Thursday's Sports In Brief

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Associated Press

Posted on March 1, 2013 at 3:36 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 1 at 4:01 AM

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman hung out with North Korea's Kim Jong Un during his improbable journey to Pyongyang, watching the Harlem Globetrotters with the leader and later drinking and dining on sushi with him.

"You have a friend for life," Rodman told Kim before a crowd of thousands Thursday at a gymnasium where they sat side by side, chatting as they watched players from North Korea and the United States face off in mixed teams, Alex Detrick, a spokesman for the New York-based VICE media company, told The Associated Press.

Rodman arrived in Pyongyang on Monday with three members of the professional Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy and a production crew to shoot an episode on North Korea for a new weekly HBO series.

The unlikely encounter makes Rodman the most high-profile American to meet Kim since the young North Korean leader took power in December 2011, and takes place against a backdrop of tension between Washington and Pyongyang.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The wealthy investors that are partnering on a plan to keep the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle have finally been revealed, and they're the two almost everybody expected — with a twist.

Mark Mastrov, founder of 24 Hour Fitness, will submit a bid to buy the team to the NBA on Friday, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said in his State of the City address. While Ron Burkle, the billionaire co-owner of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, will instead only lead the effort to build a new downtown arena that he hopes will also lure back a WNBA franchise.

The Associated Press and other news outlets have reported since Jan. 22 that Mastrov and Burkle were working on a plan to keep the Kings from relocating to Seattle.

MIAMI (AP) — Add the Miami Heat to the "Harlem Shake" craze.

With LeBron James in a king's costume, Mario Chalmers dressed as Super Mario, and Chris "Birdman" Andersen mimicking — what else? — a bird, the Heat version of the dance craze was filmed in Miami's locker room. James said it was a "King James and DwyaneWade" production.

"In life u gotta figure out how to have fun and enjoy it. Hope y'all enjoy," Chalmers wrote on Twitter.

PRO FOOTBALL

Lauren Silberman has scant chance at making the NFL.

Silberman never kicked anything more than a soccer ball in an organized game and she just started practicing long-range field goals.

Even so, the first female kicker scheduled to try out at an NFL regional scouting combine would like to see where her new hobby will take her. In an era where Danica Patrick can contend against men in motor sports, Silberman is about to take a big kick forward for female athletes, even if the odds are clearly stacked against her. The 28-year-old Silberman will kick Sunday at the New York Jets' training facility in Florham Park, N.J.

"I am working hard to prepare but I am also realistic about my chances," she wrote in an email. "I hope my willingness to put myself out there inspires others to seize opportunities and challenges. The support from around the world has been so heartening."

___

The NFL salary cap for the 2013 season will rise to $123 million from $120.6 million in 2012, an NFL Players Association official familiar with negotiations over the figure told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made.

IRVING, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys have reworked the contracts of five starters, including DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten and Miles Austin, to save salary cap space.

Dallas, which was penalized $5 million off its cap in both 2012 and 2013, needed to scramble to free up space. By restructuring the deals of star linebacker Ware, tight end Witten, wide receiver Austin, cornerback Brandon Carr and center Ryan Cook, the Cowboys wiped out the $20 million they were projected to be over the cap this year.

CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT

NEW YORK (AP) — The breakup of the Big East's football and basketball schools appears to be on the fast track.

The major college football members will meet in Atlanta on Friday to discuss the departure of the seven basketball schools that are planning to leave the conference and create a new league.

According to media reports Thursday, the basketball schools plan to have their new conference up and running for the 2013-14 school year and will pay the football schools to keep the Big East name and play its conference tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco told the AP in a phone interview no deal has been completed between the two groups, but "some of this stuff is clearly coming down to the wire."

BASEBALL

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was all smiles after throwing 18 pitches in his first simulated game since knee surgery last spring.

"I feel good," Rivera said. "I feel real good. Getting stronger and stronger."

The 43-year old pitched one inning against Yankees' minor leaguers. He also fielded and covered first base.

Rivera pitched in nine games last year, his season ending when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while tracking down a fly ball during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3. He had surgery on June 12.

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — A war veteran from Iraq who lost part of his leg in an explosion tried out for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Daniel "Doc" Jacobs was among 80 hopefuls at the spring training complex of the Dodgers. He was encouraged to attend by Hall of Famer and former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda.

Jacobs was a Navy corpsman and assigned to a Marine division in 2006 when he was injured by an improvised explosive device. He lost his left leg below the knee and also sustained foot and hand injuries. He went through more than 50 surgeries.

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was scratched because of what the club called "sensitivity in his left arm" — apparently caused by a tattoo.

Andrus spent nine hours the two days before the Rangers' spring training game against the Indians under a needle. He wanted a likeness of his late father, Emilo Andrus, who died in 1996 when Elvis was 7.

GOLF

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — With one great shot, Camilo Villegas turned a solid round into his lowest start in more than a year.

Villegas drilled a 3-wood to 8 feet on the par-5 18th hole and made the eagle putt for a 6-under 64.

That gave him a one-shot lead over Rickie Fowler, Branden Grace, Graham DeLaet and Robert Streb after the first round of the Honda Classic.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods each had a 70.

CENTURION, South Africa (AP) — Darren Fichardt of South Africa birdied the longest par-5 in European Tour history to lead the inaugural Tshwane Open by one stroke after the first round.

SINGAPORE (AP) — Spain's Azahara Munoz shot a 7-under 65 Thursday for a two-stroke lead after the first round of the HSBC Women's Champions, which features 17 of the top 20 LPGA players.

PRO HOCKEY

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Islanders say they are aware of goalie Rick DiPietro's comments about depression and suicide, and plan to handle the matter internally.

DiPietro, placed on waivers and then sent to the minors last week, said in an interview with News 12 Long Island that he has fought depression and pondered suicide because of his history of injuries, the weight of a giant contract and the team's constant losing.

The 31-year-old goalie later told reporters his comments about suicide shouldn't be taken literally because he simply intended to credit the support of his wife during his trying time with the Islanders.

NCAA

NCAA executive committee Chairwoman Lou Anna K. Simon is hoping for change — though not necessarily a change of leadership.

Less than a week after NCAA President Mark Emmert got a vote of confidence from the executive committee, Simon insisted no one in a position of power within the governing body is ready to push for a new president.

"The committee, by and large, understands that this is a very messy and complex business," Simon, Michigan State's president, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "What the Miami case showed was that there is an embedded culture and set of processes and approaches that need to be changed."

TENNIS

ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — Rafael Nadal beat Leonardo Mayer in straight sets to reach the semifinals of the Mexican Open, setting up a meeting with Spanish compatriot Nicolas Almagro.

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Third-seeded Sam Querrey of the U.S. double-faulted on the last two points of the third-set tiebreaker to lose to qualifier Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4) at the Delray Beach International Championships.

FLORIANOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) — Venus Williams beat fifth-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-0 to reach the semifinals of the Brazil Tennis Cup.

BOXING

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Nevada State Athletic Commission fined and suspended boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for a failed drug test last year before a Mexican Independence Day fight in Las Vegas.

The 27-year-old fighter, who's the son of a famous boxer by the same name, tested positive for marijuana in September after his first professional loss. Chavez (46-1-1) was suspended for nine months from the date of the fight and fined $900,000, which amounts to 30 percent of his $3 million purse for the bout against Sergio Martinez.

DOG SHOW

NEW YORK (AP) — A dog owner says she thinks there's a chance her prized pet was deliberately poisoned while competing at the Westminster Kennel Club show, causing it to die several days later.

"It is in the realm of possibility," Lynette Blue told The Associated Press.

Blue co-owns a 3-year-old Samoyed named Cruz, and said he probably swallowed poison at Westminster earlier this month. Four days after competing, the dog died, on Feb. 16, while at a show in Colorado.

The dog's death was first reported by The New York Times.

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