Names In The Game
MESA (AP) _ The Phoenix Suns have been flying high this season, posting the best record in the NBA. They’ll have to get a little higher, about 4,000 feet higher, to see one fan’s booster message.
Jim Power could have bought a coffee mug or T-shirt or used a bumper sticker to show his feelings, but chose a tractor and plow to send the Suns 400-foot fan letters.
His easel is the suburban cotton and wheat fields his family has farmed for three generations about 25 miles east of the Suns’ America West Arena.
″I can’t really tell you what makes me do it,″ Power said Thursday of his latest message. ″I just think about writing the letters big enough so a passing 747 can see it at 30,000 feet, but I really don’t think about anyone really reading them.″
The message - GO SUNS - takes up about 40 acres.
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Mario Lemieux’s newborn girl waited to make her appearance until her dad had a few days off.
Lemieux’s fiancee, Nathalie Asselin, gave birth to the 8-pound, 3-ounce girl at 11:55 a.m. Thursday in a Pittsburgh hospital.
The Pittsburgh Penguins said Asselin and the baby, as yet yet unnamed, were doing fine. No pictures were permitted.
The Penguins closed their first-round series with New Jersey on Monday night and open the second round against the New York Islanders on Sunday.
Lemieux had joked that he had instructed Asselin not to give birth on a game night, ″because I’m not missing a playoff game.″
Lemieux and Asselin plan to marry in June.
PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - Bradley president John Brazil said the university will keep its ″Braves″ nickname despite protests and threats from Native American groups.
″There are strong arguments and deep feelings on both sides of the issue,″ Brazil said Thursday. ″People of good will and good intentions on both sides recognize the issues are complex and not amenable to easy resolution.″
He said Bradley’s use of the nickname won unanimous support from the North East Oklahoma Intertribal Council, which represents Woodland tribes that originally inhabited central Illinois.
″Most agree that continued association with Native American cultures through use of the name ‘Braves’ will provide a base for expanding our relationship into more substantive and meaningful areas,″ he said.
The university also promised to find a mascot and logo consistent with Native American cultures, but not offensive or degrading.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Police are investigating a complaint that the father of Orlando Magic center Shaquille O’Neal abused and threatened a freelance writer working on a book about the rookie star.
Bruce Hunter of Baton Rouge, La., complained to police that Philip Harrison shoved him against a desk, smashed his tape recorder and threatened him over the book. He said the confrontation took place Saturday night at the team’s offices at the Orlando Arena after the final game of the regular season.
Harrison, an Army sergeant stationed in San Antonio, refused comment when questioned by The Orlando Sentinel earlier this week.
O’Neal told the Sentinel on Tuesday that his father was upset because ″he thought the guy was just out to make money off us.″
He said his father yelled at Hunter, but did not touch the writer or break his tape recorder.
″My dad doesn’t know that anyone can write a book about a celebrity to make money off him. My dad didn’t know the rules. He didn’t think it was right,″ O’Neal said.
NEW YORK (AP) - Terry Porter of the Portland Trail Blazers was named the winner of the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy citizenship award for his efforts on behalf of Portland-area charities.
The Blazers guard has done his most extensive work on behalf of the boys’ and girls’ clubs, with whom he works along with teammate Jerome Kersey. He also provides 1,000 tickets for soldout games to disadvantated youth and speaks on behalf of a group that prmotes drug and alcohol-free graduation parties.
Last year’s winner was Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The award, given by the Pro Basketball Writers of America, is named for the former NBA commissioner.
QUEBEC (AP) - Quebec goaltender Ron Hextall won’t be thinking about the team’s 52-point improvement during the regular season after the Nordiques’ six-game loss to Montreal in the Adams Division semifinals.
″You forget about what you did in the regular season pretty quickly,″ Hextall said Thursday. ″In the NHL, it’s the playoffs that give you satisfaction. There won’t be any satisfaction for me this summer.″
The Nordiques lost the final four games of the series after winning the first two at home.
ONEONTA, N.Y. (AP) - Pele, who led Brazil to three World Cup titles and then became an ambassador for soccer in the United States, was elected to the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Also selected Thursday were Dennis Long, former president of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. and a longtime supporter of the sport, and John ″Jukey″ Nanoski, a star of the American Soccer League in the 1940s. Induction ceremonies are scheduled for June 12.
The three inductees were chosen from among 20 nominees by a nine-member committee. Gerritt Smith Miller, recognized as the founder of American soccer, will also be honored with a special award.
BENTON, Ill. (AP) - The wife of convicted drug trafficker and 1986 Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year Randy Lanier was sentenced to nine years in prison for helping her husband launder drug money.
Maria De La Luz Maggi-Lanier, 31, begged U.S. District Judge James Foreman for leniency Wednesday. She pleaded guilty in September to one count of conspiracy to launder money and three counts of obstruction of justice.
″I knew I had done wrong and knew I was going to pay dearly for it,″ Maggi-Lanier said.
Randy Lanier was convicted in 1988 of helping head an organization that imported and distributed more than 600,000 pounds of marijuana into the United States. He’s serving a life sentence without possibility of parole.
Maggi-Lanier began dating Lanier in 1986, and they married after he was convicted. She was sentenced to five years on the conspiracy charge and four years on the obstruction counts, to be served consecutively.