National briefs: Shaq an analyst
The calls came as soon as Shaquille OíNeal decided to retire, all wanting to hire one of the NBAís greatest entertainers.
TNTís ěInside the NBAî studio show had been OíNealís favorite as a player, so the choice was easy.
Get ready for the Big Analyzer, Big Commentator, or whatever other nickname he takes in the next phase of his career.
OíNeal agreed Thursday to a multiyear deal with Turner Sports to become an analyst on its NBA coverage, where he will fold his 7-foot-1 frame into the fourth chair on the TNT set alongside Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson.
ěIím just going to try to make it more fun than it already is,î OíNeal said during a conference call.
OíNeal also will contribute to NBA TV and NBA.com, and his agreement includes a development deal with Turnerís entertainment and animation networks.
OíNeal said he had offers from ABC/ESPN and others upon retiring last month, but quickly chose the Turner offer, saying he wasnít interested in creating a bidding war for his services.
CHARLOTTE ó The agent for Bobcats rookie Bismack Biyombo insists the seventh pick in the draft will play for Charlotte next season despite a buyout dispute with his Spanish team.
ěAt the time the lockout is over and the season starts, the player will be playing with the Bobcats,î Igor Crespo told The Associated Press in a phone interview. ěEverything else is not relevant.î
A spokesman for Madrid-based Fuenlabrada said last month the team is fine in letting the 18-year-old Biyombo out of the last two years of his contract, but expects to receive a $1.4 million buyout.
The two sides held a mediation session earlier this month. Crespo declined to reveal the results, saying only he believed the buyout figure was made public to ěput pressure on us.î
COLUMBIA, S.C. ó Ace Sanders understands it will take more than crisp, new uniforms if South Carolina hopes to take another step toward a Southeastern Conference championship.
Sanders was among six Gamecock players at Williams-Brice Stadium on Thursday modeling the teamís new looks for 2011. Itís the first uniform update since Under Armour became the football teamís apparel provider in 2007. The uniforms have more stretch and are lighter, the players said, and should help the team feel fresher down the stretch this season.
But Sanders said if the team doesnít work as hard as it did a year ago in winning the SEC Eastern Division, it wonít make a difference what they wear on game day.
ěLast year was not really about uniforms. It was about us actually showing up, preparing and doing our best on the field and finishing games,î Sanders said. ěThatís what weíre working on.î
And this season, theyíll do it in new duds.
The jerseys arenít vastly different from the teamís old uniforms. The company said the material is designed to stretch more, meaning less is needed to manufacture each one. It also means a tighter fit for players and a more difficult time for defenders to grab a handful of jersey.
NEW YORK ó With time running short to keep the NFLís preseason intact, owners and players got into another long round of labor talks Thursday, trying to break the impasse that has kept the league shut down for four months.
Each group turned out in force for the latest negotiations at a Manhattan law firm, and for the second straight day discussions stretched into the evening.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and eight of the 10 members of the ownersí labor committee were present, including Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and John Mara of the New York Giants. Two new participants Thursday were Green Bay Packers CEO Mark Murphy and San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos.
Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison has apologized for using an anti-gay slur to refer to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in an interview with ěMenís Journal,î and says his critical statements about teammates were taken out of context.
Harrison posted a statement on his Twitter account Thursday night.
In the article, the Steelersí star criticized Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back Rashard Mendenhall for their play in last seasonís Super Bowl loss to Green Bay.
Harrisonís harshest words in the article were aimed at Goodell, whom he also called a ěcrookî and a ědevil.î
TORONTO ó Blue Jays star Jose Bautista is listed as day to day with a twisted right ankle after injuring himself on an awkward slide.
Bautista hurt himself Thursday night in Torontoís game against the New York Yankees. He limped off after the play in the fourth inning.
Bautista leads the majors with 31 home runs. He led the big leagues last year with 54 homers.
The slugger was hurt going into third base on Edwin Encarnacionís double-play grounder that ended the inning. Bautista stayed on his knees and was tended to by the trainer and manager John Farrell before leaving in obvious pain.
John McDonald took over at third base for Bautista. In the All-Star game Tuesday night, Bautista made a nifty sliding catch in right field.
WASHINGTON ó A misstep by government lawyers led to a mistrial in Roger Clemensí perjury case here Thursday.
During the second day of testimony, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham introduced seven video clips of Clemensí 2008 sworn testimony before a House committee. Defense attorney Rusty Hardin had no objection to the clips, but a few minutes later, Judge Reggie B. Walton halted the proceedings and about an hour later, he ended the trial.
The video clip in question, Exhibit 3B2, was an exchange between Clemens and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. Cummings asked Clemens about the honesty of his friend and former teammate, Andy Pettitte, who gave sworn testimony that he and Clemens had discussed Clemensí steroid use in 1999 or 2000.
BRISTOL, Conn. ó Work was no match for the Americans as their victory over France drew the highest weekday ratings ever for a Womenís World Cup match.
The 3-1 victory Wednesday, which put the Americans in the World Cup final for the first time since 1999, drew a 2.2 overnight rating. ESPN said Thursday that was the best ever for a weekday match on any network, and the fourth-best rating for any Womenís World Cup match. It ranks just behind Sundayís wild quarterfinal win over Brazil, which drew a 2.3 rating.
Ratings measure the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned into a program. Overnights represent the nationís largest markets.