NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — NFL offensive lineman Michael Oher, who faces misdemeanor charges of assaulting an Uber driver, has been sued in connection with the incident.
Girma Berkessa says in the complaint that an “extremely intoxicated” Oher pushed him to the ground, kicked him and called him a homophobic slur several times April 14. The complaint says Oher “acted maliciously, intentionally, willfully, wantonly, recklessly and/or negligently.”
Lawyers for Oher didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
A hearing on Oher’s misdemeanor assault case that had been scheduled for Friday was pushed back to Oct. 31.
Oher, the subject of the movie “The Blind Side,” was released by the Carolina Panthers on Thursday after he failed a physical.
CLEVELAND (AP) — Kyrie Irving wants the stage for himself.
Cleveland’s All-Star point guard has asked the Cavaliers to trade him, two people familiar with the situation told the Associated Press on Friday. Irving made the request last week to owner Dan Gilbert, said the people who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not commenting on the star’s demands.
Irving’s appeal was first reported by ESPN.
A four-time All-Star, Irving has spent six seasons with the Cavs, who selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2011. The 25-year-old has overcome injury issues and blossomed into one of the league’s elite point guards and biggest stars.
And now that he’s finally established himself playing alongside LeBron James, Irving wants out.
He’s under contract for two more seasons with Cleveland (he has a player option in 2020), but the Cavs could be inclined to move Irving now and begin another rebuild around James, who can opt out of his contract next summer and leave Ohio for the second time.
The bombshell about Irving adds to what has been a tumultuous offseason for the Cavs following their loss in five games to Golden State in the NBA Finals. General manager David Griffin parted ways with the club after failing to work out a new contract with Gilbert and while other teams have been active in signing free agents the Cavs have been limited in their ability to revamp their roster because of salary-cap issues.
Also, the Cavs courted former NBA star Chauncey Billups but couldn’t get him to join their front office.
Irving’s request to be dealt perhaps sheds some light on the Cavs’ recent pursuit of former league MVP Derrick Rose. The team has talked to Rose about a one-year contract in recent days, a source familiar with the negotiations told the AP on Thursday.
Rose was thought to be a potential backup, but now it appears he could be needed to start if the Cavs and Irving are indeed breaking up.
There is certain to be major interest in Irving, who averaged a career-high 25.2 points and 5.8 assists in 72 games last season. Irving averaged 25.9 points in his third straight Finals, but he and James couldn’t do enough to match the Warriors, who took back their crown after adding Kevin Durant last summer.
A potential trade partner for the Cavs could be the New York Knicks, who have been trying to unload Carmelo Anthony, a close friend of James. Irving is from New Jersey and would welcome a chance to go back to his home area. However, the Knicks may not have enough assets to intrigue the Cavs and there is a sizeable imbalance in contracts, so the Cavs would have to include other players in any potential deal.
It’s strange that Irving would choose now to ask for a trade.
After all, he has finally developed into a bona fide superstar following three tough seasons following James’ departure to Miami in 2010. Irving had no help during those years and the Cavs were in a state of disarray before James came back in 2014.
In his second year alongside James, Irving made the biggest shot in franchise history, draining a 3-pointer in the closing moments of Game 7 to give the Cavs their first title — and the first for any Cleveland pro team since 1964.
By all accounts, Irving and James got along but there were times when they didn’t quite see eye to eye.
James was demanding of his younger teammates but he was always adamant that Irving would grow into a superior player. Following Cleveland’s Game 5 loss in the Finals, Irving credited James for leading the way.
“He’s freaking awesome,” Irving said. “As a student of the game, it would be a disservice to myself if I didn’t try to learn as much as possible while I’m playing with this guy. Every single day demanding more out of himself, demanding more out of us, the true testament of a consummate professional. And understanding how things work, not only just in the game but off the court, things that matter, just taking care of your body, understanding the magnitude of what the goal is at hand and what steps it takes in order to achieve that goal.”
Moments earlier, James had walked off the court at Oracle Arena where Irving was waiting
They made their signature handshake and James told Irving, “We’ll be back.”
Now, they may be headed in opposite directions.
A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Pau Gasol has agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the San Antonio Spurs.
The 7-foot Spaniard and the Spurs came to agreement on Friday on a deal that is partially guaranteed for the third season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not made an official announcement.
Gasol declined the $16 million option on his contract in June the intent of signing a longer-term deal with the Spurs. The Spurs re-signed Patty Mills and added free agents Rudy Gay and Brandon Paul.
Gasol averaged 12.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 25.4 minutes per game for the Spurs last season.
ESPN first reported the agreement.
CHICAGO (AP) — For 11 straight batters in the eighth inning, the St. Louis Cardinals were unstoppable.
It was an emphatic response to a heartbreaking loss.
Paul DeJong hit a tiebreaking two-run double in St. Louis’ highest-scoring inning of the season, and the Cardinals cooled off the Chicago Cubs with an 11-4 victory on Friday.
“I’ve never been a part of something like that, scoring nine runs with no outs,” DeJong said. “But I think that really made a statement for us.”
Chicago carried a 3-2 lead into the eighth, looking for its seventh consecutive win. But St. Louis’ first 11 batters reached in its biggest inning since it scored nine in the eighth against the Cubs on Aug. 30, 2014, at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals made the most of a combined six walks by three relievers while improving to 4-4 since the All-Star break.
“We just pitched badly for one inning, and some really good pitchers had a tough time,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
St. Louis blew a late one-run lead in a 3-2 loss to the New York Mets on Thursday. The game ended when reliever Trevor Rosenthal was late covering first on Jose Reyes’ winning single with two outs in the ninth.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was interested in his team’s response, and his players provided an answer.
“I saw a little bit of everything,” Matheny said. “I saw some angry. I saw some, you know, kind of like you got the wind kicked out of you a little bit, and I think everybody needed a little bit of something and that eighth inning provided a whole lot of wind in everybody’s sail.”
Carl Edwards Jr. (3-2) was pulled after the first three batters reached. Hector Rondon then walked Jedd Gyorko, tying it at 3, and DeJong followed with a drive into the ivy in right-center for a ground-rule double.
The Cardinals were off and running from there. Carson Kelly hit a two-run double in his first game since being recalled from Triple-A Memphis. Tommy Pham’s two-run single made it 11-3 before Dexter Fowler bounced into a double play.
When DeJong, the 14th batter of the inning, struck out swinging with runners on second and third for the final out, the crowd of 42,186 cheered sarcastically.
“That was a weird, weird inning,” Rondon said. “First time I’ve seen something like that — nine runs with no outs. It’s weird, but it is what it is.”
Willson Contreras hit a two-run homer for Chicago, and Ben Zobrist had three hits. Jake Arrieta pitched six effective innings, allowing two runs and five hits.
The Cubs played without third baseman Kris Bryant, who sprained his left little finger on a headfirst slide in the first inning of Chicago’s 8-2 victory at Atlanta on Wednesday. X-rays were negative, but Bryant is experiencing soreness and there is some concern about gripping a bat.
Fowler had three hits for St. Louis, and Randal Grichuk homered in his return from a lower back injury. Matt Bowman (2-3) got the final out of the seventh for the win.
Cardinals outfielder Jose Martinez was struck on the left side of his head by teammate Matt Carpenter’s eighth-inning foul ball while he was sitting in the dugout. He was taken back to the clubhouse for concussion testing.
“The thing was really quick, quick and painful,” Martinez said. “But everything feels better right now and trying to stay like this ’til tomorrow. Doctor’s going to keeping having to keep an eye on me and see what’s going to be the symptoms tomorrow.”
Martinez said he didn’t see the liner. Asked about missing the Cardinals’ nine-run inning, a chuckling Martinez said, “I think it’s better when I’m cheering from the training room.”
Cardinals: Grichuk and LHP Zach Duke were activated from the disabled list for the series opener. The 34-year-old Duke, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery last October, retired the only two batters he faced in the seventh. … All-Star C Yadier Molina was scratched with right ankle discomfort. He was available off the bench, but didn’t play. Kelly replaced him in the lineup.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (right hand tendinitis) is on track to return to the rotation early next week, but Maddon wasn’t ready to provide an exact day just yet.
Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright (11-5, 5.08 ERA) and Cubs left-hander Jon Lester (6-6, 4.07 ERA) start the second game of the series on Saturday afternoon. Wainwright is 4-0 with a 4.18 ERA in his last four starts. Lester pitched seven crisp innings in a 4-3 victory at Atlanta on Monday night.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — With Angel Maria Villar in jail, the Spanish government is ready to step in and take control of soccer.
Spain’s sports authority is seeking the temporary removal of Villar, the longtime president of the Spanish Football Federation and FIFA’s senior vice president, after his arrest and imprisonment in an anti-corruption investigation.
Inigo Mendez de Vigo, minister of education, culture and sport and the government’s spokesman, said on Friday the government is prepared to take charge of the operations of the federation so Spanish soccer is not harmed by the scandal.
“What we want is to guarantee the complete normalcy of the institution when its president and vice president are in prison because of a judge’s decision (to deny them bail),” Mendez de Vigo said. “We want to send a message to the big family of football so everyone knows that we are taking steps.”
The Higher Council of Sports said on Thursday it will ask the country’s administrative court for sports to open a disciplinary procedure against Villar and three others.
The council said it plans to call a meeting of its own executive committee to agree on the temporary suspension of Villar and the other federation executives. Mendez de Vigo said that meeting of the Higher Council of Sports will be on Tuesday.
The Spanish federation is in charge of national teams, the Copa del Rey, setting the calendars of the club competitions, and the appointment of referees, among other areas. It does not run the top two divisions of the Spanish men’s league nor the women’s league.
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui voiced no criticisms of Villar on Friday, when he completed his first year in charge of the team after Villar picked him to replace Vicente del Bosque.
“The treatment we have received from Villar as far as sportsmen go has been exquisite,” Lopetegui told Europa Press news agency. “He let us work and we are eternally grateful.”
Lopetegui is getting ready for the World Cup qualifier against Italy on Sept. 2. That could decide which team wins an automatic berth to the tournament in Russia next year.
“I hope this gets cleared up as soon as possible,” Lopetegui said. “On Sept. 2 we have a game that is too important for us to be thinking about other things.”
The arrest of Villar, his son, and two others forced the announcement of the league calendar to be pushed back until Friday at the federation headquarters in Las Rozas, which was raided by police four days ago.
Those raids, along with others at regional federations and private properties, culminated in the arrests of Villar, his son Gorka Villar, federation vice president Juan Padron, and the secretary of the regional soccer federation of Tenerife, Ramon Hernandez.
National Court judge Santiago Pedraz questioned all four suspects on Thursday. Afterward, he denied bail for the Villars and Padron. The judge set bail for Hernandez at 100,000 euros ($116,000).
A state prosecutor accused the four officials of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.
The elder Villar is also a vice president of UEFA. As president of the Spanish federation since 1988, he was in charge when Spain won the 2010 World Cup and European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
Judge Pedraz said the 67-year-old Villar is suspected of misappropriating private and public funds received by the federation “at least since 2009.”
In a 44-page ruling that included several quotes from phone taps carried out by the Guardia Civil, Pedraz detailed why state prosecutors allege that Villar used his influence as federation president to funnel private and public funds into regional federations in exchange for votes to remain in power for eight consecutive terms.
The state prosecutor also says that Villar used his control of friendly matches involving Spain to secure economic benefits for his son Gorka, a sports lawyer who has worked for CONMEBOL under three presidents who were all implicated in corruption cases.
Villar has been at the heart of FIFA and UEFA politics since the 1990s, and has worked closely with international soccer leaders who have since been indicted by the U.S. Justice Department. He was singled out for questionable conduct in the 2014 FIFA report on the World Cup bidding process.
Two weeks ago, he answered a judge’s questions as part of an investigation into accusations brought by the Higher Council of Sports that his federation committed fraud in the misappropriation of 1.8 million euros ($2 million) that was destined for humanitarian relief in Haiti.
The president of the Spanish soccer league, Javier Tebas, is a longtime critic of Villar. On Friday, he said the federation needs to be purged.
“Villar is history for Spanish football. Now we have to get rid of ‘Villarismo,'” Tebas said. “More tentacles will come out, but we need to let some fresh air in. It doesn’t matter if Villar is no longer around if the system of corruption continues.”
LONDON (AP) — Alvaro Morata joined Chelsea from Real Madrid on Friday and is set to take over from Diego Costa as the main striker for the English champion.
Chelsea announced the signing of the Spain international without giving a fee. He signed for five years.
Costa was one of Chelsea’s key players in its run to the Premier League title last season. But he said last month that he was told by coach Antonio Conte he wasn’t wanted for the coming season.
It is the second time Morata has left Madrid.
With Karim Benzema established as its first-choice striker, Madrid sold Morata to Juventus in 2014 for 20 million euros. After he scored twice in the 2015 Champions League semifinals to help Juventus eliminate Madrid, president Florentino Perez waited only one more year to pay 30 million euros to bring him home.
Morata quickly became a crowd favorite in the Santiago Bernabeu but coach Zinedine Zidane’s preference for Benzema meant he never got the minutes he expected after returning.
Still, Morata made the most of his playing time and proved a natural scorer, nabbing opportunistic goals and showing he is a danger in the final minutes to swing results.
Morata scored 20 goals in all competitions for Madrid last season, despite playing limited minutes. He made just 14 starts in the Spanish league and one in the Champions League, competitions Madrid won in a rare double.
For Spain, he has nine goals in 20 appearances. He struck three times in four matches at last year’s European Championship, where defending champion Spain was ousted in the round-of-16 by Italy.
“Alvaro has proven class at the highest level,” Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo said.
SOUTHPORT, England (AP) — Jordan Spieth expected a rough time at the British Open before he even got to the golf course.
He spent Friday morning at his rented house in front of the television, watching players battle a relentless wind at Royal Birkdale, all the while checking a forecast that was even worse for when he played in the afternoon.
“It wasn’t a great feeling knowing we were coming into something harder than what we were watching,” he said.
Spieth did more than just survive.
With a short game as sharp as it has been all year, and a 3-wood that turned out a lot better than it looked and led to an eagle, Spieth seized control with a 1-under 69 that gave him a two-shot lead over Matt Kuchar going into the weekend.
Spieth turned a bogey or worse into an unlikely par by chipping in from just short of the 10th green. And he learned enough from watching TV to know that going a little long on the par-5 15th would give him a better birdie chance than playing short. So he switched from a 3-iron to a 3-wood, hit it a little off the neck and watched it run hot and fast some 100 yards along the wet turf to about 18 feet away.
“I mishit the shot, which is probably why it looked so gross,” Spieth said. “I hit it low off the heel, which is easy to do when you’re trying to carve a cut. And it just … one hop, scooted around the group of bunkers there, and then it was obviously fortunate to get all the way to the green.”
The flight of that 3-wood looked as ugly as the weather. The outcome was as bright as his chances of getting his name on another major championship trophy.
Spieth was at 6-under 134. It was the 12th time he has been atop the leaderboard at a major, including the fourth rounds of the Masters and U.S. Open that he won in 2015. Spieth is the sole leader at a major for the first time since the third round of the Masters last year, when he was runner-up to Danny Willett.
“Anytime you’re in the last group on a weekend in a major … you get nervous. And I’ll be feeling it this weekend a bit,” he said. “But I enjoy it. As long as I approach it positively and recognize that this is what you want to feel because you’re in the position you want to be in, then the easier it is to hit solid shots and to create solid rounds.”
Kuchar played in the morning in steadily strong wind, but without rain, and pieced together a solid round until a few mistakes at the end for a 71. He was at 4-under 136, and it would have been a good bet that he would be leading with the nasty weather that arrived.
“I think that’s what people enjoy about the British Open is watching the hard wind, the rain, the guys just trying to survive out there,” Kuchar said. “Today is my day. I get to kick back in the afternoon and watch the guys just try to survive.”
He wound up watching another short-game clinic from Spieth.
The key to his round came in the middle, starting with a 10-foot par putt on No. 8 after he drove into a pot bunker. The biggest break came at No. 10, when the rain was pounding Royal Birkdale. Spieth hit into another pot bunker off the tee, could only advance it out sideways, and came up short of the green in light rough.
“Massive,” he said about the chip-in par. “Nothing said ‘4’ about this hole. I feel a little guilty about taking 4 on the card.”
And he wasn’t through just yet. Spieth rolled in a 35-foot birdie putt across the 11th green, and then after watching Henrik Stenson’s tee shot on the par-3 12th land softly, Spieth realized he could take on the flag. He hit 7-iron to 2 feet for another birdie, and followed that with a beautiful pitch to tap-in range for par on the 13th.
Even so, his work is far from over.
The chasing pack features U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, who failed to make a birdie but stayed in the hunt with 16 pars in a 72, and Ian Poulter with his newfound confidence, which is growing even higher with the support of the English crowd. Poulter shot 70.
Not to be overlooked was Rory McIlroy, who recovered from a horrific start Thursday to salvage a 71, and then kept right on rolling. McIlroy, who was 5 over through the opening six holes of the tournament, ran off three birdies with full control of every shot on the front nine.
And much like Spieth, he kept his round together with crucial par saves early on the back nine when the wind was at its worse. McIlroy posted a 68 and was at 1-under 139, only five shots behind with only five players in front of him.
“To be in after two days and be under par for this championship after the way I started, I’m ecstatic with that,” McIlroy said.
Not everyone got off so easy.
Justin Thomas, who started the second round just two shots behind, drove into the gorse on the first hole and took double bogey. That wasn’t nearly as bad as the sixth hole, where he tried three times to hammer out of the thick native grass well right of the fairway. He couldn’t find the ball after the third one, and he wound up taking a quintuple-bogey 9. Thomas made another double bogey on the 13th hole and shot 80.
Spieth never looked as if he was under any stress, except for his tee shot into the bunker on No. 8. A British writer suggested a lip-reader could have detected some choice words coming out of his mouth. Spieth smiled and replied, “I speak American. You probably didn’t understand me.”
The language of his clubs — especially the wedge and the putter — was all too familiar.
OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — Chad Collins missed a chance for the 10th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history and third of the season, parring the final two holes for an 11-under 60 on Friday in the second round of the Barbasol Championship.
Collins hit his approach to the back fringe on the par-4 18th, leaving a 70-foot downhill birdie try that he hit 5 feet past.
“I just got myself out of position off the tee, which you can’t do,” Collins said. “Probably one of the easiest hole locations on the green, so it was kind of unfortunate to not hit the fairway and I probably would have had a better look at birdie there. I gave it a run. I’m not too disappointed at all by 60, so I’ll take it.”
After six straight birdies on Grand National’s rain-softened Lake Course, the 38-year-old player from Indiana player missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th.
“Hit a good shot, but I hit it a little heavy,” Collins said. “I didn’t think it was going to get back there and it must have had a lot of overspin, hit the downslope, chased back there. I wasn’t sure how close it came to going in, but had to come pretty close. And then the putt was a little tricky. We couldn’t quite figure out if it was kind of right center, right edge or left center, left edge. Just kind of lost a little bit of speed and broke off the left edge. ”
Jim Furyk shot a record 58 last year in the Travelers Championship in Connecticut and is one of eight players to shoot 59. Justin Thomas and Adam Hadwin shot 59s in January — Thomas in his victory in the Sony Open in Hawaii, and Hadwin in the CareerBuilder Challenge in California.
Collins had five birdies in a front-nine 30, parred the 10th and ran off the six straight birdies to get to 11 under for the round.
“It kind of crossed my mind probably on the par-5 16th,” Collins said about breaking 60. “Didn’t hit a very good tee shot there, but it was probably going to be a three-shot hole anyway. Then hit a good approach shot in there to 10 feet or so. When I made that, obviously with two holes to go, just needed to make one.”
Collins topped the leaderboard at 15-under 127 halfway through the round. He made the 36-hole cut for only the fifth time in 23 events this year. The two-time Web.com Tour winner had missed five straight cuts and 11 of 12.
“This year’s been kind of a struggle for me,” Collins said. “I haven’t been playing that well and it’s super nice to see putts fall in, good ball-striking and being in position on the weekend.”
Collins had his lowest round on the PGA Tour and tied the course record set last year by Jhonattan Vegas.
“Owe it all to the putter,” Collins said. “I did strike it well, but I made a lot of putts. Made a few that I probably shouldn’t have made, had a stretch going there on my back nine of five or six in a row. Hit some clutch shots, but just made a lot of putts.”
He also shot 60 in a 2013 Web.com Tour event in Utah, playing his first nine holes in 9-under 27 with an eagle and seven birdies.
“Obviously, the course in Utah, in my opinion, was a little bit more gettable,” Collins said.
More people want to ask Andy Roddick about a Grand Slam final he lost than the one he won.
Yes, that 16-14 defeat in the fifth set against Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2009 seems to spark more conversations than Roddick’s straight-set victory at the 2003 U.S. Open, the last time any American man won a major championship.
“For better or worse, it’s going to be the ’09 Wimbledon final. It’s the match people want to talk about. I’ll be in a coffee shop and people want to talk about it. People will tell me where they were and where they were watching it,” Roddick said in a telephone interview Friday, the day before he is inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.
“It’s a proud moment for me. To go on the biggest stage and — I know I didn’t come up on the right end of it, but I don’t know that I could have played or executed a game plan better than I did for 4½ hours,” he said. “It’s definitely the one I hear about the most and talk about the most and kind of think about the most.”
On Saturday, Roddick and another former No. 1 player, four-time major champion Kim Clijsters, will headline the Hall’s Class of 2017. Also being enshrined this year: Monique Kalkman-van den Bosch, a four-time Paralympic medalist in wheelchair tennis; journalist and historian Steve Flink; and tennis instructor Vic Braden.
Roddick and Clijsters were moved by the opportunity to tour the hall with family and friends on Friday.
“When I walk through there and I see the history of our sport from when I was a little girl — Steffi Graf and Monica Seles and Arantxa Sanchez — and just a few meters over, there’s my picture or my trophy, it feels very special,” Clijsters said. “But it’s also very hard to understand and have it sink in.”
Both played their last singles matches in 2012 at the U.S. Open, an important site for their careers.
Clijsters won titles in New York in 2005, 2009 — with her daughter, Jada, prancing around the trophy in Arthur Ashe Stadium — and 2010, along with the Australian Open in 2011.
In addition to winning his Grand Slam trophy at Flushing Meadows, Roddick was the runner-up there in 2006 to — yes, that’s right — Federer. Roddick’s trio of runner-up finishes at Wimbledon in 2004, 2005 and 2009 all came against Federer.
“I gave myself a lot peace of mind when I decided I wasn’t going to compare myself to Roger,” Roddick said with a chuckle.
The key to Roddick’s success was his big serve — he once held the record for fastest at 155 mph (250 kph) — and big forehand. But he worked to improve other aspects of his game, including his fitness, backhand and volleys.
“A great competitor. Always getting the most out of himself,” said Lleyton Hewitt, a two-time major champion whose career overlapped Roddick’s. “Left it all out on the court every time he stepped out there. Looked like he did all the hard work, as well, to try and prepare himself as well as possible.”
Roddick spent much of his career dealing with questions why his generation wasn’t as successful as previous groups of American men, such as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in the 1990s, or John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors before that. Now it’s Roddick whose name comes up in that sort of context: When Sam Querrey reached the Wimbledon semifinals this month, it was noted he was the first man from the U.S. to get that far at a major since Roddick’s tight-as-can-be loss to Federer in 2009 at the All England Club.
After that match, fans at Centre Court chanted Roddick’s name, an unusual homage to someone who didn’t win.
“That’s obviously the one that haunts him,” said Patrick McEnroe, Roddick’s former U.S. Davis Cup captain. “He was so close. It was arguably the best match he ever played.”
Roddick helped the United States end a 12-year David Cup drought by winning the 2007 title.
“He was one of those guys that got the most out of his ability,” McEnroe said. “I would say he overachieved. He was a great server, one of the greatest servers ever. But he wasn’t a great tennis player. And I think he would tell you that. He wasn’t a natural player, where he could just hit shots. He had to work extremely hard. So because of that, to me, he overachieved (by) getting to No. 1 in the world and winning a major.”
LONDON (AP) — Ilie Nastase has been banned from the Fed Cup and Davis Cup until 2019 because of his foul-mouthed comments and bad behavior as Romania’s captain during a Fed Cup tie in April.
In addition to the ban, the International Tennis Federation said on Friday the 1973 French Open champion will not be able to work in an official capacity for a further two years, until 2021.
The 71-year-old Nastase was also fined $10,000. He has three weeks to appeal the decision.
Reached by telephone, Nastase declined to comment, saying he wanted to consult his lawyer.
The ITF said: “Mr. Nastase made a comment about Serena Williams’s unborn child that was highly inappropriate and racially insensitive.”
Nastase also “made advances of a sexual nature towards Anne Keothavong, the captain of the Great Britain team” and “made abusive and threatening comments to the match officials and to members of the Great Britain team.”
Although he will have to sit out ITF events, the ban does not apply to Grand Slam, ATP or WTA tournaments, which are not under the governing body’s jurisdiction.
Nastase was provisionally suspended in April after he speculated about the skin color of the baby that Williams is expecting, and for outbursts during the tie against Britain.
He previously acknowledged making mistakes and having shortcomings, but stressed “the cause I fight for is tennis, the sport I really love, which I cannot separate from my life.”
As Fed Cup captain, Nastase hurled abuse at British player Johanna Konta, Keothavong, and the umpire. The referee ejected Nastase.
Nastase, a former top-ranked player, was barred from the French Open and was not invited to the Royal Box at Wimbledon, where he was a two-time finalist.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis is quickly becoming Kyle Busch’s favorite racing venue.
Ten years ago, he met his future wife, Samantha, at the 2.5-mile oval.
Last year, he pulled off a rare sweep by winning both poles and both races on Brickyard 400 weekend. It’s the last time Busch celebrated a Cup win and now that he’s back at the historic 2.5-mile oval, he doesn’t want to wait until next September to make a return trip. He’d like to add a May stop to his already full 2018 schedule ad attempt the fabled double bill of the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600.
“I had it (a deal) done last year, sold it and everything,” Busch said when asked about competing in the Indy 500. “I had a boss that said no.”
Busch, the 2015 Cup champion and two-time defending Brickyard champ, hasn’t given up on his dream; he’s just putting it on hold temporarily this weekend as he chases history and tries to end a 12-month victory drought.
He couldn’t have picked a better place to come. Over the past two years, Busch has been the most dominant stock-car driver at Indy.
The two-time defending Brickyard champion has led 168 of the last 189 laps here, including a record 149 out of 170 last year when he won from the pole. He also won the 2015 and 2016 Xfinity Series races from the pole, giving him four consecutive wins at Indianapolis.
When the track opened for Xfinity practice Friday, Busch’s car was near the top again — even with restrictor-plate motors.
Busch still had the third-fastest car in the first two practice sessions, turning a fast lap of 166.162 mph as overcast skies cooled the track. The Xfinity qualifications and race will be held Saturday, the same day Busch and the other Cup drivers also will take their first laps.
Even as Busch talks about winning an unprecedented third straight Brickyard, the thrill of taking a shot in IndyCar’s marquee race — and trying the 1,100-mile Memorial Day weekend double — remains a major attraction for the 32-year-old driver.
“I thought I had a great opportunity to do it (in May), but I’m kind of glad it didn’t come together because (Fernando) Alonso kind of stole the headlines the last time it was done,” Busch said. “It would be fun. It would be a unique opportunity. The thing that scares my boss is that I’ve never driven those cars.”
If he goes for it, Busch would start the day in Indianapolis for the 500 then fly to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the 600-mile Cup race. His brother, Kurt Busch, tried that in 2014 and finished sixth at the Indy 500 before a blown engine knocked him out of the NASCAR nightcap.
It would be the first time brothers have attempted the marathon.
Alonso had never driven an IndyCar or even on an oval before May. Yet the two-time Formula One champ spent most of May’s race in contention before a blown engine knocked him out with 20 laps to go.
Busch thinks his experience — and success — at the Brickyard would make him just as competitive.
In 12 Indy starts, Busch has 10 top-10 finishes. He is one of four Cup drivers with at least two Brickyard titles and last year joined seven-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson as the only back-to-back race winners. Johnson won in 2008 and 2009.
Somehow Busch has fought through the sweltering mid-summer temperatures and found the secret to winning on this narrow, low-banked oval where passing is tough.
Busch’s success puts him in rare company.
The only driver in track history to win four straight races at Indy is Michael Schumacher, the former Formula One superstar who won each U.S. Grand Prix from 2003-06 on the speedway’s road course. Nobody else has captured three consecutive major race titles at Indy, and if Busch extends his winning streak to five on Saturday, it would break Schumacher’s record.
A win Sunday would also give Toyota its 100th Cup victory, assure Busch of a spot in NASCAR’s playoff and give Joe Gibbs Racing its second win in two weeks after starting the season 0 for 17.
“It’s pretty cool to come in here and have a chance to go for three in a row,” Busch said. “But it’s frustrating that it’s been 365 days since we’ve won one of these things.”
And he would rather not have to wait even longer to give Indy a shot next season.
“I’m good,” he said when asked if he’d trade his Brickyard wins for an Indy 500 crown. “I’d just like to have a shot to go and earn it myself.”
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida escort convicted of trying to hire a hit man to murder her newlywed husband was sentenced Friday to 16 years in prison, perhaps ending a drawn-out case that drew notice for its startling videos and salacious characters.
Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley imposed the sentence on Dalia Dippolito, who was convicted last month of solicitation of first-degree murder. She was recorded on video and audio in 2009 as she plotted to have Michael Dippolito killed, telling an undercover detective she was “5,000 percent sure” she wanted her husband dead.
Kelley said Dippolito acted in a “cold and calculated manner.”
“This particular crime was committed not in an unsophisticated way, but in a sophisticated way in a calculated fashion,” Kelley said. “There was a plan put in place by Dalia Dippolito to kill Mike Dippolito.” He said the evidence showed that Dalia Dippolito may have been manipulating two other men in her effort to kill her husband.
Neither Dippolito nor her family showed any reaction when the sentence was handed down.
A 2011 conviction and 20-year sentence had been thrown out on appeal. A retrial last fall ended with a 3-3 hung jury. This time, it took the six-member jury 90 minutes to convict Dippolito, 34, who had a child last year while under house arrest.
Prosecutors believe she wanted control of the couple’s town house and her husband’s savings. The case gained national attention when Boynton Beach police video from the investigation went viral on the internet and was featured on the TV shows “Cops” and “20/20.”
Boynton Beach’s cooperation with “Cops” had been a key part of the defense, as Dippolito’s attorneys argued detectives manipulated her and their investigation to play to the cameras. Kelley said that while “theater” should not be part of law enforcement and the investigation wasn’t perfect, he believes the detectives saved Michael Dippolito’s life.
“The evidence supports that Miss Dippolito wanted him killed,” Kelley said. While prosecutors argued for a 30-year sentence, Kelley said he agreed with the previous judge’s sentence but gave her four years credit for the eight years she spent on house arrest.
Michael Dippolito, a convicted conman, testified Friday that his wife’s actions ruined his life. He said her unsubstantiated claims of spousal abuse as the reason for her actions still haunt him. He said that when he was arrested for stock trading fraud, he plead guilty and accepted his prison sentence and she should have done the same.
“People will say, ‘You’re really lucky to be alive,'” Michael Dippolito said. “I guess but I can’t get to that because I had to deal with this nonsense for nine years,” referring to the three trials. He testified he met his ex-wife in October 2008 when he hired her for sex, but they hit it off so well they were married in February. Within a month, he said, she was stealing money from him and trying to get his probation revoked by planting drugs in his truck and, he believes, spiked his ice tea with antifreeze in an attempt to kill him.
Prosecutor Craig Williams called Dippolito “a master manipulator” who needed to be imprisoned “to protect society.”
“If she wants something, first-degree murder is not enough for her,” Williams said. “She’ll do whatever it takes.”
Defense attorney Craig Rosenfeld unsuccessfully argued for probation, saying Dalia Dippolito had lived an “exemplary life” and she should not be judged by “the worst moment of her life.” After the hearing, he said he respected Kelley’s sentence but an appeal is planned.
Williams and co-prosecutor Laura Laurie argued during the latest trial that the evidence against Dippolito was overwhelming. They played a 23-minute video in which Dippolito told undercover officer Widy Jean she wanted her husband killed and agreed to pay $7,000. She also discussed various plots before Jean said he would kill her husband at the couple’s home, making it look like a botched burglary while she was at the gym.
Prosecutors also read for the jury X-rated text messages Dalia Dippolito exchanged with a now-deceased lover, Mike Stanley, in 2009 after she got married.
She had Stanley impersonate a doctor, to help her hide the $100,000 theft by pretending to be pregnant, and later a lawyer, to make her husband wrongly think he had completed probation, prosecutors said. She hoped that if her husband stopped visiting his probation officer, he would be found in violation and returned to prison. In one text message, she rejoiced after persuading her husband to put their town house in her name only; in another, she complained after learning she still couldn’t sell it without his signature.
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A chimney and a cinder block wall is all that’s left standing among rubble that was a house Miki Crawford and her family called home for 22 years after a wildfire raced through her Northern California rural community, the former nurses’ aide said Friday.
“Everything else is obliterated,” Crawford said. “It’s just a feeling of complete devastation and loss.”
Crawford said she and her husband, Jai Crawford, packed two cars with clothes, photographs, family heirlooms, their four pugs and one hound dog and fled Tuesday after the blaze burning in the hills near Yosemite National Park doubled in size.
Their son hiked to the area in Mount Bullion the following day and took photographs revealing a nightmare — their three-bedroom home and at least five other nearby houses destroyed in their neighborhood.
The aggressive wildfire sweeping through the Sierra Nevada foothills covered with dense brush and dead trees destroyed 58 homes and 60 other buildings. But it spared Mariposa, a historic Gold Rush-era town popular with tourists bound for park
Firefighters lifted an evacuation order for residents of Mariposa and reopened Highway 140 between the town and Yosemite, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Andy Isolano said.
The wildfire that has scorched 115 square miles (298 square kilometers) threatened at least 1,500 homes and forced almost 5,000 people to evacuate.
Roughly a dozen of the destroyed homes had dotted hills 10 miles west of Mariposa. Residents a few miles to the north also saw damage, including Mount Bullion.
Crawford, 56, said there have been wildfires near her community in Mariposa County. But this was the first time they had to flee.
“We saw a video that showed the blaze coming from two different directions at one time, and it just looked like a fire storm,” she said. “It was such an erratic fire coming from all direction that there wasn’t anything firefighters could do.”
She said she hopes to clean up the area and buy a modular home to put on their land. Relatives have started a GoFundMe page to help the couple rebuild.
Firefighters were battling 17 blazes across California.
Outside Sacramento on Thursday, authorities say they arrested a boy suspected of sparking a small wildfire while smoking marijuana. The 12-acre fire near Auburn did not damage any homes.
In the fire near Mariposa, officials were investigating an injury accident involving a single fire engine that sent one firefighter to the hospital. No further details were available.
The fire was 15 percent contained after nearly $11 million was spent to battle the blaze, officials said. The cause remained under investigation.
The blaze had crept within a half-mile of Mariposa, but crews were able to stop it by dropping red fire retardant and using bulldozers and hand crews to build fire brakes, said Cal Fire spokesman Jason Motta.
Retiree Suzie Ummels, 61, who lives in Mariposa, said she learned through a friend that her home was spared. She said before the evacuation order had been lifted that she was going stir-crazy in an evacuation away from the comforts of home.
“I don’t know whether I’m blessed or lucky or a combination of both,” she said. “I just want to go home.”
Located about 35 miles southwest of Yosemite National Park, Mariposa features a charming main street with covered sidewalks and historic wood and brick buildings that house antique shops, restaurants, pizza parlors and art galleries.
Carol Dewey, who owns a downtown bed and breakfast, was one of several business owners allowed in Thursday to check on their shops.
“The place is like a ghost town,” Dewey said. “This fire has really devastated the area. Business is just flat.”
Dewey, 64, said people in their 30s have opened several new businesses and wine bars, attracting lots of young tourists. However, the businesses stood empty as firefighters worked to keep the flames away from the town with 2,000 residents.
The blaze came within 35 miles (56 kilometers) of Yosemite, where campgrounds were open, park spokesman Scott Gediman said.
Rangers warned visitors with respiratory problems to be mindful of the smoky haze over the park’s landmark Half Dome rock face.
Yosemite does not appear at risk from the fire, which was moving south, away from the park.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis police Chief Janee Harteau resigned Friday amid calls for new leadership in the department following last week’s shooting death of an unarmed Australian woman by a police officer.
In a statement released Friday, Harteau said: “I’ve decided I am willing to step aside to let a fresh set of leadership eyes see what more can be done for the MPD to be the very best it can be.”
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said she asked for the chief’s resignation.
“I’ve lost confidence in the Chief’s ability to lead us further … it is clear that she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well,” Hodges said. “For us to continue to transform policing — and community trust in policing — we need new leadership at MPD.”
Harteau said she was proud of the work she accomplished, but the shooting of 40-year-old Justine Damond by one of her officers, and other incidents, “have caused me to engage in deep reflection.”
She added, “Despite the MPD’s many accomplishments under my leadership over these years and my love for the City, I have to put the communities we serve first.”
Harteau was out of the city on personal time for nearly a week following Saturday’s shooting of Damond, a 40-year-old life coach and bride-to-be who was killed by an officer responding to her 911 call of a possible rape.
The state is investigating the shooting. In Harteau’s first remarks on the case on Thursday — when she returned to work — she was sharply critical of Officer Mohamed Noor while defending his training.
“The actions in question go against who we are in the department, how we train and the expectations we have for our officers,” Harteau said Thursday. “These were the actions and judgment of one individual.”
That wasn’t enough for some City Council members. Linea Palmisano, who represents the ward where Damond died, told her fellow council members Friday that she was “done with image control and crisis management.” She said the department has systemic problems and it was time to consider a change in leadership.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas on Friday joined 19 other Democratic attorneys general around the country urging President Donald Trump to keep a program that gives temporary resident status to young immigrants in the country illegally.
In a letter to the president, the attorneys general said the 800,000 immigrant students covered under the Obama-era Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrival Program, or DACA, have been a boon to universities and employers.
“They are our neighbors, co-workers, students and community and church leader,” the letter said. “And they are boosting the economies and communities or our states every day.”
The effort is being led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
The letter came after 10 Republican attorneys general urged the president in their own letter to end the program.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the others threatened to amend a district court case to challenge the program unless the Trump administration acts to phase it out.
Earlier this month, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Hispanic lawmakers that the program that protects young immigrants from deportation is likely illegal, though he personally supports it.
The program gives work permits to young people brought into the U.S. as children.
Trump pledged as a candidate to immediately end the program. But as president, he has said those immigrants will not be targets for deportation.
He said his administration is more interested in deporting criminals.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the stabbing death of a taxi driver in southeast Albuquerque.
The driver was found early Friday morning after a taxi parked at the emergency entrance of a hospital was spotted with blood on the driver-side door.
Investigators say they have a suspect in custody.
This is the second time in six months that a taxi driver has been killed in Albuquerque.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Teddy bears, blankets, crayons, games and a safe place to sleep.
New Mexico’s top officials wanted to pack as much as possible into a new center designed to ease the trauma often experienced by children when authorities are forced to remove them from their homes and place them in state custody.
Gov. Susana Martinez and Children, Youth and Families Secretary Monique Jacobson on Friday toured the center in Albuquerque. They showed off a brightly-colored play area and separate rooms for sleeping, relaxing and playing.
Previously, social workers had few emergency options other than unaccommodating office space.
As many as 900 children a year require the services now offered at the center. Statewide, that number tops 2,600 and officials say improvements are being made at other locations.
The center in Albuquerque is outfitted thanks to donations from businesses and volunteers.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Santa Fe police say a man who was shot by an officer at an apartment complex had thrown homemade explosives at officers and stabbed a social worker during a standoff.
State police identified the man as 24-year-old Anthony Benavidez. Lt. Elizabeth Armijo said in a written statement he had recently been evicted from apartment complex he broke into on Wednesday. Officers had been negotiating with Benavidez before he threw the explosives. Armijo says two SWAT officers shot Benavidez after they entered the apartment to arrest him.
Benavidez and the caseworker were taken to the hospital, where Benavidez died. The caseworker was later released.
The names of the officers involved in the shooting were not released. Santa Fe Police Department Spokesman Greg Gurule says five officers have been placed on leave.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Forecasters say flash flooding is likely in New Mexico through the weekend due to monsoon moisture and a weather disturbance moving westward across the state.
The National Weather Service says thunderstorms are expected over central and western New Mexico into Friday evening and then become more numerous Saturday, Sunday and into early next week.
According to the weather service, the likelihood of flash floods is strongest Friday in western New Mexico and across New Mexico from the southwest to the northeast Saturday.
The forecasters say there’s also a possibility that multiple instances of flash flooding will occur across central and eastern areas on Sunday.
Also, the potential for flash flooding may linger over the south-central mountains and the eastern plains on Monday as the disturbance moves into Texas and Mexico.