Other Sports

Sports briefs: Dec. 24

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman posed for pictures with North Korean basketball players and government officials last week in Pyongyang. Rodman selected the members of the North Korean team who will play against visiting NBA stars Jan. 8, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman posed for pictures with North Korean basketball players and government officials last week in Pyongyang. Rodman selected the members of the North Korean team who will play against visiting NBA stars Jan. 8, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. AP


Rodman loses sponsor for game in North Korea

Former basketball star Dennis Rodman left North Korea on Monday, but he plans to return next month — even if a sponsor won't be with him.

Rodman's short visit was aimed at finalizing plans to bring 11 other former NBA players to Pyongyang for a Jan. 8 exhibition game marking Kim Jong Un's birthday. The two struck up a friendship when Rodman first traveled to the secretive state earlier this year, but Rodman did not answer questions from the media on whether he had met with Kim this time.

Rodman is the highest-profile American to meet Kim since the leader inherited power from his father in late 2011. He wants to bring the group of players to Pyongyang for the exhibition, but has acknowledged that some of the Americans have been reluctant to come. He held tryouts for the North Korean team during his visit, which began Thursday. He has said he expects to announce the U.S. roster soon, and that he is planning another game in June.

Later Monday, though, Irish betting company Paddy Power PLC — a driving force behind the exhibition — said it had cut ties with Rodman.

"Given changed circumstances, Paddy Power has decided to withdraw its association with the Dennis Rodman basketball initiative in North Korea," the company said in a statement. "We've reviewed the project, and with the benefit of hindsight, we've recognized we've got this one wrong."

   LeBron James scored 38 points, Michael Beasley made two free throws with 9.2 seconds left to put Miami up for good, and the host Heat beat the Atlanta Hawks 121-119 in overtime.

The Heat squandered an early 13-0 lead, then rallied from seven points down in the final 90 seconds of the fourth quarter. Ray Allen made three free throws with 8 seconds left in regulation to send it to overtime. The Heat played without Dwyane Wade, who had knee soreness, and still beat the Hawks for the ninth straight time.

   Despite leaving the game with a sprained right ankle in the third quarter, New York forward Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 19 points and they held on to beat Orlando 103-98.

   Former Kentucky player Brandon Knight had 26 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds, but his Milwaukee Bucks dropped a 111-110 decision to the host Charlotte Bobcats.

   Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 111-104 win over the Houston Rockets. Dwight Howard had 29 points and 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who were playing their second straight game without leading scorer James Harden, who was out with a sprained left ankle. But the Rockets did get Jeremy Lin back. Lin, who had been out since Dec. 13 with back spasms, scored 20 points.

College basketball

Iowa State matches best start ever

Georges Niang scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half, and No. 14 Iowa State beat Akron 83-60 Monday in Honolulu to match the best start in school history. Melvin Ejim had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Cyclones, who improved to 10-0 for the first time since 1996-97 season. Iowa State advanced to the finals of the Diamond Head Classic where it will play South Carolina or Boise State on Wednesday night.

   Beckie Francis, who was fired as Oakland University's women's basketball coach June 12, the same day her husband Gary Russi announced his retirement as university president, said she doesn't understand why the school fired her.

Oakland said that Francis physically and emotionally abused players, obsessed about their weight and pushed Christian beliefs on them. But Francis denies the allegations. She said there were no hints of problems within the team, and no player ever came to her with issues regarding religion or diet.

Sports in the courts

Hernandez's friend on drugs when killed

Police in Farmington, Conn., say drugs were found in the system of one of Aaron Hernandez's friends who died after his car crashed into a country club in June.

Farmington police released toxicology tests on Thaddeus Singleton III on Monday. They say Singleton tested positive for oxycodone, cocaine and two cocaine-related drugs.

Police said the investigation continues and didn't release other information, including whether the drugs were factors in the June 30 crash at the Farmington Country Club.

The 33-year-old Singleton was married to a cousin of Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star charged with killing Odin Lloyd in Massachusetts. Authorities searched Singleton's home in Bristol while investigating Lloyd's death and found an SUV rented in Hernandez's name that was wanted in connection with a double homicide in Boston in 2012.


Crane operator worked 18 days in row

A news report cites a Sao Paulo state Labor Ministry official as saying the man who operated the crane that collapsed at the city's World Cup stadium had worked 18 days in a row. Two construction workers were killed in the Nov. 27 accident, which remains under investigation.

The ministry's regional superintendent Luis Antonio Medeiros said there wasn't necessarily a cause and effect relationship between the accident and the operator's string of workdays. But, he added, "We think that's exhausting for someone who works such a delicate machine."

Brazil is under pressure to finish the stadiums around the country well before the tournament begins in June.

   Tour de France winner Chris Froome leads a list of 10 riders who have signed new contracts with Team Sky for 2014. Peter Kennaugh, David Lopez and Ian Stannard, who helped Froome succeed teammate Bradley Wiggins as Britain's second Tour winner, have also extended their contracts.

The last word

Mike Gay was the stadium chief at Candlestick Park in San Francisco for 35 years, until Monday night's swan song at the stadium. He's not sure he wants to watch the implosion of the stadium. He said:

"I've seen other stadiums get imploded. Here I've been trying to maintain it and keep it looking good and these guys are talking about, 'We can bring this thing down in 100 seconds.' Whoa."