Thursday Sports in Brief | AP News

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NBA

BOSTON (AP) — The Golden State Warriors are NBA champions once again, topping the Boston Celtics 103-90 on Thursday night for their fourth title in the last eight seasons.

Stephen Curry scored 34 points and was named the NBA Finals MVP as the Warriors claimed the franchise’s seventh championship overall. And this one completed a journey like none other, after a run of five consecutive finals, then a plummet to the bottom of the NBA, and now a return to greatness just two seasons after having the league’s worst record.

For Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, it’s a fourth championship. The first three rings came in 2015, 2017 and 2018, when Golden State was dynastic and made five consecutive trips to the finals.

GOLF

BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP) — Adam Hadwin wasn’t officially in the U.S. Open until eight days ago. And then he walked off The Country Club with his best score ever in a major for a one-shot lead.

The focus finally shifted away from Saudi-backed rival leagues, such as who’s going and who’s staying on the PGA Tour.

Hadwin opened with a 4-under 66 on a breezy but not overly punishing day at Brookline.

The lingering thoughts of the rival league came from Rory McIlroy, not from anything he said but with the golf he played. He shot 67 and was one behind.

SOCCER

NEW YORK (AP) — The 16 cities of the first World Cup spread across three nations were revealed, and FIFA President Gianni Infantino made a bold statement summing up the goal of the 2026 tournament, to be played largely in the United States.

“By 2026, soccer — or futbol — will be the No. 1 sport in this part of the world,” he proclaimed.

Roughly four years before soccer’s showcase comes to the U.S., Mexico and Canada, there already were winners and losers Thursday: Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, Seattle and Kansas City, Missouri, were among the cities picked after missing out on hosting the 1994 tournament.

Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, Nashville, Tennessee, and Orlando, Florida, missed the cut.

MLB

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics need to reach new ballpark deals soon and left open the possibility of considering relocation if agreements are not struck.

Tampa Bay’s lease at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the team has played since its inaugural season in 1998, expires after the 2027 season. The Rays said in January that MLB had rejected the team’s plan to split its season between Florida and Montreal.

The Athletics have played at the Coliseum since 1968 and their lease expires after the 2024 season. The A’s have proposed a new ballpark at Howard Terminal and are working with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to gain the necessary approvals.

CLEVELAND (AP) — Their name changed, and now the Cleveland Guardians appear on the way to a switch in ownership.

Major League Baseball approved the sale of a minority stake in the team to David Blitzer, whose sports holdings include ownership shares in the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, two people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Blitzer initially will have 25-30% ownership and will have the right to increase his stake to a controlling interest in several years, said one of the people. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been finalized.

— By AP Sports Writer Tom Withers.

NHL

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers have hired John Tortorella as their new coach, hoping the fiery veteran can help lead them to their first Stanley Cup championship since 1975.

The hire was confirmed Thursday by a person with direct knowledge of the decision who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anoymity because it had not been announced. The official announcement was expected Friday.

Tortorella, who turns 64 next week, coached Tampa Bay to a Stanley Cup title in 2004, and he also coached the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. He was fired in May 2021 after six seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

— By AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston.

WNBA

Seattle Storm star and five-time Olympic gold medalist Sue Bird says the 2022 season will be her last playing in the WNBA.

The 41-year-old considered retirement after last season before returning for a 19th season as a player. She missed two seasons because of injuries.

As for the timing of her retirement, she says “you just know when you know.”

Bird is a four-time WNBA champion, 12-time All-Star and the oldest player in the league.

The former No. 1 draft pick has spent her entire WNBA career with the Storm. Her announcement came a day before Seattle’s game at Connecticut, the state where she was a collegiate star and national player of the year.

CANADIAN FOOTBALL

Marv Levy is poised to join a very select pro football group.

On Friday night, the former Buffalo Bills and Montreal Alouettes head coach will be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

He’ll become just the third person to be in both the Canadian and Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining former Minnesota Vikings and Winnipeg head coach Bud Grant and quarterback Warren Moon, who began his illustrious career in the CFL with Edmonton. Moon played most of his NFL career with the Houston Oilers and also played with Minnesota, Seattle and Kansas City.

COLLEGE ATHLETICS

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA’s Division I transformation committee will recommend establishing designated time periods when college athletes can declare their intent to transfer and be eligible immediately at a new school.

The committee said Thursday it is also making recommendations to the Division I Board of Directors to update the NCAA infractions process. The committee wants to make changes that will promote timeliness of investigations and hold accountable those who are directly involved in the rule-breaking.

The transfer windows would set set on a sport-by-sport basis. The hope is they will provide some structure and clarity for both athletes and coaches.

COLLEGE BASEBALL

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson has hired Michigan’s Erik Bakich to revive a baseball program that had missed two straight NCAA Tournaments for the first time in more than three decades.

Bakich replaced Monte Lee, who was fired after seven seasons.

The school announced Bakich’s hiring Thursday. His six-year contract was approved by the school’s board of trustees. Bakich will receive $850,000 next season with his salary increasing $50,000 annually through 2027-28.

Bakich has led Michigan to five NCAA Tournament appearances since 2015 with the Wolverines finishing national runner-up in 2019. The team lost to Louisville in the NCAA Regional earlier this month.

SAILING

SYDNEY (AP) — Sydney Harbour is set to host SailGP racing for the next three years, including the ninth event of the international series’ third season in February 2023.

SailGP said Friday that the Australian Sail Grand Prix would be held from Feb. 18-19. An estimated 20,000 people turned out to watch Tom Slingsby’s Australia SailGP team win its home event in December 2021.

There are 10 teams competing in Season 3, including new franchises Canada and Switzerland and returning teams Australia, Denmark, France, Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United States.

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