBA-sanctioned event, and that starters Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter would be out due to nagging injuries as well.

"This isn't the game you paid your hard-earned money to see," he said to the crowd with about four minutes left in the game.

Sarver went on to tell the fans mail him back their ticket stub and he would send them a gift. Surely, the Suns will follow up with a public announcement of the exact details of the offer in the coming days.

But it's only a preseason game! Who cares, right?

Remember this is the Spurs franchise that beat the Suns in the playoffs in 2005, 2007 and 2008 to stop what might otherwise have been the greatest era of Suns basketball if not for the guys from the Alamo.

When the Suns finally swept the Spurs in 2010, the catharsis appeared to be each team's swan song as they faded into that good night. The Suns were about to be broken up by free agency and age, while the Spurs were just getting old. Tell me if you're heard that one before.

All the while, as the maddeningly consistent Spurs have been to the playoffs for 6,232 straight seasons and won five championships with Tim Duncan (1999, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2014), the Spurs have rested their stars when they damn well felt like it.

Last season, in one of his final acts as commissioner, David Stern fined the Spurs $250,000 for keeping their stars out of a nationally televised game.

"The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case. 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."

--David Stern

As far back as 2005, Suns owner Robert Sarver has been frustrated with the Spurs for resting their stars in what many considered a big game. The Suns were the young upstart while the Spurs were the proven leaders. (sound familiar?). Sarver famously walked down the sideline making flapping his arms like chicken wings at coach Gregg Popovich.

"Our fans pay a lot of money," he said at the time. "Everyone was expecting a big-time game. I was disappointed."

-East Valley Tribune, Mike Tulumello

That didn't stop Popovich from strategically resting his starters against the Suns, and other teams, in subsequent years. But it's been nine years since Sarver reacted so publicly.

Be on the lookout for details of the gift promotion for fans who attended the Thursday game, as compensation for putting up with the Spurs failing to bring their A team.

Update

Here's (That's me sitting in the row right behind him as he grabs the mic. Not in the freeze frame. Once you start the video.)

And here's the mailing address: US Airways Center, 201 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ, 85004.

UPDATE: