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National Sports Briefs

Associated Press
STORRS, Conn. ó Connecticut basketball star Kemba Walker said he was a little nervous about appearing at Yankee Stadium.
Walker, who led UConn to its third national championship with a 53-41 win over Butler last week, threw out the first pitch before Wednesday nightís game between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles.
Walker said heís been practicing. His coach, Jim Calhoun ó a Red Sox fan ó threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park during a game between the Yankees and Red Sox on Saturday.
Walker says he ědidnít think it was that serious at first, but itís serious.î
Walker grew up a Yankees fan in the Bronx. The junior announced Tuesday that he would be entering this yearís NBA draft.
COLLEGE HOOPS
Derrick Williams helped Arizona finish off its rebuilding project with a spectacular sophomore season, boosting his draft status in the process.
Now it’s time to see what he can do in the NBA.
Considered a potential lottery pick, Williams declared for the NBA draft on Wednesday and will sign with an agent, ending two impressive seasons that helped turned Arizona’s program around.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ó Florida State junior Chris Singleton, who led the Seminoles to three consecutive NCAA tournaments, said Wednesday he’ll forego his final year of collegiate eligibility to enter the NBA draft.
Singleton said he has not yet signed with an agent, but is unlikely to change his mind about leaving school early.
SAN DIEGO ó Eight of 10 people charged with running a betting ring involving the University of San Diego’s basketball team have pleaded not guilty.
The defendants entered their pleas in federal court. Six of the eight defendants were granted bail ranging from $35,000 to $50,000. The NCAA also announced plans to conduct its own investigation into the gambling ring, but will wait until the FBI completes its work.
NFL
MINNEAPOLIS ó Different state. Different mediator. Same disagreements.
One month and two days after the NFL and its players cut off negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement and put the 2011 season in peril, the two sides will return to the table for court-ordered mediation Thursday with a key legal ruling on the lockout still pending.
NFL executives met with U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan on Wednesday for five hours the day before the first talks between the league and the players since the middle of March.
NEW CITY, N.Y. ó Former pro football star Lawrence Taylor, who pleaded guilty in January to sexual misconduct and patronizing a 16-year-old prostitute, was declared a low-risk sex offender, meaning there will be no photo of the former New York Giants linebacker on public online sex-offender registries.
KOBEíS SLUR
LOS ANGELES ó The NBA fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 on Wednesday for using a derogatory gay term in frustration over a call.
NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a swift disciplinary ruling after the Los Angeles Lakers’ five-time NBA champion guard cursed and used the homophobic slur when referee Bennie Adams called a technical foul on him during the third quarter of a victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
“Kobe Bryant’s comment during last night’s game was offensive and inexcusable,” Stern said. “While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated. … Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society.”
LOS ANGELES ó Lakers center Andrew Bynum hyperextended his right knee during the second quarter of Los Angeles’ game against San Antonio, a serious blow to the Lakers’ hopes for a third straight NBA title.
NHL
DALLAS ó The Dallas Stars fired coach Marc Crawford after missing the playoffs in each of his two seasons, extending their postseason drought to three years.
UNIONDALE, N.Y. ó Jack Capuano was rewarded by the New York Islanders, who removed the interim tag from their head coach after he led a second-half improvement in an otherwise disappointing season in which the team finished last in the Atlantic Division.
GOLF
ATLANTAó Three-time major champion Larry Nelson, who didn’t take up golf until he returned from the Vietnam War, will receive the PGA Distinguished Service Award.
Nelson, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, will be honored Aug. 10 during the PGA Championship. It’s being played at Atlanta Athletic Club, where 30 years ago Nelson won his first major at the PGA.
What made Nelson such an inspiration was his late start in the game. He spent two years in Vietnam with the Army, and didn’t start playing golf until he was out of the service.

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