Timberwolves fire Rambis after three months in limbo
The Timberwolves fired Kurt Rambis on Tuesday, ending more than three months of uncertainty and awkwardness surrounding the head coach of the worst team in the NBA last season. Rambis was 32-132 in his brief stay in Minnesota, including 17-65 this past season.
"I think, collectively, we felt that we were doing the right thing in terms of the way we approached it," said David Kahn, the team's president of basketball operations. "But I also recognize it took a long time. That's on me. And I realize that it can look more convoluted and complicated than maybe it really is, and that's on me."
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Kahn hired Rambis in 2009 to turn around one of the league's struggling franchises. But the Wolves won just two more games this year than they did in his first season, and Kahn felt compelled to cut ties with the first coach he hand-picked to help him rebuild the Wolves. Rambis has two years left on the four-year contract he got to leave his job as Phil Jackson's top assistant with the Lakers. That means owner Glen Taylor will be on the hook for $4 million while he and Kahn look for a new coach to work with the youngest team in the NBA. The move could prove even more costly if the lockout wipes games off the schedule next season.
■ Former Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen has signed a contract to play for Pallacanestro Biella of the Italian League, the school announced Tuesday, less than two weeks after the NBA lockout began. Pullen, who was not drafted by an NBA team, is Kansas State's all-time leading scorer with 2,132 points, fourth-best in Big 12 history. He averaged 20.2 points last season in leading the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in his four years at the school. The Italian League team roster includes former Louisville guard Edgar Sosa and A.J. Slaughter, who starred at Shelby County and Western Kentucky.
UK's Warford on Lombardi watch list
Kentucky offensive lineman Larry Warford was one of 125 players named Tuesday to the Lombardi Award watch list, recognizing college football's top lineman. Warford is also on the watch list for the Outland Trophy, honoring the best interior lineman. The Richmond native led the team with 43 knockdown blocks in 2010 and was a key part of the line that allowed the second fewest number of sacks in the SEC last season.
■ West Virginia linebacker Branko Busick was dismissed from the team Tuesday, less than 24 hours after he was charged with an armed robbery at a Morgantown apartment building. WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen issued a statement saying Busick had been cut from the team for an undisclosed violation of team rules. He refused to comment further. Morgantown police say the 20-year-old redshirt sophomore from Steubenville, Ohio, was arrested Monday evening. A court official said Busick's father posted the amount with a property bond. Nick Busick is the former WWF wrestler Big Bully Busick.
■ Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach offered fresh details Tuesday on what he says was happening behind the scenes when he was fired. In excerpts from his book, Swing Your Sword, Leach said emails "suggest" there was never a university investigation into allegations he mistreated a player, Adam James, with a concussion but rather "an effort to sell me down the river." He also claims a public relations firm, Spaeth Communications, was used by the university to "smear" Leach's name. The university fired Leach in December 2009 amid claims that he mistreated receiver James, son of Craig James, an ESPN analyst.
■ Oklahoma linebacker Austin Box had five prescription painkillers and an anti-anxiety drug in his system when he died, according to a preliminary toxicology report released Tuesday by the state medical examiner's office. The death of the 22-year-old two months ago was ruled accidental. In the report, the agency said the combination of drugs probably caused pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs, and aspiration pneumonia, which is an inflammation of the lungs caused by inhaling foreign substances.
Sports in the courts
Chinese gymnast settles suit with U.S.
A champion Chinese gymnast who was paralyzed in an accident at the 1998 Goodwill Games is grateful toward the United States after reaching a deal with insurance companies and USA Gymnastics to provide her with medical care and rehabilitation in China, along with financial help, her lawyer said Tuesday. The lawyer, Ming Hai, said he could not divulge details of the deal. Still, he said it will provide up to $10 million in cash and health care over the lifetime of the 30-year-old gymnast, Sang Lan. Ming filed a lawsuit earlier this year in U.S. District Court in Manhattan seeking $1.8 billion on Sang's behalf. He named as defendants AOL Time Warner Inc., USA Gymnastics, TIG Insurance Co., TIG Specialty Insurance Solutions, Riverstone Claims Management LLC and various other defendants. AOL Time Warner was later dropped as a defendant.
No doping clues in Russian's room
A French official said Tuesday police didn't find doping evidence in a search of Russian rider Alexandr Kolobnev's hotel room. Jean-Pascal Violet, the public prosecutor for the town of Aurillac, said he has opened an investigation in connection with Kolobnev's failed Tour de France doping test. The rider dropped out of the Tour on Monday after the International Cycling Union said a urine sample collected from Kolobnev last Wednesday tested positive for Hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic that can also be used as a masking agent.
■ German sprinter Andre Greipel won the 10th stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday, beating former teammate Mark Cavendish by a wheel's length in a dash to the line and capturing a leg of cycling's showcase race for the first time. France's Thomas Voeckler kept the yellow jersey after nestling safely in the main pack for most of the 98-mile route from Aurillac to Carmaux.
UFL gives Crouch another chance
The Omaha Nighthawks are giving Eric Crouch another shot at professional football. The United Football League team held a news conference Tuesday to announce it has signed the 2001 Heisman Trophy winner who once starred down the road at Nebraska. Crouch, 32, said he's looking forward to getting one more chance to play football in his hometown but added that he's not out to prove himself. "This is an exciting time for me to be part of football again at a high level," said Crouch, who will wear No. 9. Crouch was a third-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2002. He was with three NFL teams but never played a regular-season game.
6-year-old golfer shows decorum after ace
A 6-year-old golfer sank a hole in one on a course in central Illinois and calmly walked back to her cart. Why such a quiet reaction? Reagan Kennedy's father had told the Bloomington girl not to make a lot of noise on the course. But 13-year-old Cheyenne Broquard said she told her younger sister that a hole in one was the one time a golfer could be excused for making a little noise. Reagan said she's now working toward her ultimate golf goal — beating her father.
Flay keynote speaker at Hall induction
Celebrity chef and Thoroughbred owner Bobby Flay will give the keynote address at the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Aug. 12. Flay recently won his first Grade 1 stakes when Her Smile captured the $250,000 Prioress at Belmont Park on July 4. This year's Hall of Fame inductees include trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and jockey Shelby "Pike" Barnes.
The last word
While much was made of the Arizona heat at this year's All-Star game, baseball commissioner Bud Selig knows that it's sweltering across much of America in July. Take Kansas City, site of next year's game, for instance:
"It will be just as hot and a little more humid, but what the hell? That's been Kansas City forever."