NBA reaches agreement to create arenas in China
The NBA has formed a multibillion-dollar joint venture with Anschutz Entertainment Group to design and develop about 12 multipurpose arenas in major Chinese cities for a future affiliated basketball league. NBA commissioner David Stern did not say when the plan would be starting, or where the buildings would be located. The Los Angeles Times reported that the NBA and AEG would equally own arenas that will hold 17,000 spectators, with primary funding coming from the Chinese government and Chinese banks. The project was announced yesterday in a news conference at the AGE-owned O2 Arena in London, where the New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat played a preseason game. AEG president and CEO Timothy J. Leiweke said it could take decades to complete the project. "We think of this over the next 20 years, not the next year or two," he said, adding some would be new arenas and others would be created by renovating existing facilities. Leiweke downplayed the idea that the arenas are being built based on a guarantee of having an NBA-style league in China. But eventually - and Stern didn't offer a timetable - the arenas will house some type of affiliated basketball league, he told the Times.
MORE: : Stern said the league likely would play regular-season games in London before the British capital hosts the 2012 Olympics. Stern, however, also said the possibility of taking meaningful games to Europe was nowhere near a done deal. "It's fair to say that we'll see a minimum of one and possibly more regular-season games by 2012," Stern said. He said he sees the Olympics as a springboard to increasing the NBA's marketability in Britain, which is one of the richest countries in the world. The NBA has a history of playing outside North America, including a regular-season game in Tokyo in 1991.
Ballesteros announces he has brain tumor
Seve Ballesteros has a brain tumor and will undergo a biopsy tomorrow. The five-time major winner announced the news yesterday in a statement issued by La Paz Hospital in Madrid, Spain. It was unknown whether the tumor was benign or malignant. Ballesteros, 51, was admitted to a hospital for tests after briefly losing consciousness last week. Ballesteros won a record 50 times on the PGA European Tour, won the British Open three times and the Masters twice before retiring last year because of a long history of back pain.
PGA Texas Open: : Zach Johnson followed his third-round 62 with a 64 for a two-stroke victory over Charlie Wi, Mark Wilson and Tim Wilkinson in San Antonio. Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion who entered the week with only one top-10 finish this year, had a 19-under-par 261 total to earn his fourth career PGA Tour victory. The win, capped with a 5-foot birdie putt on 18, was his first on the tour outside Georgia. In addition to the Masters, he won the 2004 BellSouth Classic and 2007 AT&T; Classic. Wi finished with a 61, Wilson had a 63, and Wilkinson shot a 64.
LPGA Longs Drugs Challenge: : South Korea's In-Kyung Kim won her first tour victory, closing with a 1-over 73 in gusty conditions for a three-stroke victory over Angela Stanford in Danville, Calif. The 20-year-old Kim, the 2005 U.S. Girls' Junior winner in her second season on the tour, birdied the final two holes for a 10-under 278 total. Stanford finished with a 75. LPGA Championship winner Yani Tseng (72) was third at 6-under, and top-ranked Lorena Ochoa (72) finished fourth at 4-under.
USOC delays '09 budget, citing economic crisis
The economic crisis has forced the U.S. Olympic Committee to delay setting next year's budget while officers consider contingency plans that could include administrative cuts. In the USOC's first board meeting since the Beijing Games, in Orlando, Fla., chief executive Jim Scherr said the 2009 budget will be "very stringent" and "prudent on the expense side," and that cutbacks, if they come, would probably be on the administrative side and not in direct benefits to athletes or sports. The USOC operates on four-year budget cycles, with a new one beginning next year. In the period ending this year, the federation's revenues increased $127 million, to $617 million. The USOC will close 2008 with $103 million in reserve.
Chicago Marathon: : Kenya's Evans Cheruiyot won his second marathon in two tries, pulling away late from countryman David Mandago before finishing in 2 hours, 6 minutes, 25 seconds to win on a warm morning. A winner at Milan in December, Cheruiyot, 26, grabbed the lead in the 24th mile and was all alone as he crossed the finish line for his first major marathon victory. Mandago clocked in at 2:07:37 in his first major marathon, with fellow Kenyan Timothy Cherigat third at 2:11:39. Russia's Lidiya Grigoryeva, the 2007 Boston Marathon champion, breezed to her second major victory, clocking in at 2:27:17.
Hockey: : Dustin Penner scored his second goal of the game with 5.4 seconds left and the host Edmonton Oilers won their season opener by beating the Colorado Avalanche, 3-2. ... Rookies Kyle Turris and Mikkel Boedker both scored for the first time in the NHL, and Ilya Bryzgalov made 34 saves against his former Anaheim teammates to lead the Phoenix Coyotes to a 4-2 victory that spoiled the Ducks' home opener.
Tennis: : Top-ranked Jelena Jankovic won her third WTA Tour title in three weeks, beating Russia's Vera Zvonareva, 6-2, 6-4, in the final of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Jankovic was coming off back-to-back wins at the China Open and the Porsche Grand Prix in Germany. She earned her fourth title of the season. Igor Kunitsyn won the men's tournament, surviving 21 aces to upset fellow Russian Marat Safin for his first ATP Tour title, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 6-3. ... Philipp Petzschner upset Gael Monfils, 6-4, 6-4, in the BA Tennis Trophy final in Vienna, Austria, for his first ATP Tour title. The 125th-ranked German had not advanced beyond the quarterfinals of an ATP event. ... Top-seeded David Nalbandian defeated Robin Soderling, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, in the Stockholm Open final in Sweden for his second victory of the season.
Triathlon: : Chrissie Wellington of Britain got some unlikely aid from a competitor during the biking portion of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship to capture her second straight women's title in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Wellington, 31, held a lead of about 5 minutes when her tire went flat near the 90-mile mark of the 112-mile bicycle ride. Air canisters she carried didn't work, she said, but Rebekah Keat of Australia gave Wellington another canister. Wellington lost about 10 minutes, but she quickly regained the lead. She won in 9 hours, 6 minutes, 23 seconds - nearly 15 minutes ahead of Yvonne Van Vlerken of Austria. Craig Alexander of Australia came from behind to win the men's title in 8:17:45.
Auto racing: : Fernando Alonso prevailed in the Japanese Grand Prix, but the win in Oyama was almost a sideshow to a breathless race that provided another twist in the title fight. The race's history of defining incidents between title rivals gained a new chapter when Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa tangled in a second-lap collision. Both leading drivers received pit drive-through penalties before Hamilton finished out of the points and Massa came in seventh after a post-race stewards' decision that elevated him from eighth. That meant Hamilton's championship lead was cut from seven points to five with two races left.
More soccer: : Goalkeeper Louis Crayton made two saves, including one in the last minute of second-half stoppage time, as visiting D.C. United salvaged 0-0 tie against the host Houston Dynamo, despite playing a man down for the final 20 minutes. ... In other Major League Soccer action, Steve Ralston suffered a broken fibula in New England's 1-0 loss to host Kansas City.
Figure skating:: Naomi Nari Nam, who went from 13-year-old national medalist in singles to a medalist in pairs, has retired from competitive skating because of lingering hip injuries. Nam, 23, won the bronze at the 2007 national championships with Themistocles Leftheris. A decade earlier, she was the silver medalist in singles behind Michelle Kwan.