tampabay.com

Cruise line to aid NBA's charity game

By wire services
Published October 7, 2005


MIAMI - Carnival Cruise Lines will purchase all unsold tickets for the Hurricane Katrina benefit game between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat, ensuring that Monday's NBA exhibition will raise at least $1-million for relief efforts.

The general public can continue to buy seats through Tuesday. After that, all remaining seats will be purchased by Carnival, which plans to distribute those tickets to school groups, charities and other organizations. As the host team, the Heat will donate all its proceeds from ticket sales, concessions, parking and retail sales to the American Red Cross.

DIVAC MAY BE DONE: Vlade Divac was placed on waivers by the Los Angeles Lakers, apparently ending his long career. The Lakers had the option of picking up a one-year, $5.4-million contract option or buying Divac out for $2-million. The 7-foot-1, 260-pound center, one of the first Europeans to make a significant impact in the NBA, will be owed the $2-million if he clears waivers, which seems a sure thing.

"If he could play, he would play," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "Here it is, the first week of training camp, and he can't play."

Divac, 37, underwent back surgery in January, and played in only 15 games for the Lakers last season, averaging 2.3 points and 2.1 rebounds. He averaged 11.9 points and 8.3 rebounds in 15 previous NBA seasons - seven with the Lakers, two with Charlotte and six with Sacramento.

Divac was quoted last month as saying he planned to retire, but wanted to remain with the Lakers as an assistant coach and scout.

TENNIS: Puerta upset in Japan Open

Top-seeded Mariano Puerta was upset by unseeded Marcos Baghdatis 6-2, 6-7 (13-11), 7-5 in third round of the Japan Open, a day after denying allegations of doping. The French sports newspaper L'Equipe reported Wednesday that Puerta tested positive for the banned drug etilefrine following his four-set loss to Rafael Nadal in the French Open final and faces a possible life ban for a second doping offense. Puerta served a nine-month suspension after testing positive for clenbuterol in February 2003 at an ATP tournament in Chile. Puerta did not blame the allegations for his defeat. "I played as well as I could," Puerta said. "He just played better."

PORSCHE GRAND PRIX: U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters closed in on the top ranking, beating Karolina Sprem 6-3, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals in Filderstadt, Germany. She can become No. 1 by winning this tournament a third time, and next faces fifth-seeded Elena Dementiava.

FOOTBALL: Storm releases Kinney

The Tampa Bay Storm released offensive/defensive lineman Kelvin Kinney, who at 6 feet 7 and 280 pounds was one of the Arena Football League's top pass rushers before injuries limited him the past couple seasons. He had 121/2 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery in 15 games last season. Also, Columbus signed former Storm players Mike Sutton and David Saunders, Tampa Bay's team MVP in 2002. Sutton, a strong blocker and pass rusher, had 12 tackles, a sack, interception and forced fumble in nine games with the Storm after returning from a calf injury last season. Saunders, a receiver/linebacker, had 29 receptions for 309 yards and five touchdowns in six games before he was traded to Grand Rapids in a salary cap move.

ET CETERA

CYCLING: The International Cycling Union has appointed Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman to conduct an independent investigation into allegations Lance Armstrong tested positive for EPO during the 1999 Tour de France. The French sports daily L'Equipe claims six of Armstrong's urine samples came back positive when they were retested last year. The cycling body has objected to a planned investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency, saying it "is concerned that such an investigation from WADA as an involved party would be based on aspects out of its competencies."

ICE SKATING: Michelle Kwan withdrew from Skate America, the first Grand Prix event of the season, and this weekend's Campbell's International Figure Skating Classic in St. Paul, Minn., because of a strained ligament in her right hip. Kwan will take two weeks off from training, then gradually resume skating. Rehab could take a month.

SOCCER: A Medellin judge ordered the early release of the man who killed Colombian star Andres Escobar for scoring an own-goal in the 1994 World Cup loss to the United States. Humberto Munoz was freed after serving 11 years of a 43-year sentence. The judge, whose name was not released for security reasons, cited Munoz's good behavior and study habits in prison.

HOCKEY: The Texas Wildcatters minor-league team canceled its season after Jefferson County commissioners said that Ford Arena in Beaumont is needed for hurricane recovery efforts.