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NBA notebook: Bucks’ co-owner fined over Davis comments

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NBA notebook: Bucks' co-owner fined over Davis comments

Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry has been fined $25,000 for his recent remarks about Anthony Davis, ESPN’s Malika Andrews reported Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Marc Lasry, CEO and Co-Founder of Avenue Capital Group, speaks during the Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit in New York, U.S., November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Lasry’s recent comments about the New Orleans Pelicans’ star, who requested a trade from the Pelicans prior to the trading deadline, violated NBA tampering rules.

There were reports that the Bucks, who enter play Monday with the league’s best record at 41-14, were among four teams that Davis would consider joining on a long-term deal, and Lasry was asked about the report when the Bucks were in New York to play the Brooklyn Nets.

“I saw that report, and I think it’s great,” Lasry told Sporting News. “It’s a little bit of what we want. We want players to come and play in Milwaukee. And part of it is, when you’re winning and you’re setting a standard for excellence, people see that. People want to win.

—Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons wanted to sit down with Magic Johnson to discuss being a big point guard in the NBA, but Sixers general manager Elton Brand said he nixed that idea. And although Brand said he considers the case closed, the NBA is investigating.

“The league office is looking into whether any contact took place between Ben Simmons and the Los Angeles Lakers that violated NBA rules,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Johnson, the Lakers team president, said Sunday that Simmons had contacted him about potentially meeting in the offseason. Johnson told reporters they could not talk “if everybody doesn’t sign off.”

—Guard Jeremy Lin and the Atlanta Hawks are finalizing a buyout of his contract, and he then expects to sign with the Toronto Raptors, according to an ESPN report.

Agents Jim Tanner and Roger Montgomery told ESPN that Lin, who is earning $12.5 million in his first season with the Hawks, could be with the Raptors by the middle of the week.

Lin, 30, became a household name in 2012, when a short but prolific run with the New York Knicks sparked what became known as “Linsanity.” But since then, he has played for Houston, the Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte, and Brooklyn before arriving in Atlanta in the offseason.

—Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is sidelined with a partial ligament injury to his left thumb, the team announced.

VanVleet, who turns 25 on Feb. 25, is expected to wear a splint for approximately three weeks and his condition will then be updated. The team said he injured himself during the second quarter of the Raptors’ 104-99 victory on Saturday at the New York Knicks.

In 51 games this season (22 starts), VanVleet is averaging 10.5 points, 4.6 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 26.8 minutes per game. He has scored in double figures 30 times over the season, including a career-high 30 points in a 119-101 road win over Atlanta on Feb. 7.

—Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right knee, the team announced. Hart will be re-evaluated after the All-Star Break.

Hart, in his second season out of Villanova, is averaging 8.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists, starting 21 of his 54 games played. He has missed two of the past three games, including Sunday’s 143-120 loss at Philadelphia, because of patella tendinitis.

Hart has four double-doubles this season, including three in a 15-day span in January. His absence further thins a backcourt that is missing guard Lonzo Ball because of a sprained left ankle.

—The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed guard Nik Stauskas, the team announced, in what has been a whirlwind week for the 25-year-old, a former lottery pick.

Stauskas was acquired by the Cavaliers last weekend from Portland, one of the players sent to Cleveland in the Rodney Hood deal. The Cavaliers then sent him to Houston as part of a three-team trade, and the Rockets shipped him to the Indiana Pacers before the NBA trading deadline last Thursday.

On Friday, Stauskas, a Michigan product, who was selected No. 8 overall by Sacramento in the 2014 NBA Draft, was waived by the Pacers.

—Field Level Media

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Giants manager Bruce Bochy to retire after 2019 season

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Giants manager Bruce Bochy to retire after 2019 season

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy has announced he will retire after the 2019 season.

Bochy, 63, has been the Giants’ manager since 2007 and has guided them to three World Series championships, in 2010, ’12 and ’14.

Before that he managed the San Diego Padres from 1995 to 2006. He took them to the World Series in 1998, where they lost to the Yankees. He was named Manager of the Year in 1996.

In 24 years as a manager, he has a record of 1,926-1,944. His victory total ranks 11th on the all-time list.

Bochy played nine seasons in the big leagues as a catcher for the Astros, Mets and Padres.

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French fencing body recognizes lightsaber dueling as a sport

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French fencing body recognizes lightsaber dueling as a sport

BEAUMONT-SUR-OISE, France — Master Yoda, dust off his French, he must.

It’s now easier than ever in France to act out “Star Wars” fantasies, because its fencing federation has borrowed from a galaxy far, far away and officially recognized lightsaber dueling as a competitive sport, granting the iconic weapon from George Lucas’ saga the same status as the foil, epee and sabre, the traditional blades used at the Olympics.

Of course, the LED-lit, rigid polycarbonate lightsaber replicas can’t slice a Sith lord in half. But they look and — with the more expensive sabers equipped with a chip in their hilt that emits a throaty electric rumble — even sound remarkably like the silver screen blades that Yoda and other characters wield in the blockbuster movies.

Plenty realistic, at least, for duelists to work up an impressive sweat slashing, feinting and stabbing in organized three-minute bouts. The physicality of lightsaber combat is part of why the French Fencing Federation threw its support behind the sport and is now equipping fencing clubs with lightsabers and training would-be lightsaber instructors. Like virtuous Jedi knights, the French federation sees itself as combatting a dark side: the sedentary habits of 21st-century life that are sickening ever-growing numbers of adults and kids.

“With young people today, it’s a real public health issue. They don’t do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs,” says Serge Aubailly, the federation secretary general. “It’s becoming difficult to [persuade them to] do a sport that has no connection with getting out of the sofa and playing with one’s thumbs. That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural.”

In the past, the likes of Zorro, Robin Hood and the Three Musketeers helped lure new practitioners to fencing. Now, joining and even supplanting them are Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader.

“Cape and sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth,” Aubailly says. “Lightsaber films have the same impact. Young people want to give it a try.”

And the young at heart.

Police officer Philippe Bondi, 49, practiced fencing for 20 years before switching to lightsaber. When a club started offering classes in Metz, the town in eastern France where he is stationed for the gendarmerie, Bondi says he was immediately drawn by the prospect of living out the love he’s had for the Star Wars universe since he saw the first film at age 7, on its release in 1977.

He fights in the same wire-mesh face mask he used for fencing. He spent about 350 euros ($400) on his protective body armor (sturdy gloves, chest, shoulder and shin pads) and on his federation-approved lightsaber, opting for luminous green “because it’s the Jedi colors, and Yoda is my master.”

“I had to be on the good side, given that my job is upholding the law,” he said.

Bondi awoke well before dawn to make the four-hour drive from Metz to a national lightsaber tournament outside Paris this month that drew 34 competitors. It showcased how far the sport has come in a couple of years but also that it’s still light-years from becoming mainstream.

The crowd was small and a technical glitch prevented the duelers’ photos, combat names and scores from being displayed on a big screen, making bouts tough to follow. But the illuminated swooshes of colored blades looked spectacular in the darkened hall. Fan cosplay as Star Wars characters added levity, authenticity and a tickle of bizarre to the proceedings, especially the incongruous sight of Darth Vader buying a ham sandwich and a bag of potato chips at the cafeteria during a break.

In building their sport from the ground up, French organizers produced competition rules intended to make lightsaber dueling both competitive and easy on the eyes.

“We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be umpired and, most of all, we wanted it to produce something visual that looks like the movies, because that is what people expect,” said Michel Ortiz, the tournament organizer.

Combatants fight inside a circle marked in tape on the floor. Strikes to the head or body are worth five points; to the arms or legs, three points; on hands, one point. The first to 15 points — or, if they don’t get there quickly, the high scorer after three minutes — wins. If both fighters reach 10 points, the bout enters “sudden death,” where the first to land a head- or body blow wins, a rule to encourage enterprising fighters.

Blows only count if the fighters first point the tip of their saber behind them. That rule prevents the viper-like, tip-first quick forward strikes seen in fencing. Instead, the rule encourages swishier blows that are easier for audiences to see and enjoy, and which are more evocative of the duels in Star Wars. Of those, the battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Maul in “The Phantom Menace” that ends badly for the Sith despite his double-bladed lightsaber is particularly appreciated by aficionados for its swordplay.

Still nascent, counting its paid-up practitioners in France in the hundreds, not thousands, lightsaber dueling has no hope of a place in the Paris Olympics in 2024.

But to hear the thwack of blades and see them cut shapes through the air is to want to give the sport a try.

Or, as Yoda would say: “Try not. Do! Or do not. There is no try.”

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Lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury to be co-promoted by Top Rank

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Lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury to be co-promoted by Top Rank

Lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and promoter Frank Warren have signed a deal under which Fury will be co-promoted by Top Rank, they announced Monday.

Fury will have his future bouts co-promoted by Top Rank and Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, with the deal calling for a minimum of two bouts per year in the United States, according to their agreement. That means Fury’s bouts will appear on ESPN platforms. The network and Top Rank have a multiyear deal.

“I’m delighted that Frank and Queensberry Promotions have teamed up with Top Rank to promote my fights in America,” Fury said. “With ESPN and [British broadcaster] BT Sport behind me, the biggest sports platforms in the world are now linked up with the best heavyweight in the world.”

Top Rank and Warren already made an earlier deal for most of Warren’s United Kingdom cards to stream on ESPN+ in the United States.

What the deal with Fury means for the prospect of his rematch with world titleholder Deontay Wilder is unclear.

“Top Rank is very excited to enter into the promotional arrangement along with Queensberry Promotions for the lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. “He is a generational heavyweight talent at the peak of his powers. We also look forward to our growing relationship with [Fury manager] MTK Global, which represents so many world-class fighters.”

Said Warren: “This is a great move for Tyson Fury and a great move for Queensberry Promotions. By partnering with ESPN and Top Rank in America, we’re giving our boxers, including Tyson, the opportunity to perform on the biggest and most powerful platforms on both sides of the Atlantic and become truly global stars.”

The Wilder and Fury camps have been in negotiations for a rematch of their Dec. 1 draw at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Showtime, which has a long-term deal with Wilder co-manager Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, put the fight on Showtime PPV and has said it has the rights to a rematch, which could make finalizing it complicated now that Fury is with ESPN.

Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager, told ESPN that he said he wasn’t sure if Showtime had a contractual right to a rematch but that he hoped the network would be involved if the fight is finalized.

“We are hoping to make the fight and figure out how with this new relationship they have with ESPN that it can be done. I would want to try to make it with Showtime and ESPN (working together),” Finkel said. “(Haymon) wants to make the fight and that whatever is realistic will get done.”

A purse bid for the bout has been postponed twice because they were close to a deal.

The purse bid was initially scheduled for Tuesday at the WBC headquarters in Mexico City, but the sanctioning body permitted it to be postponed for one week because the camps said they were close to making a deal.

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said the purse bid was allowed to be further delayed because of how close they are to an agreement.

“I have been in direct communication with both parties and they have indicated that they are in goodwill negotiations, very close to reaching an agreement,” Sulaiman told ESPN last week. “I will monitor this matter personally and if needed will intervene within the next week.”

Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) and Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) fought to a draw in an entertaining battle in a classic heavyweight title fight that generated around 325,000 buys for Showtime PPV in the United States. Fury outboxed Wilder for long stretches, but Wilder also scored two knockdowns, one in the ninth round and a thunderous one in the 12th round, after which Fury shockingly beat the count and was able to continue.

In the end, the judges scored it 115-111 for Wilder, 114-112 for Fury and 113-113, a split draw that allowed Wilder to retain his belt for the eighth time.

After the fight, Wilder, 33, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Fury, 30, of England, each said they wanted an immediate rematch, and a week after the fight, the WBC said it would approve a second fight. Three weeks ago, the WBC formally ordered the rematch and set the parameters for the purse split in the event there was a purse bid.

The fight, if finalized, is being targeted for May 18 in New York or Las Vegas, Finkel said. April 27 had also been a potential date but no longer.

“April is out,” Finkel said.

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