LOS ANGELES (AP) The chief financial officer of Donald Sterling's properties said Monday that the billionaire may be forced to sell a large portion of his real estate empire to cover $500 million in loans if he persists in refusing to sell the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.
Darren Schield, who oversees the finances of The Sterling Family Trust, testified Monday that three banks are ready to recall their loans to Sterling because of his decision to dissolve the trust. His move was designed to rescind his signed agreement for the sale of the Clippers, a team he bought for $12 million.
Schield said if Sterling has to dump $500 million worth of apartment buildings he could destabilize the Los Angeles real estate market.
Sterling attorney Maxwell Blecher suggested that Sterling could take the company public in order to raise funds.
But Shelly Sterling's lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell asked if it would be easy to go public "with Donald Sterling's reputation."
Schield responded: "There's huge reputation issues. I don't know if anyone would want to go into partnership with him."
The NBA banned Donald Sterling for life for making racist statements after the release of recorded conversations. Sterling has denied he is a racist from the witness stand.
Schield testified in the probate trial that if Sterling's loans go into default and he needs to refinance, banks would be reluctant to give him that much money at the low rate he has now.
"I know the bank looks at this as a higher credit risk with all this going on," he said. "The rate would go up considerably."
Sterling, the volatile owner of the team, agreed to the sale but then dissolved the family trust in an effort to stop it.
Schield, testifying at the trial that will decide the future of a $2 billion deal to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, said he warned Sterling not to revoke the trust last month.
"I told him a revocation of the trust would be a breach of the loan covenants and would result in defaults," Schield said.
He said he also discussed it with Sterling's lawyer, Bobby Samini.
"I told him this revocation would open up a Pandora's box and trigger defaults," Schield said.
"Does the company have $500 million to pay off the loans?" asked O'Donnell.
"We do not," Schield answered.
Asked what the recourse would be, he said, "We would have to start selling real estate. If we have to sell $500 million in apartment buildings, it would have an impact on the Los Angeles real estate market. "
Donald Sterling's lawyers who had said they planned to call six witnesses Monday produced none of them and court was recessed early.
Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling's wife who had been listed as a witness, was in court but was not called to the stand. She was scheduled to return Tuesday.
Her lawyers said their witnesses on Tuesday will include Richard Parsons, CEO of the Clippers. Outside court, Ballmer's lawyer, Adam Streisand, said he believes the judge will rule in favor of Shelly Sterling.
"Do I think the trust will be reinstated after that?" he said. "You bet it will."
If the sale doesn't go through by Sept. 15, the NBA can seize the team and sell it at auction, Streisand said.
Donald Sterling has vowed he'll never sell the team. He claims he is the victim of illegally recorded conversations that invaded his privacy.
DALLAS (AP) Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby had a dire warning Monday for anyone who likes intercollegiate athletics the way they are now.
"You're going to hate it going forward," Bowlsby said. "There's a lot of change coming."
During his opening address at Big 12 football media days, Bowlsby talked about growing financial constraints athletic programs face going forward and the "strange environment" that exists with class-action lawsuits against the NCAA and its member schools.
Bowlsby said he's doesn't think there is a real understanding of how much lawsuits - which he numbered as seven and "growing all the time" - could radically alter things.
"I think all of that in the end will cause programs to be eliminated. I think you'll see men's Olympic sports go away as a result of the new funding challenges that are coming down the pike," he said. "I think there may be tension among and between sports on campus and institutions that have different resources."
While acknowledging the outcomes are unknown, the former Stanford athletic director expressed concern about fewer opportunities for some athletes to go college in the future.
"I fear that we will get past the change and then we'll realize that all the gymnastics programs went away, or that we have agents on campus all the time negotiating playing time for student athletes," he said. "There's all kind of Armageddon scenarios you could come up with. ... You wouldn't have to be a very good fiction writer to come up with some scenarios that would be pretty scary."
A year ago, Bowlsby's opening address was part of a coordinated effort by the leaders of the power conferences - the Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC - in calling for transformative changes in the governance system of the NCAA.
The NCAA board of directors is set to vote Aug. 7 on a proposal to give schools in the highest-profile conferences more influence over college rules. The proposal also would give athletic directors and athletes bigger roles in the legislative process, and give the power conferences autonomy to make their own bylaws.
That vote will come a day after the Big 12 sponsors in New York the first in a scheduled series of forums on the state of college athletics.
When addressing potential unionization of football and basketball players, Bowlsby said "student-athletes are not employees. They should never be employees. It's not an employee/employer relationship."
Bowlsby also said the NCAA is "headed down a path of significant financial difficulty" with revenues from television packages going up about 2 1/2 percent a year while expenses are increasing more than 4 percent annually.
That includes schools paying $1 million or more per year under new rules to start providing unlimited food and nutrition to student-athletes. Plus, future scholarships could provide more money to cover the full cost of attendance.
"I think that's great. I think there are ways that it costs more than room, board, books, tuition, and fees to go to school," Bowlsby said. " But even in an environment where we have some additional revenue coming in from television resources, primarily, it is going to be very difficult for many institutions to fund that.
"In the end, it's a somewhat zero-sum game. There's only so much money out there. I don't think that coaches and athletic directors are likely going to take pay cuts," he said. "And I think over a period of time what we'll find is that instead of keeping a tennis program, they're going to do the things that it takes to keep the football and men's and women's basketball programs strong."
Bowlsby also addressed the NCAA enforcement program, which he said "is broken" considering no hearings before the infractions committee in almost a year even though he doesn't believe cheating is rampant.
"I think it's not an understatement to say cheating pays presently," he said "If you seek to conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions. ... They're in a battle with a BB gun in their hand. They're fighting howitzers."
Before we ask who, if anyone, can replace Derek Jeter as the face of baseball, there’s another question to ask: Why has Derek Jeter been the face of baseball? Why did he, more than anyone else, become the game’s singular player, the player people talked about most, the player people argued about most, the player non-baseball fans knew?
See, the face of baseball is something of an honorary title. I like to think of this way: Imagine a movie that is not at all about baseball. Let’s say it’s about some sort of Marvel superhero or about Scarlett Johansson having absurd powers or … no, those are pretty much the only two kinds of movies that come out now. OK, in this movie there is a character (probably played by John Krasinski) who is a baseball fan. He happens to mention how much he likes one baseball player.
That player he mentions? He is the face of baseball.
For years now, Derek Jeter would be the player mentioned. Why Jeter? Let’s look at the dozen or so best players since 1990 as ranked by Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR):
1) Barry Bonds, 139.0
2) Alex Rodriguez, 116.0
3) Albert Pujols, 95.5
4) Chipper Jones, 85.0
5) Ken Griffey, 80.3
6) Jeff Bagwell, 79.6
7) Adrian Beltre, 74.3
8) Frank Thomas, 73.7
9) Jim Thome, 72.9
10) Larry Walker, 72.7
11) Derek Jeter, 72.1
12) Scott Rolen, 70.0
Now, it’s true that many people do not like WAR as a tool to measure players -- it’s not unfair to argue that Beltre gets too much credit for defense or that Jeter gets too little, and some would that Bonds and A-Rod are frauds who should not even count on a list like this -- but the point remains. Jeter was not the best player in baseball. In many years, he was not even the best player on his own team. Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano not to mention pitchers like CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera all had years when they were, by any statistical measure, every bit as valuable as Jeter.
So why Jeter? Well, he was the shortstop and, after a while, the captain of America’s most undeniable team. People love and loathe the New York Yankees, and Jeter was the essence of pinstripes. The true Yankee. He was the guy hitting at the top of the order, the guy making that jump throw at shortstop, the guy who so often did something memorable like dive into the stands after making a dazzling catch or flip that ball home to get Jeremy Giambi at the plate or hit the winning home run as midnight rang in November.
Jeter had something else too, I think: He played a sort of baseball that felt personal. That’s a hard thing to quantify –-- but when you watched Derek Jeter play you FELT something. Maybe you felt that Derek Jeter was overrated. But even that is something. He was a fantastic player in measurable ways -- he played every day, he cracked 200 hits, he hit double-digit homers, he stole 20 or so bases, he scored 100 runs -- but it was always the things you could not measure that separated him. His leadership. His alertness. His competitive nature. His professional blandness.
These things inspired people to write and say the most over-the-top things about him -- Jeteration, I began to call it -- and it also inspired a backlash from people who grew tired of him being credited for everything good to happen in the world since the polio vaccine. His defense at shortstop was one of the battlegrounds. The defensive numbers suggested he was a below-average defender, and often well below average. But the eyes saw it differently, and Jeter won five Gold Gloves.
These were always things about Jeter to talk about, things to celebrate, things to complain about. He represented big things to people, things like “the right way to the play the game” or “the overhyping of the Yankees” or simply “winning.” No matter how boring Jeter tried to be (and he tried very hard to be boring) he was not. He was this good looking bachelor in New York who dated supermodels and played for a team that always won. He was adored by teammates and respected throughout the game. He played shortstop every day for the New York Yankees, who always made the playoffs and five times in his career won the World Series. How could he not be the face of baseball?
And who can replace all those things? Nobody, I suspect. But I have thought of 10 players who, in their own way, have a chance of being the next face of baseball, the guy Krasinski mentions in the movie:
1. Mike Trout, Angels: Well, it seems everyone is penciling in Trout as the next face of baseball, and that makes sense. Trout is the best player in the game. More than that, he’s the most amazing player we’ve seen since ... I’ll say the young Barry Bonds. Trout does everything -- hit, slug, run, throw, field, get on base -- and he’s a joy to watch.
But face of baseball is a bit more complicated than that -- and I’m not sure Trout inspires the same level of emotion in people that Jeter did. He IS doing Subway commercials, and he just won the All-Star Game MVP, and he plays in the shadow of Disneyland, so there are real possibilities there. But I’m not sure what arguments he sparks (other than arguments about him consistently losing MVP awards to Miguel Cabrera). He’s just ... great. He plays for a not-especially-interesting team on the West Coast ... I’m not entirely sure that people will find him consistently fascinating, that people will develop the same strong feelings about him that they felt about Jeter ... and Ken Griffey Jr. ... and Don Mattingly ... and Pete Rose ... and Roberto Clemente ... and Mickey Mantle ... and so many of the other players who became the face of the game. Time will tell.
2. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: Well, he’s my personal choice. He’s a few years older, but he’s become something like the National League’s Mike Trout. He too does everything well. And, while some may disagree, I think he’s just a little bit more charismatic than Trout.
I think the question is: Can a player in Pittsburgh become the face of baseball? I think the answer is yes, IF the Pirates win. So much of Jeter’s exposure came in Octobers. If the Pirates would become a consistent playoff contender, I think McCutchen could become the face of baseball because he has the game, the verve, and he’s interesting.
3. Yasiel Puig, Dodgers: I’ve long thought that MLB does not celebrate its worldliness as much as it could. During the All-Star Game, there was a point when Texas’ Yu Darvish was pitching, when Kansas City’s Salvador Perez was catching and when Puig was hitting. That’s a Japanese pitcher throwing to a Venezuelan catcher against a Cuban hitter. That’s baseball now -- 68 years ago, it was lily white, strictly national, and as racist as any sports institution. Now, more than a quarter of the players in the game were born in 16 other countries.
Puig has come to represent the changing game. He’s easy to like, easy to dislike, he does amazing things, he does ridiculous things. He’s a player the eye naturally follows. He also plays in Los Angeles for a Dodgers team that should win a lot.
4. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: He’s the best hitter in the game, but he’s 31 and has been in the majors for 12 seasons and has not really become a breakout star even after winning the triple crown.
5. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: It’s not easy for a pitcher to become the face of baseball but it has happened -- especially in times when pitching dominated such as the 1960s and early '70s. In that time, Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver were three of the biggest figures in sports.
Well, more and more, pitching is dominating the game. And Kershaw’s ultra-dominance (for example, his absurd 134-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio) and the fact that he’s a fantastic lefty pitching on the same mound that Koufax used (only quite a bit lower) make him a viable face of baseball candidate.
6. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins: The most powerful force in the game ... he hits the longest home runs, and he hits them with extraordinary ease. He’s just so commanding as a hitter. With Stanton, a lot depends where he ends up playing. The next face of baseball probably will not play for the Miami Marlins.
7. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: I’m throwing him in here because he’s a lot like Jeter. He’s a middle infielder that sparks an instant reaction from people. Also much of his value is considered to be beneath the surface and beyond his solid statistics. He’s an excellent defensive second baseman, a lifetime .300 hitter with some power and speed, and he’s a fiery player who despises losing. He also plays for the Red Sox, who have won three World Series in the last decade and, like the Yankees, are difficult to ignore.
8. Bryce Harper, Washington: This is a wild-card choice, certainly, but there’s something about Harper that makes him a real candidate. He was SO hyped as an amateur player. He was SO hyped when he came up as a rookie. He was doing national television commercials -- something that few baseball players do -- before he even established himself as a Major Leaguer. And he plays an all-out, reckless style that people cannot help but notice and talk about.
Of course, Harper has also been injured and a disappointment so far. He’s only 21-years-old though, and he’s already shown superstar talent at times. Very few young players breeze into superstardom the way Mike Trout did. If Harper develops into a superstar, I think he will be bigger in the American consciousness than Trout.
9. Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee: Many despise him, right? Well, that’s part of Q Rating too. Gomez is an extraordinary player. He plays with boundless energy, hits with surprising power, chases down everything the outfield. He also plays with heightened emotion, which leads to all sorts of things -- fights, hit-by-pitches and so on. There’s a fun documentary about Dominican baseball called “Road to the Big Leagues” that has a young Carlos Gomez dancing around and talking about becoming a star. He’s really a larger-than-life figure.
10. Kris Bryant, Cubs: OK, it’s a reach -- Kris Bryant has not taken one swing in the Major Leagues -- but he has a couple of things going for him. One, he’s absolutely destroying the minor leagues; Cubs GM Theo Epstein calls Bryant a “freak” and “the most adjustable prospect we’ve ever had.” He slugged .700 in High Class A, slugged .700 in Class AA and is now slugging .700 in Class AAA. He adapts to each level instantly, like he’s a shape shifter. He could be a star quickly.
And if he spearheads a Cubs revival, as some believe he will, that will put him very much at the forefront of baseball. The Cubs' almost 70-year drought without a pennant, and their more than 100-year stretch without winning a World Series, is baseball’s biggest storyline. It’s a long way off, but Bryant is one of those players with a chance to fill the Jeter void.
PITTSBURGH (AP) Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Monday night.
Ryu (11-5) joined Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in making the Dodgers the first team in the majors with three 11-game winners. The left-hander allowed two runs and five hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
Justin Turner had two RBIs and scored twice for the Dodgers, who snapped Pittsburgh's six-game home winning streak. Pirates starter Edinson Volquez (8-7) had won four straight starts, tying his career high.
Los Angeles played without right fielder Yasiel Puig (left hand) and shortstop Hanley Ramirez (left wrist) after both were injured when they were hit by pitches last weekend in St. Louis.
Puig and Ramirez had X-rays in Pittsburgh that came back negative Monday.
ATLANTA (AP) Atlanta Dream coach Michael Cooper has early stage tongue cancer and has taken a leave from the WNBA team.
He will have surgery this week at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta and a full recovery is expected, the Dream said Monday.
The 58-year-old coach is expected to miss about two weeks, with assistant coach Karleen Thompson filling in. Atlanta plays at Minnesota on Tuesday.
"I'm fortunate that my condition was diagnosed early, and this episode illustrates the importance of screening and early detection," Cooper said. "I know the team will be in good hands with coach Thompson at the helm during my absence, and I look forward to returning to the court soon."
Cooper is in his first season with Atlanta. His team leads the Eastern Conference with a 15-6 record. He coached the East to a 125-124 overtime victory at the WNBA All-Star game Saturday.
Cooper won five NBA titles as a shooting guard with the Los Angeles Lakers during the "Showtime" era from 1978-90. As a coach, he won two WNBA titles with the Los Angeles Sparks and one NBA Development League championships with Albuquerque.
After his second run with the Sparks, Cooper was hired as the women's coach at Southern California. He resigned in March following an 11-20 season, his first losing mark in four seasons.
MOSCOW (AP) Another sports power couple's engagement is off.
Two months after golfer Rory McIlroy broke off his engagement to Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko says she has called off her planned wedding to three-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.
The two had been together since 2011 and became engaged in December 2012.
Kirilenko says in comments distributed by the Russian Tennis Federation that there were "a lot of reasons" behind her decision.
She says "our relationship is over, but I respect Sasha (Ovechkin) as a person and as an athlete and I respectfully wish him further sporting success."
Ovechkin had faced questions from Russian media about the relationship when he did not accompany Kirilenko to Wimbledon last month.
HOYLAKE, England -- Walking off the 18th green as the British Open champion, Rory McIlroy kept gazing at all the greats on golf's oldest trophy.
On the claret jug, his name is etched in silver below Phil Mickelson.
In the record book, he is listed behind Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the youngest to get three legs of the career Grand Slam.
And over four days at Royal Liverpool, he had no equal.
"I'm immensely proud of myself," McIlroy said after his two-shot victory Sunday that was never really in doubt. "To sit here, 25 years of age, and win my third major championship and be three-quarters of the way to a career Grand Slam ... yeah, I never dreamed of being at this point in my career so quickly."
He had to work a little harder than he wanted for this one.
Staked to a six-shot lead going into the final round, McIlroy turned back every challenge. He made two key birdies around the turn, and delivered a majestic drive at just the right moment to close with a 1-under 71 and complete his wire-to-wire victory.
In another major lacking tension over the final hour, what brought The Open to life was the potential of its champion.
After nearly two years of turmoil, McIlroy looked like the kid who shattered scoring records to win the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, and who won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island by a record eight shots a year later.
Boy Wonder is back. Or maybe he's just getting started again.
McIlroy won by two shots over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler to become the first start-to-finish winner since Woods at St. Andrews in 2005. Even with one major left this year, the Northern Irishman already is looking ahead to Augusta National next April for a shot at the slam.
"I've really found my passion again for golf," McIlroy said. "Not that it ever dwindled, but it's what I think about when I get up in the morning. It's what I think about when I go to bed. I just want to be the best golfer that I can be. And I know if I can do that, then trophies like this are within my capability."
McIlroy put an end to this major with a powerful drive down the fairway at the par-5 16th, setting up a two-putt birdie to restore his lead to three shots. He finished with two pars, tapping in for par on the 18th green.
The hard part was trying not to cry when his mother, Rosie, came onto the green with tears streaming down her face. She was not at the other two majors. Before leaving, McIlroy turned and applauded the fans in the horseshoe arena who were witness to another masterpiece.
This could have been another romp except for a shaky stretch early for McIlroy, and solid efforts from Garcia and Fowler.
Garcia pulled within two shots with four holes to play until he put his tee shot in a pot bunker just right of the 15th green. His first shot failed to get over the 4-foot sodden wall and rolled back into the sand. He made bogey, and two birdies over the final three holes were not enough. Garcia shot 66 and was runner-up in a major for the fourth time.
"I think that we gave it a good effort," Garcia said. "And there was someone a little bit better."
Fowler, playing in the final group for the second straight major, didn't do anything wrong. He just didn't do enough right to make up a six-shot deficit. Fowler played without a bogey, made three birdies on the last four holes and shot 67.
"He played awesome," Fowler said. "And it was just kind of fun to throw a few shots at him coming. To see him win was pretty cool."
It was the first time two straight majors were won wire to wire. Martin Kaymer did it last month at Pinehurst No. 2, taking the U.S. Open by eight shots.
McIlroy, who finished at 17-under 271, wasn't the only big winner Sunday. Ten years ago, his father and three of his friends each put up 100 pounds ($170) at 500-1 odds that McIlroy would win the British Open before he turned 26.
The kid made good on the best with a brand of golf that had him marked early as golf's next great player.
McIlroy moved up to No. 2 in the world, perhaps on his way to regaining the No. 1 ranking that once looked as if it would be his for years. He ended the 2012 season by winning his second major and capturing the money title on the PGA Tour and European Tour.
Since then, the road has been bumpier than some of the dunes at Hoylake.
McIlroy signed a megadeal with Nike and switched out all his equipment. He changed management for the second time, leading to lawsuits that are still to be decided. And after getting engaged to Caroline Wozniacki on New Year's Eve, he abruptly broke off the engagement in May with a telephone call.
His path to victory in The Open was much smoother.
McIlroy made back-to-back bogeys on the front nine and had to save par from a pot bunker to avoid a third. But he steadied himself with a birdie on the par-3ninth, and when Garcia made a 10-foot eagle ahead of him on the 10th to cut the lead to two, McIlroy answered with a two-putt birdie.
Garcia blinked when he could least afford it, leaving a shot in the bunker at No. 15 as McIlroy watched from the tee.
Jim Furyk was among four players who tied the course record with a 65 to finish fourth. Tiger Woods was long gone. He finished his 75 as McIlroy was still on the practice range. Woods finished 69th - his worst finish over 72 holes in any major - and wound up 23 shots behind, his largest deficit ever in a major.
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) Jameis Winston wants to look to the season ahead as the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for reigning national champion Florida State. He also knows he has to answer questions about his off-field conduct.
"I understand the spotlight," Winston said Sunday on the first of the Atlantic Coast Conference's two-day preseason kickoff event. "I understand what it is to be a leader and I'm bettering myself every single day to hold myself to that standard that everyone views me as, you know? Because I'm on a pedestal. Other players don't get the privilege of being on that pedestal."
Winston was investigated for sexual assault during last season. A prosecutor in Tallahassee, Florida, decided in December not to charge him due to a lack of evidence and gaps in the accuser's story.
Then in April, he was cited for walking out of a supermarket without paying for crab legs and crawfish.
He did not address specifics of the incident Sunday during an hour-long interview session that had about 60 reporters crowded around his table. Instead, he focused on working to become a better leader and player with the support of family, teammates and coaches.
"I have a certain standard that I've got to hold myself up to, and if I go even an inch below that standard, it's going to be chaos."
Asked if it was a difficult lesson to learn, Winston said, "It wasn't difficult at all because you learn from your mistakes in this world. I learned from my mistakes, I fixed it and I moved on into preparing for this season."
Miami running back Duke Johnson described Winston as "a kid still" and said Winston does not seem bothered by outside criticism.
"He likes to have fun, he likes to play around, and a lot of people take that out of (context) and make it bigger than what it really is," Johnson said. "But I don't believe Jameis means any harm in what he does or anything he may have done in the past."
Winston seemed at ease with the attention and prepared for the questions Sunday. He started his interview by pointing out that the ACC, not the Southeastern Conference, won last year's national championship and playfully asked reporters for a round of applause.
At times leaning back with his hands behind his head, Winston talked about improving his mechanics by holding the ball higher to shorten his throwing motion, his hope of becoming a pro in both football and baseball and how he was more focused on winning a second title than a second Heisman.
As for whether people might be hesitant to believe he has learned from his past?
"I definitely understand that ... but I know the type of person that I am," he said. "I know I have support from my teammates and I know that I was raised by a great family. So that's the least of my worries, what people think."
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
TORONTO -- IndyCar ran two races in Toronto on Sunday, where rain wreaked havoc on both the schedule and driver strategy.
The series had planned to run one race Saturday and one on Sunday until rain washed out the first event. It instead began Sunday morning, roughly five hours before the start of the second race, and won by Sebastien Bourdais. He broke a 52-race losing streak dating to 2007 in claiming a dominating win on the dry street course at Exhibition Place.
But the rain returned for the second race, and IndyCar officials moved the start up 10 minutes in an attempt to run as much as possible in dry conditions. The sky eventually did open, the track became slick and drivers darted to pit road for rain tires.
When the track began to dry, Mike Conway gambled and made an early stop to remove his rain tires. A caution minutes later sent the bulk of the field to pit road to change their tires, and Conway shot up the leaderboard.
Conway was fifth on the restart, but his dry tires were far superior to the drivers still racing on rain tires, and he quickly moved through the field and into the lead. The race, which had been scheduled to run 65 laps or 80 minutes, whichever came first, then became a timed race.
A multicar accident stopped the clock for a cleanup with 4 minutes, 32 seconds remaining, and set up one final restart. Conway pulled away on the restart and easily held off Tony Kanaan.
It was the second win of the season for Conway, who walked away from IndyCar at the end of 2012 season because he no longer wanted to race on ovals. He was hired this year to split the seat with driver/owner Ed Carpenter, who was willing to give up his car on road and street courses.
Kanaan, third in the first race of the day, was the only IndyCar driver to finish on the podium in both events.
Will Power finished third as Chevrolet swept the podium in both races. Bourdais led points leader Helio Castroneves and Kanaan in the first race.
Bourdais, who scored his first win since returning to the U.S. in 2011, was 11th in the second race.
The rain during Race 2 caused one frightening moment when drivers began to slide on the track when the shower first started. Juan Pablo Montoya slipped off course into a tire barrier, and was hit from behind moments later by rookie Mikhail Aleshin.
The contact lifted Montoya's car off its back wheels, Aleshin slid under the car, and Montoya's car landed on top of Aleshin. Montoya's car had to be lifted by a tow truck off of Aleshin, and it dangled in the air with the Colombian still in the cockpit.
An uninjured Aleshin returned to his pit stand and showed off his helmet, which was marred by visible tire marks.
"It was not nice at all because I was sitting under the car," the Russian driver said. "It was getting so hot from (Montoya's) car, I couldn't breathe at all because the car is very hot. ... It was not a nice feeling at all."
Race 1 had its own harrowing moment. It came to an almost immediate halt when a multicar crash led to a red flag on the opening lap. After a long delay, racing resumed with Bourdais leading the field to green. He never really had to look back and led all but six of the 65 laps.
It was Bourdais' first victory since the 2007 Champ Car season finale in Mexico City, but the 32nd of his career. That broke a tie with Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti to give the Frenchman eighth place on the all-time wins list.
"I've got a big smile across my face and I can't seem to get rid of it," Bourdais said after the victory. "The whole race I was stressed out, it felt too easy, it felt like it was way too much under control, and it felt like it was going to go wrong at some point."
It was KVSH Racing's first victory since Kanaan won the 2013 Indianapolis 500. Kanaan moved to Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of last season, and Bourdais replaced him in the car.
"Hopefully, there's more of that to come," said KVSH co-owner Jimmy Vasser. "When he gets on a roll, he's unbeatable."
NEW YORK (AP) CC Sabathia is disappointed and relieved all at the same time.
Sidelined with a right knee injury, the New York Yankees' pitcher spoke to reporters Saturday morning for the first time since the team announced he will have season-ending surgery Wednesday.
Sabathia said the news was difficult to absorb and his situation is "not fun." But he's glad doctors recommended an arthroscopic cleanup rather than microfracture surgery, which would have required perhaps an 18-month recovery.
"It's tough. It's unfortunate," Sabathia said. "But I feel, I guess, relieved that I have some answers, and kind of a plan in place to kind of move forward."
The big left-hander, who turns 34 on Monday, said he's confident he will be back on the mound in spring training. And with a blueprint now in place for his return, he said he was able to get "some real sleep" Friday night for the first time in weeks.
General manager Brian Cashman, however, cautioned Friday that there's no guarantee Sabathia will be able to pitch effectively next season.
The operation will be performed by Los Angeles Dodgers head physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Sabathia said he was told he can resume baseball activities six to eight weeks after the procedure.
"He feels good about it, and I do, too," Sabathia said, adding that NBA star Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder had the same surgery and came back fine. "Obviously, you've got to deal with a little bit of swelling here and there, but it's something I have to do. My goal in talking to (Dr. ElAttrache) was to pitch the next five, six years and past this contract and be able to go out and do that. So I'm confident in that idea."
Sabathia also had surgery on his right knee in October 2010 to repair a small meniscus cartilage tear. He said he thinks the latest injury was caused by simple wear and tear.
"It's something that I'm going to have to deal with probably for the rest of my life and eventually have a big surgery, but right now the goal is to keep playing, and this is the easiest way," he said.
Sabathia has been sidelined with a degenerative cartilage problem in his right knee since mid-May, and the Yankees all but ruled out a 2014 return after he had a setback early this month while on a minor league rehab assignment. He was hit hard July 2 in an outing for Double-A Trenton and woke up the next morning with swelling in the joint.
The six-time All-Star and 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner made only eight major league starts this year and finished 3-4 with a career-worst 5.28 ERA. He is 208-119 with a 3.63 ERA in 14 seasons.
After signing a $161 million, seven-year deal with New York as a free agent before the 2009 season, Sabathia had his contract extended in 2011 by one year and $30 million. Making $23 million this season, Sabathia is scheduled to earn $23 million in 2015 and $25 million in 2016. The Yankees have a $25 million option for 2017 with a $5 million buyout.
Despite his 6-foot-7, 285-pound frame, Sabathia had been extremely durable until this year. He had made at least 28 starts and pitched 180 innings or more every season of his career, reaching 200 innings eight times.
"It's something that I've never had to deal with. But I am now, and like I said, hopefully this will give me the time to heal and get healthy and come back to be ready to go in spring training," Sabathia said. "If that's the case, and that's the best-case scenario, especially at my age and with everything that's happened and all the innings that I've pitched and everything, I guess I'm fine with that."
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Rocker Jon Bon Jovi is part of a Toronto group that has retained a banking firm and submitted paperwork expressing interest in buying the Buffalo Bills, three people who have reviewed documents regarding the sale process told The Associated Press on Friday.
It is unclear if the group would eventually want to move the NFL team to Toronto. The club is on the market after Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson died in March.
The three people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Friday because the process is private and the Toronto group has not revealed its intentions.
The group includes Larry Tanenbaum and the Rogers family. Tanenbaum is chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which controls the NHL's Maple Leafs and NBA's Raptors. The Rogers family includes Edward Rogers, who is deputy chairman of Rogers, the Toronto communications giant.
The group is on a list of prospective buyers who have submitted a nondisclosure agreement form to Morgan Stanley, the banking firm overseeing the Bills sale. The Toronto group has retained the Goldman Sachs banking firm to assist in the bid.
Bon Jovi previously expressed interest in owning an NFL franchise but never specifically mentioned the Bills. This is the first real indication linking him to Tanenbaum and Rogers.
One of the people confirmed that Bon Jovi discussed his interests involving the Bills during a restaurant meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York City last month.
The Bills most recently were valued by Forbes at $870 million. They are projected to be sold for at least $1 billion, partly because NFL teams rarely go on the market.
The team is essentially locked into playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium through the 2019 season because of a strict nonrelocation clause included in a 10-year lease agreement reached with the state and county in December 2012.
The Bills would incur a $400 million penalty by even broaching the prospect of moving during the lease's term. There is a one-time exception that would allow the Bills to break the lease for just under $28.4 million in 2020.
Of about 60 nondisclosure forms sent out by Morgan Stanley in June, at least 10 of have been returned, two of the people said. Among those also listed as returning their forms are Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula and New York City real estate mogul Donald Trump.
The forms were required in order for prospective bidders to gain access to financial and background information on the franchise to begin formulating their bids.
The next step is for prospective bidders to submit another set of forms - including their own financial information - by July 29 to gain more access to the Bills' financial information.
One of the people said Morgan Stanley has informed prospective buyers that the Bills made just under $30 million in net profits last season. And Morgan Stanley projects that number will double by 2019 as a result of the NFL's TV contract, current renovations taking place at the stadium and other potential local sources of income.
SEATTLE (AP) Xander Bailey stood at midfield with Seattle star Clint Dempsey at his side Saturday, waiting for kickoff against Tottenham.
When the whistle blew, the 18-year-old Bailey - a Make-A-Wish recipient from Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia - took the pass from Dempsey, dribbled down the field and took a shot on former U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Friedel. He was then subbed off in front of 55,349 to a massive ovation while being mobbed by Seattle teammates.
"To give him this opportunity is just fantastic. I saw the look in his eyes and you could just tell he was overwhelmed and he was so appreciative," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. "It makes for a day I know he will never forget. Our guys wont' forget it either because it impacts us. We see what it means to him and being able to help in that regard and be part of that sort of situation is unique and special for us as well."
Bailey took part in training with the Sounders on Friday, and the club made sure his experience was special. Bailey walked out with the team during pregame ceremonies and was introduced as part of the starting lineup. Seattle's largest fans group - the Emerald City Supporters - created a small tifo in honor of Bailey and green cards were handed out through the stadium with Bailey's name and his No. 45.
Bailey is a native of Bluefield, West Virginia and has been playing as a midfielder for the King's Warriors PDL Reserve team. ESPN announcers said during Saturday's broadcast that Bailey suffers from cystic fibrosis.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Vikings will suspend special teams coordinator Mike Priefer without pay for three games this season and donate $100,000 to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups, in response to former punter Chris Kluwe's allegations of anti-gay slurs and taunts made by Priefer.
The Vikings announced the punishment Friday as part of a summary of findings by outside lawyers hired in January to investigate Kluwe's accusations, which included a claim he was released because of his gay-rights advocacy.
The Vikings said Priefer's ban could be reduced to two games at their discretion, provided he attends individualized anti-harassment, diversity and sexual-orientation sensitivity training.
Such education has been required for all Vikings employees, coaches and players on an annual basis for the past several years, the team said, and the improvements for the programs will be considered.
Chris Madel, a former Justice Department attorney, and Eric Magnuson, a former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, from the Minneapolis-based law firm Robins, Kaplan, Ciresi and Miller recently presented their report to the Vikings after interviewing 31 people and examining 121 gigabytes of data.
Priefer was questioned three times. According to a 29-page analysis of the investigation by employment law consultants Littler Mendelson and Donald Prophete, commissioned by the Vikings and released Friday, Priefer initially denied making a remark Kluwe alleged about "putting all the gays on an island and nuking it" but later acknowledged he might have.
Long snapper Cullen Loeffler told the investigators he heard the same comment Kluwe did, but that he assumed Priefer was joking.
Also in the analysis of the investigation released by Mendelson and Prophete:
- Vikings officials were nearly unanimous in deciding Kluwe's 2012 season was substandard, and the report said Priefer actually gave Kluwe a higher grade than any of the front-office evaluators. The Vikings have maintained the move to cut Kluwe was strictly football-based after they drafted Jeff Locke in the fifth round and Kluwe was due to make $1.45 million in the 2013 season at age 31.
- The investigators asked former Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo and former NFL punter Craig Hentrich to analyze Kluwe's performance as well, and Hentrich gave Kluwe a "C" grade overall.
- The report also cited anecdotes from several interviewees about the penchant for off-color behavior by Kluwe, whose Internet and Twitter criticisms of various institutions and individuals have often contained obscene language. According to the report, Kluwe poked fun at Tom Kanavy, the strength and conditioning coach at the time, in a vulgar manner that made light of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal at Penn State, where Kanavy attended and later worked.
In a statement from the team, Priefer apologized to owners Mark Wilf and Zygi Wilf, the organization, the fans, his family, the LGBT community, Kluwe and "anyone else that I offended with my insensitive remark."
Added Priefer, who was hired by the Vikings in 2011: "I regret what has occurred and what I said. I am extremely sorry, but I will learn from this situation and will work on educating others to create more tolerance and respect."
Kluwe, however, said Friday he will still sue the team for discrimination, against his gay-rights activism and agnostic beliefs, as well as defamation and wrongful interference of his contract. His attorney, Clayton Halunen, said the complaint will be filed in Hennepin County District Court as early as Monday, seeking $10 million in damages. They announced earlier this week their impending lawsuit and did not reach a settlement agreement with the team.
"Here we have this company, this Minnesota company who's getting $400 million out of taxpayers' funds to build the stadium, and yet they are violating state law by engaging in discriminatory conduct, and that is unacceptable," Halunen said.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said: "We support our teams enforcing their workplace policies and commend the Wilfs for doing a thorough investigation and taking appropriate steps in response to the findings."
The Wilf brothers, in a joint statement provided by the team, said Madel and Magnuson "were in full control of the investigation at all times." They said they're pleased Mendelson and Prophete "concluded that there was no wrongdoing" by the Vikings in releasing Kluwe.
"We are very disappointed with some of the findings contained within the report," the Wilfs said. "As we have said in the past, we consistently strive to create - and believe we have - a supportive, respectful and accepting environment for our players, coaches and staff, and we strongly disassociate the club from the statement that Coach Priefer made. Coach Priefer is a good man, and we know that he deeply regrets the comment. We do not believe that this error in judgment should define him."
In his scathing article posted Jan. 2 on the website Deadspin.com that spelled out the allegations, Kluwe said Zygi Wilf expressed support for his gay-rights advocacy.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was sentenced Friday to serve three years of probation and to spend 11 days with a work crew after he pleaded no contest to drunken driving and weapons charges.
The sentence came after Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Daniel Nishigaya reduced three felony counts of possessing illegal assault rifles to misdemeanors. The judge noted that Smith has no criminal record involving violence, but warned the 24-year-old football star that if he violates any of terms of his probation, he will be sent to jail for 11 days.
Smith was also told to serve 235 hours of community service and pay nearly $4,000 in fines.
Prosecutors said Smith didn't receive special treatment in the case.
"In the end, we treated Aldon like any other person in similar circumstances," Santa Clara County District Attorney Brian Buckelew said. "We're optimistic that the punishment will be sufficient to get him on the right track."
The weapons charges stem from an out-of-control party at Smith's house in 2012, where he got stabbed and two people were shot. Investigators later found three rifles in Smith's house that were legally bought in Arizona, but are illegal in California.
The DUI charges were filed after Smith's car smashed into a tree in San Jose last Fall. Police said his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit.
The 49ers said they continue to support Smith's efforts to grow personally from his run-ins with the law.
"We are pleased that Aldon has moved past this phase of the process, and will support any action the NFL may take with respect to this matter," a team statement said.
Smith could face a suspension from the NFL for his off-field troubles, which included an arrest at the Los Angeles International Airport in April. Authorities said he became belligerent during a random security screening and threatened that he had a bomb, but prosecutors declined to charge him.
Associated Press reporters Terry Collins and Antonio Gonzalez contributed to this report from San Francisco.
CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James has to make another big decision.
The NBA superstar turned to social media Friday to help him choose which number he'll wear next season with the Cavaliers. James wrote "6 or 23...." on his Twitter account and posted photos on Instagram of him wearing No. 6 and No. 23 wine and gold Cavs jerseys.
James wore No. 6 during his four seasons with Miami and also on the U.S. Olympic team. He used No. 23 in high school and during seven seasons in Cleveland.
James has had the top-selling jersey in the NBA six times during his career.
His return to Cleveland has given the city a boost, and the Cavs quickly sold out their seasons tickets in the hours after his announcement. James signed a two-year, $42.1 million contract last week.
The 29-year-old will be welcomed back to his hometown of Akron on Aug. 8, his family's foundation announced Friday. The "Welcome Home LeBron Community Rally" will be held at InfoCision Stadium on the University of Akron's campus. The rally, following James' annual "Wheels for Education" event, will be James' first public appearance since he chose to re-sign with the Cavaliers over the Heat.
James recently returned from Brazil, where he watched the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. He's scheduled to take a Nike-sponsored trip to China in the next few weeks.
The Houston Astros failed to sign the first pick in this year's draft, San Diego high school left-hander Brady Aiken, before Friday's deadline.
The head of the players' association says the union is working with the pitcher and his advisers to explore "all legal options."
Aiken originally was offered a deal with a $6.5 million signing bonus by the Astros, a person familiar with the negotiations said earlier this week, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized. But the club expressed a concern over Aiken's elbow ligament and lowered the offer, the person said.
The union is also concerned with Houston's handling of the negotiations with fifth-round pick Jacob Nix. The right-hander from Los Alamitos, California, didn't sign either.
"Today, two young men should be one step closer to realizing their dreams of becoming Major League ballplayers," union head Tony Clark said in a statement. "Because of the actions of the Houston Astros, they are not. The MLBPA, the players and their advisers are exploring all legal options."
The Astros insisted in a statement that their offer to Aiken "was extremely fair considering all the factors involved in this case."
"As always, we approached these negotiations in good faith and with the best interests of the Astros organization in mind, both short-term and long-term," the team said. "Throughout this entire process, we have absolutely acted within Major League Baseball's rules and guidelines, which MLB has confirmed on numerous occasions."
MLB Executive Vice President Dan Halem defended the team Tuesday and said "we fully support the Astros."
"We believe that they have conducted themselves appropriately," Halem added.
Aiken was just the third high school pitcher to be selected first overall when he was taken last month, joining fellow lefties Brien Taylor (1991, Yankees) and David Clyde (1973, Rangers). He was also the first high school lefty to be drafted in the first five picks since Adam Loewen went fourth overall to Baltimore in 2002. Both Aiken and Nix have committed to UCLA and are being advised by Casey Close.
The Astros were the first team to select first in three consecutive drafts, picking shortstop Carlos Correa in 2012 and right-hander Mark Appel last year.
Aiken has terrific control of a fastball that hits 96-97 mph, a knee-buckling curve and a tough changeup that sits in the low- to mid-80s. On draft day, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow raved: "It's the most advanced high school pitcher I've ever seen in my entire career."
"He has command like I've never seen before of his stuff," the GM said.
AP Sports Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed to this report.
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. (AP) Celtics officials say NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell is doing OK after collapsing during a speaking engagement near Lake Tahoe.
Team spokesman Brian Olive says the 80-year-old Russell felt faint after the Thursday morning fall at the Hyatt Regency resort in Incline Village, Nevada, but was planning on returning home to Seattle this evening.
Witness Michael Rooney tells The Associated Press that Russell was telling a story about Wilt Chamberlain to a roomful of Konica Minolta employees when he started to sway at the podium and then fell backward.
Rooney says Russell seemed to be conscious as hotel personnel and first responders came to his aid. The meeting was cut short and attendees left.
Russell, a five-time NBA MVP, is considered one of the best players in basketball history.
He won 11 championships in 13 years as a center with the Celtics. As a player-coach for the last two, he was the first black head coach in a major U.S. pro sport.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 and was honored last year with a statue outside Boston's City Hall.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) Jerry Sandusky's adopted son Matthew said in a television interview Thursday that his sexual abuse at the former Penn State coach's hands consisted of oral sex, a more serious allegation than he made to detectives two years ago.
Matthew Sandusky spoke on "Oprah Prime" about abuse he says occurred when Jerry Sandusky would tuck him in during overnight stays at the Sandusky home in central Pennsylvania, after being instructed to wear only underwear or blue mesh shorts.
Jerry Sandusky would tickle, blow on his belly and wrestle on the floor, he said, and the encounters would gradually become more sexual.
"Then it's, then as I now know, it's oral sex," he told Oprah Winfrey. "He's doing that to you and it's very confusing, it's very confusing for you because you have a reaction, you know. It's something that you at that time you definitely don't know what's happening."
The claim of oral sex was specifically denied in an audiotape of his 29-minute interview with police detectives that NBC obtained at the time of Jerry Sandusky's 2012 trial.
Matt Sandusky told investigators two years ago that Jerry Sandusky had rubbed along or against his genitals but that he did not recall any penetration or oral sex. He said then that he was getting therapy and memories were coming back to him.
He told police he came forward to correct the record from his own grand jury testimony.
"So that they can really have closure and see what the truth actually is. And just to right the wrong, honestly, of going to the grand jury and lying," Matt Sandusky said two years ago. He was not called to testify, and Jerry Sandusky has not been charged with any crime in relation to his adopted son.
At bedtime in the Sandusky's home in State College, he told Winfrey, Jerry Sandusky's "ritual began."
"The overnight visits were - they were good. I mean, except for that one part, bedtime. Bedtime was the bad part. But any other time that we were in the home, that we were doing anything in the home with the family, it was fine," he said, but at bedtime, the older man's "ritual" began.
Matthew Sandusky said he recognized elements of his own abuse when he sat through courtroom testimony by a young man described in court as Victim 4, someone he knew better than any of the other seven who testified at the trial. Sandusky was convicted of various types of abuse of 10 boys, including all eight who testified.
"But his story isn't his story - it's my story," Matthew Sandusky told Winfrey. "At this point, that's where the door really opened up and it kind of just hit me from every single detail that this man is talking about."
He said he wonders if it wouldn't have been easier to simply keep quiet and not turn against his adopted father, knowing it would alienate family members who helped him in many ways over the years.
Matthew Sandusky said he believes that Jerry Sandusky does not think he harmed him or any of the other boys.
"I think that he believes, the things that he was doing to us, that was love to him," he told Winfrey. "That was him taking care of us. That was him being there for us when no other person would have been. So in his own - to me - warped way, I truly believe that he believed that he cared and that he was loving us."
Winfrey asked him how people can know that what he's saying is the truth and not an adaptation of Victim 4's experience.
"I would say my story has been well-documented," he said. "And if you really want to find out what my story is and you really can objectively look at it, it's in the record."
Jerry Sandusky, once Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno's assistant and heir apparent at Penn State University, is currently serving a 30- to 60-year sentence. He has lost an appeal to the state Supreme Court but maintains he is innocent.
Matt Sandusky is among those who have shared $60 million worth of civil settlements by Penn State.
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) Prosecutors have spelled out what they say is evidence that the fiancee of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez lied to the grand jury that indicted him on a murder charge, including comments she made about a box she discarded at Hernandez's direction.
In a filing Tuesday in Fall River Superior Court, the prosecution listed more than a dozen instances in which it says it has evidence contradicting Shayanna Jenkins' testimony to the grand jury investigating the 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd.
Jenkins has pleaded not guilty to perjury. Defense attorney Janice Bassil has moved to dismiss the charge. A message left Wednesday for Bassil seeking comment wasn't immediately returned.
A judge had ordered the additional information turned over following defense complaints.
Hernandez, 24, has pleaded not guilty in the shooting death of Lloyd, a semi-professional football player from Boston who was dating Jenkins' sister.
Prosecutors have said that most of Jenkins' testimony wasn't credible, including about getting rid of a box from the basement of her and Hernandez's North Attleborough, Massachusetts, home. Jenkins told grand jurors she couldn't remember where she threw out the box, which she put in a trash bag, covered with baby clothes, they have said.
Prosecutors haven't disclosed what they think the box contained. Jenkins was granted immunity before she testified.
In Tuesday's filing, prosecutors claim they have direct evidence that contradicts Jenkins' testimony "concerning how, why and the manner in which she removed the items from the home." It says the same of her claim that she didn't attempt to hide the box when taking it from the house and that she hadn't spoken to Ernest Wallace after Lloyd's killing.
Wallace, described by prosecutors as Hernandez's right-hand man, has also been charged with murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
Jenkins is free on personal recognizance.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Panthers must decide how Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy's conviction on charges of assault on a female and communicating threats will impact his long-term future in Carolina.
Carolina made Hardy its franchise player in March, signing him to a one-year, $13.1 million deal after a 15-sack season. But talks of a long-term deal fizzled after Hardy was first arrested May 13 for assaulting his ex-girlfriend and threatening to kill her after she said he "snapped" in his apartment following a night of partying.
The Panthers could release Hardy for conduct detrimental to the team, but there's no guarantee they'd recoup his hefty salary.
The Panthers issued a statement after Tuesday night's guilty verdict saying they respect the legal process and don't have a comment right now. Hardy, sentenced to a suspended 60-day jail sentence and given 18 months of probation, has appealed the conviction and will have a jury trial at a later date.
Panthers owner Jerry Richardson declined comment to The Associated Press regarding Hardy's future.
But some former Panthers said the guilty verdict won't sit well with Richardson, who has shied away from signing players who might shed a negative light on the organization.
Former defensive end Mike Rucker said the team is naturally sensitive to the topic of domestic violence since the Rae Carruth ordeal. Carruth, a former Panthers wide receiver, was found guilty in 2001 of conspiring to murder his girlfriend, Cherica Adams, who was carrying his child. Carruth was sentenced to 18 to 24 years and remains in prison.
"This subject hits home for everybody that has been around the organization or followed the organization from the beginning," Rucker said. "If you were around during that (Carruth) period of time it might be in the back of your mind, but it's definitely still there."
The Panthers can't sign Hardy to an extension until after the season. That deadline passed Tuesday, about the same time the accuser in the domestic abuse bench trial talked on the stand. She said Hardy beat her up and threatened to kill her following a disagreement about her brief relationship with rapper Nelly.
"He looked me in my eyes and he told me he was going to kill me," said the 24-year-old accuser, who is a cocktail waitress in Charlotte. "I was so scared I wanted to die. When he loosened his grip slightly, I said just, `Do it. Kill me."'
Bill Polian, who served as Carolina's general manager from 1994-97, said if he were making the calls the conviction would "absolutely" have an impact on whether Hardy would get a long-term contract.
"It's a very serious issue and one they have to deal with," Polian said.
Center Frank Garcia, who played with the Panthers in the late `90s, said he believes Tuesday's guilty verdict could keep the team from signing Hardy to a long-term deal.
In fact, Garcia isn't entirely convinced Hardy makes it to this season.
"I think Jerry Richardson is turning in his bed deciding what decision to make right now," Garcia said. "And I think it's a 50-50 proposition. ... It has to be a disturbing thing for him and a disturbing thing for the Carolina Panthers."
Garcia said the Panthers have been trying to clean up their image ever since the Carruth ordeal.
Another concern with Hardy is the accuser's statement she used cocaine the night Hardy assaulted her, leaving the team to wonder about the people he associates with off the field.
"Jerry Richardson doesn't mess around," Garcia said. "He wants a clean image. And we've seen it time and time again where they've bypassed quality free agents - guys who might have been able to come in and make an impact - just because of their image or something in their background."
Coincidentally, Hardy's first court appearance in May came on the same day the Panthers hosted a breakfast at their stadium for "Men For Change," a group that serves victims of domestic violence.
Polian said he isn't sure if the Panthers would be more sensitive to domestic violence issues than other NFL teams.
"The bottom line is it's an awful situation," Polian said. "A person with incredible strength that is assaulting woman. That's just unacceptable."
Ronda Rousey is keenly aware of boxing pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather's credentials. It seems that Mayweather is not as familiar with hers -- or her gender, for that matter.
Asked in an interview with BoxingScene.com for his thoughts on Rousey, the bombshell mixed-martial arts star and the first and current UFC women's bantamweight champion, a confused Mayweather came up empty.
"I actually ... I don't even know who he is," Mayweather said.
Rousey made headlines recently with her assertion that she could beat Mayweather in an MMA-style street fight. She was backed up by UFC president and promoter Dana White, who told USA Today, "you take a street fight, Ronda wins that fight and hurts him badly."
Rousey began her career as a judoka, competing at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and becoming the first-ever American woman to win an Olympic judo medal when she captured bronze in Beijing. She's since parlayed that into a successful MMA career that's seen her go undefeated en route to capturing the aforementioned championship, as well as a successful media career, including appearances in ESPN The Magazine's 2012 body issue, Maxim's 2013 hot 100 and appearances in the upcoming films Fast & Furious 7 and The Expendables 3.
Mayweather won a bronze medal in boxing at the 1996 Atlanta Games and has compiled a perfect 46-0 career mark while capturing world titles across five different weight classes over the course of his 18-year professional career. He'll next get in the ring on Sept. 13 in a rematch with Marcos Maidana, whom Mayweather defeated via majority decision in a highly contested bout in May.
LAS VEGAS (AP) Eyebrow-raising testimony, abrupt changes of plans, courtroom delays. If there is one thing NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has learned during the Donald Sterling saga, it's that there are no guarantees.
So when Silver was asked Tuesday if he could say Sterling would not own the Los Angeles Clippers by the time next season comes around, he said he could not.
"It's very difficult to say anything with certainty in a situation like this," Sterling said after the Board of Governors' meeting. "I can say with certainty we are doing everything in our power to move Donald out as an owner in the NBA."
Sterling, who was banned by the NBA for life for making racist remarks, is challenging his wife Shelly's planned sale of the Clippers for $2 billion to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in court. A judge recently delayed the next hearing until July 21, and closing arguments are scheduled for July 28.
When Ballmer originally reached an agreement with Shelly Sterling to buy the team, the planned timeline included an approval vote by the board on Tuesday. But the court case has pushed everything back well past the expiration of Ballmer's offer. The deadline can be extended, and Silver said the league is waiting for the process to play out.
"We're in essence on hold since that sale is being challenged by her husband as to whether she has the right," Silver said. "If the court finds in her favor, the sale will move forward. If not, we will move forward with our own proceedings."
Before Shelly Sterling agreed to sell the team to Ballmer, the NBA was moving forward with a plan to terminate Sterling's ownership of the team. During the trial, Shelly Sterling testified that she discussed with Silver the possibility of his lifetime ban being reduced to help facilitate a sale of the team.
"It's accurate that we had the conversation," Silver said. "Shelly and I had several conversations over the course of the last few months in which Shelly proposed all kinds of things to me. And frankly it's never been quite clear if she's able to speak for Donald."
Silver said he asked for a proposal in writing from Donald Sterling, but never received one.
Donald Sterling, who at one point in the proceedings called his wife "a pig" in the courtroom, contends she has no right under a family trust that owns the Clippers to single-handedly sell the team. Shelly Sterling contends she has the authority and two doctors hired by her testified that her 80-year-old husband has Alzheimer's disease and is mentally incapable to act as administrator of the trust.
Rather than holding a vote for approval of Ballmer as an owner, the advisory/finance committee met with him.
"We had an excellent session with him and he talked to us about his passion for NBA basketball and his desire and interest in owning the team," Silver said.
In other news from the meetings:
-Silver said the league's new replay center will open in September and be used on an experimental basis in the WNBA and NBA preseason games. Officials at the center will be able to review calls in question, but the final decision will still be made by the officials in the arena.
-The Competition Committee broached the subject of a midseason tournament similar to the FA Cup in English soccer. "We're looking at other opportunities in the league to create excitement," Silver said.
-The board heard a review of officiating and Silver said they are "satisfied" with the state of refereeing in the game. "I'm very focused on the public perception of our officiating," he said, "and we want to make sure that the public has complete confidence in the integrity of our game and the integrity of our officiating, and that's something we continue to talk about and look for ways frankly to improve that."
-Of course, Silver couldn't resist putting his personal take on gambling on the record in Sin City: "I personally enjoy being here, although I don't gamble as the Commissioner of the NBA for the record. Not because there's anything wrong with it, I just don't think I should be gambling as the Commissioner."
IRVING, Texas (AP) A rising gold football-shaped trophy will be the prize for the national champion in the new College Football Playoff.
College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock unveiled the more than 2-foot-high trophy Monday. Made from 24-karat gold, bronze and stainless steel, the bottom of the trophy is shaped like a football and rises to form an actual-sized ball at the top. There are four laces, reflective of the four teams that will make it to the playoffs.
When addressing the cost of the trophy, Hancock called it a "priceless one-of-a-kind piece of art."
The trophy, which weighs about 35 pounds, is designed to be hoisted from its foot-high bronze base that weighs another 30 pounds. Hancock took a selfie with the trophy sitting in its base, but said the first hoisting will be reserved for the winner of the first national championship game Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas.
"It can be lifted out of the base and hoisted in quite an inspirational manner," Hancock said.
The trophy will be taken to different locations before the season, including Los Angeles this week, and showcased at several college football games during the season.