National Sports Briefs
SHANGHAI ó The NBA’s version of the Ming Dynasty is done. After helping pro basketball gain a foothold in the world’s most populous market, Chinese star Yao Ming has retired.
Yao made it official Wednesday, telling a packed news conference in his hometown that a series of foot and leg injuries forced him to end his playing career at the age of 30.
“I will formally end my career,” said Yao, the 7-fooot-6 center who became a household name in China before starting his NBA career with the Houston Rockets as the top draft pick in 2002.
Yao played eight seasons in the NBA, but missed 250 regular-season games over the past six years.
CORAL GABLES, Fla. ó Former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning was sued Wednesday over a weekend traffic crash in Florida that raised questions about whether he improperly left the scene.
NEW YORK ó Syracuse, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and Stanford will be the hosts for the opening doubleheaders of the 2011 NIT Season Tip-Off.
The first two rounds will be Nov. 14-16. The semifinals and finals are at Madison Square Garden Nov. 23 and 25.
Syracuse will host Manhattan with Albany facing Brown in the other game. Monmouth will be at Virginia Tech with George Mason playing Florida International. Oklahoma State will host Arkansas-Pine Bluff with Oral Roberts meeting Texas-San Antonio. Fresno State will be at Stanford with Colorado State taking on SMU in the other game.
CHARLOTTE ó ESPN is moving Allen Bestwick into the booth as lead play-by-play announcer for its NASCAR coverage.
Bestwick replaces Marty Reid for all Sprint Cup races, practices and qualifying. Reid will be the play-by-play announcer for Nationwide Series telecasts and ESPN’s IndyCar coverage.
Bestwick will join holdovers Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the booth.
Nicole Briscoe will take over Bestwick’s old job as host for ESPN’s prerace NASCAR Countdown show. She had been a fill-in host for the show the last two years. She’ll join holdovers Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty in the booth.
ESPN broadcasts the final 17 races of the Cup schedule beginning next weekend in Indianapolis.
TAMPA, Fla. ó All-Star center Steven Stamkos signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning, two months after helping the team make a surprising run to the Eastern Conference finals.
The 21-year-old Stamkos, the No. 1 overall pick in 2008, had 45 goals and 91 points last season.
BUFFALO, N.Y. ó Veteran goaltender Patrick Lalime retired on Wednesday after playing for five teams across 12 seasons.
Lalime, 37, who played in 444 games and finished with a 200-174-48 record, will become an analyst on Ottawa Senators television broadcasts. He played five seasons in Ottawa, and last played with Buffalo in seven games last season.
NEWARK, N.J. ó Peter DeBoer has replaced Jacques Lemaire as coach of the New Jersey Devils.
GAP, France ó Defending champion Alberto Contador caught his Tour de France rivals by surprise with a brash climbing attack, gaining time on leader Thomas Voeckler during the rainy 16th stage.
Contador burst from pack in the final climb of the 101-mile course from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Gap. Among the other big title contenders, only Cadel Evans of Australia could keep up.
Contador finished 18 seconds ahead of Voeckler, leaving the Spanish star 3 minutes, 42 seconds behind.
GREENSBORO — There were 32 players who showed up last week to play for Joe Pinyan’s West team and 31... read more