Sonics owner won’t address e-mail claims

SuperSonics owner Clay Bennett testified Tuesday that he remained committed to finding a new arena in the Seattle area before last season — even as e-mail circulated among team co-owners portraying how eager they were to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City.

Lead Seattle attorney Paul Lawrence repeatedly questioned Bennett about an e-mail Sonics co-owner and fellow Oklahoma City business leader Tom Ward sent to Bennett on April 17, 2007. That was just after the Washington Legislature rejected Bennett’s plan for a publicly financed, $500 million arena in the Seattle suburbs.

“Is there any way to move here for next season, or are we doomed to have another lame duck season in Seattle?” Ward wrote.

“I am a man possessed!” Bennett responded. “Will do everything we can. Thanks for hanging with me, boys. The game is getting started!”

Under oath in U.S. District Court, Bennett said of his e-mail: “I am not responding to moving to Oklahoma. I’m reiterating my commitment to the process to stay in Seattle.”

Bennett is trying to move Seattle’s oldest professional sports franchise to his hometown two years before the KeyArena lease expires. The city is asking a federal judge to force the Sonics to honor their lease.

Also: Possible top NBA Draft pick Michael Beasley visited the Chicago Bulls’ practice facility in Deerfield, Ill., and was at ease with reporters who questioned him on a number of subjects.

For instance, the former Kansas State player was asked about measuring only 6 feet 8 inches after being listed at 6-10 in college.

“It’s a little disappointing to me to find out I’m actually a midget,” Beasley said in jest. “But it’s not a big deal to me.”

Beasley joked that if the Bulls take him, “I know we’ve got one Jayhawk (Kirk Hinrich) I’ll have to get along with.”

And he had this to say when asked about the Bulls’ psychological test: “They asked if I was crazy.”

Did he answer yes or no?

“I left that one unanswered,” he said.


Shaky Villegas claims first Skins Game title

With a couple hundred thousand dollars on the line, Camilo Villegas felt some nerves at his first Skins Game.

Coming off a top-10 finish at the U.S. Open, Villegas made more than $200,000 to win the two-day Telus World Skins Game in Vernon, British Columbia.

Villegas made a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-5 14th hole for $127,800, then added another $97,800 in a playoff.

“I actually was (nervous) with that short putt on the par 5, but it was good,” said Villegas, whose tie for ninth at Torrey Pines was his best finish in a major. “It’s good to feel the nerves, a little shaking, and why not? Just test yourself.”

Also: NBC Sports officials are trying to persuade Brett Favre to make good on his earlier commitment to make his debut next month in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe, a tournament spokesman said.

The former Green Bay Packers quarterback told tournament officials in early May he would play for the first time in the 19th annual celebrity event July 11 to 13 at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course at Stateline.

But his representatives sent an e-mail to NBC officials Friday that said he was “probably not coming” because of a scheduling conflict.

Joseph Harrison shot a 2-over-par 74 to take a one-stroke lead over Brady Exber, Robert Futrell and Adam Tebbs in the gross division of the three-day Nevada State Amateur at Paiute Golf Club.

In the net division, Robert Zoine carded a 4-under 68 for a two-stroke lead over John Shank.

Las Vegas’ Maxwell Marsico, 14 months removed from fracturing his back while playing golf, shot a 3-under 68 to take a one-stroke lead over Mario Clemens and Ryan Tetrault in the boys division of the three-day AJGA Las Vegas Junior at Angel Park.

Lindsey Weaver of Scottsdale, Ariz., had a two-shot lead in the girls division after shooting 2-under 69.


Italy advances into Euro 2008 quarters

Italy advanced to the quarterfinals of the European Championship with a 2-0 win over short-handed France in a rematch of the 2006 World Cup final the Italians also won.

Andrea Pirlo put Italy in front with a penalty kick in the 25th minute after Eric Abidal was red-carded for a foul on Luca Toni, and Daniele De Rossi made the score 2-0 in the match played in Zurich, Switzerland, with a deflected free kick in the 62nd minute.

In the day’s other match, the Netherlands ousted Romania 2-0 in Bern, Switzerland, on goals by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the 54th minute and Robin van Persie in the 87th.

Also: The U.S. women’s team edged Brazil 1-0 in the Peace Queen Cup in Suwon, South Korea, on a goal by forward Amy Rodriguez.

Rodriguez scored in the 41st minute, lifting the Americans to a 2-0 record heading into Thursday’s match with Italy.


Larionov, Anderson picked for Hockey Hall

Former Detroit Red Wings center Igor Larionov and ex-Edmonton Oilers star Glenn Anderson have been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Former linesman Ray Scapinello and builder Ed Chynoweth also made the Hall. The induction ceremony will be Nov. 10.

Larionov won two Olympic gold medals with the Soviet Union and was one of the first players from the country to play in the NHL. He won three Stanley Cups with Detroit and had 644 points in 921 NHL games.

Anderson won six Stanley Cups during his career and ranks fifth in NHL history with 93 career playoff goals.

Also: Hall of Famer Johnny Petraglia continued to lead through two rounds of qualifying in the PBA Senior U.S. Open at the Suncoast Bowling Center.

Petraglia had a pinfall of 2,948 through 12 games to top the 321-player field. Kevin Croucher was more than 100 pins back in second at 2,846.

The final round of qualifying is today.

Hendrick Motorsports has passed Roush Fenway Racing as the most valuable team in NASCAR, according to Forbes’ annual rankings.

Hendrick is valued at $335 million, Forbes announced. Roush Fenway, which topped the list in the first two years of the rankings, is second at $313 million.

Joe Gibbs Racing ($184 million), Gillett Evernham Motorsports ($150 million) and Richard Childress Racing ($130 million) round out the top 5.

Three Hendrick drivers top Forbes’ list of the highest-paid drivers. Jeff Gordon ($32 million) edged Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($31 million). Jimmie Johnson ($23 million) is third, followed by Tony Stewart ($19 million), who races for Gibbs.

Thoroughbred racing took a major step toward outlawing steroids when a safety panel created days after Eight Belles’ fatal run in the Kentucky Derby recommended that they should be banned by January.

The proposal was endorsed by several key players in the sport.

Nine 3-year-olds — eight colts and a gelding — were entered Tuesday in the Yonkers Trot, the first leg of the Trotting Triple Crown. Saturday’s event carries a purse of $645,854.

Yan Barthelemy and Erislandy Lara, two star Cuban boxers who recently defected from their Communist nation, agreed to co-promotion deals with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.

Robbie McEwen won a mass sprint to the finish to capture his second straight Tour de Suisse stage in Domat-Ems, Switzerland.

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