NBA

Wednesday's Sports In Brief

NBA

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) A division title might soon mean a banner but no assurance of a playoff spot in the NBA.

Commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday the league is leaning toward not guaranteeing a postseason berth to a team that wins its division, forcing clubs to finish in the top eight of their conference if they want a shot at the title.

Silver had already said he expected a change from the current format that guarantees division winners no worse than the No. 4 seed. But after discussions with both the competition committee and board of governors, he believes the change will go further than that.

''First of all, it's never happened before that a division winner did not finish within the top eight, and our basketball analytics folks calculate that there's less than a 5 percent chance that it would happen,'' he said before taking part in a panel discussion at the ''Beyond Sport United'' program.

''Where we are leaning right now is that we would not guarantee a spot for a division winner in part because it's so unlikely to happen, and No. 2 if it does happen it would be potentially confusing to fans. No. 3, you would be displacing a team that did have a top-eight record.''

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Adam Silver has ''no doubt'' the NBA could see a day when Becky Hammon or another woman is a head coach.

The commissioner said Wednesday he had texted and emailed with Hammon while they were in Las Vegas, where she coached the Spurs to the Summer League championship Monday night. He praised the San Antonio organization for hiring her last season as the first full-time female assistant in the NBA and putting her in charge of its entry in the Vegas league.

Hammon is a former WNBA star who had been hired by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich last summer before ending her playing career in San Antonio. After assisting him on a variety of coaching responsibilities during the season, Hammon ran the team in the NBA's top summer league.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Steve Spurrier has a message for all those ''enemies'' out there, saying he will remain South Carolina's coach for a long time.

Spurrier said Wednesday that he's not too old at 70 to coach and is not leaving the school where he has coached the past 10 years and is the team's career victory leader.

Spurrier essentially said similar things at Southeastern Conference media days last week. That hasn't stopped the questions about how long Spurrier might remain on the sidelines.

''I got some enemies out there, I got some guys talking and writing and it's all part of the game,'' Spurrier said Wednesday. ''Some of our enemies out there want to make you think, `Spurrier's getting old, he can't do it anymore.'''

That's why Spurrier called a hastily arranged gathering with area media to refute those notions.

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TOUR DE FRANCE

BARCELONNETTE, France (AP) - Simon Geschke of the Giant-Alpecin team won a tough and dangerous Stage 17 of the Tour de France in the Alps on Wednesday with a brave solo ride, while former champion Alberto Contador fell during a terrifying high-speed descent.

Race leader Chris Froome staved off multiple attacks to get through the first of four days in the Alps unscathed. He showed great bike-handling skills on the 16-kilometer (10-mile) descent from the Col d'Allos mountain pass, where he hit speeds of 60 kph (40 mph) on the twisting, narrow bends.

Geschke was first down that slope, having ridden off ahead with 50 kilometers (30 miles) still to go.

Showing how tricky the descent was, French rider Thibaut Pinot hit the deck when his wheels slipped from under him on a left-hand bend.

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BASEBALL

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Commissioner Rob Manfred thinks baseball may need to consider moving the trade deadline back to give teams in the hunt for a wild card more time.

A second wild card in each league was added in 2012, keeping more teams in playoff contention long past the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. And those clubs may not have enough time to evaluate whether their rosters are good enough to get one.

''I think that the July 31st deadline is something that we may want to revisit in the context of the revised playoff format,'' Manfred said Wednesday. ''Obviously when you have two additional opportunities to be in the playoffs, you have more teams in the hunt and they may want to wait a little longer before they make decisions.''

''On the other hand, you've got to remember, we want teams that the core of which have been together for the year playing in the postseason,'' he said. ''So you have to just balance those two issues, I think.''

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FIFA INVESTIGATION

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter is due in Russia on Thursday for his first overseas trip since the arrests of fellow soccer executives in May left him unwilling to leave the safety of Switzerland.

Saturday's qualifying draw in St. Petersburg for the 2018 World Cup will be the 79-year-old Blatter's last official event connected to football's showcase tournament before he prematurely leaves office in February.

Although Blatter has not been accused of wrongdoing by American or Swiss authorities, the repercussions of the corruption investigations convinced the president to hastily announce resignation plans last month just four days after his re-election, and to stay in Switzerland.

Since May 27 - when police in Zurich arrested some of Blatter's close associates on behalf of the U.S. and seized data from FIFA headquarters - Blatter has been absent from two FIFA events. The Swiss native missed handing over the trophy in New Zealand for the under-20s World Cup and presenting the Women's World Cup in Canada.

Blatter confirmed recently: ''Until everything is clarified, I won't take any travel risks.''

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LEBRON JAMES

LOS ANGELES (AP) - LeBron James is setting his sights beyond the basketball court.

The NBA star and his company, SpringHill Entertainment, have signed a content creation deal with Warner Bros. that includes potential projects in film, television and other digital properties.

Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara announced the partnership Wednesday.

James says connecting with his fans and ''telling meaningful stories'' have always been his passion. He's the executive producer of the Starz show ''Survivor's Remorse,'' and also referenced his video project ''Uninterrupted'' as examples.

SpringHill Entertainment CEO Maverick Carter added that he wants the company to be a ''leader in the original content-creating space.''

Beyond his basketball and producing career, James also recently appeared as himself in the Judd Apatow/Amy Schumer comedy ''Trainwreck.''

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