In Sports from United Press International

Sept. 27, 2002 at 3:20 PM   |   0 comments

Johnson headed to Hall of Fame

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Earvin "Magic" Johnson and five others will be enshrined Friday night into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

The other five are coaches Larry Brown, Lute Olson and Kay Yow; former player Drazen Petrovic, a star in the NBA and abroad; and the Harlem Globetrotters.

Johnson, who received his Hall of Fame jacket Friday morning, will be introduced by Larry Bird.

It is only fitting that Johnson and Bird are together again. In basketball annals, the pair is joined at the hip.

There was the 1979 NCAA Championship game, in which Johnson's Michigan State Spartans were too much for Bird's Indiana State Sycamores. That contest it is still the highest rated NCAA title game and laid the foundation for college basketball as it is known today.

"We seemed to be linked together ever since that championship game," Johnson said. "Every time, even today, any article that's mentioned it's 'Bird, Magic, Bird, Magic.' He helped me get here and he's probably the biggest reason I'm here."

Their rivalry continued in the NBA, with Johnson winning a title as a rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers and Bird bouncing back the following year, leading the Boston Celtics to the crown.

The two finally met in the NBA Finals in 1984, with Bird's Celtics getting the better of Magic's Lakers in a seven-game series. They met again in 1985 and '87, with Johnson winning both.

"The great thing about our relationship is that we got along pretty well and we're friends, but once we stepped out on the basketball court, believe me, we were enemies," Bird said. "I always knew when I got under his skin a little bit. He would never curse me or never really get mad at me, (but) he would always go, 'OK, that's what you want. OK, that's the way you want to play the game, OK.'"

The pair raised the bar for a league that was floundering and possibly heading for oblivion.

The two men also were teammates on the original "Dream Team" that stormed through the 1992 Olympics to win the gold medal in Barcelona, Spain.

Johnson was elected in June in his first year of eligibility. One of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players, he spent his entire playing career with the Lakers and is currently their vice president, and holds a small ownership stake.

As a 6-9 point guard, Johnson revolutionized the position and teamed with Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to help the Lakers win five NBA titles. He averaged 19.7 points, 11.4 assists and 7.3 rebounds in 874 career games, retiring as the all-time leader in assists.

He was a three-time MVP, and also was named MVP of the NBA Finals in 1980, '82 and '87. He was voted First Team All-NBA every year from 1983-91 after being named to the second team in '82.

He was a 12-time All-Star in his 13-year pro career.

Brown is the only coach in NBA history to lead

six different teams to the playoffs, and has over 1,000 wins in the NBA and ABA.

Brown also won the NCAA title with Kansas in 1988. The three-time ABA Coach of the Year had a 229-107 record with the Carolina Cougars and Denver Nuggets, and has a total record of 1,240-823 in 29 years as a coach, including 834-655 in the NBA. He was the NBA Coach of the Year in 2001.

Olson is one just eight people to coach in five or more NCAA Final Fours. He guided Arizona to the 1997 NCAA championship. He also coached at Long Beach City College, Long Beach State and Iowa, and owns a career record of 767-255 for a winning percentage of .750.

Olson's 23 NCAA Tournament appearances and 39 NCAA Tournament wins are third among active coaches. In 19 seasons at Arizona, he compiled a 471-143 record and, over the last 15 years, has recorded the nation's best winning percentage of .805 with a 401-97 mark.

Yow ranks fifth in women's college basketball history with 625 career victories, and guided North Carolina State to the Final Four in 1998.

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame opens Saturday after undergoing $103 million worth of construction.


NBA's Boston Celtics sold

BOSTON, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- The Boston Celtics, the NBA's most storied franchise, are being sold for a reported $360 million.

Boston Basketball Partners, L.P., a local investment group, Friday announced the signing of a definitive agreement to purchase the Celtics from owner Paul Gaston.

The Boston Herald is reporting that Gaston will receive $360 million from the co-managing partners of Boston Basketball Partners --Wycliffe Grousbeck, a general partner at Highland Capital, Irving Grousbeck, co-founder of Continental Cablevision, and Stephen Pagliuca, a managing director at Bain Capital.

"We are delighted to reach this agreement, but we fully understand that nobody really owns the Celtics except the people and basketball fans of Boston, the state of Massachusetts and New England," said Grousbeck. "As long-time community

residents and Celtics fans, our goal is to build on the success that has already been achieved by the team's strong management, coaching staff and players. We look forward to years of involvement with one of the greatest sports teams ever."


Toms, Mickelson rescue USA at Ryder Cup

SUTTON COLDFIELD, England, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- With Tiger Woods unable to win a match, the team of Phil Mickelson and David Toms rescued the United States Friday and kept the Americans within one point of Europe after the opening day of the Ryder Cup.

Woods, the runaway No. 1 player in the world, teamed with Paul Azinger in the morning fourball matches and then partnered good friend Mark Calcavecchia in the afternoon foursomes. He lost twice.

But with Europe threatening to pull off a sweep of the morning competition, Mickelson and Toms held on for a 1-up victory over Niclas Fasth and Padraig Harrington. And then the Mickelson-Toms team came from 3-down with four to play in the afternoon to halve the formidable twosome of Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie.

That left Europe with a 4 ½ - 3 ½ lead with Saturday's eight team matches and Sunday's 12 singles yet to play.

By winning two of the afternoon matches and halving one, the United States did something it was unable to do at Brookline, Mass., when the Ryder Cup was last played three years ago.

On that occasion, the Americans did not win any of the four team sessions, found themselves trailing by four points after opening day and wound up staging the biggest comeback in Ryder Cup history to edge Europe by a point.

Woods and Azinger ran into the hot putter of Thomas Bjorn in the morning and lost to Bjorn and Darren Clarke, 1-up. Bjorn holed five birdie putts on the back nine at The Belfry, the last of them being a 15-footer at the final hole that matched an Azinger birdie and preserved the win.

"We birdied eight holes," Azinger said. "Usually, that would be enough."

In the afternoon, Woods and Calcavecchia fell to Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood, 2 & 1. The Americans led by one hole at the turn, but the Europeans won four of the next five.

While Azinger and Woods were unable to overcome Bjorn and Clarke in the morning, American Captain Curtis Strange saw two other veteran pairings go down to defeat -- both by the margin of 4 & 3.

David Duval and Davis Love III lost to Garcia and Westwood while Jim Furyk and Scott Hoch dropped their match against Langer and Montgomerie.

From that group of Americans, only Furyk played in the afternoon as Strange brought in some new faces -- two of whom had never been in a Ryder Cup match before. And those new faces came through.

Hal Sutton and Ryder Cup rookie Scott Verplank battled back from a two-hole deficit with six to play in the foursomes to win four out of five holes and defeat Bjorn and Clarke, 2 & 1. Furyk teamed with another rookie, Stewart Cink, for a 3 & 2 decision over Harrington and Paul McGinley.

European Captain Sam Torrance left three of his players on the sidelines throughout the first day -- Phillip Price, Jesper Parnevik and Pierre Fulke.

With the American comeback at Brookline still fresh in the collective mind of the European team, getting a big lead has been its goal. That made the Americans' showing in the afternoon foursomes a key.

"We know how strong the U.S. team is in singles," said Montgomerie. "We need a lead going into Sunday. It is very important for us to get off to a good start.

"Bjorn and Clarke did us proud. Anytime you beat Tiger in golf, you have done something."

The 1999 matches were decided with Justin Leonard holing a 50-foot birdie at the 17th hole, touching off a big celebration that came before Europe's Jose Maria Olazabal had a chance to attempt a putt that could have kept the outcome in doubt.

Because of the ill feelings brought on by that lack of courtesy, there had been concerns the English crowd would retaliate. The events of Sept. 11, which forced a year's postponement of this competition, combined with pleas from both captains, tempered the crowd Friday.

"I think the atmosphere was perfect," Langer said. "You can tell when Europe wins a point, of course. But I didn't hear any cheering for bad shots. That is the way it should be."


Nebraska looks to bounce back

AMES, Iowa, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- 19th-ranked Nebraska, whose defense has been highly suspect this season and put the Cornhuskers on the verge of falling out of the Top 25, Saturday visits dangerous Iowa State on college football's gridiron.

Nebraska (3-1), which has not dropped out of the poll since October 1981, was routed by Penn State, 40-7, in its last outing.

Meanwhile, Oregon State (4-0), which has 190 points in its first four games, can improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1939 when it visits No. 22 Southern California (2-1) in the Pac-10 Conference opener for both teams. Kentucky (4-0), ineligible for a bowl game this season after being penalized for NCAA rules violations, travels to "The Swamp" to play No. 9 Florida, which is coming off an impressive 30-13 rout at Tennessee last week on the heels of the 41-16 pasting it took from top-ranked Miami.

Florida has won its last 15 meetings against Kentucky and has averaged 53.4 points in the last eight meetings.

Nebraska faces the rising program of Iowa State, which is led by the versatile Seneca Wallace, who has vaulted him into the Heisman picture.

"They know what is ahead of them," Nebraska Coach Frank Solich said of his players. "They know there is a major challenge ahead. The mindset is to get back to the point where we are a very good football team in all aspects of the game."

Also, the Cornhuskers gained 265 rushing yards against Penn State, but most of those came on scrambles by quarterback Jammal Lord after the game already was all but over.

Through the first four games, Nebraska has not had an I-back rush for 100 yards in a game. That has not happened since the start of the 1972 season.

Iowa State has enjoyed back-to-back winning seasons, but must prove it can defeat a long-time nemesis.

Nebraska has won the last nine meetings since the last win by Iowa State, 19-10, in 1992. The Cornhuskers own a whopping 80-14-2 edge in the all-time series.

Out west, USC has won 18 straight home games against the Beavers since its last loss in 1960. In last year's 16-13 overtime setback at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Beavers dominated the game statistically, holding the Trojans to a mere 33 yards on the ground.

Ryan Cesca, the Pac-10's all-league kicker in 2000, missed a pair of short field goals that would have won the game in regulation for OSU.

USC had beaten the Beavers 26 straight times overall before a 31-21 loss at Corvallis in 2000, and leads the all-time series, 54-8-4.

Thursday night, Florida State (4-1) was upset by unranked Louisville, 26-20, in overtime.

No. 2 Texas (3-0) plays Tulane for the first time in 37 years and may be without star wide receiver Roy Williams, who is questionable with a hamstring injury.

No. 3 Oklahoma (3-0) hosts South Florida; fifth-ranked Virginia Tech (4-0) visits Western Michigan; and No. 6 Ohio State (4-0) is expected to have freshman tailback Maurice Clarett back in the lineup for its Big 10 opener with Indiana.

Clarett is listed as probable after sitting out last week's tougher-than-expected 23-19 win over Cincinnati. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery recently.

Also, No. 12 Penn State (3-0) opens its Big 10 schedule by hosting Iowa. Ditto for No. 14 Michigan (3-1), which visits Illinois.

11th-ranked Tennessee (2-1) should have little trouble when it entertains struggling Rutgers;

No. 18 Washington State (3-1) visits California; No. 13 Washington (2-1) hosts Idaho (1-3); No. 15 North Carolina State (5-0) welcomes Massachusetts; 20th-ranked LSU (2-1) entertains Mississippi State (1-2); No. 23 Colorado State (3-1) is at Nevada; and No. 25 Auburn (1-2) hosts Syracuse.

Teams in the poll that are idle this week are top-ranked Miami, No. 8 Oregon (4-0), No. 10 Notre Dame (4-0), No. 16 Wisconsin (5-0) and No. 17 Kansas State.


Giants look to qualify for postseason

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- The San Francisco Giants can clinch their third playoff appearance in six years Friday night when

they host the Houston Astros in the opener of a three-game series.

The Giants also can lock up the final postseason spot in the National League if the Los Angeles Dodgers lose at home to the San Diego Padres.

Led by Barry Bonds, San Francisco begins the day 2 1/2 games ahead of Los Angeles for the NL wild card and 2 1/2 behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West.

The Giants have four regular season games remaining. If they are one-half game behind Arizona after Sunday, they will travel to Atlanta for a makeup game Monday that will determine the division champion.

The defending World Series champion Diamondbacks, who entered the league in 1998, can win their second straight NL West crown and third in four years with a win at home against the Colorado Rockies and loss by the Giants.

The Braves and St. Louis Cardinals already have locked up the NL East and Central, respectively, and the Diamondbacks have clinched at least the wild-card, leaving the Giants and Dodgers fighting for the last spot.

The Giants have never entered the postseason as a wild card since the extra playoff round was added in 1995. They won the NL West in 1997 and 2000 but lost in the first round both times.

San Francisco has won 26 of its last 36 games to take control of its own destiny. The hot streak has been accompanied by a Dodgers' slide, which includes 12 losses in 21 games.

Friday night, the Giants will face Wade Miller, who has won 12 straight decisions. After that, the must beat rookie Kirk Saarloos and Roy Oswalt, who will go after his 20th win of the campaign in the series finale.

The teams haven't faced each other since April, when the Giants won two of three games in Houston.

Jason Schmidt starts the Giants on Friday. The Giants have won eight of their last 10 home games.


Venue chosen for Davis Cup final

LONDON, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Defending champion France will host the final of the 2002 Davis Cup in tennis at the "Palais Omnisports" in Paris Bercy.

The International Tennis Federation confirmed the site Friday.

According to French Tennis Federation President Christian Bimes, the tie between France and Russia will be contested on indoor clay from Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

"This is a logical choice," Bimes said. "Paris is the capital of France, and we have not had a Davis Cup final here since the thirties. There was also a real will from the city hall to host the competition and Bercy can hold 15,000 spectators while Marseille was a bit too small with only 7,500 seats. The French players are delighted with the news. The team is very bonded and everyone thinks this is the right decision."

The French team advanced to its third final in four years with a semifinal victory over the United States last week. France will start training for the final on Nov. 18 in the South of

France at a club to be decided.

Russia topped Argentina to reach its third Davis Cup final, but the first to be played away from Moscow.

France is 2-1 against Russia, but the nations have not met since March 1983, when the French posted a 4-1 win on carpet in Russia in the World Group first round.

"Regarding the surface, I've had long discussions with captain Guy Forget as well as the players, and clay is a real French decision because of the French Open," Bimes said.


Burke gets contract extension

PHOENIX, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- The Phoenix Coyotes Friday inked veteran goaltender Sean Burke to a multi-year contract extension.

Terms of the deal were not released.

Burke was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season, when he set career highs with 33 wins, five shutouts and a 2.29 goals-against average. His .920 save percentage was tied for fifth in the NHL.

"Whether you are a general manager, a coach or a teammate, you sleep better at night when you have Sean Burke on your roster," said Coyotes Vice President and General Manager Michael Barnett.

Burke, 35, led a young team to a sixth-place finish in the Western Conference before it lost in five games to the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs. The Coyotes were 33-16-16-6-4 in games Burke started, and he was named NHL Player of the Month after going 9-1-0 with a 1.70 GAA in March.

Phoenix acquired Burke from the Florida Panthers in November 1999. He has gone 75-57-22 with a 2.34 GAA with the Coyotes.

Over the last three seasons, Burke's .919 save percentage is second in the league behind Montreal's Jose Theodore, who won both the Hart and Vezina Trophies last season.

The 6-4 Burke led the New Jersey Devils to their first playoff appearance in 1987-88. He also has played with Hartford-Carolina, Vancouver and Philadelphia, and is 276-295-92 with a 3.00 GAA in 693 career games.

The Coyotes did not have a 30-goal scorer last season and had one of the smaller payrolls in the league.


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