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Lakers finally confirm Byron Scott is new coach

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Lakers confirmed Byron Scott is their new coach Monday night.

The Lakers finally made the long-anticipated announcement in a news release. Scott will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday at the Lakers' training complex.

Scott told reporters last weekend he had been hired by the Lakers, who have been without a coach since Mike D'Antoni resigned April 30. Scott is the 25th head coach in the 16-time NBA champions' franchise history.

General manager Mitch Kupchak said he conducted "an extensive and thorough search" with owner Jim Buss.

"We're proud to welcome Byron back to the Lakers family as our next head coach," Kupchak said. "Byron has proven himself at the highest levels of the game as both a player and a coach in his almost 30 years of NBA experience. His leadership skills and track record for success make him the ideal person to lead this franchise forward."

Scott is 416-521 as a head coach for New Jersey, New Orleans and Cleveland, reaching two NBA Finals with the Nets. He has won three division titles, and he was the NBA's coach of the year in 2008.

Scott also was a shooting guard for the Lakers for 11 seasons, playing alongside Magic Johnson during the Showtime era. He was a teammate of Lakers star Kobe Bryant during his final NBA season, and Bryant has endorsed Scott for his new job.

"I am ecstatic to once again be a Laker and to have the opportunity to work alongside Mitch and the Buss family," Scott said. "I know firsthand what it takes to bring a championship to this city, and as someone who both grew up in L.A. and played the majority of my career here, I know how passionate and dedicated our fans are. I will give everything I have to fulfill the championship expectations that our supporters have for us, and that we have for ourselves."

Scott spent last season as an analyst on the Lakers' television network, watching their disintegration during a 55-loss season, the most in franchise history. Bryant played just six games last season.

The Lakers interviewed several coaching candidates over the past three months, including Lionel Hollins and George Karl. Scott has been widely considered the front-runner for the job since early summer, but Kupchak and Buss appeared to be more focused on the NBA draft and free agency than their current team's leadership.

Tue, 29 Jul 2014 04:26:00 +0000
Recovered from illness, Serena ready for return

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Serena Williams finally realized what happened days later, when she was allowed to get out of bed.

Williams said she was barely aware of how sick she was as she tried to play through a viral infection that caused her to lose equilibrium during a women's doubles match with sister Venus at Wimbledon. It was only later, when she was able to clear her head, that she realized the seriousness of her situation.

"It was interesting and I was scared after," Williams said. "I didn't realize how I felt until later. In the moment I didn't realize how sick I was. It's weird but that's the fight in me. I never know when to say when."

She would have continued had not Venus insisted she get off the court.

"She kept saying, `walk off the court, I'm the older sister and I say you have to leave."' Williams said. "I'm feeling really good right now and I'm happy to be here."

Williams said she will undergo a series of tests at the end of the season.

"I was really ill," she said. "I got to thinking about a lot of things and because of family history, I'll get the tests done and we'll go from there."

Williams apparently expected to play in Bastad the following week until her mother nixed the idea.

Doctors wouldn't let her leave her room, so she got some much-needed rest before resuming a full schedule that included a working vacation and a movie shoot.

"I was going to stay in Europe and play in the tournament," she said. "Going to Croatia was unexpected. I'm glad I went. It was so pretty."

Williams' long-time hitting partner Sascha Bajin suggested the trip, telling her "there are more tennis courts than people there. And there were tennis courts everywhere you looked."

She practiced in the morning and took it easy the rest of the day.

"I was running and swimming and jumping in the ocean," Williams said. "I tried to stay away from the sharks. That's pretty good motivation. I didn't want to be eaten by sharks."

Williams maintained that after three days in bed, she had already moved on and stopped thinking about it. She also ignored internet rumors.

Looking comfortable and relaxed, the world's No. 1 player said she's ready to renew her pursuit of excellence on the court.

Williams meets the Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday in the second round of the Bank of West Classic. Pliskova beat Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm, 6-1, 6-3, on Monday.

"I've always felt good about this tournament and just being here," she said. "This has always been a special place for me."

She used the Bank of the West to restart her career in 2011, recording her first WTA title in over a year. She was ranked No. 175 at the time and finished the year No. 12.

Williams, who has appeared in numerous television shows, is shooting a movie in Toronto. "I don't know if that's supposed to be secret. I love doing films, I always have."

Third-seeded Angelique Kerber watched Williams practice and doesn't see anything wrong in her game.

"She is back, for sure," Kerber said. "She's the favorite here and she is a champion. We'll see what happens in the next few days."

In other first-round matches, eighth-seeded Andrea Petkovic downed Ajla Tomljanovic, Coco Vandeweghe got by recent Stanford grad Kristie Ahn, 6-2, 7-5, qualifier Sachia Vickery topped Shuai Zhang, 6-1, 6-2 and qualifier Naomi Osaaka defeated Samantha Stosur, 4-6, 7-5 (7), 7-5.

`'This was a real good confidence booster for me," Vickery said.

Tue, 29 Jul 2014 05:16:00 +0000
Rose returns as US basketball team opens camp

LAS VEGAS (AP) Derrick Rose says he feels old.

The 25-year-old point guard's rigorous play on Monday during the U.S. basketball team's first practice dictated otherwise.

"I was joking with Kyle Korver, I told him `I'm getting old, man. I've got to stretch, I've got to use rollers and stuff.' He looked at me kind of weird," Rose said laughingly. "But I feel a lot more mature. I've been preparing for this for a long time. I've dedicated my whole summer to this. I think I've sacrificed a lot for this moment."

Rose, the Chicago Bulls star who is coming off two knee injuries that kept him out for much of the last two seasons, said he played roughly nine minutes of the team's scrimmage during a two-hour practice. He added he was excited about how he felt physically.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski was elated with Rose's play, saying he was most impressed with his defensive pressure and tenaciousness.

"I think Derrick was a great excitement for us, because you hear about how he's worked out, but to see him today, I mean, he put it all out," Krzyzewski said. "He was playing to exhaustion. That was a big plus for today, to see him. I was pleased that he didn't hold anything back. He played his butt off."

Rose, who played just 10 games last season before his season was ended by a torn meniscus in his right knee, said he's spent much of the summer in Chicago working out, other than a few promotional days in Los Angeles for adidas. He was happy to be back on the court, playing against and alongside other NBA players.

"I work out a couple hours a day (and) I know how much work I've put into this; I'm just excited to be here," Rose said. "Going out there competing and having fun, to tell you the truth, just having fun, I think that's the key."

The 2011 MVP also said he's felt no pressure to prove himself to anyone, and isn't trying to play outside the realm he was accustomed to before his initial injury.

"I think last year I was trying to (prove myself) and you see the outcome of that - that wasn't my game," said Rose, who is expected to return next season. "This time around, I know my game and I know exactly what I need to do when I go out there."

Said Krzyzewski: "Derrick is one of the great players I've had an opportunity to coach. He's an elite player in the world and he's coming off of some really unbelievably bad setbacks. The fact is, he hasn't been defeated mentally; instead he's gotten stronger and he'll continue to grow as a player."

Though he said he was "really surprised" to see Rose play as well as he did, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo called Monday's first practice a great start for Rose, as it gave everyone an indication the three-time All-Star is ready to play a high-caliber level for the men's national team and Chicago.

"It was very exciting to see Derrick back on the court," Colangelo said. "I expected him to be a little bit more rusty than he was and so that's big news. That's big news for us, that's big news for Chicago Bulls fans."

Tue, 29 Jul 2014 01:01:00 +0000
Star-studded 2014 Hall of Fame class inducted in Cooperstown

Cooperstown got a little tougher and a lot louder Sunday afternoon as managers Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas.

It was a banner class for the Hall only a year after no living candidate earned enough votes for induction.

La Russa enters the Hall as the third-winningest manager of all time. He was picked as manager of the year four times and won 12 division titles, six pennants and World Series titles in 1989, 2006, and 2011.

More coverage: Six new plaques | Watch: Thomas' emotional speech | Why new rules?

Signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1962, La Russa's six-year major league career as an infielder was forgettable. But after earning a law degree at Florida State University and giving managing a try in the minor leagues, he found his niche, was elevated to manage the Chicago White Sox in 1979, and his managing career took off. He won two championships with St. Louis and one with Oakland.

By the time he retired, La Russa was third all-time in victories as a manager with 2,728, behind only Connie Mack and John McGraw and 224 wins more than his National League rival in Atlanta.

The feisty Cox, who also spent four years in Toronto, was a four-time Manager of the Year, three in the NL and one in the AL, and holds the major league record with 159 ejections. During his time in Atlanta, the Braves won an unprecedented 14 straight division titles and earned 15 playoff appearances.

Of course, it helped to have arms like Glavine and Maddux on the mound two out of every five days. The pair of aces combined to win 438 games in Atlanta.

Glavine won 305 games and two Cy Young Awards, and posted five seasons with 20 or more victories. Only three left-handers have more wins -- Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton and Eddie Plank. Glavine was on the mound when the Braves won Game 6 to clinch the 1995 World Series and give the city of Atlanta its lone major sports title.

A teammate on that ’95 team, Maddux also had stints with the Cubs, Padres and Dodgers over a 23-year major league career. Nicknamed "Mad Dog," he won 355 games and four straight Cy Young Awards, leading the NL in innings each season.

Known for his pinpoint control, Maddux walked just 999 in 5,008 1/3 innings and ranks 10th in strikeouts with 3,371. He also was a sharp fielder, capturing 18 Gold Gloves, and was an All-Star eight times.   

While Glavine and Maddux used their smarts and skill to terrorize opposing batters, the massively-built Thomas was simply terrifying.

Posnanski on 2014: Maddux the magician Brain powers Glavine | Thomas had patience

Nicknamed "The Big Hurt" for his bat prowess, Thomas won AL MVP awards in 1993 and 1994 and finished his 19-year career with a .301 batting average, 521 homers and 1,704 RBIs. He's also the only player in major league history with seven straight seasons with a .300 average, 20 homers, 100 RBIs and 100 walks, and the first Hall of Famer who spent the majority of his career as a designated hitter.

Thomas played 16 years for the White Sox and established himself as the best hitter in franchise history. He holds the team record for homers (448), doubles (447), RBIs (1,465), runs (1,327), extra-base hits (906), walks (1,466), total bases (3,949), slugging percentage (.568) and on-base percentage (.427).

A fantastic player in his own right, Torre became something special in New York.

Despite mediocre stints managing the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals (five winning seasons in 15 years), Torre was hired by the Yankees prior to the 1996 season. In 12 years with Torre at the helm, the Yankees won 10 division titles, six AL pennants, and four World Series.

Torre also won National League MVP honors in 1971 with a signature season that included 230 hits and a .363 average, 97 runs, and 137 RBIs for the St. Louis Cardinals. He is the only man to amass more than 2,000 hits (2,342) as a player and win more than 2,000 games (2,326) as a manager, according to STATS.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:15:38 +0000
Vincenzo Nibali wins 2014 Tour de France

Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour de France on Sunday, becoming the first Italian in 16 years to triumph in cycling's greatest race by chiseling a lead over his main rivals a few seconds at a time and dominating them in the mountains.

The 29-year-old Sicilian, who called himself "a flag-bearer of anti-doping" during the race, finished in the pack behind Marcel Kittel, who won the 21st stage in a sprint finish.

PHOTOS: Crashes of the 2014 Tour de France

Nibali's victory comes after the pre-race favorites -- 2013 champion Chris Froome and two-time winner Alberto Contador -- crashed out with injuries in the first half of this year's Tour.

Astana team leader Nibali is only the sixth rider to win all three Grand Tours -- France, Italy and Spain. The last Italian to win the Tour de France was Marco Pantani in 1998.

After cruising after Kittel, a German who got his fourth stage win, Nibali got pats on the back, kissed his wife and infant daughter, and was mobbed by cameras as race organizers hustled him away to prepare for the final awards ceremony.

"Unbelievable," said Kittel, whose victories bookended this Tour. He won Stage 1 when British rival Mark Cavendish crashed out in the final sprint.

TDF Live 2014: Watch every Tour stage live | Full stage replays
Highlights | Standings | Stages | Teams | TV schedule
NBC Sports Fantasy Cycling Challenge

Nibali also won four stages, a feat not equaled by a Tour winner since Lance Armstrong won five a decade ago. He wore the yellow jersey for all but two stages since Stage 1. His 7 minute, 52 second margin over runner-up Jean-Christophe Peraud is the largest since Jan Ullrich of Germany beat second-placed Richard Virenque by just over 9 minutes in 1997.

In one of the subplots of this race, Peraud and third-placed Thibaut Pinot became the first Frenchmen to reach the Tour podium since Virenque in that same year.

But such comparisons, many cycling insiders have noted, miss the mark. Armstrong, Ullrich and Virenque were three of the big-name riders caught in nearly a generation of doping scandals in cycling. Armstrong, in the biggest scandal ever in the sport, admitted to doping and was stripped of his record seven Tour titles.

PHOTOS: Crazy fans of the 2014 Tour de France 

Nibali and many others in the peloton say that era is past. But his own victories in the 2010 Vuelta and the Italian Giro last year were tarnished by high-profile doping cases involving other riders. While cycling's governing body, the UCI, has made great efforts to halt use of drugs and other performance-enhancers, such as through the biological passport program, few cycling observers believe the pack is fully clean.

Many naysayers may argue that Nibali was the best of the riders still in this Tour. Colombia's Nairo Quintana, who won the Giro d'Italia in May, did not ride. Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour champ, was passed over so his Sky Team could focus on Froome. Then Froome and Contador pulled out due to injuries.

But even before they left, Nibali had gained a 2-second advantage on them by winning Stage 2, surprising even himself. Then, in Stage 5 after Froome crashed out, the Italian excelled on cobblestone patches that slowed down Contador, who lost more than 2˝ minutes to Nibali. The Spaniard was forced into a need to attack.

PHOTOS: Scenic shots from the 2014 Tour de France 

On a downhill in Stage 10, Contador crashed and fractured his tibia. But Nibali, who is known as "The Shark of the Strait" -- a nod to the waterway near his hometown of Messina, Sicily -- didn't stop there. He went on to win that stage into La Planche des Belles Filles. It was the first of three stages with uphill finishes that he won, adding one in the Alps (Chamrousse) and another in the Pyrenees (Hautacam).

Nibali said this Tour layout, announced last fall, "was almost made to measure for me."

The 101st edition began in Yorkshire, England, and guided riders over 3,664 kilometers (2,277 miles) including cobblestones, wind-swept flats and climbs in the Vosges, Alps and Pyrenees.

PHOTOS: Tour de France rest day shenanigans 

With the Arc de Triomphe in Paris as the backdrop, other riders getting TV time on the winner's podium included Peter Sagan of Slovakia, winner of the green jersey given to the race's best sprinter; Rafal Majka of Poland, the best climber; and Pinot, the best young rider born since the start of 1989.

Sun, 27 Jul 2014 16:03:37 +0000

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