Gregg Popovich sent his best players home, deciding they reached the end of the road before the trip was over.
For that, and for keeping it a secret, the San Antonio Spurs were fined $250,000 by the NBA on Friday.
Commissioner David Stern said the Spurs “did a disservice to the league and our fans” when they didn’t bring Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili or Danny Green to Miami for the final game of the six-game trip.
“The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case,” Stern said in a statement. “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.”
Teams are required to report as soon as they know a player will not travel because of injury.
The league’s statement said the Spurs were in violation of league policy reviewed with the board of governors in April 2010 against resting players in a manner “contrary to the best interests of the NBA.”
The Spurs didn’t comment.
Roethlisberger ruled out for Sunday
For the third consecutive game, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be without their star quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger will not play Sunday in Baltimore, meaning Charlie Batch will make his second consecutive start at quarterback for the Steelers, who have lost both of the games Roethlisberger missed.
But the Steelers expect to have safety Troy Polamalu and receiver Antonio Brown in uniform and active. Both are listed as probable.
New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith said he’s glad he heard former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams testify at an appeals hearing in the bounties case.
Smith and New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma attended Friday’s session in Washington, where Williams was cross-examined by the players’ lawyers for about four hours.
Right from the start, the NFL said Williams was in charge of a pay-for-pain bounty system with the New Orleans Saints.
The former defensive coordinator — who told the league about others’ involvement — was being cross-examined Friday by lawyers for players appealing their suspensions in the case.
The Oakland Raiders suspended linebacker Rolando McClain for two games for conduct detrimental to the team after sending him home from practice earlier in the week. Coach Dennis Allen announced the suspension but has not said publicly what McClain did to warrant the punishment other than calling it a team-related issue.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said it “looks like” injured running back DeMarco Murray will end a six-game absence Sunday against Philadelphia.
Nick Foles handing off to Bryce Brown in front of a national TV audience wasn’t the way the Philadelphia Eagles envisioned their season going.
The two rookies will be starting again Sunday night when the Eagles visit Dallas because Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy are still sidelined by concussions.
Mets, Wright agree to eight-year deal
All-Star third baseman David Wright and the New York Mets agreed to a $138-million, eight-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press.
The deal, the richest in franchise history, replaces Wright’s $1- million salary for next season and includes $122 million in new money, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the agreement was not yet final.
A homegrown fan favorite, Wright is the club’s career leader in several major offensive categories including hits, RBIs, runs and walks.
A survey by the Associated Press shows that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, as well as slugger Sammy Sosa, will not tally enough votes in January to get into get into the Hall of Fame.
With steroid scandals still very much on the minds of longtime members of the Baseball Writers’ Assn. of America as they cast their ballots, the trio failed to muster even 50% support among the 112 voters contacted by the AP — nearly one-fifth of those eligible to choose.
The Kansas City Royals and second baseman Chris Getz avoided arbitration by agreeing a $1.05-million, one-year contract that includes up to $150,000 in performance bonuses.
Former Dodger Chan Ho Park is retiring after a career spanning nearly two decades in the United States, Japan and South Korea. Park, 39, was the first South Korean-born player in Major League Baseball.
Executives of the NHL and NHL Players’ Assn. talked Friday but did not resume negotiations toward ending their labor dispute and didn’t schedule new sessions. The NHLPA held several internal conference calls to decide its next move but did not respond to the league’s suggestion on Thursday that owners and players should speak directly instead of going through their respective negotiators.
The next step remains unclear following the failure of two federal mediators to find common ground that might lead to a new collective bargaining agreement. The NHL locked players out on Sept. 15 and has canceled games through Dec. 14 and the Jan. 1 Winter Classic, more than a third of the regular season.
— Helene Elliott
Lindsey Vonn won the season-opening downhill at Lake Louise, Canada, for her 12th career World Cup victory at the Canadian resort.
Puerto Rican boxer Miguel Cotto (37-3, 30 knockouts) returns to the ring Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York, seeking to recapture the World Boxing Assn. junior-middleweight belt against champion Austin Trout (25-0, 14 KOs).
Cotto last fought in May, performing gamely but dropping a unanimous decision against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. Trout, 27, is defending his belt for the fourth time.
Last December, Cotto drew a sellout crowd in Madison Square Garden as he avenged a prior loss to Antonio Margarito by technical knockout.
By winning the Showtime-televised bout, Cotto, 32, will be strongly positioned for a shot at World Boxing Council 154-pound champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in May. Alvarez will be ringside.
— Lance Pugmire
Scotland’s Paul Lawrie shot a three-under 69 for a one-shot lead after the second round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City, South Africa. He made four birdies for a four-under 140 total and a one-shot lead over Ryder Cup teammate Martin Kaymer (69).
South Korea’s Meen Whee Kim shot a five-under 67 on PGA West’s Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course in La Quinta to maintain a one-stroke lead after the third round of the PGA Tour qualifying tournament. Sweden’s Robert Karlsson was second after a 65.