National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Rockies OF Gonzalez has tumor removed from finger

DENVER (AP) Colorado Rockies star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez had a small tumor removed from his left index finger Tuesday during a procedure at the Cleveland Clinic.

Gonzalez underwent exploratory surgery with Dr. Thomas Graham and a growth was found beneath the sheath around the muscle.

Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said these type of tumors are common and the expectation is a biopsy will determine the tumor is benign.

"These little benign tumors, which we hope it is, is probably the second most common finding in the finger besides cysts," Dugger said. "Usually repetitive trauma causes it.

"They call them cell tumors. Pretty common within the sheath of these fingers. Usually benign. Occasionally you can come up with something."

Gonzalez had his left arm in a sling after the surgery. He is expected to return to Denver Wednesday.

"It helps explain some of the things that CarGo's been dealing with and why that finger kept blowing up on him," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It helps answer some of the questions we had about him.

Gonzalez has been experiencing soreness and swelling in the finger for a while. He was examined by Graham on May 29 in Cleveland. He continued to play but was placed on the 15-day DL on June 4 and is expected to miss a few weeks.

"Typically, it's a couple weeks for the tissue to heal," Dugger said. "Then he'll get back his strength and start swinging. It was a little bit more invasive, meaning they took out a larger piece than they thought - what the MRI revealed."

Gonzalez has dealt with finger issues in the past. Last season he played in just 19 games after the All-Star break due to a sprained middle finger on his right hand.

That injury did not require surgery.

Colorado has been hit hard with injuries in the last month. Third baseman Nolan Arenado (broken left finger) is expected to miss another month and outfielder Michael Cuddyer is out for at least six weeks with a fractured left shoulder suffered Thursday.

The rotation has been decimated as well. Jordan Lyles (broken hand), Tyler Chatwood (right elbow strain), Brett Anderson (fractured left index finger) and rookie Eddie Butler (right rotator cuff inflammation) are on the disabled list.

Left-hander Tyler Matzek, the team's first-round pick in 2009, will be the third Rockies pitcher in a week to make his major league debut when he starts Wednesday's game.

"It's something as a professional team we've got to push through, push forward," Cuddyer said.

Mets ace Matt Harvey's rehab is slowed

NEW YORK (AP) The next phase in New York Mets ace Matt Harvey's rehabilitation from elbow reconstruction surgery is being pushed back, and the All-Star right-hander is becoming more realistic about his chances of pitching in the major leagues this year.

Harvey was supposed to throw off a slope for the first time Tuesday but he was told last week while working out at the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, that the plan was being scrapped.

"A little surprised," Harvey said before the Mets played the Milwaukee Brewers. "We kind of had that plan written up for quite some time and to hear four or five days before I'm making a milestone is a little disappointing."

New York general manager Sandy Alderson said there is nothing wrong with Harvey. In fact the 25-year-old's recovery might have been going too well.

"I think the realization that as we transition from long tossing to throwing off a slope that we were moving sort of inexorably to a conclusion that we wanted to avoid, which is pitching too soon," Alderson said. "After talking with our doctors it made sense to slow him down a little bit."

In a season in which Tommy John surgery has become a near epidemic - 22 pitchers had the operation so far, according to data provided from STATS via writer Jon Roegele - the Mets are basing their timetable for Harvey's return on a growing amount of data that shows pitchers have more success if they don't return before 11 months from the date of surgery. Harvey had his operation on Oct. 22.

"That's about the last week in September," Alderson said of the target date. "That's a very narrow window to try to hit from our standpoint."

Manager Terry Collins, who was given a vote of confidence from Alderson with the Mets on a six-game skid, said he wouldn't expect Harvey to pitch for New York in the final week of the season unless the team was in contention.

Harvey had been set on returning this season but understands the decision is out of his hands.

"I think I'm coming to realize that I can't write myself in the lineup is becoming more realistic," Harvey said. "I'm the one throwing the baseball. I haven't had one pinch of pain. I can only express how good I feel and how ready I personally feel."

Harvey will continue to long toss from 120 feet - sometimes 150 - and throw off flat ground for the time being. Alderson said a new plan has not yet been finalized.

Alderson, meanwhile, met with Collins after the team returned from an 11-game road trip a season-high seven games under .500 at 28-35 because he felt there was too much talk about Collins' status in the media.

"Every time we lose a few games in a row, there's speculation about somebody taking a fall and that's simply not the way to approach a long season," Alderson said.

Indians' Chisenhall giving bat to Hall of Fame

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Lonnie Chisenhall's bat is headed to the Hall of Fame.

He just hopes he doesn't break his other one.

The Indians third baseman went 5 for 5 and hit three homers while driving in nine runs in a 17-7 rout of Texas on Monday night. By the time he arrived in Kansas City for Tuesday night's game, he was told that the folks in Cooperstown wanted to retire his bat for posterity.

The only problem with the gesture? "I only have two of the model I use," Chisenhall said with a grin. "I'm going to have to make it through these next six games with one bat."

No worries - teammate Michael Brantley has offered to loan out some of his stock.

According to Major League Baseball, Chisenhall became the first player to go 5 for 5 with three homers and nine RBIs since the RBI became a statistic in 1920. The only other major league players to have at least five hits, nine RBIs and three homers in a game were the Dodgers' Gil Hodges, the Reds' Walker Cooper and the Red Sox's Fred Lynn.

It was also the first three-homer game by an Indians player since Shin-Soo Choo in 2010, and the second nine-RBI game in franchise history. Chris James accomplished the feat on May 4, 1991.

"I think it's kind of neat. I'm sure Lonnie got a huge kick out of that," said Indians manager Terry Francona, who has donated several items to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum from when he managed the Red Sox to two World Series triumphs.

"He's got two kids, so one day he'll be able to take them and show them, `Hey, this is what your dad did,"' said the Indians' Mike Aviles. "That's pretty cool."

Chisenhall's big day started with a seemingly innocent RBI single in the first inning. He hit the first of his homers, a two-run run shot, in the second. He added another homer in the fourth, hit an RBI double in the sixth and capped it all off with a three-run shot in the eighth.

It was the first nine-RBI game since Carlos Delgado in 2008, and the first time a player hit three homers with that many RBIs since Alex Rodriguez did it in 2005.

The performance, the second five-hit game of Chisenhall's season, also boosted the 25-year-old infielder's batting average to .385. He'd also hit seven homers and driven in 32 runs heading into the opener of a two-game series against the Royals.

Chisenhall said what he had accomplished hadn't sunk in until he arrived in Kansas City.

"It was such a fast day," he said, pointing out that the team left Texas for Kansas City right after the game, and didn't arrive in town until the wee hours of the morning.

"Maybe I'll get a chance to sit back and watch the game myself someday and enjoy it."

Jury convicts suspect in Sean Taylor slaying trial

MIAMI (AP) A Florida jury has convicted a man prosecutors called the ringleader of a botched 2007 Miami-area burglary that ended with the fatal shooting of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor.

The 12-person jury deliberated nearly four hours Tuesday before finding 25-year-old Jason Mitchell guilty of first-degree felony murder and armed burglary. Trial testimony indicated that Mitchell hatched the plot for five Fort Myers-area men to burglarize Taylor's home near Miami after previously seeing large amounts of cash there.

The judge immediately imposed the mandatory life sentence for murder, plus 40 more years for the burglary conviction.

The man who authorities say fired the fatal shot, Eric Rivera Jr., was convicted last fall of second-degree murder and sentenced to 57 years behind bars.

Two other men await trial. A third has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary.

Stanley sweep? Rangers regroup after 0-3 start

NEW YORK (AP) The gravity of the situation was etched on the face of New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. One more loss Wednesday night to the Los Angeles Kings and his squad gets the distinction of being swept in the Stanley Cup finals.

No team has been swept in the finals since Detroit did it to Washington in 1998, completing a run of four straight Stanley Cup sweeps. So while the Kings are trying to close out the series, New York's focus is strictly on moving past disappointment and getting back to LA for Game 5.

"We're down 3-0. We're all lacking sleep. This is tough," Vigneault said on a day of optional practices. "I didn't expect my players today to be cheery and upbeat. We're in the Stanley Cup finals and we're down 3-0. You don't get a lot of these opportunities.

"Excuse us if today we're not real cheery, but tomorrow I can tell you we're going to show up."

The only levity expressed after the Rangers were beaten 3-0 at home by goalie Jonathan Quick and the Kings was when Vigneault was asked what his team could do differently at Madison Square Garden.

"Score," he said.

The packed room of reporters laughed. Vigneault didn't.

The present predicament makes it seem long ago that the Rangers led by two goals in the series opener, and then held a trio of two-goal leads in Game 2. Both of those ended with overtime wins by Los Angeles that sparked the Kings and demoralized New York.

Getting blanked in the first Stanley Cup finals game at the Garden since the Rangers last won the Cup in 1994 only made them feel worse.

"I do believe we can turn this around. I do," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said, "because we've been that close in every game."

Even in the shutout loss, the Rangers outshot the Kings 32-15. They haven't been dominated, but they also haven't found a way to win.

The Kings know both sides of a 3-0 series. They trailed by that margin in the opening round of this postseason to San Jose and then became the fourth NHL team to rally and win.

"We've been down a lot this postseason, we've been up, been in some exciting games, some long games," Kings forward Jarret Stoll said. "We just keep playing, trying to find a way to win. We've had some fortunate bounces."

Two years ago, the Kings went up 3-0 in the finals against New Jersey - the fourth straight series they built such a lead - but allowed the Devils to stay alive until Game 6. Premature celebrations, ticket requests from people close to the players and other distractions took players' focus away from the game and penetrated the Kings' insulated wall, the one no-nonsense coach Darryl Sutter worked hard to create.

"Game 4 was at home. There was a lot of distraction," Sutter said of 2012. "That was a lesson learned, not just for our players but for our whole organization. We were trying to keep our players as a little inner circle, but the circle got a little bit of infringement."

The Rangers are hoping that kind of history repeats.

New York has never come back to win a series it trailed 3-0, but the Rangers rallied to knock out Pittsburgh in the second round this year after trailing 3-1.

"Today is a tough day," forward Brad Richards said. "Your mind is racing on a thousand different things you could've done. But you have to make the best of it. The series is not over. We all can't wait to get back on the ice. It's just the waiting and the thinking.

"We've just got to get back into the battle and see where it goes."

Where they hope it goes is back to LA for Game 5. One win can turn the mindset and the perspective on both sides: belief in one room, a sliver of doubt in the other.

Orioles' Machado suspended for 5 games, appeals

BALTIMORE (AP) Manny Machado figured he might be suspended for intentionally throwing his bat on the field while at the plate.

What the Baltimore Orioles third baseman didn't expect is that the punishment would be so harsh.

Machado received a five-game suspension and an undisclosed fine Tuesday for tossing his bat in Sunday's game against Oakland.

He has appealed the suspension, which was slated to start immediately. Machado was in the starting lineup Tuesday against Boston.

"I don't want to be down for five days," Machado said. "We're just going to go ahead and get that down, and that's it. Need to try to help out this team in any way."

Machado let his bat fly toward third base after swinging at a pitch from Fernando Abad in the eighth inning. The bat-toss came during a plate appearance in which Abad threw successive high-and-tight pitches.

After the bat went soaring, both benches emptied. Machado and Abad were ejected.

Abad was fined but not suspended Tuesday.

"I don't really care," Machado said. "He's part of the Oakland A's organization and I'm a Baltimore Oriole. I know what I did and he knows what he did. We both got to pay the consequences."

Machado, however, isn't prepared to sit out five games - yet. His hearing could take place next week in New York, or he could drop the appeal as soon as Wednesday.

"We'll see what tomorrow brings," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday. "I think right now he's going to appeal and take 24 hours to think about the next step.

"Plus, probably the most important thing for him right now is make sure he puts the club in a position in case we make an adjustment in our roster. It's a little short notice to get somebody here if he started (the suspension) tonight."

Machado apologized to his teammates Monday for twice losing his temper during the three-game series against Oakland.

On Friday night, he yelled in the face of Oakland's Josh Donaldson after the third baseman tagged him on the chest, knocking Machado off his feet.

The dugouts also emptied after that confrontation.

"It's been a frustrating last couple days," Machado said. "We're just going to try to put this behind us."

Showalter agreed.

"He's a 21-year-old young man that made a mistake, and he's done the right thing since then to move forward with it the way it's supposed to be done," the manager said. "Now there are some more steps involved before we can put it behind us."

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis thought it might be prudent for Machado to accept the sentence and turn the page.

"Personally, I would kind of let it go away. I'm not in his shoes. It's easy to say that on the outside looking in," Davis said. "You screw up, you have to deal with the consequences. He'll deal with it and move on. We've already moved on."

Browns not worried about Manziel's partying

BEREA, Ohio (AP) The Browns aren't worried about Johnny Manziel running out of bounds off the field.

Or floating on pool rafts.

After a weekend of partying in Texas, where he was photographed floating on an inflatable swan while drinking champagne in a nightclub pool, Manziel was on the field Tuesday as the Browns opened a mandatory three-day minicamp.

The team is not making their popular Heisman Trophy-winning rookie quarterback - or starter Brian Hoyer - available to the media this week.

Manziel has left Cleveland each of the past three weekends, first taking a trip to Las Vegas, then to Los Angeles for a seminar with other rookies and then to his home state, where in addition to having some fun, he got drafted by the San Diego Padres and attended Game 2 of the NBA finals in San Antonio, sitting near Miami's bench while wearing a retro Cavaliers' cap.

Following practice, Browns first-year coach Mike Pettine said he's not worried about how his young QB spends his free time.

"I'm not concerned," Pettine said. "I would become concerned if it was something criminal and I would be concerned if it affected his job. There's a lot of our guys, if when they leave here if they were followed around, you'd get some very similar pictures. I don't know about an inflatable swan, but you'd still get some pictures."

Manziel has said he intends to keep living his life to the fullest, and Pettine doesn't feel the need to monitor the 21-year-old's every move.

"The philosophy here is that we're not going to micro-manage the guys," Pettine said. "I was involved in an event this weekend, and if there were some cameras at certain times it probably wouldn't have been the most flattering. It was a group of coaches out and we had a good time, but we were responsible. When it becomes irresponsible or it becomes part of breaking the law or it's something we feel is a potential problem, we'll step in."

Manziel is currently listed as Cleveland's backup behind Hoyer. The two will compete during training camp next month, when each pass will be dissected.

The dueling QBS are already under scrutiny. During Tuesday's workout, Manziel took snaps with Cleveland's first-team offense as Hoyer continues to be limited as a precaution while recovering from offseason knee surgery.

When he was on the field, Hoyer showed his ability to read the defense and release the ball more quickly than Manziel, who is still learning the nuances of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's system and adjusting to the speedier pro game.

That's not to say Manziel didn't show progress.

"He's getting more comfortable in the huddle, calling the plays," Pettine said. "I think he's got a very nice touch with the deep ball. We've added some of the zone-read stuff that Kyle's run with RG3 in Washington and he's done a nice job handling that. He makes improvement every day."

As for Manziel's extra-curricular activities, his teammates seem to have his back.

Safety Donte Whitner was asked if there's a need to tell Johnny Football to tone down his act.

"Yeah, but I don't think he's out of hand with it," Whitner said. "If he's not out every weekend, he's just a young guy. So going to Vegas, I probably would've been there with Johnny too."

Wide receiver Andrew Hawkins hasn't seen any reason to think Manziel isn't taking his job seriously.

"I don't know what Johnny does on the weekends. But it's none of my business," he said. "He's out here working his butt off. I'm not keeping tabs on where he goes Friday through Sunday. Johnny works hard, and that's all anybody cares about."

Pettine understands there's a bright spotlight on Manziel, who seems to relish the hype. In being so public with his actions, Manziel could be placing himself in precarious situations, but Pettine is confident the former Texas A&M star can handle it.

"I think it's something he's used to," Pettine said. "I think that he understands that that (publicity) comes with the territory, but I also think he's a young man that he doesn't want his lifestyle or how he lives it to be affected by social media. That he's not going to (say) `Hey, I'm not leaving my house.'

"I don't think he wants to be that way and it just goes back to we're not going to micromanage him until we feel that it is an issue, and if it's not affecting him on the field, then I don't think that it's anything we need to address at this point."

NOTES: Pro Bowl WR Josh Gordon continues to practice as the team awaits word on a possible league suspension. ... LT Joe Thomas was full-go after being limited in recent OTAs. ... Pettine confirmed rookie LG Joel Bitonio injured his ankle but said he is expected to be ready for training camp.

Rafa takes tennis to another level -- with some help

A few years ago, during a Serena Williams match at the U.S. Open, Chris Evert was in the announcers' booth when the director decided to show an old match between her and Tracy Austin. The two all-time greats were locked in some sort of baseline rally, and as a tennis fan, I have to say there was an obvious and inescapable response to seeing this classic bit of tennis history.

After a few shots, Chris Evert put that response into words.

“My gosh,” she said, “Look how SLOWLY we’re hitting the ball.”

Tennis is not the same game it was 30 years ago. It’s not the same game it was 20 years ago. Realistically, it’s not even the same game it was 10 years ago. No sport on the American landscape -- unless you consider video games sport -- changes as rapidly and as radically as tennis. Yes, football players get bigger. Golf balls fly longer. Basketball players get stronger.

But in tennis, because of the equipment, the court conditions, the tennis balls and the players training regimens, the very game sheds its skin and reforms into something new every few years.  This makes comparison through the years -- one of the wonderful things about being a fan of an individual sport -- almost pointless. It's hard to watch film or John McEnroe hitting those gorgeous touch volleys or seeing Steffi Graf dominate her opponents with her powerful forehand without thinking: "Holy cow, they would not stand a chance against players with today's equipment."

Rafael Nadal is probably the best example of this phenomenon. You watch him whip forehands with that extreme semi-Western grip and crush two-handed backhands from the most defensive positions and it's almost painful to go back and watch Rod Laver or Jimmy Connors or Arthur Ashe. They were not playing the same sport. Heck, even Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were not playing the same sport. It's hard enough comparing LeBron James and Michael Jordan, who were at least playing basketball under similar conditions. You go back and watch highlights from the French Open in the 1970s, you will watch two players bloop topspin pop-ups at each other until one wilts from exhaustion or boredom.

You watch Nadal crack shots past the amazing Novak Djokovic from 10 feet behind the baseline ... not the same game.

Does this make Nadal the best tennis player ever? It's an utterly fascinating question, and one I probably spend way too much time thinking about. You can look at the statistics: Nadal has now won 14 grand slam championships -- three clear of Rod Laver (for years considered the "greatest player ever"), tying him with Pete Sampras (who had his own time as the "greatest player ever”) and putting him just three behind the leader Roger Federer (who seems in the minds of many to be the reigning “greatest player ever”).

Federer's lead probably won't last long. He won 16 of his 17 slams before he turned 30. Nadal doesn’t turn 30 until the French Open in 2016 -- eight grand slams away. I think Nadal is going to tie Federer’s record before he turns 30. In time, he might smash Federer’s record.

Nadal has won one Australian Open, nine French Opens, two Wimbledons and two U.S. Opens. The nine French Opens is a grand slam record. He has beaten the great Federer in the final of the Australian, French and Wimbledon. He is 66-1 at Roland Garros, has reached the final of his last nine non-Wimbledon slams (this, even while dealing with a devastating injury that some thought might end his career) and he is an absurd 137-48 (74 percent) against the next ten ranked players combined.

But how do you compare Nadal to previous generations? Nadal is only capable of playing the style he plays because of the advances in the tennis racket. This is not a knock -- you play with the equipment you're given. But it's fair to say he could not have used Connors' trampoline Wilson T2000 or Martina Navratilova's graphite Yonex R-7 and hit anything resembling the shots he hits now. The frame heads were way smaller, they did not have the lightness or whip of rackets today, they had a sweet spot about the size of a Canadian penny, the strings were not nearly as responsive, on and on.

Nadal also plays a Wimbledon where the grass courts are much slower and truer. In 2001, Goran Ivanisevic hit a preposterous 212 aces to become the one and only player to win Wimbledon as a wildcard entry. That's more than 30 aces per match -- and that doesn't even count all the serves he hit that were returned long or into the net. That's how grass tennis was in those days, ace after ace after ace -- I will never forget the post-match press conference of a bewildered Frenchman named Arnaud Boetsch after Ivanisevic blew him off the court in 84 minutes. "Boom! Boom! Boom!" Boetsch said when asked to describe the match.

I don't know that Nadal could have won that version of Wimbledon. It is true that Andre Agassi won it playing a power-baseline game not unlike Nadal's -- Agassi beat Ivanisevic in five sets in the 1992 final -- but again those were different rackets. You give servers like John Isner and Milos Raonic and Ernests Gulbis and others the old Wimbledon surface, it's hard to see how Nadal competes against the blur (as it stands, Nadal is 16-0 against Isner, Raonic and Gulbis).

The point here is that there is no particularly satisfying answer for "greatest tennis player ever" because the game changes so radically. That doesn't stop us from playing the game, though. If I had to choose the best ever, I'd choose Nadal. I'd like to say Roger Federer, and I could make a case. Roger Federer's peak is unmatched -- to reach at least the semifinal in 23 consecutive grand slams is a feat that might never be matched. He is older than Nadal, so they haven't been often matched peak-to-peak. Most of Nadal's head-to-head dominance comes on clay, which is Federer's least effective surface.

But the numbers are simply too striking; Federer's game simply could not handle Nadal -- Rafa's high topspin forehands dominated Federer's backhand and he lost 23 of the 33 times they two have played. He beat Federer at Wimbledon too. He has dominated Federer on the Australian hardcourts. It's hard for Federer to be the best ever when Nadal beat him so regularly.

Sometimes it seems like Novak Djokovic plays tennis better than it has ever been played before; but again he could not beat Nadal in the French Open. And then you go back: Pete Sampras' game was blunted on clay, Andre Agassi's game was like Nadal's game minus about 5 percent, John McEnroe's game is an anachronism; it belonged to a specific time and it's hard to translate it to 2014. Rod Laver's game or Bill Tilden's game are even harder to imagine in our time.

Maybe McEnroe would invent a whole new way to play tennis with these new rackets. He had a particular tennis genius. Maybe Bjorn Borg would find a whole other level of speed and power. Maybe Jimmy Connors or Ivan Lendl or Jim Courier would create a kind of power tennis that would overpower the seemingly invincible Rafa Nadal. We will never know.

What does seems clear, though, is that Rafa Nadal plays tennis better than it has ever been played. He was given many advantages over previous generations. Much better rackets. More comfortable surfaces. Advanced medical treatments. But advantages are a part of tennis. Nadal has taken the game to a new level. That's what the greatest do.

Blatter urged not to run for FIFA presidency

SAO PAULO — In a stinging rebuke for Sepp Blatter, European football leaders told the veteran FIFA president on Tuesday that he should leave the scandal-hit governing body next year.

Blatter has sought support in Sao Paulo for a re-election bid in 2015 and faced a hostile UEFA membership, which bucked the trend of overwhelming backing from FIFA's other five continents.

They had urged the 78-year-old Swiss this week to run for a fifth presidential term next year despite a slew of scandals and negative headlines under his leadership.

UEFA executive committee member Michael van Praag and English Football Association President Greg Dyke directly challenged Blatter not to stand again during a closed-door meeting of Europe's 54 football nations — described by one delegate as "a grilling."

"People link FIFA to corruption and bribery and all kinds of old boys' networks," Van Praag told reporters later.

"FIFA has an executive president and that means you are responsible," the Netherlands federation president said he told Blatter. "People tend not to take you very seriously anymore."

The volatile meeting recalled open conflict between Blatter and European football that flared around his original election in 1998, and again for his re-election in 2002 during a financial scandal after FIFA's then-World Cup marketing agency collapsed into bankruptcy and sparked a kickbacks investigation.

UEFA, with 53 of the 209 FIFA members, has a second chance Wednesday to oppose Blatter. That will come in the public arena of the FIFA Congress floor, when he says he will seek acclaim for his expected re-election run.

Van Praag insisted his was not a personal attack on Blatter and deflected questions on whether he could be proposed by UEFA as a rival candidate.

UEFA members reminded Blatter he promised them in March 2011 that his current four-year term would be his last.

"He said that he changed his mind and every human being is allowed to change his mind," van Praag said.

Blatter arrived at the UEFA session after telling other confederations he had a burning desire to remain in office.

UEFA board members lined up later to list grievances with Blatter, including his handling of the 2022 World Cup bidding contest and subsequent issues with Qatar as host, plus criticism of European media for reporting allegations of corruption implicating FIFA officials.

In meetings with Asian and African delegates on Monday, Blatter suggested racism was a factor in the British media's reporting of the Qatar controversy.

"I said to him, 'I regard the comments you made about the allegations in the British media in which you described them as racist as totally unacceptable,'" Dyke told reporters.

England's delegate on the UEFA board, David Gill, said he thought Blatter should go in 2015.

"Personally, yes, I think we need to move on," said the former Manchester United chief executive, comparing FIFA to the International Olympic Committee, which changed its president after the Salt Lake City bidding scandal.

UEFA President Michel Platini, long seen as Blatter's likely successor, is expected to decide in September if he will challenge his former mentor.

Platini did not meet with reporters Tuesday, though his secretary general, Gianni Infantino, denounced Blatter's description in Sao Paulo this week of a "storm" around world football.

"There is not a storm in football. There is a storm in FIFA and this storm is not new," Infantino said. "It's something which is coming for years and years and years, and every time it's something else."

UEFA honorary president Lennart Johansson, who lost the 1998 FIFA election in a ballot long dogged by allegations of vote-buying by Blatter supporters, said his old rival should go.

"He has done some good things for FIFA," Johansson said, "but he should stick by what he said (in 2011)."

Still, FIFA members outside Europe show little desire to change a system and leadership that have delivered booming revenues.

Blatter told the 11 Oceania countries earlier Tuesday in a different Sao Paulo hotel they could expect bonuses from 2014 World Cup revenues higher than four years ago, when each got $550,000.

Oceania leader and FIFA vice president David Chung promised Blatter full support in the presidential ballot scheduled next May 29.

"Rest assured, the 11 members in this room are the first in line," Chung said.

Knicks hire Derek Fisher as head coach

Derek Fisher was never the best player, certainly not the tallest or quickest.

But whether on the court with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, or across the bargaining table from David Stern and Adam Silver, he never feared taking the shot, speaking his mind, or doing whatever else was expected of a leader.

So he has every attribute the New York Knicks need - except experience as a coach, the job they hired him to do.

"But I am experienced," Fisher said Tuesday. "Basketball is a game that I am experienced in playing, understanding, leading in, guiding in, helping another group of people achieve the greatest gift in the world as a professional athlete, and that's being a champion. That I have experience in, and that's the experience that I plan on sharing with these players, sharing with this organization."

That's what made Phil Jackson turn to one of his most trustworthy former players for his first coaching hire. Just days after finishing his 18th season, the 39-year-old Fisher was tabbed to replace Mike Woodson, whom Jackson fired in his first major move as team president.

Fisher won five championships playing for Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers and was known for his knack for hitting clutch postseason shots while playing an NBA-record 259 playoff games. But some of his most important work came in the locker room, just as it will now.

"He made some incredible shots in the playoffs, always stepped into the vacuum of leadership, but more than anything else it was the ability of Derek to speak the truth from what the sense of the group was," Jackson said during a press conference at the Knicks' training center in Greenburgh, New York.

The Knicks went 37-45 and missed the playoffs, just a year after winning the Atlantic Division and advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Jackson, who declined an original offer to coach the team, was instead hired to run the front office in March and fired Woodson the week after the season ended.

He was seeking someone familiar with the triangle offense and someone with little or no coaching experience that he could teach. The Knicks had nearly closed a deal to hire Steve Kerr, who instead left the TNT broadcast table to take the Golden State Warriors' coaching job.

Jackson then turned his attention to Fisher, even getting fined $25,000 last week when he was too open about his interest in the point guard who was still under contract with the Thunder.

Terms of Fisher's deal were not released, but a person with knowledge of the details said it was worth $25 million over five years - the same length of Jackson's contract and about the same deal Kerr signed with the Warriors.

Fisher won three straight titles from 2000-02 on the Lakers teams led by O'Neal and Bryant, and helped them win again in 2009 and '10. He is respected among players around the league and was the president of the Players Association during the 2011 lockout.

The 6-foot-1 Fisher was still a key contributor for the Thunder this season, helping them reach the Western Conference finals. Fisher, who is tied for third on the career list for 3-pointers in the NBA Finals, said thinking like a coach helped him play so long despite never being the most athletic or talented player.

And now, like Jason Kidd in Brooklyn, he is prepared to make the leap right from the court to the bench without any coaching experience on any level.

They Knicks won titles in 1970 and 1973, when Jackson was a player in the organization, but have had little postseason success in this century. Fisher, dressed sharply in a brown suit and purple shirt, believes he and Jackson can bring winning back to New York.

"We know without a doubt that we can re-establish what that means, what that is," Fisher said.

Fisher said he likes the triangle but would run what was best for the team. Jackson said he would always be available to help.

The Knicks hope the duo can reach a group that admittedly tuned Woodson out at times. And perhaps can help persuade Carmelo Anthony, who can become a free agent in July, to remain in New York.

Fisher, a former first-round pick from Arkansas Little-Rock, will certainly give New York a credibility that only champions can bring.

"That's why I'm here," Fisher said. "That's why I took advantage of this opportunity, to be a part of that process."

Chisenhall's 3 HRs, 9 RBIs lead Tribe past Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Lonnie Chisenhall had nine RBIs and three home runs in a five-hit game, Michael Brantley scored five times and the Cleveland Indians beat the Texas Rangers 17-7 Monday night.

The only other nine-RBI game in Cleveland history was by Chris James in a 20-6 victory for the Indians on May 4, 1991, against Oakland.

Chisenhall had two-run homers in the second and fourth innings before hitting a three-run shot down the right field line in the eighth to give the Indians a 17-6 lead.

The offensive outburst puts Chisenhall in rare company. He is only the fourth major league player since RBIs became a statistic in 1920 to have at least five hits, nine RBIs and three homers in a game, and he is the first since Boston's Fred Lynn did it in 1975, according to the Indians.

The Indians won three straight in the four-game set after coming to the Lone Star State with the worst road record in the majors.

Quick pushes Kings to brink of Stanley Cup

NEW YORK (AP) Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings are finishing off the New York Rangers in a big hurry.

The Connecticut native, who grew up a fan of the Rangers and 1994 Stanley Cup-winning goalie Mike Richter, had his best game of the finals by far. He made 32 saves and put the Kings on the cusp of another coronation with a 3-0 victory over New York in Game 3 on Monday night.

Los Angeles escaped with two overtime wins at home and then took complete command inside Madison Square Garden to take a 3-0 series edge.

The Kings took their first lead of the series on Jeff Carter's goal in the final second of the first period and then stretched the edge to three goals in the second - something the Rangers failed to do in California.

New York is facing elimination Wednesday night in Game 4.

While there has been only one comeback from a 3-0 hole in the finals, the Kings erased such a deficit in the first round against San Jose.

Defenseman Jake Muzzin scored a power-play goal in the second period, and Mike Richards pushed the lead to three with a goal off a 2-on-1 in the middle frame.

Henrik Lundqvist was hardly at fault on the goals, and finished with 12 saves.

But Quick was perfect.

He made a brilliant save with his stick blade to deny Derick Brassard with 8:40 left in the second shortly after a Rangers power play. That stop came on the heels of Brassard having two chances during the advantage off a rebound of Brad Richards' shot. Brassard's first attempt was blocked, and the second was stopped by Quick.

The Kings goalie was also on his toes just 8 seconds into the third period when Chris Kreider came in alone but was stopped in tight.

That eliminated the little hope the sold-out, towel-waving crowd had of a big comeback.

Los Angeles took its first in-game lead in the series when Carter scored with 10th of the playoffs on Los Angeles' fifth shot. Carter came in and snapped a hard drive that clipped the skate of diving defenseman Dan Girardi in front of Lundqvist and caromed inside the right post with 0.7 seconds on the clock.

The red and green lights behind Lundqvist both flashed at the same time while the Kings celebrated. At no point did Los Angeles hold the lead at home in the first two games until they ended each contest with an overtime goal.

Donald Sterling says no deal; suit is on

LOS ANGELES (AP) Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has pulled his support from a deal to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and will pursue his $1 billion federal lawsuit against the NBA, his attorney said Monday.

"We have been instructed to prosecute the lawsuit," said attorney Maxwell Blecher. He said co-owner Donald Sterling would not be signing off on the deal to sell.

Donald Sterling issued a one-page statement dated Monday titled "The Team is not for Sale" and said that "from the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers."

The $2 billion sale was negotiated by his wife Shelly Sterling after Donald Sterling's racist remarks to a girlfriend were publicized and the NBA moved to oust him as owner.

The lawsuit alleges the league violated his constitutional rights by relying on information from an "illegal" recording that publicized racist remarks he made to a girlfriend. It also said the league committed a breach of contract by fining Sterling $2.5 million and that it violated antitrust laws by trying to force a sale.

"I have decided that I must fight to protect my rights," Donald Sterling said. "While my position may not be popular, I believe that my rights to privacy and the preservation of my rights to due process should not be trampled. I love the team and have dedicated 33 years of my life to the organization. I intend to fight to keep the team."

Donald Sterling had agreed to ink the deal and drop the suit last week assuming "all their differences had been resolved," his attorneys said. But individuals close to the negotiations who weren't authorized to speak publicly said he decided to not sign the papers after learning the NBA won't revoke its lifetime ban and fine.

"There was never a discussion involving the NBA in which we would modify Mr. Sterling's penalty in any way whatsoever. Any suggestion otherwise is complete fabrication," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.

Shelly Sterling and her attorney Pierce O'Donnell declined to comment through representatives.

Shelly Sterling utilized her authority as sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers, to take bids for the team and ultimately negotiate a deal with Ballmer. The deal would be record-breaking if approved by the NBA's owners.

An individual familiar with the negotiations who wasn't authorized to speak publicly said Monday that there were two options for Donald Sterling - to either sign or go to court. But even if he wins in court, he's ultimately winning a judgment against himself because his wife Shelly Sterling has agreed to indemnify the NBA against all lawsuits, including by her husband, the individual said.

Donald Sterling's comments to V. Stiviano included telling her to not bring black people to Clippers games, specifically mentioning Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. They resulted in a storm of outrage from the public and players and even prompted President Barack Obama to comment on what he called Sterling's "incredibly offensive racist statements."

Donald Sterling said in his statement that he was "extremely sorry for the hurtful statements" he made privately but said them out of anger and jealousy and didn't intend for them to be public.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver ultimately decided to ban Donald Sterling for life, fine him millions, and began efforts to force Sterling to sell the team. Those efforts ended with Shelly Sterling's deal with Ballmer.

If this deal ultimately goes through, its terms allow Shelly Sterling to remain close to the organization by allowing for up to 10 percent of the team - or $200 million - to be spun off into a charitable foundation that she would essentially run.

Shelly Sterling and Ballmer would be co-chairs of the foundation, which would target underprivileged families, battered women, minorities and inner city youths.

Under the deal Shelly Sterling would also get the title of "owner emeritus" and be entitled to continuing perks such as floor seats, additional seats at games and parking.

One of the individuals said the deal also includes conditions that allow Ballmer to buy back the 10 percent portion of the team for a pre-designated price upon Shelly Sterling's death.

Report: Derek Fisher agrees to coach the Knicks

Derek Fisher has agreed to become the next coach of the New York Knicks and will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday morning, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.

The Knicks did not confirm the hiring, other than saying they were planning a "major announcement."

The person who confirmed the deal to AP spoke on condition of anonymity because neither side authorized the public disclosure of any information related to the deal.

The 39-year-old Fisher just completed his 18th season, finishing his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He played under Knicks President Phil Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers, and helped that franchise win five NBA titles.

Fisher would have been an unrestricted free agent this summer, though it was widely known that this season would be his last as a player. And once the Knicks failed to close a deal with Steve Kerr - who wound up accepting an offer from Golden State - Fisher was believed to be the next target on Jackson's list.

Jackson was fined $25,000 for the league last week for a tampering violation involving Fisher. He was still under contract with the Thunder when Jackson told New York reporters that Fisher was "on my list of guys that could be very good candidates" to replace Mike Woodson on the Knicks' sideline.

Fisher surely could still play. He has just suspected for a while that his time has come to do something else.

"Coaching allows for you to positively impact other people's lives," Fisher told reporters during his exit interview after Oklahoma City's season ended. "To help a group of people find success, whether they have or haven't before, you're all working together for a common goal."

Fisher's hiring means that next season, both teams in New York will have former point guards barely removed from playing days at the helms.

It worked for the Brooklyn Nets, who made the Eastern Conference semifinals this season with first-year coach Jason Kidd, and now the Knicks will hope that Fisher can have the same success.

His hiring is the first significant step in what's expected to be a broad makeover of the team by Jackson, who was hired late in the regular season to turn around the fortunes of a franchise that has won just one playoff series in the past 14 years.

Over that 14-year span, the Knicks have won a mere 10 playoff games. Fisher played in 134 playoff wins during that stretch.

NCAA reaches $20M settlement of video game claims

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Sam Keller and his teammates used to eagerly await the annual release of the NCAA Football video game, the popular EA Sports product featuring lifelike depictions of every major team.

Judging the ability of his on-screen persona in the game was all in good fun, but once Keller's career was finished the former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback felt something wasn't right. The pros collected royalties from EA's Madden NFL game, for example, but the collegians couldn't.

"It's a great game, but it was flawed," Keller said. "It was wrong."

The NCAA announced Monday that it will pay $20 million to former football and basketball players who had their images and likenesses used in video games, hoping the settlement will help keep amateurism rules intact for college sports.

Hours before the O'Bannon trial began in California challenging the NCAA's the authority to restrict or prohibit payments to athletes, the largest governing body in college sports said it had settled another potentially damaging lawsuit scheduled to go to trial next March. Keller's attorneys filed the class-action suit in May 2009 and contended the NCAA unfairly deprived college players of revenue.

"It wasn't until after I was done playing football that the light turned on in my head about what was really going on. When you're a student athlete you kind of become like a robot," Keller said in an interview with The Associated Press.

He added: "Friends would share with me, `Hey bro, I won the Heisman Trophy with you.' ... Meanwhile, we couldn't sell a jersey or do autographs or anything to profit from our likeness. It was all big corporations."

The deal came a little more than a week after Electronic Arts agreed to a $40 million settlement of similar allegations.

The $60 million worth of settlements cover claims made in the Keller and O'Bannon cases against EA, along with two other cases, attorney for the plaintiffs Steve Berman said. The agreement announced Monday covers Division I men's basketball and Bowl Subdivision football players whose images, likenesses or names were included in game footage or in an EA video game after 2005. The $40 million settlement covers athletes to 2003, even if they were not in the video games.

Final details were still being worked out. How much each player gets will be determined by how many athletes file claims. Based on historical trends, Berman said, payments to Division I men's basketball and Bowl Subdivision football players are expected to range from $400 to $2,000 each.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in the Northern District of California must approve the settlement.

Last July, the NCAA said it would no longer allow Electronic Arts Inc. of Redwood City, California, to use its logo once the current contract expired this month. That ended a lucrative business deal with the multibillion-dollar video game industry giant, which is well known for Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer and other games. EA Sports first began making an NCAA Football game in 1998.

Berman estimated that more than 100,000 athletes are now eligible to seek compensation over EA video games they contend relied on close depictions of college football and basketball players.

"With the games no longer in production and the plaintiffs settling their claims with EA and the Collegiate Licensing Company, the NCAA viewed a settlement now as an appropriate opportunity to provide complete closure to the video game plaintiffs," NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said.

The NCAA said current players who receive part of the settlement won't be at risk of punishment under rules that generally bar compensation for their athletic skills.

"In no event do we consider this settlement pay for athletics performance," Remy said.

With the NCAA increasingly becoming embroiled in legal cases, the playing field has changed.

CBS and Turner are paying the NCAA an average of more than $770 million per year to televise the men's basketball tournament, some schools are making millions more per year from deals made between television networks and conferences, and the new College Football Playoff will be putting another $7.2 billion over 12 years into the coffers of schools that play big-time college football. So when others profited from the video games, college athletes went to court to get a bigger piece of the pie.

Ed O'Bannon, the former UCLA basketball player, and other plaintiffs are asking U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken for an injunction that would allow athletes to sell the rights to their own images in television broadcasts and rebroadcasts. That trial began Monday in federal court in California.

While the long-term ramifications from the settlement in the Keller case are yet to be determined, the short-term implication is clear.

"Going forward, I think people will be on notice that if they are going to use players likenesses, they will have to pay for them," Berman said.

Pinehurst anything but 'pristine' for this US Open

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) Pinehurst No. 2 is anything but perfect for the U.S. Open, at least in the traditional sense of major championships in America.

USGA executive director Mike Davis could not be any more thrilled.

"It's awesome," Davis said Monday as he gazed out at a golf course that looks like a yard that hasn't been watered in a month.

Sandy areas have replaced thick rough off the fairways. They are partially covered with that Pinehurst Resort officials refer to as "natural vegetation," but what most anyone else would simply call weeds.

The edges of the bunkers are ragged. The turf is uneven just off some of the greens, with patches of no grass.

Instead of verdant fairways from tee-to-green, the fairways are a blend of green, yellow and brown.

That was the plan all along.

Shortly after this Donald Ross gem was awarded its third U.S. Open in 15 years, the fabled No. 2 course went through a gutsy project to restore it to its natural look from yesteryear, before this notion that the condition of a course had to be perfect.

Ernie Els, a two-time U.S. Open champion, was amazed when he walked off the 18th green.

"I wouldn't call this an inland links, but it's got that character," he said. "I was a bit nervous when I heard of the redo. But this looks like it's been here for a long time."

Els has been playing the U.S. Open for two decades. He never imagined the "toughest test in golf" without any rough. Nor does he think that will make it easier.

"You don't need it," he said. "When I played it in `99, I didn't like it. You hit it in the rough, you're just trying to get it out. It was one-dimensional. Now, you're going to have an unbelievable championship.

"If you miss the fairway, you're not just going to wedge it out. You've got a chance to hit a miraculous shot. And then you could really be (in trouble). This is the way it used to be."

Els said the look of Pinehurst No. 2 reminded him of Royal Melbourne, and a guy who actually grew up next to Royal Melbourne agreed.

"These are Melbourne fairways," Geoff Ogilvy said as he walked down the first fairway, where the grass was green for the first 200 yards before turning brown, and then going back to greener grass toward the green.

"This is kind of the way grass is supposed to be. In the summer it browns up, and in the winter it's green. To my eye, this is what golf courses are supposed to look like."

Ogilvy understand architecture better than most players. He was looking at photos as Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw worked on the restoration. He had heard stories. And it still managed to exceed his expectations.

As for the idea of a U.S. Open without rough? He pointed to clumps of grass in the sandy areas, and some of the wiregrass bushes. And yes, the weeds.

"Look, the reality is there is rough there," he said. "It's probably what rough used to be like before we had crazy irrigation."

The past two U.S. Open champions finished over par - Webb Simpson at Olympic Club, Justin Rose at Merion, both at 1-over. A third straight U.S. Open champion over par would be the longest streak in nearly 60 years.

Not many were willing to bet against that.

"I've never played anything like it," Jordan Spieth said. "And it's already - right now, with the pins in the middle of the greens - hard enough for even par to win. It's going to be extremely challenging. But at the same time, it's a great test."

More than a great test, Davis is hopeful it sends a great message.

The USGA has been preaching in recent years to get away from the idea that golf courses have to be perfectly manicured to be great.

Pinehurst No. 2, and perhaps Chambers Bay next year outside Seattle, allows a chance to show the golfing public what it means.

The restoration project involved removing some 35 acres of sod and keeping only 450 of the 1,150 sprinkler heads. Water use is down an estimated 40 percent.

"It's look back in the past, but it's really looking forward to the future," Davis said. "Owners, operators and superintendents won't give you this until the golfers think it's OK.

"At private clubs, unless the greens committee says, `This is what we want,' the superintendent won't do it. It's people thinking, `This looks fine."'

Pinehurst No. 2 effectively presents the opposite perception of Augusta National. For years, superintendents have complained that too many courses wanted to be just like the home of the Masters in the quality - near perfection - of the conditions.

"Hopefully, this sets a precedent," Ogilvy said. "If Augusta has been the model everyone followed, hopefully this shows that it doesn't have to be that way to be great."

Obama celebrates UConn's winning basketball teams

WASHINGTON (AP) It was double the celebration at the White House for the University of Connecticut.

President Barack Obama welcomed the school's men's and women's basketball teams Monday for an event marking their NCAA championships. It's only the second time a school has won both titles in the same year.

The only other time that happened? 2004, when UConn also earned both titles.

Obama joked that while he's trying to cut duplicative programs, UConn might be carrying things too far.

The president said that while he picked the long-dominant women's team to win in his NCAA tournament bracket, he didn't pick the underdog men's team. But he joked that "neither did anybody else."

Miami G Dwyane Wade fined $5,000 for flopping

MIAMI (AP) The flop is having an impact on the playoffs, and it's being caught much more than it was in the regular season.

Miami guard Dwyane Wade became the latest recipient of a postseason flopping fine Monday when the NBA ordered him to give up $5,000 after a review showed he over-exaggerated a foul during Game 2 of the finals that was charged to San Antonio's Manu Ginobili.

And there's an ironic twist - Ginobili is often considered a master flopper, but he wasn't even warned once about it this season.

"He took a swipe and he hit me," Wade said Monday, before the fine was announced. "It was a late call by the ref, but he called it."

The league saw it a little differently.

It was the fifth flopping violation of the playoffs, which works out to one in every 17.2 games. The NBA said 35 flops were caught in the regular season, or one in every 35.1 games. Players are not fined in the regular season until their second flop of the year; in the playoffs, every flop is a fine.

"Flopping," Miami guard Shane Battier once said, "is a silent killer."

Well, unless it works.

Wade drew the foul against Ginobili with 4:09 left in the second quarter on Sunday night. Ginobili, who took a big swipe at the ball about 35 feet from the basket, wound up going to the bench with his third foul of the half. Wade went to the line and made the two resulting free throws, since Miami was already in the bonus.

The Heat wound up winning by two points.

"I saw Manu coming out of the corner of my eye to try to steal it so my only thing was to make sure that he didn't steal it," Wade said. "He swiped and he wound up hitting me and the ref called a foul. We move on."

The Heat-Spurs matchup is tied 1-1, with Game 3 in Miami on Tuesday night.

Some of the flops in the playoffs have been almost circuslike acting jobs, including a pair by Indiana guard Lance Stephenson - the official leaguewide leader in flopping this season with two violations in the regular season and two more in the postseason. He's had to pay $20,000 for those flops, or basically about 2 percent of his season's salary.

For Wade, who's made nearly $19 million in salary this season, the $5,000 was mere pocket change. And situations like that were pointed out last year by now-retired NBA Commissioner David Stern, who said the small fine "isn't enough. You're not going to cause somebody to stop it for $5,000 when the average player's salary is $5.5 million."

Stern added then that anyone who thought the fine would stop the flop is allowing "hope to prevail over reason." So it would be no surprise if tougher flopping penalties were at least discussed when the NBA's competition committee when that group meets this summer.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he's not surprised that the rate goes up in the playoffs, saying Monday that it could be as simple a reason as "more people in the league office watching each possession."

Besides Stephenson and Wade, the other postseason flop fines have been assessed to Indiana's Roy Hibbert and the Spurs' Tiago Splitter. All of those flops were cited in the conference-final round or later.

Indiana's season ended with a third straight playoff loss to the Heat. And not surprisingly, it wouldn't seem like the Pacers are rooting for their conference member this time of year - a media relations official from East finalists tweeted shortly after the Wade-Ginobili play Sunday that the Heat guard deserved a flopping fine and even made what seemed like a lighthearted plea to the league:

"C'mon NBA, do it for Lance."

O'Bannon takes stand in landmark NCAA lawsuit

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) The battle to give top football and basketball players a cut of the billions of dollars flowing into college athletics began in earnest with former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon taking the stand in federal court to describe how he spent long hours working on his game and as few as possible on his grades.

The lead plaintiff in a landmark antitrust suit against the NCAA said his goal at UCLA wasn't to get a degree, but to get two years of college experience before being drafted into the NBA.

"I was an athlete masquerading as a student," O'Bannon said Monday. "I was there strictly to play basketball. I did basically the minimum to make sure I kept my eligibility academically so I could continue to play."

O'Bannon portrayed himself as a dedicated athlete who would stay after games to work on his shot if he played poorly, but an indifferent student at best. His job at UCLA, he said, was to play basketball and took up so much time that just making it to class a few hours a day was difficult.

O'Bannon, who led UCLA to a national championship in 1995, said he spent 40 to 45 hours a week either preparing for games or playing them, and only about 12 hours a week on his studies. He changed his major from communications to U.S. history after an academic adviser suggested it would be the easiest fit for his basketball schedule.

"There were classes I took that were not easy classes but they fit my basketball schedule so I could make it to basketball practice," O'Bannon said.

The testimony came as a trial that could upend the way college sports are regulated opened, five years after the suit was filed. O'Bannon and 19 other plaintiffs are asking U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken for an injunction that would allow athletes to sell the rights to their own images in television broadcasts and rebroadcasts.

If successful, the plaintiffs in the class-action case - who are not asking for individual damages - could pave the way for a system that uses some of the huge money flowing into television contracts to pay athletes for their play once they are done with their college careers.

Also on the stand Monday was a Stanford economics and antitrust expert, who testified the NCAA acts as a cartel by fixing the price of scholarships for athletes and not allowing them to make any more money by prohibiting them from selling their names, images or likenesses (NILs) either as individuals or groups. Roger Noll said every expert opinion he's seen over the last 30 years agrees the NCAA violates antitrust laws by paying nothing for the rights and imposing rules that would punish athletes for trying to profit from their NILs.

"Every single one of them reaches the same conclusion," Noll said. "The source of its market power is rules and restrictions regarding benefits that can be provided to student-athletes combined with rewards and punishments it can offer for being able to participate in NCAA sports. It's called a cartel."

Noll also said that football and basketball athletes in the class-action suit were harmed by not being able to sell their NILs and that the harm was equal to the amount the NCAA received for them in videogames and television broadcasts and what they actually received - which was nothing.

Even as the trial began, the NCAA announced it had reached a $20 million settlement in a related case involving videogames that used the likeness and images of players without getting their permission. NCAA attorney Donald Remy acknowledged that the settlement in a suit brought by former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller will result in some current players getting money but doesn't change the NCAA's strong belief that the collegiate athletic model is lawful.

"Consistent with the terms of a court-approved settlement, the NCAA will allow a blanket eligibility waiver for any currently enrolled student-athletes who receive funds connected with the settlement," Remy said. "In no event do we consider this settlement pay for athletics performance."

O'Bannon, who joined the lawsuit that carries his name after seeing his image used in a NCAA-branded videogame, said he signed a letter of intent that he never read as a 17-year-old eager to display his skills at UCLA. He ended up spending five years at the school, but was seven courses short of graduating when he was drafted into the NBA.

He spent two years in the NBA and another seven playing professionally in Europe. He now lives in a Las Vegas suburb, where he makes his living selling cars.

O'Bannon acknowledged getting benefits from his time at UCLA, including a free education and room and board. He ended up staying five years instead of two, met his wife at school, and enjoyed his relationship with coach Jim Harrick.

He's proud that his No. 31 was retired and is hanging in the rafters at Pauley Pavilion and of being the MVP in the national title game in 1995. He also cherished his time around the late John Wooden, the legendary longtime UCLA coach.

"Everyone who came in contact with (Wooden) loved him," O'Bannon said. "I was envious personally that I was born a little bit too late. I wished I could have played for him, he's that kind of man."

But under cross examination, O'Bannon said he believed athletes should share in some of the money that schools are making off their efforts on the court and field.

"If they are generating revenue for their school, I believe they should be compensated at some point," said O'Bannon, who also agreed with the suggestion that Little Leaguers should be paid because their games are sold on national television and they're generating revenue.

Argentina could prove foil for World Cup host Brazil

South America has hosted four World Cups and South American nations have won every time.

The 2014 World Cup kicks off this week with host nation Brazil listed as a 3/1 favorite to win its sixth title.

It has been 12 years since Brazil last captured a World Cup championship, but playing on home turf gives the squad an edge.

Despite their strong position entering the tournament, there is no shortage of national sides capable of spoiling the party for Brazil, which opens Thursday as a huge favorite against Croatia.

Argentina follows Brazil on the list of favorites with World Cup 2014 odds of 4/1. A favorable draw likely means that Argentina will have little difficulty advancing to a round of 16 matchup, possibly with either France or Switzerland.

The Argentines won the World Cup as hosts 1978 and Uruguay did the same in 1930. Brazil won in 1962 when Chile hosted the event and Uruguay won in Brazil in 1950. Colombia and Chile also boast long-shot potential to come through with home-continent advantage.

Argentina will also enjoy the benefit of partisan crowds at their matches, at least in the early going of the tournament.

At 11/2, Germany is the European squad with the best odds to win the 2014 World Cup. Their list of likely opponents in the round of 16 includes Belgium and Russia, squads that Die Mannschaft have dominated historically.

But first, Germany must compete in a tough Group G alongside Portugal, the United States and Ghana. While 5/9 to win their group, some of the toughest competition Germany will face at the 2014 World Cup will be in group stage matches.

They are the top betting choice to be the top European team in the tournament.

The 2010 World Cup champions and reigning two-time European champions are also in the mix of favorites in World Cup futures wagering. Spain, the No. 1 nation in the world according to FIFA’s rankings, sits at an intriguing 6/1 to repeat as World Cup champs.

Their credentials would normally result in shorter odds, but 6/1 Spain faces a difficult road to the World Cup final. They must first get past rival Netherlands, whom they defeated in 2010, as well as Chile, a dangerous squad on South American turf, to advance to the knockout stage.

The United States’ odds have also been impacted by a difficult draw. It will be considered a major upset if the Americans, 100/1 in World Cup futures betting, are able to advance out of Group G, since it would mean an early exit for either Germany or Portugal.

Odds are currently 2/7 that America’s World Cup dream ends in the group stage. But they did enjoy a victory on the weekend over Nigeria, with Jozy Altidore breaking a slump with two goals.

Mexico has also received no benefit from their group stage draw. Joining Brazil in Group A, Mexico will likely battle Croatia for second place and a spot in the round of 16. Mexico currently is 125/1 in World Cup futures betting and a 9/1 longshot to win Group A.

World Cup 2014 Odds (updated June 8 at Odds Shark)

Brazil 3/1

Argentina 4/1

Germany 11/2

Spain 6/1

Belgium 18/1

England 22/1

Italy 22/1

France 25/1

Netherlands 25/1

Portugal 25/1

Uruguay 25/1

Colombia 33/1

Chile 40/1

Russia 100/1

USA 100/1

Ivory Coast 125/1

Mexico 125/1

Switzerland 125/1

Bosnia-Herzegovina 150/1

Croatia 150/1

Ecuador 150/1

Japan 150/1

Ghana 200/1

Greece 200/1

Nigeria 250/1

South Korea 300/1

Australia 500/1

Cameroon 500/1

Algeria 1000/1

Costa Rica 1000/1

Honduras 1500/1

Iran 1500/1

 

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