Wednesday Sports in Brief
TOKYO (AP) — The long saga of Yoshiro Mori appears to be near the end.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency and others reported on Thursday — citing unnamed sources — that Yoshiro Mori will step down on Friday as the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee.
The move follows his sexist comments about women more than a week ago, and an ensuing and rare public debate in Japan about gender equality,
A decision is expected to be announced on Friday when the organizing committee’s executive board meets.
DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban relented Wednesday and the national anthem will be played before home games this season after the NBA reiterated its “longstanding league policy” to include the song.
The league’s initial reaction to Cuban’s decision was to say teams were free to conduct pregame activities as they wished with the unusual circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic. Most teams don’t have fans at home games.
But the NBA abruptly reversed course with Cuban’s decision reverberating around the country.
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Pistons said Wednesday that center Jahlil Okafor had left knee surgery and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
The team said the procedure was to clean the lateral meniscus.
The Pistons acquired Okafor this past offseason, and he averaged 4.3 points and 10 minutes in his first 12 games.
Okafor hasn’t played since a Jan. 30 loss at Golden State.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers held a boat parade to celebrate their championship on a sun-splashed day with thousands of fans lining the Hillsborough River near downtown Tampa.
At one point, quarterback Tom Brady was captured on video Wednesday tossing the championship Lombardi Trophy from his boat to his shirtless teammate Cameron Brate in another boat. That brought wild cheers from fans and players.
As the parade came to a close, coach Bruce Arians said the Bucs could easily repeat as champions if the team stays intact.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington re-signed quarterback Taylor Heinicke on Wednesday to a two-year, $8.75 million contract.
Heinicke was out of football and taking college classes online when Washington signed him to the practice squad in December. An injury to Alex Smith and the release of Dwayne Haskins thrust him into action late in the season, and he made his NFL playoff debut in a loss to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Buccaneers.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Shortstop Didi Gregorius and the Philadelphia Phillies finalized a $28 million, two-year contract on Wednesday.
Gregorius, who turns 31 next week, batted .284 with 10 homers, 40 RBIs and an .827 OPS in 60 games in his first season with the Phillies.
Gregorius has a .265 career batting average with 120 homers, 457 RBIs and a .748 OPS. He has a .978 fielding percentage at shortstop, the fifth-best among players with at least 800 games played at the position since 2012.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Hendrick Motorsports once again dominated Daytona 500 qualifying with a sweep of the front row for its 14th pole and sixth in the last seven years.
Alex Bowman posted a lap at 191.261 mph Wednesday night at Daytona International Speedway to earn the top starting spot for the second time in his career. It’s the fourth consecutive year Bowman will start from the front row.
William Byron made it a Hendrick sweep with a lap at 190.219 mph. Only the front row was set Wednesday night,
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. has signed a multi-year agreement to stay at Joe Gibbs Racing, where the 2017 NASCAR champion has won eight races in his two years with the team.
Truex joined Denny Hamlin as JGR drivers who signed contract extensions this month. Truex, Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell are all signed at Gibbs at least through 2022.
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence will have surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder before the NFL draft.
Lawrence’s representative said Lawrence scheduled a workout for NFL personnel on Friday instead of waiting for Clemson’s pro day on March 11 because of the upcoming surgery. Strongin did not specify when the procedure would happen.
Lawrence is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Liberty have acquired Natasha Howard from the Seattle Storm as part of a three-team trade.
The three-time WNBA champion goes to the Liberty for the overall No. 1 pick in the draft this year and the Phoenix Mercury’s first-round pick next year.
The Liberty acquired that choice from Phoenix by sending Kia Nurse and Megan Walker to the Mercury for the sixth pick this year and their first-round pick next year.
The No. 1 pick didn’t stay in Seattle long as the Storm traded it to Dallas for Katie Lou Samuelson and the Wings’ second-round pick in 2022. The Wings become the first team in WNBA history to hold the first and second overall picks in the same draft.
Commissioner Don Garber said the Major League Soccer season will begin April 17, two weeks later than originally announced because of extended labor negotiations.
Now that the CBA has been ratified, the league will set a new date for teams to open preseason training camps in the near future. The season schedule will also be announced soon, Garber said.
PARIS (AP) — Neymar limped off injured as French Cup holder Paris Saint-Germain held on for a 1-0 win at second-tier Caen in the round of 64 on Wednesday.
The Brazil star was replaced with about one hour played, a few minutes after a heavy challenge from behind by central defender Alexis Beka Beka in the 54th minute. Neymar clutched his left knee as he lay on the ground and went off moments later after trying to keep on playing.
PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said after the game that Neymar had injured his adductor muscle.
NANTES, France (AP) — Former France coach Raymond Domenech was fired by Nantes after a 4-2 loss at Lens on Wednesday in the French Cup that extended his winless run in charge to eight games since taking over in December.
The French club made the announcement in a post on its official Twitter page, also saying that Antoine Kombouare would be coming in as a replacement.
Nantes is in third-to-last place in the French league.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Qualifying races for this year’s Breeders’ Cup will be run without the antibleeding medication Lasix in the world championships’ attempt to move toward the elimination of race-day medications.
Under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, which was passed by Congress in December, Lasix-free racing will be the U.S. standard as of July 1, 2022.
BOSTON (AP) — Billy Conigliaro, the first-ever Red Sox draft pick who started out in the Boston outfield with star-crossed brother Tony and later spent years taking care of him after a heart attack, died Wednesday. He was 73.
Conigliaro’s family said he died at home in Beverly, Massachusetts. The club didn’t provide a cause of death.
His best season was in 1970, when he played 114 games and batted .271 with 18 home runs and 58 RBIs. The following season, he added 26 doubles and 11 home runs in 101 games.
A knee injury ended Conigliaro’s career after the 1973 season. He hit a career .256 with 40 home runs and 128 RBIs in 347 games.