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Spurs Beat Suns, Advance to NBA Finals (AP)
AP - San Antonio had just beaten Phoenix to win the Western Conference finals when Tim Duncan sought out Amare Stoudemire. The two-time MVP had the Spurs in the NBA Finals for the third time since 1999, and he wanted to acknowledge the awesome, still-growing talent that the 22-year-old Stoudemire displayed.

Torre Closes Yankees Clubhouse After Loss (AP)
AP - Joe Torre closed the Yankees' clubhouse after his team failed to muster much offense in another dispiriting loss to the lowly Kansas City Royals. Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire, meanwhile, had only glowing things to say about Torii Hunter's offensive outburst.

Lee Leads Surging Cubs to 6th Straight Win (AP)
AP - Derrek Lee is in the midst of a torrid stretch at the plate. The fact it's helping the Chicago Cubs win makes it even better. Lee hit a three-run homer and went 5-for-5, raising his major league-leading batting average to .380 and leading the Cubs to a 9-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

Cavaliers Hire Mike Brown as Head Coach (AP)
AP - He's not a household name. He has never coddled a superstar, fought with his general manager over a roster spot or benched a player. He has never been a head coach ? at any level.

49ers' PR Director Apologizes for Video (AP)
AP - Kirk Reynolds made just the kind of offensive guffaw he'd preached to the 49ers players about avoiding. San Francisco's well-liked public relations director is suddenly on his way out of the organization after producing a controversial in-house video meant to prepare players for dealing with the media.

Lionel Gates Signs With Bills (AP)
AP - Lionel Gates became the first 2005 draft pick to sign with the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday.

NBA Today (AP)
AP - Detroit at Miami (8 p.m. EDT). The Heat return home with the series tied 2-2.

Pujols, Rolen Lead in Early All-Star Voting (AP)
AP - Albert Pujols is the leading vote-getter, and his St. Louis Cardinals teammate Scott Rolen has the most votes among third baseman in early voting for the NL All-Star team.

Westerhof to Coach Chivas USA, Player Says (AP)
AP - Hans Westerhof will become the new head coach of Chivas USA as soon as he obtains the proper visa, one of the team's players said Wednesday night.

NHL, NHLPA Meet for 10 Hours (AP)
AP - The NHL and the players' association held small-group discussions for more than 10 hours Wednesday, again working on a review of revenue measurement and financial reporting issues.

Read and React: Mum's not the word
Malcolm Glazer gained plenty of attention by saying nothing about Man U at the NFL owners meetings.

Niners video angers owners, mayor (AP)
Kirk Reynolds made just the kind of offensive guffaw he'd preached to the 49ers players about avoiding. San Francisco's well-liked public relations director is suddenly on his way out of the organization after producing a controversial in-house video meant to prepare players for dealing with the media.

Rice gets acquainted with new team (AP)
Jerry Rice began his first day as a Denver Bronco doing something unheard of for a player of his stature: he walked around the locker room and introduced himself. ``It caught a lot of the guys off guard when I walk up and say, 'Hey, I'm Jerry Rice,''' he said. ``I noticed a lot of these guys might have been 3-year-olds when I came into the league.'' ``I couldn't believe it was him,'' said wide...

Eagles' Westbrook signs one-year tender (AP)
Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook signed a one-year contract on Wednesday to remain with the Philadelphia Eagles through next season. The versatile Westbrook is coming off a breakout season in which he led the team with 1,515 total yards and was tops among NFL running backs with 73 catches for 703 yards and six touchdowns, despite sitting out the last two regular season games.

Strahan: Return from injury no problem (AP)
Coming off a season-ending chest injury, Michael Strahan wasn't supposed to be doing much on the opening day of the New York Giants' minicamp on Wednesday. ``Limited'' was the word the team used to describe his status. Strahan didn't act that way, though. The 33-year-old defensive end hugged guard Jason Whittle early in the morning workout and wrapped up punter Jeff Feagles later on.

Birk expected to miss 2-3 months (AP)
Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl center Matt Birk is expected to miss two to three months while recovering from hip surgery, but team officials are hopeful he will be back for the start of the regular season. Birk underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. Trainer Chuck Barta said Birk's recovery window is 60 to 90 days, which would get him back with time to spare before the...

Packers to retire Reggie White's number (AP)
The Green Bay Packers will retire Reggie White's number at halftime ceremonies of their home opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 18. Team president Bob Harlan said he had told White before his death last December that he wanted to add his No. 92 to the retired numbers listed in the north end zone at Lambeau Field.

Giants co-owner has surgery for cancer (AP)
Wellington Mara, co-owner of the New York Giants, had surgery three weeks ago to remove cancerous lymph nodes from his neck and under his armpit, ``It is related to earlier skin cancer that he had had problems with on-and-off with for 25 years now,'' John Mara, Mara's son and the team's chief operating officer, said Wednesday.

Spurs show the way
To reach the next level, the Suns need to be more consistent with their defense and rebounding – like the Spurs.

Spurs top Suns 101-95 to make NBA Finals (AP)
The San Antonio Spurs are excited to be going back to the NBA Finals. They're even happier about not having to see Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns until next season. Tim Duncan had 31 points and 15 rebounds and the Spurs' defense keyed a gamechanging 18-4 third-quarter run that gave them enough of a cushion to hold off Stoudemire and the Suns 101-95 on Wednesday night to end the...

Cavaliers hire Mike Brown as coach (AP)
He's not a household name. He has never coddled a superstar, fought with his general manager over a roster spot or benched a player. He has never been a head coach -- at any level. No, Mike Brown isn't Phil Jackson. He's not Flip Saunders or Larry Brown, either. But he preaches hard-nosed defense, bonds easily with players and has made a trip or two to the NBA playoffs.

NBA talks stall as league rejects offer (AP)
NBA labor talks stalled Wednesday after a 2 1/2 -hour meeting in New York, less than a month before a lockout would begin. ``All I can say is that we had a meeting, and we don't have anything else scheduled,'' NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik said. Players association director Billy Hunter said he outlined a new proposal, then offered to extend the terms of the current seven-year agreement that...

Defensive lapses end Suns' magical season (AP)
The fast, fun Phoenix Suns are finished. Their improbable rise from the ashes of a 29-win season a year ago was done in by untimely defensive breakdowns and an opponent with more depth and far more experience in playoff basketball. Another awesome show by Amare Stoudemire -- a career playoff-high 42 points and 16 rebounds -- wasn't quite enough Wednesday night, when the San Antonio Spurs closed out...

Heat, Pistons prepare for crucial Game 5 (AP)
Pressure situations always seem to bring out the best in the Detroit Pistons. This season has been anything but smooth and serene for the defending NBA champions, who endured the aftermath of November's brawl with Indiana, a four-game midseason losing streak, plus incessant -- and current -- speculation about coach Larry Brown's future with the franchise.

Brown won't confirm report he's gone (AP)
Larry Brown was defensive, testy and defiant Tuesday in reacting to a report that he already had agreed to become president of the Cleveland Cavaliers, sticking with his story that he wants to keep coaching. ESPN.com, quoting two anonymous league sources, said Brown decided to accept a front-office position with Cleveland.

Bulls' Skiles still without extension (AP)
Nearly a month after leading the Chicago Bulls to their first playoff appearance in seven years, coach Scott Skiles still doesn't have a contract extension. The organization reportedly offered to tear up its $2.75 million option for next season and reward Skiles with a multiyear deal. But no agreement is in place.

Wade given star treatment by Pistons (AP)
When Dwyane Wade had the basketball, Miami's star guard was covered by one Detroit Piston and monitored by the other four. When Wade didn't have the ball, the Pistons did their best to keep it that way. Wade still managed to score 28 points, but after he had 76 in the previous two games, the Pistons had to be pleased especially because they beat the Heat 106-96 Tuesday night and evened the Eastern...

High school standout Green hires agent (AP)
High school star guard Gerald Green has hired an agent after applying last month for early entry in the NBA draft. The 6-foot-8 shooter from Houston's Gulf Shores Academy picked Andrew Vye of Atlanta-based Kauffman Sports Management, Green said in a release Monday. ``I believe their commitment to me as a player and to my career will be consistent,'' said Green, ranked the nation's top player by...

Stumped by the suits
We should be watching playoff hockey. Instead we're left with "Stump The Schwab."

NHL, NHLPA meet for nine hours; talks resume Thursday in larger group (AP)
The NHL and the players' association held small-group discussions for more than 10 hours Wednesday, again working on a review of revenue measurement and financial reporting issues. The meetings lasted from about 11 a.m. until approximately 9:30 p.m., and will continue with a larger group Thursday as the sides try to find common ground on team revenues and how to associate them to a salary cap in a...

NHL, Players Association end first of two-day session (SportsTicker)
TORONTO (Ticker) - The NHL and the Players Association prepared for the return of the heavy hitters with a lengthy labor session.

Trenton wins Kelly Cup in six games (AP)
The Trenton Titans won the ECHL championship Wednesday night, beating Florida 4-1 as Leon Hayward scored a goal and added two assists. Trenton won the first two games of the series, then Florida took the next two before Trenton won Game 5. In the sixth game, Hayward's power-play goal in the first period put the Titans on top.

Report: Giuliani may help to form new hockey league (SportsTicker)
TORONTO (Ticker) - It appears "America's Mayor" wants to help hockey.

Swedish NHL players banned from national team for one year (AP)
Three Swedish NHL players accused of rape will miss the 2006 Olympics after the country's hockey federation extended their suspensions from the national team to one year Wednesday. Kristian Huselius of the Florida Panthers, Andreas Lilja of the Nashville Predators and Henrik Tallinder of the Buffalo Sabres are banned until after the games in Turin, Italy, Swedish Ice Hockey Association head...

Reports: ESPN ends negotiations with NHL (AP)
ESPN officially ended negotiations with the NHL for broadcasting rights next season, according to media reports Wednesday. ESPN announced Saturday it would not pick up a $60-million option under the previous contract, but tried to retain the rights for less money in talks with the league and commissioner Gary Bettman.

Hall of Fame linesman John D'Amico dies at 67 (AP)
John D'Amico, a Hockey Hall of Fame linesman who spent 23 years officiating before joining the NHL front office, died at 67. He died Sunday night, the league said Monday. ``John D'Amico brought a passion and dedication to his profession both on the ice as a linesman and later as a supervisor of officials,'' NHL executive vice president Jim Gregory said.

Hall of Fame linesman D'Amico passes away (SportsTicker)
TORONTO (Ticker) - Hockey Hall of Fame linesman John D'Amico died Sunday, the National Hockey League announced Monday. He was 67.

London Knights win Memorial Cup (AP)
Adam Dennis made 27 saves, and Danny Fritsche had a goal and two assists to help the London Knights beat the Rimouski Oceanic 4-0 on Sunday for their first Memorial Cup title. David Bolland, Rob Schremp and Bryan Rodney also scored for the Ontario Hockey League champion Knights, ranked No. 1 in the CHL the entire season en route to a 59-7-2 record.

Trading Paint: Jumping on Junior
Fans are fired up about Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s recent on-track theatrics.

Judge to allow access to exhibits in Earnhardt lawsuit (AP)
A judge ruled Wednesday that the public can see all the previously sealed exhibits introduced as evidence in a lawsuit pitting the owner of Dale Earnhardt's racing team and the insurance company that refused to pay when he died.

Charlotte, four other contenders offer bids for NASCAR shrine (AP)
Rarely has a red toolbox seen such an escort.

Gordon meant no disrespect of Patrick in weight comments (AP)
Robby Gordon was not being critical of Danica Patrick when he said she had an unfair weight advantage in the Indianapolis 500. Rather, he said he was simply discussing a flaw in the Indy Racing League's rules.

New surface plays role in record 22 cautions in Coca-Cola 600 (AP)
Altering the track surface at Lowe's Motor Speedway was supposed to create a more competitive race. Instead, it helped turn the Coca-Cola 600 into a demolition derby.

Drag racer killed at South Carolina track (AP)
A drag racer was killed after his car crashed into a guard rail in front of about 100 spectators. Harold Dean Martin, 53, died at Orangeburg Drag Strip on Sunday afternoon due to severe head injuries after he was partially ejected from his 1960s-era Chevrolet Nova, coroner Samuetta Marshall said. Martin was testing his car's engine to see how fast it could go, and crashed as he tried to slow down...

Wreck with Waltrip reveals friction and infighting surrounding Earnhardt Jr. (AP)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was jeered by the fans, criticized by his fired crew chief and ripped by his uncle, the man who typically has been his most loyal supporter.

Johnson wins third-consecutive Coca-Cola 600 (AP)
Jimmie Johnson ended a month of controversy by racing his way into the record books.

Jimmie Johnson wins crash-filled NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 (SportsTicker)

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