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National Sports Briefs: Mavs’ Howard says he’s sorry

Associated Press
DALLAS ó Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard took a first step toward repairing his damaged reputation Monday, saying he was sorry for disrespecting the national anthem.
“I’d like to say that I’m truly and really am sorry for everything that’s happened in the last five months,” Howard said in a statement before taking questions from reporters on the first day of Mavericks training camp. “This is not the way I carry myself, not how I want to be portrayed. I’m sorry to everybody I’ve offended. I’m upset with myself and the way I’ve acted.”
In a video posted recently on YouTube, Howard was shown at a charity flag football game. As the national anthem plays in the background, Howard approaches a camera and says: “‘The Star Spangled Banner’ is going on right now. I don’t even celebrate that (expletive). I’m black.”
“It was me joking around,” he said. “Guys were out there making fun and I decided to get along in it. I wasn’t using my head. I guess the valuable lesson I did learn is that words really do hurt. You’re held accountable for what you say.
ARMSTRONG
AUSTIN, Texas ó Lance Armstrong is hoping his comeback will indeed start in Australia.
The seven-time Tour de France winner wants to return to elite racing in next January’s Tour Down Under even though he’s not eligible to return until Feb. 1, 2009. The race in Australia runs Jan. 20-25.
Armstrong said Monday he’s hoping authorities will grant him an exemption and allow him to ride.
NASCAR
CHARLOTTE ó Paul Menard will leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. at the end of the season to drive for Yates Racing, The Associated Press has learned.
Menard is expected to announce Tuesday that both he and his sponsorship will move to Yates, a person familiar with Menard’s decision told The AP. The person requested anonymity because Menard had yet to make his announcement.
COLLEGE HOOPS
INDIANAPOLIS ó Indiana University responded to an NCAA charge that it failed to monitor its men’s basketball program by accusing former coach Kelvin Sampson and his coaching staff of withholding information and concealing impermissible recruiting phone calls from compliance officials.
NHL
ANAHEIM, Calif. ó Teemu Selanne signed a two-year, $5.25 million contract with the Anaheim Ducks and scored a pair of power-play goals against the Vancouver Canucks in his preseason debut Sunday night.

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