- Created on 23 September 2013
AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta
Shaquille O'Neal is joining the ownership group of the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings announced Monday that O'Neal has acquired a minority stake in the team under new owner Vivek Ranadive. The Kings will introduce the four-time NBA champion at a news conference Tuesday in Sacramento.
O'Neal tormented the Kings during the height of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, even dubbing the franchise the "Sacramento Queens." He also handed Sacramento its biggest blow by rallying the Lakers from a 3-2 deficit to win the 2002 Western Conference finals.
O'Neal retired after the 2010-11 season and has worked as an analyst for TNT the last two seasons.
- Created on 23 September 2013
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22), steps out of bounds after getting hit by Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu (43) on a long run in the first quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Julius Peppers picked up the ball, turned toward the wide swath of open field in front of him and took off.
Sure, the Chicago Bears' defensive end admits he doesn't have the "blazing speed" of his youth. The way the Pittsburgh Steelers are backpedaling these days, it was hardly required.
Peppers scooped up a Ben Roethlisberger fumble and ran 42 yards with just under 4 minutes remaining to clinch a 40-23 victory Sunday night that kept the Bears (3-0) perfect.
"I happened to be at the right place at the right time and the ball bounced to me," Peppers said. "I got a hand on it and took it in, so there wasn't much else to talk about. That was the longest run I had with the ball, yes, I will tell you that."
The Bears forced five turnovers in all, converting four of them into points to stave off a second-half rally by the Steelers (0-3). Pittsburgh trimmed a 21-point deficit to four in the fourth quarter but couldn't stop from stumbling to the franchise's worst start since 2000.
Roethlisberger completed 26 of 41 passes for 406 yards and threw two touchdowns to Antonio Brown, but also fumbled twice and threw two interceptions.
"We can't, I can't, turn the ball over, plain and simple," Roethlisberger said.
Major Wright returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and Peppers' stroll to the end zone capped kept Chicago unbeaten. The Bears needed a pair of fourth-quarter rallies to win their first two games, but never trailed against Pittsburgh thanks to a defense that specializes in havoc.
"We came in here and got the job done," Peppers said. "They got close down the stretch, but we have veterans on our team that stayed cool. We don't panic no matter what."
Jay Cutler passed for 159 yards and threw a 17-yard touchdown strike to Earl Bennett with just under 6 minutes remaining to give the Bears breathing room after the Steelers pulled within 27-23 on Shaun Suisham's 44-yard field goal with 10:43 to play.
Chicago's offense, which generated little after a 17-point outburst in the first quarter, responded behind Cutler.
The quarterback scrambled for 13 yards on third-and-10 to start the drive. Cutler then hit Brandon Marshall for 41 yards on third-and-12 to move into Pittsburgh territory. Facing third-and-5 at the Pittsburgh 17, Cutler found Bennett in the back corner of the end zone.
Officials ruled the pass was incomplete, but the play was overturned after replays showed Bennett deftly dragged his right foot before sliding out of bounds.
"The (defensive) back was there, but the throw was perfect and I was able to make the play," Bennett said. "The way we played in the fourth quarter, that really shows how resilient we are."
Pittsburgh tried to get back into the game, but Lance Briggs stripped Roethlisberger, and Peppers pounced. The veteran defensive end followed a parade of blockers down the sideline for Chicago's second defensive score of the night and third in two weeks.
"We try to scoop up every loose ball and run it back for a touchdown in practice," linebacker D.J. Williams said. "Even if it's not a fumble, we pick it up and go with it. We knew they had some problems with their offensive line, so we wanted to pressure them as much as possible. We were able to get past their tackles and pressure Ben quite a bit.
Roethlisberger's second interception on a late stat-padding drive was Pittsburgh's ninth turnover through three games. The Steelers defense, meanwhile, hasn't recorded a takeaway through 12 quarters.
It's a recipe that rarely leads to victory.
"As of right now we have way too many turnovers and it goes both ways," Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said. "We've got to find ways to get the ball. That's what great defenses do."
And none do it better than the Bears. While not the snarling force it was when recently retired linebacker Brian Urlacher was running things, the Bears make up for their lack of bark with a pretty feisty bite.
When opponents get loose with the ball, the Bears swarm.
The mistakes started early. Pittsburgh turned it over twice in the first half. Williams stripped Roethlisberger in the first quarter, leading to a 5-yard touchdown run by Matt Forte.
Chicago was up 17-3 midway through the second quarter when Roethlisberger threw off his back foot in the face of a blitz. The bail sailed into the hands of Wright, who sprinted down the sideline for a touchdown to give the Bears a commanding 21-point lead.
The score marked the second straight week and the 10th time since the start of the 2012 season that the Bears returned an interception for a touchdown, easily the most in the NFL.
"That's what we do, we take the ball away," Peppers said. "We stress it in practice every day, and it carries over to the game ... we have to continue to do that on a weekly basis to continue to win, and I believe we'll be able to do that."
NOTES: Steelers TE Heath Miller caught 3 passes for 35 yards in his first game back from torn ligaments in his right knee. ... The Bears lost DT Henry Milton to a knee injury early in the fourth quarter. ... Pittsburgh outgained the Bears 459-258. ... Steelers WR Antonio Brown finished with nine receptions for a career-high 196 yards and two touchdowns.
- Created on 19 September 2013
AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Will Vragovic
CHICAGO (AP) — Earvin "Magic" Johnson is getting a little help from Chicago rapper Common for his newest off-court endeavor.
The former NBA star launched his "Friends of Magic" initiative Wednesday. The idea is to help at-risk students, including dropouts, graduate from high school.
Johnson, Common and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn attended the event at Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in Chicago, an education facility backed in part by Johnson's business enterprises.
An emotional Johnson spoke after listening to one of the students who has had success in the academy's education programs.
Wiping away tears, Johnson said he's trying to give back and felt gratified by his organization's work. Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy contracts with Chicago Public Schools to help dropouts.
Common is a Grammy-winning artist and actor.
- Created on 19 September 2013
He was the second man to beat Muhammad Ali, breaking Ali’s jaw and sending him to the hospital in their 1973 heavyweight fight.
Ken Norton frustrated Ali three times in all, including their final bout at Yankee Stadium where he was sure he had beaten him once again.
Norton, who died Wednesday at the age of 70, lost that fight for the heavyweight title. But he was forever linked to Ali for the 39 rounds they fought over three fights, with very little separating one man from the other in the ring.
“Kenny was a good, good fighter. He beat a lot of guys,” said Ed Schuyler Jr., who covered many of Norton’s fights for The Associated Press. “He gave Ali fits because Ali let him fight coming forward instead of making him back up.”
Norton is the only heavyweight champion never to win the title in the ring, and boxing fans still talk about the bruising battle he waged with Larry Holmes for the title in 1978. But it was his first fight with Ali that made the former Marine a big name and the two fights that followed that were his real legacy.
Few gave Norton, who possessed a muscular, sculpted body, much of a chance against Ali in their first meeting, held at the Sports Arena in San Diego, where Norton lived. But his awkward style and close-in pressing tactics confused Ali, who fought in pain after his jaw was broken.
“Ali tore up his ankle while training and we were going to call the fight off but didn’t,” former Ali business manager Gene Kilroy said. “Ali said it’s not going to be that tough.”
It was, with Norton breaking Ali’s jaw in the early rounds and having his way with the former champion for much of the night. The loss was even more shocking because Ali had only lost to Joe Frazier in their 1971 showdown and was campaigning for the title he would win again the next year against George Foreman in Zaire.
“Norton was unorthodox,” Kilroy said. “Instead of jabbing from above like most fighters he would put his hand down and jab up at Ali.”
Kilroy said after the fight Norton visited Ali at the hospital where he was getting his broken jaw wired. Ali, he said, told him he was a great fighter and he never wanted to fight him again.
Ken Norton Jr., a coach with the Seattle Seahawks, confirmed his father’s death to The Associated Press before handing the phone to his wife, too distraught to talk.
Norton had been in poor health for the last several years after suffering a series of strokes, Kilroy said.
“He’s been fighting the battle for two years,” he said. “I’m sure he’s in heaven now with all the great fighters. I’d like to hear that conversation.”
Norton didn’t have long to celebrate his big win over Ali. They fought six months later, and Ali won a split decision.
They met for a third time on Sept. 28, 1976, at Yankee Stadium and Ali narrowly won to keep his heavyweight title.
Norton would come back the next year to win a heavyweight title eliminator and was declared champion by the World Boxing Council when Leon Spinks decided to fight Ali in a rematch instead of facing his mandatory challenger. But on June 9, 1978, he lost a brutal 15-round fight to Holmes in what many regard as one of boxing’s epic heavyweight bouts and would never be champion again.
Norton finished with a record of 42-7-1 and 33 knockouts. He would later embark on an acting career, appearing in several movies, and was a commentator at fights.
Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who visited Norton at the veteran’s hospital in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, tweeted: “Ken Norton was always nice to me even when I was just an amateur fighter. He always treated me like I was somebody. Remarkable man.”
Ken Norton Jr. was a linebacker for 13 years in the NFL, playing for Dallas and San Francisco, and coaches the position for the Seahawks. He and his father were estranged for a time in the 1990s before finally reconciling.
Norton always gave his father credit for his career, saying he learned how to train hard by watching him go for early morning runs when he was a child.
“It’s been noted that my father and I are on speaking terms and everything’s back together now,” Norton Jr. said in 1995. “It’s part of what I do. No matter what I do, I can’t get away from boxing.”
Norton, born Aug. 9, 1943, in Jacksonville, Ill., started boxing when he was in the Marines, and began his pro career after his release from duty in 1967. He lost only once in his early fights but had fought few fighters of any note when he was selected to meet Ali.
At the time, Ali was campaigning to try to win back the heavyweight crown he lost to Joe Frazier in 1973.
After that bruising first bout, they faced off two more times, including the final fight at Yankee Stadium on a night when police were on strike and many in the crowd feared for their safety. The fight went 15 rounds and Ali won a decision.
Kilroy said Ali and Norton never had any animosity toward each other and became good friends over the years. Still, Norton always thought he had won all three fights.
Norton would come back in 1977 to win an eliminator against Jimmy Young and was declared champion by the WBC when Spinks was stripped of the title.
His fight against Holmes in 1978 at Caesars Palace was his last big hurrah, with the two heavyweights going back and forth, trading huge blows inside a steamy pavilion in the hotel’s back lot. The fight was still up for grabs in the 15th round and both fighters reached inside themselves to deliver one of the more memorable final rounds in heavyweight history.
When the decision was announced, two ringside judges favored Holmes by one point while the third favored Norton by a point.
Norton was badly injured in a near fatal car accident in 1986. He recovered but never regained his full physical mobility.
“The doctors said I would never walk or talk,” Norton said at an autograph session in 2011 in Las Vegas, lifting his trademark fedora to show long surgical scars on his bald head.
Kilroy said Norton was visited at the hospital by former fighters, including Tyson, Earnie Shavers and Thomas Hearns.
Norton fought only five more times after losing his title to Holmes. His final fight came Nov. 5, 1981, when he was knocked out in the first round by Gerry Cooney at Madison Square Garden.
Information on services and other survivors was not immediately released by the family.