Bryant fined $100,000for using gay slur on court
The NBA fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 on Wednesday for using a gay slur in frustration over a referee's call. NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a swift disciplinary ruling after the Lakers guard cursed and used the homophobic term when referee Bennie Adams called a technical foul on him Tuesday night in the third quarter of a victory over the Spurs.
"Kobe Bryant's comment during last night's game was offensive and inexcusable," Stern said. "While I'm fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated."
Stern's action drew praise from gay-rights organizations that had demanded a fuller apology from Bryant and condemnation of his words by the Lakers. Bryant, the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history, issued a statement earlier Wednesday saying his words came strictly out of anger and shouldn't be taken literally. Bryant's words and actions were captured by TNT's cameras during the network's national broadcast of the Lakers' regular-season home finale.
Bryant punched his chair before taking a seat on the bench, throwing a towel on the court near his feet in frustration after picking up his fourth foul in the third quarter. He got his 15th technical of the season for arguing the call, one shy of the cumulative trigger for a one-game NBA suspension.
■ The Lakers have recalled rookie forward and former Louisville big man Derrick Caracter and signed guard Trey Johnson from Bakersfield of the NBA Development League. Caracter has appeared in 40 games with the Lakers this season, averaging 2.0 points and 1.1 rebounds. He also has spent two stints in Bakersfield. The Lakers said center Andrew Bynum's knee injury probably won't keep him out of their playoff opener. Bynum's MRI on Wednesday showed only a bone bruise in his troublesome right knee. The team said the 7-foot shot-blocker should be able to play this weekend when the Lakers open their chase of a third straight title.
LeBron's jersey No. 1; Rondo's No. 3
LeBron James had the top-selling jersey in the NBA this season, moving past Kobe Bryant to claim the No. 1 spot for the first time since his rookie season in Cleveland in 2004. Bryant dropped to No. 2 on the list announced Wednesday, and former Kentucky point guard Rajon Rondo moved up to third, one of five Celtics among the top 15.
■ Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva was suspended for five games without pay by the NBA on Wednesday for initiating an on-court altercation with Cleveland's Ryan Hollins, trying to get at the Cavaliers' bench and twice attempting to enter their locker room. With 5:47 left in the Pistons' 110-101 home loss to the Cavaliers on Monday, Villanueva and Hollins got tangled in a screen and grabbed each other by the neck.
■ Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra rested LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for the Heat's final regular-season game Wednesday. The Heat are locked into the second seed in the East and host Philadelphia in their playoff opener on Saturday.
■ A valet at a Miami Beach hotel filed a lawsuit Wednesday against James' mother, claiming she verbally abused and assaulted him while he was working. About a week ago, Gloria James was arrested on charges of simple battery and disorderly intoxication.
■ Center Joakim Noah was in the Bulls' lineup Wednesday against the Nets despite a sprained right ankle, but guard Ronnie Brewer sat out with a sprained left thumb. Noah, who recently missed three games, had 13 points and just three rebounds in a win over New York on Tuesday. He got tangled with the Knicks' Bill Walker late in the game and did not return, but Coach Tom Thibodeau said he could have gone back in.
Coa to leave hospital Thursday
Jockey Eiber Coa will be discharged from the hospital on Thursday afternoon after injuring his neck and breaking his wrist in a fall from one of his mounts on Feb. 18 at Gulfstream Park. Coa, who had limited movement from the neck down after getting hurt, has improved since the accident. On March 29, while making his first public appearance at the Florida Derby Golf Tournament at Woodmont Country Club, Coa got up from his wheelchair and walked. After two neurosurgeries and extensive rehabilitation, doctors and Coa's team of therapists called his recovery "miraculous," according to a release from Memorial Regional Hospital South. The Venezuela native reached his 4,000th racing victory last year.
NCAA panel OKs draft-withdrawal change
The NCAA's Legislative Committee approved a measure Wednesday that would force players to withdraw from the NBA Draft before the first day of the spring period. Players currently have until early May to withdraw from the draft each year. That would change as early as next fall if the Board of Directors doesn't reject the proposal later this month. The committee also tabled two major proposals, one of which would have changed the rules regarding the use of athletes' likenesses for commercial purposes. The other would have given coaches more access to basketball players who take summer courses. The committee also rejected a proposal that would have stopped athletes from opting out of a test for the sickle-cell genetic trait. And football players now will be required to earn nine semester hours, or eight quarter hours, during the fall to be eligible for the next season. Those players failing to meet the requirement could miss up to four games starting in 2012.
League's rookie proposal diverts millions
The NFL's proposal to the players for a rookie-compensation system would divert about $300 million a year from first-round draft picks' contracts to veterans and player benefits. More than $525 million went to first-rounders in guaranteed payments in 2010. So nearly half of that total would wind up as veterans' salary or benefits under the proposal, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Attorneys for the NFL met with the federal judge overseeing court-ordered mediation for five hours Wednesday, one day before the first talks between the league and its locked-out players since the middle of last month. The two sides are scheduled to be in the same room with with U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylanon on Thursday.
■ Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt was arrested in his hometown of Bayonne, N.J., on Tuesday after an officer reported seeing him speeding. Britt, 22, faces charges of eluding the officer, hindering apprehension and obstructing governmental function.
UK softball sweeps two at Marshall
Junior pitcher Rachel Riley became the fourth Wildcat this season to hit two homers in one game, and the Kentucky softball team beat host Marshall 10-4 Wednesday to finish a doubleheader sweep. Riley (9-4) held the Herd to four hits and two runs, one earned, over five innings. Power was also the difference in the first game for the Cats, ranked No. 20 in the USA Today/Coaches' Poll. UK got three home runs and beat Marshall 9-4. Freshman Ellen Weaver hit a three-run shot, junior Brittany Cervantes hit her 12th homer of the season, and senior Meagan Aull added a solo home run.
■ After taking down the third-ranked player in the country and posting two wins in Southeastern Conference play, Kentucky men's tennis junior Eric Quigley was named SEC Player of the Week on Wednesday.
■ A U.S. Olympic volleyball player was injured when a bus carrying her Brazilian team crashed on its way to a match on Tuesday. Team members told Sao Paulo media that libero Stacy Sykora passed out, had a cut on her face and spent the night at a hospital. Sykora, of Burleson, Texas, was a member of the U.S. silver-medal team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The last word
Giants closer Brian Wilson made The Beard famous in last year's World Series, but he's far from the only reliever with whiskers. Half the Royals' bullpen has them, as do Ryan Franklin (Cardinals), Chris Perez (Indians) and Jeff Fulchino (Astros). Franklin has a theory:
"This thing's got a lot of power in it. It's got a mind of its own." It talks to me."