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4 hours ago Cubs legend Ernie Banks remembered for unwavering optimism

CHICAGO (AP) Fans and friends paid tribute to legendary Chicago Cubs slugger Ernie Banks on Saturday, recalling how he helped break baseball's color barrier during a Hall of Fame career in which he won over teammates and an entire city with the unwavering optimism he brought to the game and life.

At a memorial service in a Chicago church, the buoyant man known as "Mr. Cub" was remembered for his character as much as his accomplishments on the ballfield, including his 512 career home runs. Speaker after speaker recalled Banks' unflagging spirit and good cheer - he enthusiastically predicted each spring that his team would win the pennant - as well as his humility and care for others.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Banks "disarmed adversaries with optimism" and "branded goodwill." Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Banks was a "humble hero" who taught younger generations "how to play the game of life." Fellow Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins said the unassuming, joyful Banks strove to be a good teammate, not a star.

Billy Williams, another Hall of Famer, recalled animated conversations that he and Banks would have while driving to Wrigley Field on game days.

"I never did see him read a book, but he knew about everything," Williams marveled.

Saturday would have been Banks' 84th birthday, and several speakers called on the crowd to celebrate his life, not mourn his passing. Banks, a two-time MVP, military veteran and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, died Jan. 23 of a heart attack. His coffin, which was in front of the altar, was draped in a banner emblazoned with his jersey number, 14. A choir performed a rousing version of "This Little Light of Mine."

Jackson, exhorting everyone to stand, led a thunderous round of applause to celebrate Banks' birthday. In the hush that followed, the civil rights leader noted it was also the 150th anniversary of Congress passing the 13th amendment abolishing slavery.

"Smiling faces can some

4 hours ago Williams beats Sharapova again, wins 19th Grand Slam title

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Serena Williams stuck out a fist in mock triumph and mouthed "C'mon," careful not to push her point too far.

The 33-year-old Williams was closing in on her 19th Grand Slam singles title, her 16th straight win over Maria Sharapova and her sixth Australian Open championship when she was docked a point by the chair umpire for hindrance - for yelling in celebration too early when she thought she'd hit a service winner.

She didn't let that, or another early celebration on match point, or a hacking cough that made her sick, become distractions. Instead, Williams maintained her composure to beat Sharapova 6-3, 7-6 (5) on Saturday night to continue her 100 percent record in finals at Melbourne Park and move closer to Steffi Graf's record of 22 major titles in the Open era.

"I got too excited and I hit a great serve ... I didn't expect her to get it back," Williams explained of the hindrance call in the seventh game of the second set. "I said, `C'mon', a little too soon. I guess there's a rule that you can't do it. So I'm fine with it. I moved on very fast to the next point; just tried to stay as focused as I could."

The muted fist pump, she said, was just for fun.

"I'm like, `C'mon.' It just goes to show you I have more fun on the court. I would have never done that three years ago, four years ago," said Williams, who has let similar calls upset her in the past. "So I just kind of made a little sarcasm after that."

On her third match point, she let her racket go before hearing a let call to what she thought was an ace.

"I thought, `Wow this is it, I did it,' only to hear let. I was like, `OK Serena!"' she said.

So she fell back on her biggest weapon, firing another ace - her 15th of the set and 18th of the match. This time, after checking it was official, she bounced around like a little child and the celebration was real.

"I'm so honored to be here and to hold this 19th trophy," Wi

4 hours ago Late rally lifts No. 4 Duke past No. 2 Virginia, 69-63

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Tyus Jones scored 17 points and hit a clinching 3-pointer with about 10 seconds remaining Saturday night as No. 4 Duke ended No. 2 Virginia's 21-game home winning streak, 69-63.

Jones' 3-pointer was the fourth in the last four minutes for the Blue Devils (18-3, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had missed 11 of 13 before hitting the critical long-range shots they needed.

Virginia (19-1, 7-1) started the second half with a 16-4 burst and led by 11 with just under 11 minutes to play before some ill-advised shots, turnovers and Duke's blistering shooting turned the tables.

Malcolm Brogdon led Virginia with 17 points and Justin Anderson had 11.

Quinn Cook, who scored 15, hit three 3-pointers in the last 4:38, including the one to give Duke the lead at 66-63 with 1:16 remaining. After Mike Tobey missed a free throw for Virginia, Tyus Jones hit the finisher with 9.9 seconds left, capping a game-ending 16-5 run for the Blue Devils.

Duke finished 28 for 55 (50.9 percent) and became the first team to shot above 50 percent against the Cavaliers this season. Justise Winslow also scored 15 and Jahlil Okafor had 10 points and nine rebounds.

Duke twice had to close big margins in the closing minutes. The Blue Devils pulled within 49-47 after getting two baskets by Okafor and an assist by the big man for a layup by Matt Jones, but then saw Virginia score the next points to go back ahead 56-47.

A three-point play by Tyus Jones ended the Cavaliers' run, and after a layup by London Perrantes for Virginia, the Blue Devils started connecting from the outside and the Cavaliers' lead evaporated.

The meeting was the first of teams in the top five in Charlottesville since No. 3 Virginia beat No. 2 North Carolina 74-58 at University Hall on Feb. 3, 1982, and brought out lots of Virginia royalty like Ralph Sampson and Sean Singletary.

They saw a packed house, a big lead, and then were left wanting

4 hours ago Sons represent late Junior Seau at Hall of Fame announcement

PHOENIX (AP) One by one, the newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame stepped onto the stage as their names were called. When the eighth man elected Saturday, the late Junior Seau, was announced, his two sons stood with the group.

"I wish," 25-year-old Tyler Seau said later, "he was here in person with us."

A field-covering, hard-hitting linebacker, the charismatic Seau, who committed suicide at age 43 in 2012, was the only first-time eligible candidate in the Hall's class of 2015. Also getting in Saturday, a day before the Super Bowl, were modern-day players Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley and Will Shields, contributors Bill Polian and Ron Wolf, and senior selection Mick Tingelhoff.

"It's hard when you come into a group of men that have done what they've done, at their caliber, and they're sharing stories and memories that they had together and playing against each other," Tyler Seau said. "It makes you emotional."

Researchers who studied Junior Seau's brain said it showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease connected to repeated head injuries, including concussions.

His death, less than 2 1/2 years after the end of his playing career, resonated among players in the league, raising worry about the physical and emotional toll the sport takes.

Junior Seau played in the NFL for 20 seasons, the first 13 with the San Diego Chargers, followed by three with Miami and four with New England. He was Defensive Player of the Year for San Diego in 1992, made six All-Pro teams, and was a member of the league's All-Decade team of the 1990s.

"He never really needed an award to solidify how good he was. This kind of stuff was more for his family, for his mom, his dad, his brothers. Just to make them proud, make his family proud," Tyler Seau said. "For him, he knew what work he put in. So he knew where he was and where he stood amongst these men. And he's rightfully in."

Patriots coach Bill B

4 hours ago Rodgers wins MVP, Watt unanimous top AP defensive player

PHOENIX (AP) Just living the dream. And looking for more.

Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers won his second MVP award Saturday night, and J.J. Watt swept away the voters the way he sweeps quarterbacks off their feet to take top defensive honors.

Rodgers, also the 2011 Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award winner, took this one in somewhat surprisingly easy fashion over Watt. The Packers quarterback received 31 votes for the 2014 award from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Houston's Watt, seeking to become the first defensive player to win MVP since 1986, got 13 votes.

Rodgers threw for 38 touchdowns and a league-low five interceptions; he has thrown 512 passes at home without a pick. He led the Packers to two victories at season's end despite playing with a severe calf injury.

"I feel so fortunate to live out my dreams, year after year," Rodgers said Saturday night. "

"It can't help but sink in when you play for the Packers. When you live in Green Bay you know about the Lombardi years, Bart Starr and all the guys who made those teams special. You like to be part of something special yourself."

Watt, the ultra-energetic and versatile Texans end, is the first unanimous choice for an AP award since Tom Brady won Most Valuable Player in 2007, and the first for top defensive player under the current voting setup.

"I'm always trying to raise the bar," he said. "The moment you get complacent is the moment you begin your decline. When you start to feel like you've made it, when you feel like you're doing pretty good, that's when you start to fall back."

NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray of Dallas won Offensive Player, while the Arizona Cardinals swept coaching honors. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski took the Comeback Player award, but was not on hand because, well, New England has a rather important date with Seattle on Sunday in the Super Bowl.

Murray, who ran away

Yesterday Judge: Jury can watch Super Bowl unless Hernandez mentioned

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) The 18 New England residents sitting on the jury in the murder trial of former Patriots star Aaron Hernandez will be allowed to watch the home team play in Sunday's Super Bowl, but the judge overseeing the case says they must leave the room if his name is mentioned.

Hernandez caught quarterback Tom Brady's last Super Bowl touchdown pass in the Patriots' 2012 loss to the New York Giants. Now he is on trial for murder, charged with the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd, who was dating his fiancee's sister.

The trial is playing out just as Hernandez's old team is preparing to take on the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL championship game.

Bristol County Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh closed the second day of testimony Friday by telling jurors they may watch the game if it is important to them, but they must be vigilant for mention of the case or Hernandez.

"You hear that word, you've got to walk out of the room," Garsh said. "Distance yourself."

The judge previously told jurors that they are not allowed to discuss the case with anyone, even to tell their families or employers that they are sitting on the jury for Hernandez. During jury selection, jurors were asked if they were Patriots fans, but that did not mean they were automatically disqualified from being selected.

Hernandez had a $40 million contract with the Patriots when he was arrested.

Earlier Friday, Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, was overcome with emotion and had to leave the courtroom as a prosecutor showed graphic photos of her son's body at the industrial park where he was found. The 27-year-old Lloyd was shown lying on his back with his left fist curled in a ball over the gunshot wounds to his chest.

It was the second straight day she left the courtroom in tears.

Lloyd's body was found riddled with bullets in an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough home, not far from Gillette Stadium.

On Friday, two

Yesterday Judge: Jury can watch Super Bowl unless Hernandez mentioned

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) The 18 New England residents sitting on the jury in the murder trial of former Patriots star Aaron Hernandez will be allowed to watch the home team play in Sunday's Super Bowl, but the judge overseeing the case says they must leave the room if his name is mentioned.

Hernandez caught quarterback Tom Brady's last Super Bowl touchdown pass in the Patriots' 2012 loss to the New York Giants. Now he is on trial for murder, charged with the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd, who was dating his fiancee's sister.

The trial is playing out just as Hernandez's old team is preparing to take on the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL championship game.

Bristol County Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh closed the second day of testimony Friday by telling jurors they may watch the game if it is important to them, but they must be vigilant for mention of the case or Hernandez.

"You hear that word, you've got to walk out of the room," Garsh said. "Distance yourself."

The judge has previously told jurors that they are not allowed to discuss the case with anyone, even to tell their families or employers that they are sitting on the jury for Hernandez. During jury selection, jurors were asked if they were Patriots fans, but that did not mean they were automatically disqualified from being selected.

Hernandez had a $40 million contract with the Patriots when he was arrested.

Earlier Friday, Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, was overcome with emotion and had to leave the courtroom as a prosecutor showed graphic photos of her son's body at the industrial park where he was found. The 27-year-old Lloyd was shown lying on his back with his left fist curled in a ball over the gunshot wounds to his chest.

It was the second straight day she left the courtroom in tears.

Lloyd's body was found riddled with bullets in an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough home, not far from Gillette Stadium.

On Friday,

Yesterday Judge: Jury can watch Super Bowl unless Hernandez mentioned

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) The judge overseeing former New England Patriots standout Aaron Hernandez's murder trial says jurors can watch this weekend's Super Bowl but must be vigilant for any mention of him.

Bristol County Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh gave jurors instructions Friday before dismissing them for the weekend. The Patriots are taking on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Hernandez caught quarterback Tom Brady's last Super Bowl touchdown pass in the Patriots' 2012 loss to the New York Giants.

Garsh says if jurors watch the game, they must take precautions to avoid being exposed to information about Hernandez.

Hernandez is charged in the 2013 shooting death of semipro football player Odin Lloyd. Opening statements in the trial began Thursday.

Hernandez had a $40 million contract with the Patriots when he was arrested.

Yesterday Lakers stop 9-game skid, edge Bulls in double OT 123-118

LOS ANGELES -- Jordan Hill scored 26 points and forced the second overtime with a clutch jumper, and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped their nine-game losing streak in thrilling fashion with a 123-118 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

Wayne Ellington scored 23 points and rookie Jordan Clarkson added 18 for the Lakers, who held off the Bulls for their first victory since Jan. 9.

With big late baskets from everybody in their patchwork lineup, the Lakers avoided matching the 1994 squad coached by Magic Johnson for the longest skid in the 16-time champion franchise's history.

All-Star Jimmy Butler matched his career high with 35 points for the Bulls, who rallied from a nine-point deficit in 70 seconds late in regulation.

Pau Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds in his Staples Center return to face the Lakers, and he forced the first overtime with the tying tip-in shot with 11 seconds left.

Derrick Rose added 17 points before missing a jumper at the first overtime buzzer for the Bulls, who flopped after their thrilling win at Golden State on Tuesday.

Carlos Boozer had 16 points for the Lakers, who improved to 1-3 since Kobe Bryant was lost for the season with a torn right rotator cuff.

Hill's short hook shot at the regulation buzzer rattled out, but he hit a tying 20-footer with 16 seconds left in the first OT. Rose badly missed his 20-footer at the first OT buzzer.

Ellington hit two early shots in the second overtime to put the Lakers up for good. Los Angeles made five of its seven shots in the second OT while holding on.

The Lakers gave a pregame tribute to Gasol, who won two NBA titles in seven seasons in Los Angeles before leaving as a free agent last summer. Gasol got standing ovations in warmups and again before the game, when he stepped to center court and waved both arms at fans wearing commemorative gold T-shirts.

Los Angeles led by 15 points in the second half, and Hill's baske

Yesterday 3 Hawks, Durant and Westbrook are NBA All-Star reserves

NEW YORK (AP) Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague were picked Thursday as reserves for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, giving the sizzling Atlanta Hawks three selections.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook made the West team despite early season injuries for the Oklahoma City stars. The Miami Heat also had two reserves in Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

But Portland surprisingly only had one in LaMarcus Aldridge. Point guard Damian Lillard was not among the seven reserves.

Atlanta has won 17 in a row and has a 38-8 record, second-best in the NBA. The Hawks were hoping for four spots, but Kyle Korver was not chosen by East coaches.

"Our whole starting five deserves to be there," Teague said before the results were announced. "We have a good ballclub. We're all playing at a really high level right now. And we're playing as a team. That's all you can really ask for."

Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, last year's All-Star game MVP, and first-timer Jimmy Butler of Chicago were the other players announced to the East roster.

The rest of the West reserves for the Feb. 15 game at Madison Square Garden in New York are James Harden (Houston), Klay Thompson (Golden State), Tim Duncan (San Antonio) and Chris Paul (Clippers).

Head coaches in each conference had to vote for two guards, three frontcourt players and two players regardless of position. They couldn't vote for players on their own teams.

The starters were voted by fans and announced last Thursday. LeBron James (Cleveland), Pau Gasol (Chicago), Carmelo Anthony (New York), John Wall (Washington) and Kyle Lowry (Toronto) will start for the East. Stephen Curry (Golden State), Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Blake Griffin (Clippers) and Marc Gasol (Memphis) were voted in from the West.

Bryant is out for the rest of the season after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder and his replacement on the roster will be chosen by Comm

Yesterday Browns receiver Josh Gordon says he was caught drinking

CLEVELAND (AP) Browns receiver Josh Gordon said on Thursday that his latest trouble with the NFL results from having a few drinks with teammates.

Gordon said in an open letter on Medium that he accepts responsibility for a failed alcohol test that could bring another suspension from the league. The 23-year-old receiver said he had two beers and two other drinks with teammates on a flight to Las Vegas on Jan. 2, after Cleveland's season ended.

The former Pro Bowler was suspended for last season after testing positive for marijuana, but the penalty was reduced to 10 games. Gordon said that as part of the reduction, he agreed not to drink alcohol. He said he was tested for it when he got off the plane in Las Vegas.

"As a strict condition to my reinstatement in Week 12, I had to agree not only to abstain from drinking for the rest of the season, but also to submit to an alcohol screen as part of my in-season drug testing under the league's substance-abuse protocol," Gordon said.

The receiver said he thought the requirement no longer applied when the season ended, but he was mistaken. The Browns missed the playoffs with a 7-9 record, finishing last in the AFC North.

"It doesn't matter if I thought that the league-imposed restriction on drinking had expired at the end of the regular season; what matters is that I didn't confirm whether or not that was the case," Gordon said. "Now, that oversight has further jeopardized my relationship with my team and our fans, my reputation, and maybe even my career."

Gordon rejected criticism from media commentators, saying they don't know him well enough to form opinions about him.

Gordon's absence was noticeable on a team that struggled on offense last year. Cleveland hired Joker Phillips as wide receivers coach on Thursday, Phillips' first full-time NFL coaching job. Phillips was most recently in college football as a wide receivers coach for Florida in 2012-2013.

Gordon led

Yesterday Prosecutors: Ex-NFL star Hernandez's DNA ties him to slaying

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) Prosecutors laid out what they called compelling forensic evidence - Aaron Hernandez's DNA on a marijuana cigarette shared with the friend they say he killed - as the ex-NFL star's trial got underway.

Jurors were to hear more testimony Friday in the case against the former New England Patriots standout, whose lawyers portrayed him as a man with "the world at his feet" and no reason to kill.

With his ex-teammates about to play in the Super Bowl, Hernandez listened intently to Thursday's opening statements. They offered insights into the prosecution's case against him and the defense's strategy to prove his innocence in the 2013 slaying of semipro football player Odin Lloyd.

Hernandez, 25, who caught Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's last Super Bowl touchdown pass in the Patriots' 2012 loss to the New York Giants, is charged in the shooting death of 27-year-old Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee.

Lloyd's bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough home, not far from Gillette Stadium.

Hernandez - who had a $40 million contract as a tight end but was cut by the Patriots hours after his 2013 arrest - could get life in prison if convicted. On Sunday, the Patriots meet the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

In a separate murder case that has yet to come to trial, Hernandez was charged last year in Boston with killing two men in 2012 after someone spilled a drink on him at a nightclub.

District Attorney Patrick Bomberg showed the jury before-and-after security video to connect Hernandez to Lloyd's killing.

He played footage that he said showed Lloyd getting into a Nissan Altima rental car driven by Hernandez, then video from the NFL player's home, taken shortly after Lloyd was killed, without Lloyd in the car.

Prosecutors say Hernandez and two of his friends drove Lloyd to the industrial park and shot him. The two friends

Yesterday Richard Sherman looking forward to fatherhood

PHOENIX (AP) Richard Sherman has contingency plans in place should his girlfriend give birth to their first child - a son - before Sunday's Super Bowl against New England.

Sherman doesn't seem worried about the potential arrival of his son interfering with his chances at winning a second straight Super Bowl title. He's expecting his son to be cooperative from birth.

"He's not supposed to come on Sunday. Obviously that would change some things. But I think he's going to be a disciplined young man and stay in there until after the game. He's going to do his father his first favor and stay in there for another week or two," Sherman said on Thursday.

"But I've thought about the possibility of him coming during the game and coming before the game and we have things in place in case that happens and we'll cross that bridge when we get there. But I did not know it was a topic of national debate, honestly. I would not like to miss the birth of my first son, my first kid. Thankfully, hopefully and God willing we won't have to cross that bridge."

Sherman revealed the pending birth of his son earlier this week in a first-person article for The MMQB.

Sherman also had no reservations about the idea of his son playing football in the future.

"Football teaches you discipline and helps you develop a sense of leadership and courage and camaraderie among your friends and teammates," Sherman said. "It also shows you how to work with the group, how to depend on one another, how to trust someone to do their job and how to be dependable, to do your job. There are a lot of aspects of football that people don't talk about, and these are the things you learn and they are essential throughout your life."

WORTHY CAUSE: Cancer Treatment Centers of America and the NFL Alumni Association announced a partnership to raise awareness among NFL Alumni and fans around the country about screening, diagnosis and treatment for prostate cancer.

Th

Jan 29, 2015 Millsaps leads Hawks to 17th straight win, 113-102 over Nets

ATLANTA (AP) Paul Millsap had 28 points and 15 rebounds, five other Atlanta players scored in double figures, and the Hawks stretched their franchise-record winning streak to 17 games in a row with a 113-102 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

Atlanta (38-8) has won 31 of 33 and leads the Eastern Conference by a commanding seven games. This was a bit tougher than expected against the struggling Nets, who kept it close most of the way.

The Hawks pulled away in the final quarter, leading by as many as 15. Millsap finished off Brooklyn's last run with a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:34 remaining, pushing Atlanta to a 109-98 edge.

Joe Johnson led the Nets with 26 points. It wasn't enough to prevent Brooklyn's 11th loss in 13 games, a slide that has knocked the team out of the top eight in the East.

Al Horford also had a double-double for the Hawks with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Kyle Korver scored 17, connecting on five 3-pointers, while Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder had 13 apiece and DeMarre Carroll 12. Atlanta outrebounded the Nets 45-35.

Brook Lopez scored 18 for Brooklyn off the bench, and Jarrett Jack chipped in with 14 points and 13 assists.

The Hawks got off to a sloppy start, committing six turnovers in the first 7 minutes. But they seized control before the break, closing the second quarter on a 21-9 run that sent them to the locker room with their biggest lead of the half, 64-53.

Millsap played a huge role in the turnaround. He scored 16 points, knocked down a pair of 3-pointers, and grabbed 12 rebounds in the opening half.

Atlanta has built a double-digit lead in every game during its winning streak, and improved to 33-1 this season when up by at least 10 points.

Amazingly, the Hawks have already matched their win total for all of last season, when they slipped into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed with a 38-44 record.

And it's not even the All-Star break.

TIP-I

Jan 29, 2015 Kobe Bryant has surgery, expected to be out for 9 months

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) Kobe Bryant is officially done for the season after having surgery to repair his torn right rotator cuff Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Lakers also made it official that their superstar doesn't believe his career is finished.

Bryant is expected to need nine months to recover from his third straight season-ending injury. If Bryant meets that timetable, he could return to basketball shortly before the start of the 2015-16 season - and the Lakers expect to see him in purple and gold again.

Neal ElAttrache and Steve Lombardo performed the two-hour surgery at the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.

"I expect Kobe to make a full recovery, and if all goes as expected, he should be ready for the start of the season," ElAttrache said in a statement provided by the Lakers.

The Lakers formally declared Bryant out for the year by acknowledging the expected recovery time from his injury, but also effectively confirmed he won't retire and will attempt to play his 20th season in the fall. Bryant, who will be 37 years old this summer, is the NBA's highest-paid player at $23.5 million this season, and he is under contract for $25 million next year.

"In my mind right now, he's coming back next year, unless he tells me something different," coach Byron Scott said at practice Wednesday.

Scott already had acknowledged Bryant was highly unlikely to play again this season for the flailing Lakers (12-34), who will match their franchise record for futility if they lose their 10th consecutive game when the Chicago Bulls visit Thursday. But if Los Angeles finishes with a top-five draft pick, the club won't have to give its first-round choice to Phoenix until next year to complete its brutal trade for Steve Nash in 2012.

Bryant hurt his right shoulder while dunking last week in New Orleans, deciding on surgery shortly afterward. He is the third-leading scorer in league history and a five-time NBA champio

Jan 29, 2015 Wade Phillips hired as Broncos defensive coordinator

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Wade Phillips is returning to Denver as Gary Kubiak's defensive coordinator.

Phillips, 67, interviewed for the position this week after the Broncos were rebuffed in their attempts to speak with Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph about the position. Joseph, who has a year left on his contract in Cincinnati, had interviewed for the Broncos head coaching vacancy following John Fox's ouster earlier this month.

Phillips was Kubiak's defensive coordinator in Houston from 2011-13 and replaced him as interim coach when Kubiak was fired by the Texans in December 2013.

Phillips has also served as head coach of the Saints, Cowboys, Falcons, Bills and Broncos, where he went 16-16 from 1993-94. He was out of football last season for the first time since 1975.

Under Phillips, the Broncos figure to capitalize on their pass-rushing duo of Pro Bowlers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware by playing more of a 3-4 defense, with three down linemen and four linebackers.

Under Fox the last four seasons they were primarily a 4-3 team.

Taking on an added urgency under such a switch would be the re-signing of soon-to-be free agent nose tackle Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton because the fulcrum of a 3-4 alignment is a stout run-stuffer who can command double teams.

Knighton has said he wants to finish his career in Denver, but he's also said he wants to keep playing for Jack Del Rio, who was hired as Oakland's head coach after the Broncos bowed out of the playoffs. Del Rio drafted Knighton in Jacksonville and was his defensive coordinator in Denver.

Also Wednesday, the Broncos hired tight ends coach Brian Pariani and agreed to terms with Joe Woods to coach their defensive backs. Woods was Oakland's secondary coach in 2014.

Pariani brings 24 years of NFL coaching experience, including 19 as a tight ends coach, to Denver, where he also coached the tight ends from 1995-2004.

His prize pupils then were Hall o

Jan 29, 2015 Grant sparks No. 8 Notre Dame to 77-73 victory over Duke

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Jerian Grant had 23 points and 12 assists and No. 8 Notre Dame made two shots in the final 67 seconds as the shot clock ran out to beat No. 4 Duke 77-73 Wednesday night.

Grant lost control of the ball, picked it up at the free throw line and got a shot off just in time to give the Irish a 73-70 lead with 67 seconds left. After Quinn Cook hit a pair of free throws, Grant looked as though he was holding for a shot. But he fired it over to Steve Vasturia in the corner for a 3-pointer, giving the Irish a 76-72 lead. Grant thenblocked a layup attempt to end the threat by Duke.

The win keeps Notre Dame (20-2, 8-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) in second-place in the league. l Duke (17-3, 4-3) is off to its worst start in league play since opening the 1995-96 season 3-4.

Jan 29, 2015 Irving scores 55, leads Cavs to 8th win in row minus LeBron

CLEVELAND (AP) Kyrie Irving scored a career-high 55 points, breaking the arena record while LeBron James watched from the bench and leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to their eighth straight win, 99-94 over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

Irving took over with James sidelined with a sprained right wrist. He buried a 3-pointer with 6.4 seconds left to break a 94-94 tie, grabbed a rebound off a missed 3-pointer by Portland's Damian Lillard, and as many in the crowd chanted "M-V-P" and James danced near the bench, Irving dropped two free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining to seal the win.

Irving broke the previous scoring record at Quicken Loans Arena held by Allen Iverson. His point total was also the highest in the league this season, bettering the 52 scored by Golden State's Klay Thompson and Minnesota's Mo Williams.

Jan 28, 2015 Golfer Allenby stands by story, says truth will come out

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) A defiant and at times angry Robert Allenby stood by his story Tuesday that he was robbed and beaten in Honolulu, basing the account on what he remembered and what he was told by a homeless woman who came to his aid.

"There has definitely been a lot of confusion," Allenby said. "But I think the No. 1 thing that you should all remember is that my story stays exactly the same as the way I told it. I told you what I knew, and I told you what someone told me. That's the bottom line. I never lied to anyone."

Honolulu police are investigating the Jan. 16 incident as second-degree robbery. No arrests have been made.

Allenby says he was at Amuse Wine Bar with his caddie and a friend from Australia on the night he missed the cut at the Sony Open. He said surveillance tape shows him leaving the bar with three people he doesn't recognize, and that his next memory is being in a park. He said a homeless woman told him he had been thrown out of a trunk, which he said caused his injuries.

Allenby posted a photo of his bloodied forehead and a swollen eye to his private Facebook account. He said he was robbed of wallet and phone, though the credit card he used to pay for dinner and wine was still in his front pocket.

In the last week, however, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser quoted the homeless woman, Charade Keane, as saying she never told Allenby she saw him in a trunk and did not how he was injured. The newspaper quoted another homeless man in the park, Chris Khamis, as saying Allenby told him he was depressed and drugged at a strip club and that he passed out and hit his head on a lava rock.

Exactly what happened remains a mystery, even for Allenby. He said Tuesday he has "no memory in my brain" from about 11:06 p.m. to 1:27 a.m. on that date.

"I have been trying and overlooking and going backward and forward, and there is just nothing," he said. "I can't tell you how frustrating that is because we all want

Jan 28, 2015 Kraft takes the offensive, defends team, seeks NFL apology

CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) The New England Patriots came out swinging upon their arrival at the Super Bowl.

Not star quarterback Tom Brady or All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. Not coach Bill Belichick, either.

Robert Kraft.

The team owner on Monday night demanded an apology from the league once the Patriots are found to be not guilty of breaking any rules regarding using under-inflated footballs in the AFC championship game.

A conclusion Kraft is certain will occur.

In an unscheduled statement, Kraft strongly defended his team's actions and integrity, growing more fiery with each sentence.

"I want to make it clear that I believe, unconditionally, that the New England Patriots have done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of NFL rules," Kraft said at the team's first media availability in Arizona.

"If the (Ted) Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular to coach (Bill) Belichick and Tom Brady, for what they've had to endure this week."

NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash and Ted Wells of the law firm of Paul Weiss are leading the probe. Wells was the investigator in the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal and has said the current investigation could last a while.

Kraft welcomes a thorough search.

"I'm disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon," Kraft said, pointing directly to reports citing anonymous sources. "We expect hard facts rather than circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation."

The NFL has said evidence shows the Patriots used underinflated footballs during the first half of the AFC title game victory over Indianapolis. The league is still determining why the balls were underinflated.

"I am confident that this investig

Jan 28, 2015 Super Bowl, Tiger make Phoenix center of sports universe

PHOENIX (AP) Tiger Woods will tee off his season in front of 200,000 golf fans and an estimated million people will flock to a revived Phoenix downtown for NFL events.

A pair of NBA games will be played in the heart of it all. Concerts abound and there will be parties galore.

Oh yes, there's a football game, too. Although the Super Bowl is actually being played 30 minutes away in suburban Glendale.

Super Bowl week is always a spectacle. With the addition of golf's biggest name in its most raucous tournament, the scene in and around Phoenix this week should be even crazier. For a few days, what once was a desert wasteland is the center of the sports and entertainment world.

"It kind of puts us on the map," Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "It kind of gives us that networking that we don't have like other teams - the Dallas Cowboys or the New York teams. Everybody can see what the state is all about."

The fun will stretch from Glendale to the west to Scottsdale in the east.

The epicenter is downtown Phoenix, where 12 blocks have been cordoned off for a myriad of Super Bowl activities and displays. Thanks to a temporary law change, fans can wander through with open containers of alcohol.

A few steps away is the NFL Experience, billed as the league's interactive theme park, set up in the Phoenix Convention Center.

Walk a block or so, and there's US Airways Center, where the ever-entertaining, often-bizarre Media Day was held on Tuesday, with fans able to witness it for $28.50 a pop. The arena swings back into its usual purpose on Wednesday night, when the Washington Wizards play the Suns. Friday night, the Chicago Bulls are in town.

Scottsdale has a party scene any weekend. Super Bowl weekend it goes over the top. Streets around the clubs will be blocked off with Maxim and Rolling Stone among those hosting gatherings.

In north Scottsdale there will be a giant party that happens

Jan 28, 2015 Jury convicts 2 ex-Vanderbilt players of raping woman

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) A jury convicted two ex-Vanderbilt football players on Tuesday of raping a former student, rejecting claims that they were too drunk to know what they were doing and that a college culture of binge drinking and promiscuous sex should be blamed for the attack.

The jury deliberated for three hours before announcing that Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey were guilty of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery.

Batey was stoic, staring ahead and Vandenburg shook his head "no," appearing stunned. His father had an outburst and abruptly left the courtroom.

The victim, a 21-year-old neuroscience and economics major at the time of the June 2013 attack, cried as each guilty verdict was announced. The men face decades in prison when they are sentenced March 6.

The jury heard two weeks of dramatic testimony from a parade of witnesses, including police, former and current Vanderbilt students and the woman, who said she didn't remember what happened that night, only that she woke up in a strange dorm room. They also saw cellphone images from the night of the attack that Vandenburg sent to his friends as it was happening.

Despite the photos and video, and witnesses seeing the woman unconscious and at least partially naked in a dorm hallway, no one reported it.

The victim said in a statement she was hopeful the publicity from the case would lead to a discussion of how to end sexual violence on college campuses. In Nashville, where the prestigious private university is located, hundreds of college officials from across the state were meeting this week to discuss exactly that.

"Finally, I want to remind other victims of sexual violence: You are not alone. You are not to blame," she said.

Vandenburg and Batey were on trial together, but represented by different attorneys. Attorneys for Vandenburg, who had been seeing the woman, said he did not assault her.

Testimony showed Vandenburg passed

Jan 28, 2015 Brodeur to retire, join St. Louis Blues front office

ST. LOUIS (AP) Martin Brodeur is retiring to take a front office job with the St. Louis Blues. The New Jersey Devils have a spot waiting for one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history whenever he is ready to come back home.

"Absolutely. He is aware of that and has always been aware of that," Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said Tuesday. "He could have come back even now if he wanted to."

The 10-time All-Star and four-time Vezina Trophy winner finished his career with St. Louis after a standout, two-decade run with New Jersey. A news conference was set for Thursday morning before the Blues return from the All-Star break to play Nashville.

"It's kind of sad to see a guy like him hang `em up," said Brian Elliott, the Blues' All-Star goalie. "I'm sure it's a tough decision, but I was grateful to be on the same team with him if only for a little bit."

The 42-year-old Brodeur wrapped up his 22-year career with St. Louis after signing as a free agent on Dec. 2. He was 3-3 with a 2.87 goals-against average and in his final victory became the fifth-oldest goalie to post a shutout in a 3-0 win over Colorado on Dec. 29.

He last played on Jan. 2 in a loss at Anaheim and had not returned since being granted a one-week leave of absence on Jan. 14. Brodeur had dropped to third on the depth chart after Elliott returned from a knee injury, with 24-year-old Jake Allen sharing the position, but teammates are happy he'll still be around to help.

"It's an extremely smart move," forward Alexander Steen said. "All the experience and all that stuff is so valuable to have in an organization. That stuff spreads."

Lamoriello said he's been talking with the Brodeur the last several weeks, so the announcement was not a surprise. Lamoriello said it won't be long before the Devils retire his No. 30 and that there are no hard feelings Brodeur is sticking with St. Louis for now.

"It's something that he feels he wou

Jan 28, 2015 Lynch at Media Day: 'I'm here so I don't get fined'

PHOENIX (AP) Marshawn Lynch smiled politely, waved at the crowd and answered every question the same.

"I'm here so I don't get fined," the Seattle Seahawks' star running back constantly repeated for five minutes before leaving the podium at Media Day on Tuesday. It's not clear if his plan will work.

About 200 reporters crowded around Lynch's podium for at least 15 minutes before he arrived. But the media-shy Lynch made it clear right from the start he wasn't saying anything except variations of his scripted answer.

Lynch set a timer on his phone and told everyone he showed up just to avoid a fine. Lynch caught a bag of Skittles tossed from Olympic gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson and stopped to pick up a reporter's recorder off the floor before he walked away.

Lynch later spoke to "Entertainment Tonight" about his foundation, the "Fam 1st Family Foundation."

The Professional Football Writers of America was talking to the league about the session and Lynch had been apprised of a potential fine. He is also required to be at media sessions Wednesday and Thursday.

In November, the NFL fined Lynch $50,000 for violations of the league's media policy in addition to collecting the $50,000 fine that was imposed against Lynch for violations last season. The fine from 2013 was held in anticipation of future cooperation from Lynch.

"I'm fine sitting up here, but not everybody is comfortable with it so I don't think he should be forced to do it," All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said.

Lynch has much more to say when the price is right. Insurance company Progressive and candy maker Skittles released commercials featuring Lynch saying a bit more than his usual: "Yeah" and "Nope" and "Thanks for asking."

At Media Day last year, Lynch's reclusiveness became a major story. Lynch appeared for 6 1/2 minutes, left the arena, and then returned to a "mixed zone" the NFL created for players not on podiums or in microphone

Jan 27, 2015 AP source: Yanks thinking of not making $6M payment to A-Rod

NEW YORK (AP) The New York Yankees are thinking about not making a $6 million payment to Alex Rodriguez if he hits six home runs and ties Willie Mays at 660 for fourth place on the career list.

Rodriguez signed a $275 million, 10-year contract with the team in December 2007 and a separate marketing agreement that called for $6 million payments for up to five milestone accomplishments designated by the Yankees. Each payment is due within 15 days of designation and is in exchange for rights such as using Rodriguez's name and image in selling licensed goods.

At the time of the marketing agreement, those accomplishments were contemplated to be tying the home run totals of Mays, Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762), and breaking Bonds' major league record.

Rodriguez returns to the team next month after a season-long drug suspension and has three seasons and $61 million in guaranteed money remaining in his contract.

New York's thought process on the $6 million payment, first reported by the Daily News, was described to The Associated Press on Monday by a person familiar with the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized. The Yankees are thinking of letting any accomplishment pass without declaring it a milestone.

A failure to declare a milestone and make a payment likely would trigger a grievance on Rodriguez's behalf by the Major League Baseball Players Association. Barring a settlement, the case would be heard by an arbitrator.

Rodriguez's spokesman, Ron Berkowitz, declined comment.

A-Rod met last week with Rob Manfred, who headed the investigation of the Biogenesis of the America clinic that led to the player's suspension for violation of baseball's drug agreement and labor contract.

"Occasionally when players have an issue, they have asked me for advice, come to see me, wanted to talk to me about something," Manfred said Monday. "I don't put a par

Jan 27, 2015 Visitation, memorial service set for Hall of Famer Banks

CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Cubs say a public visitation and memorial service for Hall of Fame slugger Ernie Banks will be held Friday and Saturday in the city.

The visitation is scheduled for noon to 8 p.m. on Friday, with the memorial service at 10 a.m. Saturday at Chicago's Fourth Presbyterian Church. Limited public seating will be available.

Banks died Friday at 83 after a heart attack, according to an attorney representing his family. Known as "Mr. Cub," Banks is remembered as much for his boundless enthusiasm despite playing on mostly losing teams as his 512 home runs and two MVP awards.

Jan 27, 2015 Hope Solo could be left off US World Cup roster

Goalkeeper Hope Solo faces the possibility of being left off the American roster for this year's Women's World Cup if she fails to complete tasks set for her by the U.S. Soccer Federation, which may include alcohol counseling.

The 33-year-old was suspended for 30 days last Wednesday for what the U.S. Soccer Federation called "an incident that occurred during the current WNT training camp" in Carson, California.

Asked whether she could be omitted from the team's World Cup roster, USSF President Sunil Gulati said Monday: "Look, that's possible. We hope that's not the case. We hope she's making progress and joins the team. That's certainly the goal, hers and ours."

Jerramy Stevens, Solo's husband, was driving a team vehicle when he was arrested last week on suspicion of driving under the influence, a person familiar with the details of the arrest told The Associated Press last week. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they could not discuss the case publicly.

Solo was ordered to refrain from drinking alcohol last June after she was arrested on domestic violence charges at her sister's home in Kirkland, Washington. The charge was dropped this month.

Speaking on a conference call with U.S. coach Jill Ellis, Gulati said he had to speak carefully because of the involvement of "health-related issues." Asked whether Solo had been asked to undergo alcohol counseling, Gulati said "I think neither of us denied or confirmed that."

"She's been given time to deal with some issues, and we think that in this period she'll certainly start that process, and we'll evaluate," he said.

Gulati said the length of the suspension was determined during conversations he had with Ellis and USSF Secretary General Dan Flynn.

"Thirty days seemed to be the appropriate suspension under our rules and given the circumstances," he said. "So there are a number of things that Hope is being asked to do in

Jan 27, 2015 AP source: Yanks thinking of not making $6M payment to A-Rod

NEW YORK (AP) The New York Yankees are thinking about not making a $6 million payment to Alex Rodriguez if he hits six home runs and ties Willie Mays at 660 for fourth place on the career list.

Rodriguez signed a $275 million, 10-year contract with the team in December 2007 and a separate marketing agreement that called for $6 million payments for up to five milestone accomplishments designated by the Yankees. Each payment is due within 15 days of designation and is in exchange for rights such as using Rodriguez's name and image in selling licensed goods.

At the time of the marketing agreement, those accomplishments were contemplated to be tying the home run totals of Mays, Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds, (762), and breaking Bonds' major league record.

Rodriguez returns to the team next month after a season-long drug suspension and has three seasons and $61 million in guaranteed money remaining in his contract.

New York's thought process on the $6 million payment, first reported by the Daily News, was described to The Associated Press on Monday by a person familiar with the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized. The Yankees are thinking of letting any accomplishment pass without declaring it a milestone.

A failure to declare a milestone and make a payment likely would trigger a grievance on Rodriguez's behalf by the Major League Baseball Players Association. Barring a settlement, the case would be heard by an arbitrator.

Rodriguez's spokesman, Ron Berkowitz, declined comment.

A-Rod met last week with Rob Manfred, who headed the investigation of the Biogenesis of the America clinic that led to the player's suspension for violation of baseball's drug agreement and labor contract.

"Occasionally when players have an issue, they have asked me for advice, come to see me, wanted to talk to me about something," Manfred said Monday. "I don't put a pa

Jan 27, 2015 Kobe Bryant to have shoulder surgery, likely out for season

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) Kobe Bryant will have surgery Wednesday on his torn right rotator cuff, likely ending his 19th season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant seriously aggravated a lingering shoulder ache while dunking last week in New Orleans. The star guard and the Lakers decided Monday on surgery, which typically requires several months of rehabilitation.

The Lakers will announce a timetable for Bryant's recovery after surgery, but coach Byron Scott anticipates losing the third-leading scorer in NBA history for the rest of the year.

"Kobe is probably not going to play" again this season, Scott said.

"We all know how tough he is," Scott added after Monday's practice. "He's a trooper, so we pray for him that his return will be sooner rather than later."

The 36-year-old Bryant's torn rotator cuff is likely his third straight season-ending injury. He missed the 2013 playoffs with a torn Achilles tendon, and he played just six games last season before breaking a bone near his left knee. His famously resilient body has finally worn down from the accumulated grind of nearly two decades and several lengthy postseasons with the Lakers, including five NBA title runs.

After returning at nearly full strength in training camp, Bryant sat out eight games to rest in the last month and played on a strict minutes limit. He still dealt with assorted aches and setbacks before he injured his shoulder.

Bryant met with Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic on Monday, determining his injury's extent and deciding on surgery. He is averaging 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 35 games this season, but shooting a career-worst 37.3 percent in a wildly inconsistent season.

The Lakers reacted to the news with disappointment and respect for Bryant, who was selected to the All-Star game for the 17th time last week.

"Kobe is a warrior," Lakers forward Carlos Boozer said. "He's strong, and he's going

Jan 27, 2015 Patriots owner makes strong defense of team

CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft demanded an apology from the league once the Patriots are found to be not guilty of breaking any rules regarding using under-inflated footballs in the AFC championship game.

A conclusion Kraft is certain will occur.

In an unscheduled statement, Kraft strongly defended his team's actions and integrity Monday night.

"I believe unconditionally that the New England Patriots did nothing wrong in this process that was in violation of NFL rules," Kraft said at the team's first media availability in Arizona.

"If the (Ted) Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular to coach (Bill) Belichick and Tom Brady, for what they've had to endure this week," Kraft added, at times sounding angry.

"I'm disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon. We expect hard facts rather than circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation."

The NFL has said evidence shows the Patriots used underinflated footballs during the first half of the AFC title game victory over Indianapolis. The league is still determining why the balls were underinflated.

NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash and Ted Wells of the law firm of Paul Weiss are leading the probe. Wells was the investigator in the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal and has said the current investigation could last a while.

Belichick and Brady followed Kraft to the podium, but basically left any comments on the investigation to their boss.

When asked if he was upset by the accusations and jokes of which he was the subject, Brady said: "I've moved past those initial feelings and I want to move forward."

But moving away from the deflated footballs theme will be particularly difficult on