Primed To win a third straight Olympic gold medal, the U.S. women‚Äôs team, if its 74‚Äì58 win over the WNBA All-Stars in a final pre-Athens tune-up at Radio City Music Hall last Thursday is any indication. Even with many of the league‚Äôs best players wearing the red, white and blue--Diana Taurasi and Lisa Leslie (right), who scored a game-high 15 points, among them--the WNBAers were the stiffest competition the distaff dream team will face this month. All 12 players that Team USA (34‚Äì0 in international play since 1996) invited to Athens signed on, in contrast to the struggling men‚Äôs squad, which went begging after being spurned by stars such as Shaquille O‚ÄôNeal and Jason Kidd. ‚ÄúI think they‚Äôre the best team [in the world],‚Äù WNBA Stars coach Bill Laimbeer says. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôve got the best players, top to bottom.‚Äù
Established At the behest of Pope John Paul II, a department of Church and Sport at the Vatican. The 84-year-old pontiff hopes to promote ‚Äúa vision of sports activity as a means of integral personal growth and ... peace and brotherhood among peoples.‚Äù A soccer goalkeeper during his high school days in Poland, the former Karol Wojtyla did laps in the papal pool and enjoyed skiing and hiking before his health began to deteriorate in recent years. In 2000 he celebrated Mass in the name of athletes around the globe at Rome‚Äôs Olympic stadium.
Died Of lung cancer, Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Murphy, 79, who called Mets games on radio and TV from the team‚Äôs inception in 1962 until 2003. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs like losing a brother,‚Äù said Mets announcer Ralph Kiner, who with Murphy and Lindsey Nelson formed the team‚Äôs first broadcast crew. Known for his ‚Äúhappy recaps‚Äù of Mets wins, Murphy called his final game last September.
Jumped To the other side of the negotiating table, high-powered agent Jeff Moorad, who will replace ousted Diamondbacks CEO Jerry Colangelo. In more than 20 years as an agent, Moorad, 49, represented scores of players, including Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez, for whom he negotiated an eight-year, $160 million contract, the third-richest ever in baseball (behind Alex Rodriguez‚Äôs $252 million and Derek Jeter‚Äôs $189 million deals). Moorad was recruited by the Diamondbacks‚Äô four majority owners, who have clashed with Colangelo (a founding owner of the seven-year-old franchise) since taking over the team two years ago. Moorad‚Äôs move isn‚Äôt unprecedented--former agent Dennis Gilbert is a White Sox executive--but it‚Äôs certainly unusual, if only because he‚Äôs walking away from millions in player commissions. (The standard agent‚Äôs cut is 5%, meaning Ramirez‚Äôs deal was worth roughly $8 million to Moorad.) ‚ÄúThey will always have a fond place in my heart,‚Äù Moorad said of his former clients, ‚Äúuntil they come negotiating with us.‚Äù