National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Untapable wins 140th running of Kentucky Oaks

Louisville, KY -- Untapable lived up to her billing in Friday’s $1 million Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, drawing away in the stretch drive to a 4 ½-length decision. An overwhelming even-money favorite following convincing wins in two prior starts this year, Untapable continued to impress while providing Rosie Napravnik with her second victory in the premiere test for 3-year-old fillies.

“She was really great today,” said Napravnik, who became the first female rider to win the Kentucky Oaks when guiding Believe You Can in 2012. “She is magnificent.”

The start of the Oaks was delayed by Empress of Midway, who flipped over in the starting gate and had to be scratched after being successfully extricated. That allowed Untapable, who drew the far outside among 13 rivals, to move one spot closer to the rail and the bay filly broke favorably from post 12, establishing early positioning just behind front-runners Sugar Shock and My Miss Sophia.

“We ended up in a great position from the outside post,” Napravnik explained. “She runs her best when she can get in a great stride. She relaxes so nice. She’s growing up and is maturing.”

Untapable was kept in the clear on the outside down the backstretch, stalking in a perfect pouncing position about a length back of the lead, and was her given cue midway on the far turn. She advanced to overtake My Miss Sophia entering the stretch, powering past her rival in decisive fashion, and won for fun in the latter stages.

My Miss Sophia proved no match for the heroine but easily held second in a strong performance, finishing six lengths clear of third-placer Unbridled Forever.

Rosalind came next in fourth and was followed under the finish line by Thank You Marylou, Ria Antonia, Got Lucky, Sugar Shock, Aurelia’s Belle, Please Explain, Fashion Plate and Kiss Moon.

Untapable, who rewarded trainer Steve Asmussen with his second career win in the Kentucky Oaks, covered the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:48 3/5 and returned a paltry win payout of $4.

Now a four-time stakes winner, Untapable registered her first black-type score in the Pocahontas last September and opened 2014 with romping wins in the Feb. 22 Rachel Alexandra and March 29 Fair Grounds Oaks.

A daughter of leading sire Tapit, Untapable was bred in Kentucky by owner Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC. The top-class filly earned $576,600 on Friday, increasing her bankroll to $1,124,725 from a 7-5-0-1 record.

“It is just a great feeling,” Napravnik added. “I am so thankful for Steve (Asmussen) and for the Winchells having me on the filly. They have done such a great job.”

49ers exercise LB Aldon Smith's 2015 option

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The San Francisco 49ers know Aldon Smith still has plenty of work to do in order to repair his tarnished image and stay on track away from the football field.

They want to be an integral part of his self-improvement project, exercising their 2015 fifth-year contract option for the star linebacker on Friday. The team made the decision despite Smith's long list of legal trouble that included an arrest at Los Angeles International Airport just more than two weeks ago.

San Francisco faced a Saturday deadline to decide on Smith's immediate future, and general manager Trent Baalke suggested last week the team would keep the fearsome pass-rusher around for the near future at least - for 2015, "and `16, and `17 and `18." The 49ers will provide Smith with the support he needs to deal with his rash of off-the-field issues.

Yet Baalke has made it clear there must be positive change, and soon.

San Francisco realizes Smith still could face a suspension from the NFL for his DUI last September, and is expected to look for depth at linebacker during next week's NFL draft.

"Well, that remains to be seen. You prepare for the worst and hope for the best," Baalke said of a potential suspension for Smith. "There are still a lot of things that are going to factor into that decision at the league level and the club level. We're working very diligently in the background trying to make sure the right decisions are made long term, not only for Aldon but for this club."

In his latest run-in with the law, Smith was arrested April 13 at Los Angeles International Airport. Police say the 24-year-old NFL star was randomly selected for a secondary screening and became uncooperative with the process, telling a TSA agent that he had a bomb. The district attorney has referred the case for misdemeanor consideration.

That followed Smith's five-game absence last season to undergo treatment for substance abuse after a September DUI arrest. In November, he pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, stemming from a June 2012 party at his home. Investigators say several shots were fired, two partygoers were injured and Smith was stabbed. In the subsequent investigation, prosecutors say detectives found five unregistered, illegal weapons in Smith's house, including two Bushmaster rifles and an Armalite AR-10T.

Yet, what Smith brings on the field makes him one of the NFL's best at chasing down and pressuring quarterbacks.

Smith emerged as one of the league's most-feared pass rushers in 2012. He had a franchise-record 19 1/2 sacks that year, but failed to record a sack in his final six games including the team's postseason Super Bowl run.

Smith finished with 8 1/2 sacks and 34 tackles in 11 games last season, making eight starts. His 42 sacks are second-most in the NFL since he entered the league.

He and former teammate Delanie Walker were named in a lawsuit last September filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court by a Northern California man who said he was shot at a party at Smith's house on June 29, 2012. The players charged a $10 admission and $5 per drink, the lawsuit said. Smith and now-Tennessee Titans tight end Walker were allegedly intoxicated on Smith's balcony when they fired gunshots in the air while trying to end the party, the lawsuit said.

Smith, selected seventh overall in the 2011 draft out of Missouri, had previously been arrested on suspicion of DUI in January 2012 in Miami shortly after the 49ers lost in the NFC championship game.

Baalke and the rest of the 49ers hope Smith will learn a lesson at last, and become a better person because of it. Smith said during a January interview with The Associated Press he was encouraged by his strides and confident he had made positive changes in his life.

"I'm a firm believer in the humanistic approach to everything. You continue to work just like you would with any family member," Baalke said. "We're a family. You don't just open the door and toss people out of it. You continue to work until they leave you no choice. That's what we're going to do. We're going to continue to work with him, we're going continue to find ways to support, not defend, we cannot defend the actions of others, all we can do is support."

Bruins distance team from racist tweets at Subban

BOSTON (AP) The Boston Bruins and Mayor Marty Walsh condemned racist slurs about P.K. Subban that hit social media after the Montreal defenseman scored in the second overtime of their playoff game Thursday night.

Bruins President Cam Neely issued a statement Friday calling the tweets "racist" and "classless." He said they came from an "ignorant group of individuals" who do not reflect the organization.

Walsh said in a statement that the tweets were "a disgrace. These racist comments are not reflective of Boston, and are not reflective of Bruins fans. I've said before that the best hockey in the world happens when the Bruins and Canadiens play each other, and there is no room for this kind of ignorance here."

Subban, who is black, scored twice and the Canadiens won 4-3 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals.

Boston coach Claude Julien and several Bruins also condemned the tweets.

"It's just poor judgment, poor taste, and we don't associate ourselves with people like that," Julien said Friday, "and people who think that way are not what we call our fans. They may think they are, but we certainly don't support that at all. It's a shame that this is still going around in this day and age."

He noted that one of the Bruins players is Jarome Iginla, who is black.

Subban's brother, Malcolm, is a goalie with the Bruins' minor league affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island.

"Let's be realistic here about this," Julien said about the tweets. "It's something we don't support."

Left wing Milan Lucic, who plays on the same line as Iginla, said, "he's been treated with nothing but respect in Boston since he's been here."

Iginla joined the Bruins as a free agent after last season and shared the team lead with Patrice Bergeron with 30 goals.

Begeron also criticized the tweets, saying, "there is no room for this in 2014."

Subban's play has hurt Boston over the years and he has long been unpopular there. He was booed virtually every time he touched the puck Thursday night.

Only at the Derby: California Chrome came from humble start

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- In a way, the crazy story of California Chrome, the early favorite of this year’s Kentucky Derby, is also the crazy story of the Kentucky Derby itself. Listen: This will be the 140th time they’ve run the Kentucky Derby. Almost nothing in American pop culture has been around that long.

The first time around, a little thoroughbred named Aristides raced to the early lead (he was put into the race just to set a fast pace; even his owners didn’t think he could actually win). Then he just stayed in the lead and stayed in the lead, and finally the trainer just waved him on to the finish.

That was 1875. There was no National League then. It would be 20 years before they would play the first U.S. Open golf tournament, 36 before the first Indianapolis 500. James Naismith would not invent basketball for another decade and a half; football was being played with 20 people on each side. The very first game of indoor ice hockey was played just two months before the first Derby. There were nine players on each team.

The Kentucky Derby was dreamed up by a guy named Meriweather Lewis Clark Jr. -– he was the grandson of William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame. Best anyone can tell he was sort of a spoiled man living the life of luxury, and so of course he went to England to see The Derby, pronounced “DAR-by” a race of 3-year-olds in Epsom (it’s now often called the Epsom Derby). A bit of trivia for you: The Derby got its name from Edward Smith-Stanley who was the 12th Earl of Derby. For 200 or so years now, races featuring 3-year-old thoroughbreds are often called Derby, even if the pronunciation is different.

MORE: Derby All-Access | California Chrome headlines talented Derby field

In any case, Clark so loved The Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris that he decided that his home state of Kentucky needed a world-class racetrack. Clark’s cousins John and Henry Churchill provided the land. Clark himself provided the energy and momentum; it seems that bringing racing to America was the first thing he had ever really cared about. The race track opened, and 10,000 people showed up to the first Kentucky Derby –- the women, according to John L. O’Connor’s “History of the Kentucky Derby” (written in 1921), had a portion of the grandstand dedicated to them and “the ladies in various costumes looked like so many parti-colored butterflies.”

So, basically, it was the Kentucky Derby as we know it right from the start.

There have been a few subtle changes. The famous twin spires were built in 1895. The race was shortened from 1 1/2 miles to it current 1 1/4 mile the next year. The red rose was made the official race flower in 1904. They started playing “My Old Kentucky Home” before the race around 1930.

But for the most part, the Kentucky Derby is the same race in the same place at the same time of year -- and it is as popular as ever, maybe even MORE popular than ever. More than 150,000 people will attend. More than 15 million people will watch on television -- more than half of them women.

How can the Derby still capture America’s attention?

The answer might have more to do with California Chrome than you would think.

* * *

So it goes like this: Two guys who have real jobs and no money to burn and almost nothing in common decided to buy a losing race horse together because, well, they just felt like it.

One guy, Steve Coburn, is a rootin’ tootin’ cowboy who wears a cowboy hat wherever he goes and says he was born with spurs on. Perry Martin is an old Chicago guy who owns Martin Testing Laboratories near Sacramento, Calif. They met because they both loved horse racing and because they each had bought 5 percent of a rather unfortunate racing filly named Love the Chase. Together they watched that filly lose. And lose. And lose.

In time, all their partners grew tired of the losing and decided it was just about time to sell off Love the Chase and make at least a little bit of their investment back. Thing is, Coburn and Martin had kind of fallen in love with the filly. They scrounged up $8,000 and bought her outright. They did this even after they heard a groom pronounce that anyone who would actually pay money to buy Love The Chase was a dumb ass.

They promptly decided to call their partnership DAP – Dumb-Ass Partners.

How much better can it get? Much better. After they watched her predictably lose a couple more races, DAP bred her with an equally lackluster horse called Lucky Pulpit, who had been anything but lucky. The stud fee for Lucky Pulpit was $2,500. It is telling that, according to various sources -- including a brochure I picked up from Claiborne Farm -- stud fees tend to “start at $2,500.”

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One day after California Chrome was born, Steve Coburn saw him and said the horse looked exactly like he did in a dream he’d had a few weeks earlier. “This little guy is going to do big things,” he said to himself.

Everything about this sounds like a sitcom, right? Two older guys, nothing in common, buy a broken-down horse, breed her with the cheapest horse they can find, and then believe they have a Kentucky Derby winner. Then, to add to the comedic possibilities, they send California Chrome to a kindly 77-year-old trainer named Art Sherman who last went to the Kentucky Derby in 1955, when he was a stable boy and slept on the train next to a horse name Swaps.

As it turns out, Swaps won that Derby with Willie Shoemaker riding. Sherman smiles when he says that he was not exactly important enough to be in the winning photograph.

If you were trying to NOT develop a Kentucky Derby horse, this is more or less how you would do it: Buy a losing horse, breed her with another, send her to a trainer who has never trained a Kentucky Derby horse.

But, at last, now we are getting to the point. For a good while as a 2-year-old, California Chrome showed some promise but nothing too earth-shattering. He won a couple of early races, but in September and again November he finished a distant sixth. The Chrome people decided to switch jockeys to Victor Espinoza, who had won the Kentucky Derby on War Emblem more than a decade ago.

MORE: Hats at the Kentucky Derby (photos) | Making a mint julep

In Espinoza’s first ride at Hollywood Park, in a race called King Glorious, California Chrome put on a charge that sent chills through every member of DAP. It’s the feeling horse racing lifers will spend millions and millions of dollars to feel … and usually never do. California Chrome was fourth at the final turn, when he suddenly turned on. He breezed by the other horses like it was easy, then he began pulling away, leaving the other jockeys looking at Espinoza’s purple silks with a jackass logo on the back. California Chrome won by six lengths.

“Victor said he was just cruising,” Sherman said in wonder after the race. “He said, ‘Please put me on more of those.’”

Next time out, in Santa Anita, California Chrome won by 5 1/2 lengths. At the San Felipe Stakes, California Chrome had become a bit of a phenomenon -- people loved the story. He went off as the favorite and had his best race. Chrome led wire-to-wire, pulled away for a seven-length victory. “Unbelievable,” Sherman said.

“People keep saying he’s only a California bred,” Coburn said of the doubters. “The horse doesn’t know that.”

Finally, there was the Santa Anita Derby, and now, horse racing fans everywhere watched closely. One more time, California Chrome blew away the field and won by five lengths. Chrome is the first thoroughbred in more than 100 years -- and perhaps ever -- to enter the Derby after winning four straight races by five-plus lengths.

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Now, California Chrome is the favorite at the Kentucky Derby. Coburn and Martin say they have been approached to sell controlling interest in California Chrome for $6 million. They said no. For one thing, they said it would break Art Sherman’s heart. But, for another, they find themselves in the middle of a sports miracle. And, really, how often does THAT happen?

* * *

So, that gets us closer to the point: There are stories that can only happen at the Kentucky Derby. Yes, the Derby has many shades. There’s the gambling, the drinking, the decadence, the depravity, the Hunter S. Thompson stuff. And then there is the underbelly of thoroughbred racing, which was recently exposed in an undercover investigation by PETA (and published in the New York Times). The investigation centered on successful trainer Steve Asmussen, whose horse Untapable will run in the Derby.

Then, though, there are the stories and they just keep coming and coming. There is Canonero II, a horse that had been losing in Venezuela. Nobody thought Canonero even belonged at the 1971 Derby -- he didn’t even merit his own odds, he was just thrown into the mutual field. Canonero won anyway. To follow Steve Coburn’s line, the horse doesn’t know the odds.

There was Mine That Bird, a 50-to-1 shot who was purchased for $9,500 and driven more than 1,000 miles to the Derby in a horse trailer attached to his trainer’s pickup truck. He stumbled out of the gate and was several lengths behind the entire field for much of the race. Then, ridden by the great Calvin Borel, he went to the rail and ran by everybody and won going away.

On a beautiful day in 1913, in front of the biggest crowd in Derby history to that point (it was free to watch the Derby then) a horse named Donerail went off as a 91-1 long shot and then won.

Well, every year for 140 years there has been SOME sort of long shot story, some horse that nobody believed in, some trainer who had spent a lifetime waking up before dawn to teach horses how to run, some jockey who has come back from the abyss, some heart-warming twist that brings tears to the eyes, some owner who fell in love with the sport and has just kind of blundered around until finally getting here. 

Truth is, every year there are a BUNCH of these stories. This year, Wicked Strong is named to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing last year and a part of his earnings go back to benefit the victims. Uncle Sigh -- named for Uncle Si Robertson of Duck Dynasty -- raises money for Wounded Warriors, an organization that helps veterans injured in conflict. Rosie Napravnik on Vicar’s In Trouble tries to become the first woman jockey to win the Kentucky Derby and Gary Stevens on Candy Boy tries to become the first 50-year-old in almost 20 years.

And there’s a horse named Danza. After Tony Danza.

Most of all, there’s California Chrome. Being the early favorite in the Kentucky Derby doesn’t mean all that much. These are 3-year-old thoroughbreds and the only thing that can be said with any certainly about 3-year-old horses is that you have no idea how they will run.

And that, too, is part of the Kentucky Derby wonder. It’s all so much to pack into two minutes, and I think that’s why the Derby keeps mattering. Sure, there are all the traditions, but we will move on from tradition. There is all the history, but we don’t always honor history. There is the betting and the fashion and all that.

But mostly, there’s the story. How can you hear the story of California Chrome, his unlikely owners, his old-time trainer, his beautiful running style ... and not care? Everyone will stop to at least see how he does, right? If he wins, there will be movie rights to think about. If he loses, well, there will be another great story next year. That’s the magic of the Derby. The stories never run out.

Joe Posnanski is the national columnist for NBC Sports. Follow him on twitter @JPosnanski

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John McCain would 'probably' change Redskins name

Arizona Senator John McCain weighed in on the Redskins name controversy, saying Native American’s need to be consulted about the issue while on The Dan Patrick Show on Friday.

Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, has been embroiled in controversy over refusing to change the team’s name.

“If I were [Snyder], I’d call the Native American leaders together and I’d sit down with them,” said McClain. “I’d say ‘O.K., what is it that you want, how do you want me to do it?’”

The senator said he knows Snyder has specific rights as the owner, but the United States has a long history with Native Americans that needs to be considered. McCain mentioned Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears, saying they were a bad chapter in American history.

He said if Native Americans were offended by the Redskins’ name, it needed to be changed.

McCain reiterated he would like to see Snyder meet with Native American leaders and see if they couldn’t work it out.

The former presidential candidate concluded, “If they think it is that offensive and terrible …  frankly, I would probably change the name.”

While steadfastly refusing to even consider changing the team’s name, Snyder started the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, stating on the team’s website that he wants to help the Native American Community.

“The more I heard, the more I’ve learned, and the more I saw, the more resolved I became about helping to address the challenges that plague the Native American community,” Snyder posted on Redskins.com.

Many Native American leaders do not seem impressed by Snyder’s initiative, while some are actively distancing themselves from the foundation.

For his part, McCain goes on to say, “Myself, I’m not offended, [Dan], you’re not offended, but there are a lot of Native Americans that are.”

Whether NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has the powers to make Snyder change the name, is another matter.

Native American leaders have used the Donald Sterling’s lifetime ban from the NBA as a rallying cry to motivate the NFL to act on the Redskins name change.

While saying he wasn’t sure the two issues were related, McCain did react to the Sterling fiasco.

McCain says what Sterling said was “unacceptable” and “racist.”

Senator McCain had very kind words to say about Kevin Johnson, an integral part of resolving the Sterling incident, saying he is “one of the really great guys I’ve ever known.”

McCain expects to see Donald Sterling challenge the NBA’s ruling in court before this is all decided.

“[It’s] unacceptable,” said McCain. “I’m glad they [banned him]. End of story.”

Bill Leopold is an associate producer for NBCSports.com.

Gifted field set for 140th Kentucky Derby

The greatest two minutes in sports. The build-up for the Kentucky Derby is finally over, and the horses will line up in the Churchill Downs’ starting gate at 6:24 p.m. ET on Saturday.

The Kentucky Derby represents an extreme test for 3-year-olds, with participants asked to negotiate 1 1/4 miles for the first time in a bulky 19-horse field, and distance and/or traffic woes can undermine even the most logical win contenders.

Coverage begins on NBCSN at noon ET before shifting to NBC from 4-7 p.m. Following the race, NBCSN will continue coverage until 7:30 p.m. All coverage will be streaming on Live Extra.

For California Chrome, the 5-2 favorite on the morning line, post position was critical. He needed to avoid getting stuck in one of the inside posts (Nos. 1-3) and came away nicely from the draw in Gate 5.

His detractors will point to distance and trip, questioning his effectiveness over 10 furlongs and ability to settle into a comfortable spot given the other speed in the field, but I’m looking past any possible concerns.

California Chrome is my pick to win Kentucky Derby 140.

Analysis

California Chrome will look to establish favorable positioning on or close to the early lead. After dropping four of his first six starts, the chestnut colt started to blossom over the winter for trainer Art Sherman, reeling off four straight wins in convincing fashion, and California Chrome easily brings the best form into the Derby.

He made his last start in the strongest prep race, recording an impressive victory in the Santa Anita Derby, and he earned a field-best 106 BRIS Speed rating for the 5 1/4-length decision. I loved his instant acceleration that afternoon, with jockey Victor Espinoza waiting until the top of the stretch to ask for run.

Santa Anita Derby runner-up Hoppertunity was one of his most dangerous foes when the field was drawn Wednesday, and that colt’s withdrawal Thursday morning improved California Chrome’s chances. In fact, three legitimate win contenders have been scratched in recent weeks, with Constitution and Cairo Prince bowing out as well, and other serious prospects like Top Billing, Honor Code and Shared Belief fell by the wayside earlier in the year.

Smarty Jones brought similar form in the 2004 Derby, displaying the best form by far of any 3-year-old in his prep races, but bettors questioned whether he could carry speed over 1 1/4 miles, sending him off as a lukewarm 4-1 favorite. He overwhelmed the competition with this talent and California Chrome can do the same.

In regard to the pace, there is some speed around California Chrome in the starting gate but a lot of the early types would prefer to sit up close –- I’m not expecting a 0:45 1/5-second opening half-mile liked we’ve witnessed the past two years. The pace should be contested but not overly fast.

The projected pace scenario favors California Chrome, who can wait to offer his best stride entering the stretch run.

Others in order of preference

Medal Count shows tremendous progress over the past five weeks, turning around his form in April with a pair of sharp performances on Keeneland’s Polytrack. A maiden winner on dirt, the Dynaformer colt has trained forwardly over the main track at Churchill Downs and I love his ability to corner: He boldly closed on the far turn of his last two starts and can rally into a threatening position at this critical stage of the race. The Dale Romans charge rates the best chance at an upset.

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Samraat isn’t drawing much love in the buildup to the race,but I consider him to be a legitimate contender. He sustained his first loss last time, recording a respectable second in the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial, and that setback could benefit the game colt. He may not be an ideal candidate for 10 furlongs with his pedigree. A stalker, he puts himself in position to challenge every time and remains eligible to outrun any distance concerns.

Intense Holiday recorded non-threatening efforts in his first four stakes starts but has come on at the right time for Todd Pletcher. A rallying winner of the Risen Star two back, he exits a troubled second in the Louisiana Derby and has signaled his readiness in recent weeks, training forwardly at Churchill Downs. A late runner, he could continue to show more Saturday.

Danza is not easily dismissed following his resounding upset in the Arkansas Derby. The lightly raced colt can be viewed as a candidate for regression following the career-best effort, but he appears to be holding his form for Pletcher, impressing in morning preparations at Churchill Downs. The stalker has the numbers to offer a serious challenge, netting a 104 BRIS Speed rating last time, and is eligible to make at least a minor impact if he negotiates a favorable trip.

Candy Boy can be granted a pass for his non-threatening third in the Santa Anita Derby following a two-month layoff, and he appears to have taken a step forward in his training, making several strong appearances at Churchill Downs. Must overcome the outside draw and a questionable pedigree for the distance, but I like his run style and believe the colt could have much more to offer than he showed last time.

Wicked Strong flew home through the stretch to post as smart win in the Wood but must prove he can transfer his form outside of New York (ran poorly in two Florida starts earlier this year). I didn’t like the outside draw for the one-run closer and taking a slightly negative view, but wouldn’t be surprised to see the promising colt rally into the frame in the latter stages.

Wagering strategy

Predicting final Derby odds is a fruitless pursuit, but I thought California Chrome could drift up to at least 4-1 before the scratch of Hoppertunity. Still don’t think he’s going to be an overwhelming, perhaps in the 3-1 or 7-2 range, and I will play him to win at that price and key him in the following exotics.

From a $100 bankroll:

$45 win 5

$10 exactas 5 over 6,14 ($20)

$5 exactas 5 over 4,16,18 ($15)

1 trifecta 5 over 4,6,14,16,18 over 4,6,14,16,18 ($20)

Warriors outlast Clippers 100-99, force Game 7

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Stephen Curry scored 24 points and dished out nine assists, and the Golden State Warriors forced a decisive Game 7 by outlasting the Los Angeles Clippers 100-99 Thursday night.

Andre Iguodala added 15 points and Draymond Green had 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Warriors, handing Los Angeles one more obstacle to overcome in a week full of them after Clippers owner Donald Sterling earned a lifetime ban from the NBA for his racist remarks.

The Warriors limited big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan even after center Jermaine O'Neal left with a sprained right knee in the second quarter. The Clippers simply ran out of time in the closing minute, missing three shots before Matt Barnes made a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds to play.

Game 7 is Saturday in Los Angeles.

Subban leads Canadians to 4-3 OT win over Bruins

BOSTON (AP) P.K. Subban scored his second goal of the game at 4:17 of the second overtime to give the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The goal came 7 seconds into the Canadiens' second power play of overtime. Fans pelted the ice with cups and giveaway towels as the players filed off of the ice.

Carey Price stopped 48 shots for Montreal.

Tuukka Rask made 29 saves for the Bruins, who finished the regular season with the best record in the NHL but lost home-ice advantage with the defeat.

Thunder force Game 7, beat Grizzlies 104-84

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Kevin Durant scored 36 points to break out of a slump, and the Oklahoma City Thunder routed the Memphis Grizzlies 104-84 on Thursday night to force a deciding seventh game in the first-round Western Conference series.

Russell Westbrook added 25 points for the Thunder, who haven't been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs since 2010. They took control early with Durant scoring 14 points in the first quarter, led by 15 at halftime and never let Memphis get closer in the second half in the first game in the series ended in regulation since the opener.

Durant also had 10 rebounds and made 14 of 15 free throws. Reggie Jackson had 16 points off the bench for the Thunder.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Oklahoma City.

Marc Gasol had 17 points and Zach Randolph 16 for Memphis. Guard Mike Conley strained his right hamstring, briefly returned and left for good with 8:48 left.

Conley went down in the third quarter near midcourt dribbling when Kendrick Perkins reached in for a steal. The Memphis guard returned briefly, but Conley was limping noticeably. With the Thunder in control, Conley went to the locker room again and didn't return.

Durant had to answer questions after the shootaround Thursday about being called "Mr. Unreliable" in a headline in the Oklahoma City newspaper. Durant said he had no problem with the headline and that he just needed to hit shots and be more aggressive.

Smiling just before tipoff, Durant did just that as he finished 11 of 23 from the floor. He continued to struggle outside the arc where he missed all six of his attempts.

The Grizzlies had a chance to advance to their third semifinal in four years on their own floor. Yet they couldn't shoot well or match the Thunder's intensity with a sloppy performance in front of a sellout crowd that tried to energize the Grizzlies. Oklahoma City outrebounded Memphis 47-36 and easily outshot them 49.3 percent (37 of 75) to 37.3 percent (31 of 83).

Memphis last led 6-4. A team that thrives off defense, the Grizzlies couldn't knock down shots even when they managed to get consecutive stops.

Durant, who led the NBA with 32 points a game during the regular season, opened the game hitting five of his first seven shots and had 18 by halftime. Westbrook also shot better, though he finished 9 of 21.

Memphis got to 42-37 with 3:08 left on a steal and fast-break layup by Conley. Then the Thunder finished the half with a 14-4 run for a 56-41 lead. The Grizzlies missed their first six shots to open the third quarter, finishing any hopes of a comeback.

James Johnson scored 15 points off the bench for Memphis, and Tony Allen added 13.

Notes: This will be the second Game 7 between the teams in four years. Oklahoma City beat Memphis in seven in the 2011 conference semifinals. ... The Grizzlies are 4-1 with a chance to close out a series. ... Steven Adams blocked a career-high five shots off the bench for the Thunder.

Lakers say there's no rush in coaching search

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Lakers say they're in no rush to hire their next head coach.

That means the next several weeks are likely to be filled with anonymous speculation, widespread rumors and outright lies about the innumerable candidates to succeed Mike D'Antoni after the Lakers' worst season in more than 50 years.

After two misfires in the last three years with Mike Brown and D'Antoni, the Lakers will take all the time necessary to get it right in owner Jim Buss' first coaching hire since the death of his father, Jerry. General manager Mitch Kupchak said there is no timetable for the search, which could extend past the NBA draft lottery on May 20.

Yet the Lakers still have one of the NBA's most attractive coaching jobs despite their 27-55 season, and the new coach will be in on the ground floor of a thorough franchise rebuild over the next several years for the 16-time champions. D'Antoni resigned when the Lakers were unwilling to commit to him beyond next year.

"It's one of the premier jobs, if not the premier job in the league," former Lakers coach Mike Dunleavy said Thursday on his SiriusXM radio show. "Obviously, the history and the amount of championships they've won, and the fact is you're in L.A. They've shown a great ability to reload over the years pretty quickly, and obviously they've got Kobe Bryant still on their team."

A few candidates have already raised their hands. Former Lakers guard Byron Scott and forward Kurt Rambis are both possibilities after head coaching stints elsewhere in the league. Former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and NBA veteran George Karl both possess the gravitas necessary to impress Bryant and to succeed in Los Angeles.

College names also popped up in the endless online speculation about the job, including John Calipari, Kevin Ollie and Mike Krzyzewski, although it's unclear whether the Lakers will try yet again to lure the Duke coach out of North Carolina.

Dunleavy, who coached the Lakers to the NBA Finals in 1991 before moving on to Milwaukee, Portland and the Clippers, discussed his own interest on his radio show.

"Clearly, if I had an opportunity to interview with them, I would definitely be interested," Dunleavy said. "I had a great run there when I coached in the `90s. I interviewed the last time the job was open. They're just a great organization."

The Lakers' new coach will have the closest thing to a blank canvas in many years in Los Angeles. The team has just three players under contract for next season, along with a draft pick guaranteed to be in the top nine.

But Bryant is still the Lakers' centerpiece. He will be 36 when he returns in the fall from a season in which he played just six games due to two major leg injuries, but he will make $48.5 million over the next two seasons.

Bryant favors tough-minded coaches with the credentials and personalities to succeed in the big city, which suggests possibilities like Jeff Van Gundy, the former Knicks coach. Bryant is known to respect Van Gundy, now a television commentator.

ESPN reported the Lakers plan to ask the Chicago Bulls for permission to interview well-regarded coach Tim Thibodeau, who would be a tantalizing candidate if interested. Thibodeau has won 205 games over four seasons in Chicago, but struggled in the postseason.

Speculation began immediately about Derek Fisher, the Lakers' former championship-winning guard currently finishing up his last playing season in Oklahoma City. Fisher has long said he's not interested in coaching, preferring to go after an NBA front-office role when he retires, but his close relationship with Bryant and fellow point guard Jason Kidd's immediate coaching success in Brooklyn could be part of an attempt to pull Fisher onto the Lakers' bench.

There are other surprising candidates: The Lakers' leadership has long been enamored with Ettore Messina, the Italian ex-Lakers assistant coach currently running CSKA Moscow.

The Lakers have extensive salary-cap room for the upcoming season, and the new coach will play a major role in their ability to attract free agents. If the Lakers have a player in mind as a target, they could keep their coaching spot open long enough to entice a marquee name such as LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony with the opportunity to play a role in the selection of the new coach.

Which means the next few weeks could conceivably stretch into months while the Lakers determine their new direction.

Owners meet, hope to move quickly on Sterling

NEW YORK (AP) NBA owners seem as committed as Commissioner Adam Silver to ending Donald Sterling's ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The league's advisory/finance committee held its first meeting about Sterling on Thursday, two days after Silver said he would urge owners to force a sale of the team.

The 10-member committee held a conference call to discuss "the process for termination of Donald T. Sterling's ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers," NBA executive vice president Mike Bass said in a statement.

"The committee unanimously agreed to move forward as expeditiously as possible and will reconvene next week."

Silver banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million Tuesday for making racist comments. Sterling can have no association with the league or the team, but Silver wants more.

A forced sale would require approval by three-fourths of the league's 30 owners. Silver said he was confident he would get the votes.

Minnesota owner Glen Taylor chairs the committee that also includes Miami's Micky Arison, the Lakers' Jeanie Buss, Oklahoma City's Clay Bennett, New York's James Dolan, Boston's Wyc Grousbeck, San Antonio's Peter Holt, Phoenix's Robert Sarver, Indiana's Herb Simon, and Toronto's Larry Tanenbaum.

A number of big names have already expressed interest in buying that team that Sterling has owned since 1981, including Oprah Winfrey and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

First, owners must force Sterling to give it up - which he may choose fight. According to the league's constitution and bylaws, Silver or an owner would have to file a written charge against Sterling, who would have five days to respond. Silver would then call a hearing of the board of governors, which would vote after hearing the evidence against Sterling.

Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive hopes it doesn't come to that.

"I don't want to talk about kind of the legal side of it because I can't really comment on it, but my feeling is that I have faith in people," he said. "And I would hope that at some point Mr. Sterling would come to his senses and do the right thing. That he would apologize to Magic Johnson, that he would apologize to the fans, the league, the black community and he would do the right thing and he would accept what Commissioner Silver has suggested, he would put the team up for sale and perhaps even take a very small portion of the substantial profits and donate them to a good cause.

"It's not going to be easy to own a team where the fans don't welcome you, where the sponsors shun you and where you're not welcomed by the other owners. And I think he can do the right thing and hopefully good sense will prevail at some point."

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Associated Press writer Judy Lin in Sacramento, California, contributed to this report.

Aaron Hernandez charged with jail scuffle, threat

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez has been indicted in an alleged jail assault in February and an alleged threat at the jail last November.

The Bristol County district attorney's office said Hernandez was indicted Thursday on charges of assault and battery and threats to do bodily harm. The statement said the alleged assault occurred Feb. 25 at the Bristol County House of Correction in Dartmouth, and the alleged threat occurred there on Nov. 1.

Hernandez, who is from Bristol, Connecticut, is being held without bail at the jail after pleading not guilty to murder in the June 2013 death of Odin Lloyd, 27, of Boston. The body of Lloyd, a semi-professional football player dating the sister of Hernandez's girlfriend, was found not far from Hernandez's North Attleborough home.

Prosecutors said they would have no further comment on the new charges before his arraignment, which has not been scheduled. His attorney did not return a message seeking comment.

The county sheriff has said Hernandez was involved in a Feb. 25 scuffle with another inmate but neither of them required medical attention.

Canucks fire coach Tortorella after just 1 season

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) The Vancouver Canucks fired John Tortorella on Thursday, one year into the fiery coach's long-term deal.

Tortorella, who signed a five-year contract last summer after being dismissed by the New York Rangers, went 36-35-11 and failed to reach the playoffs behind the Vancouver bench. Assistant coach Mike Sullivan was also fired.

The Canucks' 25th-place finish in the 30-team NHL, their worst in 14 years, came just three seasons after former coach Alain Vigneault led the team to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. Vigneault replaced Tortorella as coach of the Rangers and advanced to the second round of the playoffs on Wednesday with a Game 7 win over Philadelphia.

Tortorella's dismissal came just weeks after general manager Mike Gillis was fired. The Canucks then named former team captain Trevor Linden as president of hockey operations.

"We are making an important change in the direction of our team," Linden said in a statement. "On behalf of the entire organization, we extend our thanks to John, Mike and their families for their commitment to the Canucks and wish them the very best.

Firing Tortorella was the first significant move for Linden in his new job, though it didn't come as much of a surprise. Linden is in the process of hiring a new general manager, and he has said that person should be in charge of hiring Vancouver's new coach.

"We have a lot of important work to accomplish this offseason as we build our management and coaching staffs, improve our roster and connect with our fans," Linden said. "Our general manager search is well underway and we will begin assessing head coaching candidates immediately."

The Canucks' season had some positive moments early when they won seven straight, but things turned sour after a mid-January home game against the Calgary Flames. A furious Tortorella stormed toward the Calgary dressing room, looking for a fight with Flames coach Bob Hartley.

The NHL suspended Tortorella for 15 days, and the Canucks went 2-4 without him. Vancouver was then 10-13-2 following his return.

The Canucks got little from their stars this season, including captain Henrik Sedin, who managed only 11 goals and 40 points. Twin brother Daniel had only 16 goals and 47 points in his worst offensive full season since 2002. Ryan Kesler was the only Canucks player to break the 20-goal mark, netting 25.

Gillis said after goalie Roberto Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers in March that the move was made as part of a retooling effort, not a total rebuild. Yet even his statements weren't glowing.

"This season has been a real struggle for this hockey team for a lot of different reasons," Gillis said at the time, adding he hoped the trade would be a wake-up call to his team. "I think the players now know that we're not satisfied with what's happened this season and we're not happy about what's happened this season.

"We haven't met the expectations that we've had as a group - all of us."

The move had little effect as Vancouver stayed ahead of only Calgary and Edmonton in the Pacific Division.

Injuries played a factor. Both Sedins, Alex Burrows and defenseman Chris Tanev all missed a significant number of games, and the Canucks netted only 196 goals - tied for second fewest in the NHL.

At his season-ending news conference last month, Tortorella took some of the blame but also placed a lot of it on the players. He said the Canucks are getting old, the core group has become complacent, and the team needs to get younger.

"I felt from Day 1 that it's stale," he said. "That's not their fault. This is a group that has been together for a long time.

"It needs youth. It needs a change. The team needs to be retooled. It's a young man's game. It's certainly not a criticism of (the veterans). We need to surround them with some enthusiasm."

Tortorella said it was time to forget the 2011 Stanley Cup finals run, and his biggest regret was leaving too much to the players.

"I needed to be pounding away at the details," he said. "I think that hurt us in situational play. I think that hurt us in trying to understand how you change momentum. That's not the team, that's me."

Before joining the Rangers, Tortorella was the coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning for seven seasons, leading the club to the 2004 Stanley Cup title. In 946 career games as an NHL coach over 14 seasons, Tortorella is 446-375-37-78.

Ramsay's life celebrated at his funeral

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) Jack Ramsay's trophy case resembled his life - both were full.

With friends and family simultaneously mourning and celebrating his life, the Basketball Hall of Famer and NBA championship-winning coach was remembered at his funeral Mass on Thursday as someone endlessly devoted to his family, fitness and faith. He died on Monday at the age of 89, after fighting cancer in many forms for the final 15 years of his life.

Chris Ramsay delivered his father's eulogy, calling him "a basketball genius."

"His teams were an extension of himself," Chris Ramsay said. "They were smart and they outworked the opponent. He taught a team game, where sharing and giving was required. His game, when executed properly by the right personnel, was unbeatable. ... His trophy case collapsed under the weight of all the awards."

Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, Billy Cunningham, Bob McAdoo, Phil Martelli and former referee Bob Delaney were among those attending from the basketball world, along with former coach Jim O'Brien, Ramsay's son-in-law.

Many broadcasting colleagues of the man best known as "Dr. Jack" were also at the funeral, inside St. John the Evangelist Church in southwest Florida.

"Basketball royalty," McAdoo said.

But the overriding theme of the funeral was not basketball. It was faith.

A devout Catholic, Ramsay would routinely find early morning Mass to attend in cities that his broadcast work took him to before hopping onto a flight to either head back home or call a game in another city. At his family's annual reunion last year, Ramsay rose from his seat at the head of a table and urged his children and grandchildren to take their faith more seriously.

"My dad was special in so many ways," Chris Ramsay said. "He was a multi-faceted man with many interesting sides to his personality and life. He had many names. He was John T. Ramsay, Coach Ramsay, Jack Ramsay, Dr. Jack, Dad and Pop. Each personality added to and complemented the other, each forming and shaping the other into one unbelievable man."

Jack Ramsay's life, by any measure, was complete. His name adorned the marquee at Madison Square Garden, he was considered a founding father of "Big 5" college basketball in Philadelphia, he led a team headlined by Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas and Lionel Hollins to the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA title, he was known for his fashion sense as a coach, he drove powerful sports cars and even picked up surfing and golf along the way.

But those flashy things never overshadowed his simpler side. Ramsay's wife died in 2010 after a long fight with Alzheimer's disease, and long after she stopped even understanding who he was most of the time, Ramsay kept holding her hand, feeding her and trying to ease her fears and confusions in any way he could.

"We're celebrating the life of a child of God and a man of faith," said Fr. John J. Ludden, the church's pastor.

Jack Ramsay was 864-783 in his NBA coaching career, was honored in 1996 as one of the league's top 10 all-time coaches, plus posted a 234-72 record with seven NCAA tournament appearances at Saint Joseph's, his alma mater.

Chris Ramsay, who worked alongside his father at ESPN in recent years, saw firsthand how much respect his father commanded by those in the game.

"You were eager when he called and you paid attention," Chris Ramsay said. "You waited for directions, for inspiration, a pearl of wisdom, a piece of advice. He's not here to call your name out loud any longer, but I guarantee you will do something soon that was inspired by Jack Ramsay. He will move you. He will call your name again, and you will listen."

Richard Petty upset over Ambrose' $25,000 fine

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) Marcos Ambrose says he understands the $25,000 fine NASCAR levied against him for punching Casey Mears in the face.

"I got myself in a bad situation, didn't I?" Ambrose said during an appearance at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "I caused an action that NASCAR needed to reprimand, so I'm happy to pay it, and I'm happy to move on. It's a heavy fine. It's the biggest fine I've ever received in racing. I think that NASCAR needed to do something."

His car owner wholeheartedly disagrees.

Richard Petty argued Thursday that Ambrose shouldn't be fined for defending himself in the post-race altercation at Richmond on Saturday night, and said he plans to discuss the penalty with NASCAR officials.

Mears was fined $15,000 after he angrily approached Ambrose and shoved the Australian when Ambrose appeared to be walking away. Ambrose replied with a hard right to Mears' face that drew blood near his eye.

Ambrose is not appealing and said he will pay the fine.

"No way he should have been fined," Petty said. "What I seen on the TV was that he was trying to get away. The boy kept pushing and shoving and he was trying to get away and finally got cornered and had to come out of that. Is NASCAR saying, `OK, just lay there and get the tar beat out of you, we won't fine you, we'll fine the other guy?' I don't know what their rationale was."

Ambrose does agree with Petty that he was defending himself after Mears shoved him.

"I don't apologize for my actions," said Ambrose. "I was just standing up for myself and my team and my family and letting people know that you can't get in my private space like that and expect to not have any consequences. ... As soon as he grabbed hold of me there, I knew I was going to have to get a shot in. I was just waiting for the right moment."

Ambrose finished 18th in Saturday night's race and Mears was 19th. They were far enough back from the leaders that television cameras got no footage of their on-track battle for position and what led to the altercation remains a mystery.

Ambrose insisted Thursday he was never angry with Mears, and was actually on his way to speak to David Gilliland about something that had occurred on the track.

"I was confused about why Casey was so annoyed at me, and I think you can just see a lot of the passion that the drivers have and the commitment we have to try to win these races and try to run up front," Ambrose said. "That passion kind of got out of hand and got out of control pretty quick. Once he put his hand on me and started pushing me around, I was just trying to stand up for myself and my country and my family and my reputation."

As for the punch, which knocked Mears' hat from atop his head, Ambrose said: "I was actually fairly lucid in my thoughts and was able to get a good punch off because I wasn't bound up with too much adrenaline."

Crosby, Getzlaf, Giroux finalists for Hart Trophy

NEW YORK (AP) Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf and Philadelphia's Claude Giroux are finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

The NHL announced the finalists Thursday for the trophy, which essentially serves as the league's MVP award. The Professional Hockey Writers' Association submits ballots.

Crosby scored 36 goals and led the league in assists (68) and points (104), guiding the Penguins to their second consecutive division title.

Getzlaf scored a career-high 31 goals and ranked second in the League with 87 points, leading the Ducks to the top record in the Western Conference for the first time in franchise history.

Giroux matched a career high with 28 goals and finished third in the NHL scoring race (86 points), helping the Flyers rally from a 3-9-0 start.

The winner will be announced June 24.

Ravens' Rice is 'ashamed, sorry' for assault case

MAYS LANDING, N.J. (AP) Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice pleaded not guilty Thursday to assault charges stemming from an incident with his then-girlfriend in an Atlantic City casino elevator. His lawyer said Rice is "ashamed" and "sorry" about his conduct but would not specify exactly what Rice did.

After the five-minute court hearing, Rice applied for New Jersey's pretrial intervention program, which allows for charges to be dismissed against first-time offenders who participate in the program and meet certain conditions. The county prosecutor will decide whether Rice is allowed to enter the program.

If not, prosecutors have offered Rice a plea bargain that would spare him jail time if he participates in anger management counseling.

"He's ashamed of his conduct and he's sorry for what he did," attorney Michael Diamondstein told reporters outside the courthouse.

"There was a disagreement between him and his wife," Diamondstein said. "He made a mistake. He loves Janay and wants to move forward. This was a momentary lapse of reason."

Security video obtained by TMZ Sports shows Rice removing the motionless body of Janay Palmer from an elevator at Revel Hotel Casino on Feb. 15. She did not comment as the two walked into the courthouse.

The couple married a day after Rice was indicted.

If convicted, Rice could face three to five years in prison.

The former Rutgers star walked to the courthouse holding hands with Palmer. He said he is a "happy father and a happy husband." When asked by reporters what he hoped would happen, Rice responded, "for you all to have a blessed day."

Originally, Palmer and Rice were charged with simple assault, but the Atlantic County prosecutor's office reviewed the case and dropped the charge against Palmer. A grand jury lodged the more serious charge of aggravated assault against Rice.

Through her lawyer, Palmer has indicated she does not want the case to proceed. But prosecutor Diane Ruberton said Palmer's cooperation is not crucial to it.

"I'm confident with the evidence we have that I could secure a conviction at trial, with or without her," Ruberton said.

She said prosecutors have additional video evidence beyond what was published by the website, but she would not describe its contents.

Ruberton said Rice's celebrity played no role in the case, adding that plea deals are routinely offered to defendants charged with third-degree crimes, as is the case with Rice.

Diamondstein said he expects a decision on whether Rice will be allowed into pretrial intervention within the next few weeks.

"He's an excellent candidate for it," he said. "He's just a high-character individual. He's a good guy."

The conditions of pretrial intervention would include staying out of trouble for a year, as well as undergoing counseling and remaining gainfully employed, the attorney said.

"They've been going to counseling and working on some of the issues they have," Diamondstein said. "They're very happy."

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Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

Famous bidders already lining up for LA Clippers

LOS ANGELES (AP) If Donald Sterling is compelled to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, the list of potential buyers has more stars than their roster.

Oprah Winfrey is contemplating a bid. Sean Combs is a Knicks fan, but he wants in.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. wants the whole team. Matt Damon wants a tiny piece.

Billionaires, entertainers and athletes alike announced their intentions to pursue the Clippers with varying degrees of seriousness Wednesday, proving the longtime losers will be quite a prize if the NBA is able to wrest control of the team away from Sterling after his lifetime ban for racist remarks.

Winfrey led the list, and the media mogul is already bringing in her friends.

"Oprah Winfrey is in discussions with David Geffen and Larry Ellison to make a bid for the Los Angeles Clippers should the team become available," spokesperson Nicole Nichols confirmed in an email.

If Winfrey joins Geffen, the billionaire entertainment executive, and Oracle CEO Ellison to pool their vast resources for a bid, they could be among the top contenders for a franchise that would be among the most valuable sports properties to hit the market since the Los Angeles Dodgers' $2 billion sale in 2012 to the Guggenheim Partners group fronted by Magic Johnson, the Lakers great and another potential Clippers bidder.

The Clippers spent the last three decades rotting in the shadow of the glamorous Lakers, who piled up championships while the lowly Clips only racked up losses. With Sterling's ouster, the Clippers suddenly became the most attractive team in town to wealthy fans lining up for an unlikely chance to seize control of a Hollywood sports franchise on the move.

David Carter, the executive director of USC's Sports Business Institute, identifies multiple factors contributing to the Clippers' extraordinary value.

"Interest in the team results from the combination of NBA teams being rare assets that are seldom available for purchase, the location of this particular team, and potential owners' belief that revenue streams linked to rehabbing the brand and participating in future revenue linked to a new TV deal all make the team very attractive to prospective buyers," Carter said.

For a day, almost everybody seemed interested in being those buyers - and even entertainers without those limitless resources were clamoring for the chance.

Combs, Rick Ross and Snoop Dogg all aired their interest, as did longtime Clippers fan Frankie Muniz and Damon, who told CNBC he'd like to be a "super tiny minority investor." Fans also got in on the frenzy, opening campaigns on Kickstarter and Crowdtilt to pool their resources for the club.

Mayweather spoke seriously about his interest while preparing for his fight with Marcos Maidana this Saturday, although Money May would have to curb his enthusiastic sports gambling habit. Oscar De La Hoya, the majority shareholder in Golden Boy Promotions whose statue sits outside Staples Center, volunteered himself as a part-owner.

"The league has made it known that it wants more minorities involved, and as a proud Mexican-American, I will bring a different perspective to the NBA in general, and the Clippers in particular," De La Hoya said. "I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I know what it takes to run a successful sports entity."

A vocal segment of the NBA's social media following immediately started a campaign to move the Clippers to Seattle, a basketball-loving city that has been without a team since Clay Bennett moved the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City in 2008.

But much of the Clippers' value results from their location in the nation's second-largest city and their opportunity to sign a lucrative new television rights deal in 2016.

The Clippers' association with Sterling's racist remarks could have been crushing to their prestige and value, but they don't seem to be a problem if Sterling is no longer associated with the club.

"The short term damage has been dramatic, but Commissioner (Adam) Silver provided a tourniquet that has stopped the brand erosion," Carter said. "The NBA, working in conjunction with new ownership, will have an extraordinary opportunity to rehabilitate the team's reputation, and then extend its brand."

The Clippers haven't been known for success during most of their existence, but that's changing. And what's more, the Clippers are cool.

Led by point guard Chris Paul and high-flying forward Blake Griffin - two All-Stars signed to long-term contracts - the Clippers have won two straight Pacific Division titles and are on the brink of their third playoff series victory since Sterling bought the team in 1981.

The Clippers have captured the imagination of Los Angeles' counterculture, the transplants and contrarian fans who aren't interested in the Lakers' bandwagon. They're also attracting more of an international following with each highlight-reel performance by Paul and dunking virtuosos DeAndre Jordan and Griffin, who coined the phrase "Lob City" to describe their daredevil style of play.

And it doesn't hurt that the Lakers just finished their worst season in more than 50 years, missing the playoffs for just the third time in 38 seasons. The Lakers appear to be years away from title contention, while the Clippers are built to contend every year in the near future.

"We're proud of this team," Clippers guard Jamal Crawford said. "We're proud of our city, and we want to make them proud of us."

Kings cap comeback with 5-1 Game 7 win vs Sharks

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Anze Kopitar scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period and Jonathan Quick made 39 saves to cap the Los Angeles Kings' historic comeback from three games down with a 5-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 of their first-round series Wednesday night.

Drew Doughty, Tyler Toffoli, Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson also scored for the Kings, who became the fourth NHL team to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games.

The Kings joined Toronto (1942), the New York Islanders (1975) and Philadelphia (2010) as the only teams to complete that comeback and now will get another California showdown in the second-round with the first Freeway Playoff against the Anaheim Ducks.

Matt Irwin scored the lone goal and Antti Niemi made 25 saves for the Sharks, who added perhaps their most bitter playoff disappointment to a history of them. San Jose has the second most regular-season wins in the NHL the past 10 seasons but has never made it past the conference finals.

The way the Sharks started this series by outscoring the Kings 17-8 to win the first three games, it looked as if this could finally be their year.

But Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and the rest of their stars went mostly missing the final four games, the power play could not convert on its final 15 chances and the defense made too many lapses, leading to their second straight Game 7 loss to their California rivals.

The Sharks took their first lead since Game 3 in the opening minute of the second when Irwin's point shot beat Quick through a screen to provide a jolt to the crowd that only got bigger when San Jose drew a penalty less than a minute later.

But a hooking call on Tommy Wingels negated that power play and Logan Couture then got called for an elbowing penalty, giving Los Angeles a two-man advantage for 6 seconds. Before Wingels could get back into the play, Doughty tied it when he beat Niemi from the faceoff circle.

The Sharks had three more power plays in the second period to give them a chance to go back ahead but Los Angeles killed every one of them with Quick robbing Marleau with a glove save on the goal line to thwart San Jose's best chance.

That save was emblematic of a remarkable turnaround this series for Quick, who allowed 16 goals the first three games but held the Sharks to just five over the final four wins.

The Kings responded after the fourth penalty kill when last year's Game 7 hero Justin Williams found Kopitar, who made a nifty move to beat Niemi with a backhand to give him points in all seven games this series.

Toffoli's goal in the opening minutes of the third period off a pretty no-look feed from Pearson gave the Kings insurance and they tightened things up the rest of the way to seal the win.

Brown and Pearson added empty-netters late to seal the win.

NOTES: The Kings became the fifth team to beat the same opponent in Game 7 in consecutive seasons. ... Both teams were without a key defenseman as San Jose's Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury and Willie Mitchell was out for Los Angeles after getting hurt in Game 6.

Wild beat Avs 5-4 in OT in Game 7 to advance

DENVER (AP) Nino Niederreiter scored his second goal of the game 5:02 into overtime and Ilya Bryzgalov made a big save filling in for an injured Darcy Kuemper, leading the Minnesota Wild to a 5-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7 on Wednesday night.

It's the first playoff series win for the Wild since 2003.

Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Jared Spurgeon also scored for the Wild, who will face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the second round.

Nick Holden, Jamie McGinn, Paul Stastny and Erik Johnson scored for the Avalanche.

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