National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

NFL suspends Cardinals' Washington for 1 year

PHOENIX (AP) The NFL has suspended Arizona Cardinals standout inside linebacker Daryl Washington for one year for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The punishment, announced Friday, was for substance abuse and did not mention his recent guilty plea to assaulting his ex-girlfriend.

Washington, in a statement released by his agent, said the penalty was for marijuana, and that he takes responsibility for the violation. He said he "is committed to making changes" in his life that will allow him to return to the NFL.

Considered among the best in the NFL at his position, Washington was suspended the first four games of last season for violating the substance abuse policy.

"It is completely unacceptable that Daryl has once again put us in this position," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said in a statement released by the team. "We all know what the consequences are and will deal with them."

Washington, the team leader in tackles in 2011 and 2012, will lose $2.9 million in salary due to the suspension.

In March, Arizona exercised a $10 million option to keep him on the roster. Washington received $5 million then and the deals calls for him to get the other $5 million next March.

Washington said the NFL "policy is very strict, and I have chosen to take responsibility."

"I will work extremely hard to stay in top football shape," he said, "and will work equally hard to ensure that my life off the field meets the high level of maturity and responsibility to which I am committed."

With the loss of inside linebacker Karlos Dansby to free agency, the Cardinals find themselves without the dynamic combination that was a big part of their strong defense last season.

Second-year player Kevin Minter is slotted to take Dansby's place. Just what the team will do to try to replace Washington is unclear.

"Our approach is the same as it's always been: next man up," Keim said. "We talk a lot about how critical depth is to a team because situations always arise whether by injury or other circumstances such as this one.

"One player's absence is another's opportunity. That approach has served us well in the past and we will rely on it now."

After leading the team with 111 tackles in his second NFL season, Washington signed a six-year contract, adding four years and $32 million to his existing deal.

In 2012, he led the team with career highs of 140 tackles and nine sacks and made the Pro Bowl. But in April of last year, the NFL suspended him four games for violating the substance abuse policy. A month later, he was arrested on accusations of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, the mother of the couple's child.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of assault earlier this year.

A suspension for the criminal conviction had been expected. The penalty for substance abuse came as a surprise to some, but apparently not to Washington's teammates.

"Old news to us, new news to y'all," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said in a tweet.

Keim said "our hope is that this suspension will give Daryl the opportunity to accept the necessary help and guidance to get his life back on track," Keim said, "and we will certainly support him however we can."

When OTAs resumed this week, coach Bruce Arians said he hoped the team could pick up another outside linebacker.

The Cardinals signed veteran Larry Foote in the offseason, and outside linebacker Lorenzo Washington also can play inside.

Minter, a second-round draft pick, played almost entirely on special teams as a rookie.

Another player Arizona has at inside linebacker is Kenny Demens, an undrafted rookie free agent a year ago who spent last season on the Cardinals' practice squad.

"I sincerely apologize for the effect of my actions on my teammates, coaches and other colleagues at the Cardinals," Washington said. "I also apologize to Cardinals fans for the time I will miss. I will work diligently during this suspension to return as a better man and football player."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Shelly Sterling agrees to sell Clippers to Ballmer

LOS ANGELES (AP) Shelly Sterling has informed the NBA of her deal with Steve Ballmer to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers, but the league isn't ready to call off next week's owners hearing just yet.

First, it needs more information about the potential record-breaking $2 billion sale she agreed to with the former Microsoft CEO.

"We await the submission of necessary documentation from Mrs. Sterling," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said Friday in a statement. "In the meantime, the June 3 special meeting of the NBA Board of Governors remains as scheduled."

The league is planning a hearing that day to consider the charge against her husband, Donald Sterling, for damaging the league with his racist comments. Owners could vote to terminate his ownership - and Shelly's as well - during that hearing.

But Commissioner Adam Silver has said he would prefer the Sterlings sell the team, and Shelly Sterling announced late Thursday night that she'd signed a binding contract for a sale of the Clippers by The Sterling Family Trust to Ballmer.

Ballmer "will be a terrific owner," Sterling said, "We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premier NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success."

Sterling negotiated the sale after Donald Sterling made racist remarks that were made public. The remarks included Sterling telling girlfriend V. Stiviano not to bring blacks to Clippers games, specifically mentioning Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.

Shelly Sterling's statement noted that she made the deal "under her authority as the sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers." Donald Sterling's attorneys contend that he is a co-owner and therefore must give his assent for the deal to go through. They also say he won't be giving it.

"Sterling is not selling the team," said his attorney, Bobby Samini. "That's his position. He's not going to sell."

Ballmer beat out bids by Guggenheim Partners and a group including former NBA All-Star Grant Hill after presenting an "all-around superior bid," according to an individual with knowledge of the negotiations. The individual, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly, said Ballmer made more than an hour-long personal visit to Shelly Sterling's Malibu home Sunday and laid out his plan.

"He knocked their socks off, they bonded, had a good connection," the individual said. The amount was also the largest of the offers, and Ballmer was one potential buyer to deal with rather than numerous members of a group.

Ballmer said in a statement that he is honored to have his name submitted to the NBA for approval and thanked the league for working collaboratively with him throughout the process.

"I love basketball. And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win - and win big - in Los Angeles," Ballmer said. "LA is one of the world's great cities - a city that embraces inclusiveness, in exactly the same way that the NBA and I embrace inclusiveness."

On Thursday, Magic Johnson lauded the deal on his Twitter account: "Steve Ballmer owning the Clippers is a big win for the City of LA and all the people who live in the City of Angels!"

Though Donald Sterling's attorneys now say he won't agree to sell the team, a May 22 letter obtained by The Associated Press and written by another of Sterling's attorneys that says that "Donald T. Sterling authorizes Rochelle Sterling to negotiate with the National Basketball Association regarding all issues in connection with a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers team." It includes the line "read and approved" and Donald Sterling's signature.

Samini said Sterling has had a change of heart primarily because of "the conduct of the NBA." He said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's decision to ban Sterling for life and fine him $2.5 million as well as to try to oust him as an owner was him acting as "judge, jury and executioner."

"They're telling me he should stand back and let them take his team because his opinion on that particular day was not good, was not popular?" Samini said. "It doesn't make sense. He's going to fight."

Silver has said his preference would be for the franchise to be sold rather than seized - and that means sold in its entirety, with neither Sterling retaining a stake. Though according to the deal's terms Ballmer will own 100 percent of the team, Shelly Sterling may continue to be involved under conditions worked out privately with Ballmer, the individual said.

Franchise sale prices have soared since the current collective bargaining agreement was ratified in 2011. The Milwaukee Bucks were just sold to New York investment firm executives Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens for about $550 million, an NBA record.

Last year, Vivek Ranadive's group acquired a 65 percent controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings at a total franchise valuation of more than $534 million.

This is not Ballmer's first foray into potential NBA ownership. Ballmer and investor Chris Hansen headed a group that agreed to a deal to buy the Kings from the Maloof family in January 2013 with the intention of moving the team to Seattle, where the SuperSonics played until 2008.

But Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson lobbied the NBA for time to put together a bid to keep the team in California, and though the Ballmer-Hansen group later increased its offer, owners voted to deny the bid for relocation and the Kings were sold to Ranadive.

The former Microsoft CEO helped Bill Gates transform the company from a startup with fewer than 40 employees and $12 million in annual revenue into the world's most valuable business. The pair met in 1973 while living down the hall from each other in a Harvard dorm.

During his tenure at Microsoft, Ballmer was known for his competitive drive and wild displays of emotion and hand-waving.

At his farewell address to Microsoft employees, he high-fived and hugged audience members, pumped his fists in the air, and even shed tears as the popular 1987 song "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" played on the sound system. In a video of the event widely viewed on YouTube, he screams: "You work for the greatest company in the world!"

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AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney contributed to this report.

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Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams

McIlroy tumbles down leaderboard at Memorial

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) With a chance to build a big lead, Rory McIlroy put it in reverse Friday at the Memorial.

McIlroy made three straight double bogeys and shot 43 on the back nine. He didn't get much better on the front nine and wound up with 78. That's 15 shots higher than his score on Thursday.

McIlroy said his knee was sore on the range as he was hitting balls, but that it didn't bother him once the round began. What hurt more was his inability to hit fairways. He didn't find the short grass until his eighth hole of the round.

Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark had a 67 and was at 6-under 138 among those who finished early. Adam Scott (70) was at 139, and Phil Mickelson (70) was at 142.

Isner advances to 4th round at French Open

PARIS (AP) John Isner became the first American man to reach the French Open's fourth round since 2010, beating 17th-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain 7-6 (13), 7-6 (3), 6-7 (5), 7-5 Friday.

The 10th-seeded Isner is also the first man from the U.S. to get to the final 16 at any Grand Slam tournament since Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish at the 2012 U.S. Open, although Fish withdrew before his fourth-round match.

Isner saved all 13 break points he faced against Robredo, a 2013 quarterfinalist at Roland Garros, where the Spaniard was the first man since 1927 to win three consecutive Grand Slam matches after dropping the first two sets of each.

There was only one service break Friday, and it came with Robredo serving at 5-all in the fourth set.

At 15-all, he double-faulted for the second time all match. Isner then hit a blistering forehand return winner to get to 15-40, and converted his sixth break point of the 3-hour, 18-minute match when Robredo put a backhand into the net on an 18-stroke exchange.

Isner - best known for winning the longest match in tennis history, 70-68 in the fifth set at Wimbledon in 2010 - then served out the victory at love. He finished with 17 aces and ended a five-match losing streak against seeded opponents at majors.

Isner had been 0-2 in third-round matches at the French Open.

No U.S. man had made it to the fourth round in Paris since Robby Ginepri four years ago.

Donald Young and Jack Sock can join Isner there with victories Saturday.

The last time three American men were in the fourth round at the clay-court major was 1995, when Andre Agassi, Michael Chang and Jim Courier got that far.

Sharapova advances to 4th round with 6-0, 6-0 win

PARIS (AP) Maria Sharapova advanced to the fourth round of the French Open on Friday without losing a game, beating Paula Ormaechea of Argentina 6-0, 6-0 in 51 minutes.

The seventh-seeded Russian, who won the title at Roland Garros in 2012, has lost only 10 games through three rounds this year.

Sharapova will next face Samantha Stosur of Australia. Stosur reached the French Open final in 2010.

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