Taco Bell sponsors NBA
Taco Bell has replaced McDonald’s Corp as the National Basketball Association’s official fast-food sponsor, the company said on Thursday. Taco Bell, the Mexican fast food chain of Yum Brands Inc, said it signed a multi-year deal with the US sports league that includes heavy media exposure on the NBA’s broadcast rights partners, ABC, ESPN and TNT. A source familiar with the deal said it is for four years. The deal also includes NBA-themed promotions at Taco Bell’s 5,600 outlets and NBA-themed advertising and title rights to the Saturday night skills challenge held during the NBA all-star game in February. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Ariza leaves LA for Rockets
Free agent Trevor Ariza is poised to leave the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and join the Houston Rockets, while Ron Artest is expected to head in the other direction, media reports said on Thursday. The 24-year-old Ariza agreed terms on a five-year contract with the Rockets, the Houston Chronicle reported on its Web site , just hours after the Los Angeles Times said Artest had met with Lakers executives. The NBA’s free-agent market opened last Wednesday, although players can not officially sign with new teams until next Wednesday. Ariza, who has reportedly agreed to a US$33 million contract with the Rockets, enjoyed a breakout season in 2008-2009, when he averaged 8.9 points in the regular season.
NFL suspends Calvin Pace
The NFL handed New York Jets linebacker Calvin Pace a four-game suspension without pay for violating its policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league said on Thursday. Pace, who led the Jets with a career-best four fumble recoveries last season while ranking second with seven sacks, will miss the first four games of the this year’s campaign. The 28-year-old will start his ban with the regular season opener against the Houston Texans on Sept. 13 and will be eligible to return for the Oct. 12 game against the Miami Dolphins.
US to don Polos again
The US Olympic team will stay with the Polo look for the opening and closing ceremonies in Vancouver and London. The US Olympic Committee (USOC) announced on Thursday it was renewing its apparel deal with Ralph Lauren. Next year’s uniforms will be unveiled later this year. The federation said the uniforms will “celebrate the rich history of the Olympic Games with a nod to the Lake Placid Games of 1932,” with a classic uniform of red, white and blue. This is not a cash deal for the USOC, which is trying hard to keep sponsors signed up through the 2012 Games and beyond, but the federation will get royalties from any retail sales of the items.
Nazir cleared for duty
Pakistan opener Imran Nazir has been cleared for national duty again after apologizing for his outburst in a domestic tournament, the cricket board said yesterday. The 27-year-old batsman is expected to return for the one-day series in Sri Lanka starting on July 30, after he was punished for misconduct during a Twenty20 final in Lahore. Nazir, who quit the unofficial Indian Cricket League, had still been ignored for last month’s Twenty20 World Cup campaign and the Sri Lanka Test series that starts today. “Nazir had submitted a written apology for his behavior and the board chairman has now pardoned him,” a board spokesman said.