■ BasketballNike inks deal with NBA
Nike Inc has signed a new global marketing agreement with the National Basketball Association in an effort to increase the sport's popularity overseas, league and company officials announced. The five-year, US$100 million contract announced Wednesday will allow the league and the sportswear giant to expand their global reach with TV advertisements using Nike's stable of NBA players in uniform. Though America is basketball's birthplace, the sport has soared in popularity in Europe and Asia.
Artificial pitches get OK
UEFA have approved plans for artificial pitches to be used at national and club level from the 2005/06 season, European soccer's governing body said on Wednesday. "For next season it will be possible to play on artificial turf in the Champions League or UEFA Cup or qualifiers for the World Cup and European championships," UEFA chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson said after an Executive Committee meeting. "The need [for artificial pitches] has been big for decades, if you come from countries where you have bad winters, for example," he said.
Qu awarded compensation
Former professional soccer player Qu Leheng has won a four-year legal battle for compensation from Shanghai Shenhua star Zhang Yuning after being left a paraplegic after a car crash. Zhang, who used to play for the national team when Bora Milutinovic was coach, was ordered by the Shenyang Intermediate People's Court to pay Qu 2.34 million yuan (US$282,950) in compensation, the China Daily said. Zhang was driving when the former Liaoning teammates' car crashed in April, 2000. While Qu was left in a wheelchair for life, Zhang escaped with only slight injuries. Of the total sum, 700,000 yuan (US$84,000) was for mental damages, the largest ever such award in China, Xinhua reported.
Heatley might plea-bargain
Lawyers for Atlanta Thrashers forward Dany Heatley and the district attorney are discussing a possible plea deal on charges stemming from a car crash that killed his NHL teammate. "We're in contact almost weekly," said Manny Arora, Heatley's lawyer. Heatley lost control of his 2002 Ferrari and slammed into a railing last year, killing Dan Snyder. Heatley was charged with first and second-degree vehicular homicide, reckless driving, driving too fast for conditions, failure to maintain his lane and speeding. He has pleaded not guilty, but apologized publicly to Snyder's family -- who said they forgive him.
Williams trial mistried
A judge on Tuesday declared a mistrial for a suspected gangster accused of murdering the half-sister of US tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams after jurors became deadlocked. Yetunde Price, 31, died after being shot in the back of the head while sitting in her car in a gang-plagued Los Angeles suburb on Sept. 14 last year. Los Angeles Judge Jack Morgan halted the panel deliberations after jurors clashed over whether to convict Robert Edward Maxfield, 24, accused of firing the shot that killed Price. Prosecutors had described the suspect as a "trigger-happy" gang member who killed Price as he defended a Los Angeles crack house from gangland rivals.