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Sports Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2002

KPHA Squirt B team goes 3-1 on road trip

The Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association Squirt B team played four games in Fairbanks this past weekend.

KPHA chalked up 7-1 and 5-1 wins over the Fairbanks Amateur Hockey Association. KPHA also split two with the Arctic Lions, winning 4-2 and losing 2-1.

Alyeska to open Chair 3

Alyeska Ski Area will open Chair 3 for skiing and riding starting Friday. Chair 3 and the Daylodge Pony Tow will operate from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, commencing Alyeska's season of seven-day operations.

Alyeska will open more terrain and lifts as conditions allow. Alyeska has a snowpack ranging from 16 inches at the base to 24 inches at midway to 62 inches at the top. The upper mountain will remain closed because of low snow coverage at the midway point. The upper mountain needs about 24 to 30 inches more in order to have the coverage needed.

Detailed information about mountain conditions, lift-ticket prices and current snow conditions is available at www.alyeskaresort.com or the SKI-SNOW hotline at 754-7669.

KPSC coaches finish certification course

The Kenai Peninsula Soccer Club has had 12 of its members complete a club-sponsored United States Youth Soccer Association "E" Certification Course.

The coaching clinic, instructed by Craig Schmidt of Anchorage, emphasized coaching methods for improving a player's technical development by applying tactical concepts in fun, game-like situations.

For more information about KPSC, visit the club's Web site at www.soccer.kenai.com.

Washington State's Price leaving for Alabama

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Mike Price is leaving Washington State for one more coaching challenge -- to restore pride at Alabama and turn the Crimson Tide into champions again.

Price told his players on Tuesday he was leaving Pullman after 14 seasons.

''Coach Price gave us the news he's going to Alabama,'' defensive tackle Jeremey Williams said after emerging from a meeting with other players.

The 56-year-old Price is departing at the top of his game: He led the seventh-ranked Cougars (10-2) to a share of the Pac-10 title with Southern California and a Rose Bowl matchup against Oklahoma on Jan. 1.

Johnson will be first majority black owner

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Robert Johnson, the billionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television, has been chosen as owner of the NBA's new Charlotte expansion franchise, beating out a group headed by Larry Bird.

The 56-year-old Johnson will become the first black majority owner in major sports.

Johnson could not immediately be reached for comment, but the league scheduled a news conference Wednesday in New York.

Johnson and the other group seeking the team, headed by Boston businessman Steve Belkin and Bird, the former Celtics great, made presentations to the league's expansion committee Monday.

''I'm heartbroken,'' Bird said in a statement released by his agent. ''It's hard to realize that the dream I've had for so many years is not to be, and that an awesome opportunity, which would have been the greatest and most exciting challenge in my life, will not come to pass.

''It's difficult for me to properly express how deeply disappointed I am that we did not get the opportunity to build a championship team in Charlotte.''

Belkin said: ''I'm deeply disappointed and saddened by the NBA's decision. I felt that we assembled a world-class investor group and management team that was exceptionally qualified to make Charlotte a huge success.''

Forbes magazine estimated Johnson's wealth at $1.3 billion earlier this year, making him No. 149 on the magazine's list of richest Americans.

The franchise is to begin play in the 2004-05 season and replaces the Hornets, who moved to New Orleans earlier this year. After one year at the Charlotte Coliseum, the team will move into a new $260 million downtown arena.

The franchise fee is expected to be $300 million.

The NBA's full Board of Governors, with a representative from each of the 29 teams, is expected to vote on Johnson in early January.

The Hornets left Charlotte after years of declining attendance and failed attempts to get a new arena built. The league approved the move, but Charlotte leaders successfully argued that the city, which led the NBA in attendance for eight seasons in the late 1980s and early 1990s, should get a new team.

Belkin soon emerged as one contender for the team. Johnson, who had tried twice without success to buy the Hornets from owner George Shinn, also said he would like the franchise.

Johnson, who is based in Washington, D.C., insisted all along that his chances would not be hurt by not having a marquee name like Bird in his camp.

''What's going to give the edge in marketing is your players and what your team does on the court, no matter who is the head of basketball operations -- even if you have Michael Jordan as the head of basketball operations,'' Johnson said last week.

Jordan and Johnson are friends, raising the possibility that Johnson might be tempted to lure Jordan to the new team if Jordan chooses not to buy back his ownership stake in the Washington Wizards. Jordan has said he won't play after this season, his second with the Wizards.

''I think Bob's going to do well,'' Jordan said. ''He has the first thing that you need in owning a basketball team, ... which is loving the game. And he's willing to fork over the money to make sure he builds a team solid. He has a great fan base. It's been proven that you can survive in Charlotte when you're winning. He's going to do a great job.''

NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik said Johnson did not mention Jordan in his presentation to the expansion committee.

Johnson would be the first black person to hold controlling interest in a team in one of the four major pro sports leagues -- the NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball. In the NBA, Bertram Lee and Peter Bynoe both held minority interests in the Denver Nuggets starting in 1989.

Belkin argued that his group of investors would be able to move quickly to get a team ready to play in 2004 and that Bird's fame and popularity would help sell the team to Charlotteans, who were soured on the NBA by the Hornets' departure.

The Charlotte team will fill its roster through a dispersal draft in which every other NBA team could protect eight players.

Granik has said the new team will not be saddled with the same type of draft restrictions as those imposed on Toronto and Vancouver when the league last expanded in 1995. The Raptors and Grizzlies were ineligible to select first in the draft until they had completed four seasons.

One of the owners on the expansion committee is Shinn. Also on the committee are Jerry Colangelo of Phoenix, Larry Tanenbaum of Toronto, Joe Maloof of Sacramento, Lewis Katz of New Jersey, Stan Kroenke of Denver, Peter Holt of San Antonio and Bob Vander Weide of Orlando.

Johnson said last week that if he won the team he would sell up to 49 percent of the team to Charlotte investors.

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AP Basketball Writer Chris Sheridan in New York contributed to this story.



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