San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich speaks to reporters before… (Pedro Portal / Associated…)
It might have been a more plausible excuse had Gregg Popovich simply said he wanted to boost the sagging airline industry.
The San Antonio Spurs coach sent his four best players home on a commercial flight before the final game of a six-game trip that included four games in five nights, all but guaranteeing a turbulent night for those who suited up Thursday against the Miami Heat.
Nando de Colo, Matt Bonner et al., nearly pulled out a nationally televised stunner before Ray Allen's three-pointer with 22 seconds left helped the Heat hold on for a 105-100 victory.
Popovich has sat out key players en masse before, but never this early in the season. He said he wanted to rest aging stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and key reserve Danny Green before the Spurs played host to Western Conference power Memphis on Saturday, calling his decision "pretty logical."
Those weren't the descriptors used by Commissioner David Stern, who fined the Spurs $250,000 after they "did a disservice to the league and our fans."
Just not to the airline industry.
Not so neighborly
Drivers holding handicapped parking placards weren't the only ones Andrew Bynum alienated during his time in L.A.
The Laker-turned-Philadelphia 76er who has been sidelined this season by a knee injury also entered into a long-running feud with his neighbors in Westchester, with both sides reportedly suing each other for distasteful behavior.
Bynum alleges that Ray and Cindy Beckett harassed him because they objected to Bynum's "profession, his race, his friends, his cars and his taste in music." Bynum's lawsuit claims that Ray Beckett threw coins at Bynum's red Ferrari, banged on Bynum's home with a long stick, shined a flashlight into his house and verbally harassed him and his mother when they were outside.
The Becketts, who have since moved away, contend in a countersuit that Bynum threatened them with guns, drove his high-end cars dangerously through neighborhood streets, allowed marijuana smoke to waft into their backyard and played "extremely profane" music at "window-shaking volumes."
According to the Becketts' lawsuit, such behavior lowered their property value because "Who in their right mind would choose a neighbor who behaves like Bynum?"
A costly venture?
This sure beats free tacos.
The Phoenix Suns are guaranteeing fans that they will have fun at the team's game against Dallas on Thursday … or they can get their money back.
With attendance lagging, Steve Nash playing for the Lakers and the Suns likely to miss the playoffs for a third consecutive season, team executives came up with the idea of a "Satisfaction Guarantee Night" to boost interest in the team.
Fans won't find reduced concessions or the Rolling Stones performing at halftime. It will just be Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat & Co. taking on the Mavericks in an otherwise ordinary early December game.
Except those who aren't satisfied can get a refund by filling out an online form and sending back their tickets.
"We know there's a risk to this," Suns President Jason Rowley said, "but all we're doing is standing behind my product."