The NBA fined the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 for withholding key players in Thursday night's game against the Heat.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sent stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, plus key role player Danny Green, on a commercial flight home instead of playing them in the nationally televised game so they could rest ahead of the Spurs' Saturday home game against the league-leading Memphis Grizzlies.
Said NBA commissioner David Stern in a statement: "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."
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."
After that meeting, Stern said owners had discussed the issue of sitting healthy players but that there was "no conclusion reached, other than a number of teams thought it should be at the sole discretion of the team, the coach, the general manager, and I think it's fair to say I agree with that, unless that discretion is abused."
The Heat won 105-100, needing a 3-pointer from Ray Allen with 22.3 seconds left for the winning points.