National Sports Briefs: Swim star Phelps sneaks into Beijing
BEIJING ó Michael Phelps sneaked into Beijing almost unnoticed. He’s unlikely to go out that way.
The probable star of the Beijing Olympics avoided hundreds of fans, photographers and reporters Monday by taking a side door out to a waiting bus while his teammates pushed luggage trolleys through the arrival gate at Beijing’s new Terminal 3, a sprawling addition to the city’s airport.
Phelps, who’s grown a mustache while training in Singapore, eventually was spotted ó in a window seat on the team bus ó by dozens of reporters and photographers. He ignored most of the cameras, glancing in their direction a few times as he adjusted the fit of his baseball cap.
One young Chinese girl said she had waited five hours hoping to get an autograph. She also carried an envelope in her hand, addressed in imperfect English: “To Michael Phelps you have to look at.” Asked why she wanted to see Phelps, a friend standing nearby answered for her.
“Because she thinks he’s handsome.”
Phelps, who won six gold medals four years ago in Athens, is aiming to surpass Mark Spitz’s seven-gold effort at the 1972 Munich Games. Phelps will compete in eight events in Beijing, three of which are relays.
“I’m looking to do something different that the sport has never seen,” Phelps said a few days ago in Singapore.
CLEMSON, S.C. ó Former Clemson standout Will Solomon has joined the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.
The team’s Web site detailed the signing. The school says Solomon had averaged nearly 18 points a game the past two seasons playing in Istanbul, Turkey. Solomon has also played in Greece and Israel since leaving Clemson after his junior season of 2000-2001.
Solomon was a first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection after leading the league in scoring at 20.9 points a game during his sophomore season of 1999-2000. He was last Tiger to make the first team.
Solomon was a second-round draft choice of the Memphis Grizzlies. He averaged just more than five points a game during his lone NBA season.
– COLUMBIA, S.C. ó Former South Carolina star Tarance Kinsey has signed a contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers after spending part of last season overseas. The 24-year-old Kinsey played for Memphis as a rookie in 2006-07, averaging nearly 8 points a game.
– LAS VEGAS ó Police detained NBA star Paul Pierce in handcuffs during a weekend traffic stop on the Las Vegas Strip, but released him without issuing a summons.
Pierce was handcuffed briefly after emerging “a little agitated” from a vehicle he was driving around 3 a.m. Sunday.
Pierce led the Boston Celtics to the championship this year and was MVP of the finals. The 6-foot-7, 235-pound Pierce was given field sobriety tests and a Breathalyzer, which registered below the legal limit. Cassell said Pierce was not arrested.
URBANA, Ill. ó Junior guard Jamar Smith was dismissed from the Illinois men’s basketball team on Thursday, two days after a prosecutor asked a judge to revoke his probation for allegedly drinking alcohol.
Coach Bruce Weber said Smith’s decision to violate terms of a personal agreement for his return to the team left him without a choice.
– MEMPHIS, Tenn. ó The University of Memphis men’s basketball program reported a possible violation to the NCAA.
School officials said they learned that Dave Bronczek, president of Memphis-based FedEx and a school booster, telephoned a woman who is a FedEx employee and the mother of a high school player being recruited by the school.
– KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ó Coach Pat Summitt will donate $600,000 to the University of Tennessee to be shared by the Knoxville and Martin campuses.
RALEIGH ó The Carolina Hurricanes have signed forward Drayson Bowman to a three-year, entry-level contract.
The deal, announced Wednesday, will pay the 19-year-old $550,000 in the first year, $600,000 in the second and $650,000 in the third at the NHL level. It will pay $65,000 at the minor-league level for all three seasons, while Bowman will also get a signing bonus of $262,500.
Carolina drafted Bowman in the third round of the 2007 draft.
– DETROIT ó The Detroit Red Wings made a subtle move that could prove to be a spectacular one if Valtteri Filppula lives up to his potential.
Filppula signed a $15 million, five-year contract with the Red Wings that keeps a talented forward on the roster for a while.
– COLUMBUS, Ohio ó The Blue Jackets re-signed restricted free agent goalie Pascal Leclaire to a three-year contract through 2010-11.