Stern okays relocation for NBA”s Grizzlies

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) After six years of losing hundreds of games on the court and millions of dollars at the bank, the Grizzlies look ready to leave Vancouver possibly as early as next season.

NBA commissioner David Stern met with team owner Michael Heisley in Washington Monday and agreed that, considering the money the team is losing, it”s time for the Grizzlies to find a new home.

“We”ve agreed to assist Mr. Heisley in exploring what other North American cities might be appropriate for the Grizzlies to relocate to,” Stern said.

It didn”t take long for potential U.S. homes to begin wooing the Grizzlies.

New Orleans, which once lost the Jazz to Salt Lake City, was first to show interest. Doug Thornton, general manager of the New Orleans Arena, said officials plan to contact Heisley.

“Sources tell us that he is interested in relocating the franchise, rather than selling it,” Thornton said. “That”s the challenge of a professional sports franchise, securing ownership.”

Le-bad blood: Lemaire bad mouths Lemieux

CANONSBURG, Pa (AP) Of all the NHL players for Minnesota Wild coach Jacques Lemaire to pick a fight with, this might not have been the wisest choice Mario Lemieux.

Lemieux said Tuesday the sore back that visibly bothered him in Sunday”s 4-2 loss at Minnesota feels much better, and he is looking forward to Wednesday”s rematch with the Wild in Pittsburgh.

After being shut out Sunday for only the second time in his 19 comeback games, Lemieux was critical of the Wild”s offense-stifling clutching and grabbing, saying it wasn”t what the NHL is trying to sell.

“It”s not a wide-open game, which they (the Penguins) would love,” Lemaire said. “If we”re not allowed to hit and not allowed to check, I”m coming back, too. I”m going to play in this league if nobody touches me, or nobody back-checks on me, and if they let me make plays and shoot on the net and get 2-on-1s and breakaways. Nobody else comes close.”

Two former CBA execs suing Thomas

NEW YORK (AP) Two former executives with the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association”s La Crosse, Wis., Bobcats are threatening to sue Indiana Pacers coach Isiah Thomas, the league”s last owner.

The men claim Thomas owes their franchise more than $300,000 and owes various league operators, fans and sponsors a total of more than $1 million, much of it in unfulfilled corporate sponsorships.

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars this franchise is owed, plus more in operating expenses. Where is it? I know this: We don”t have it,” said Ken Koeller, former assistant general manager of the Bobcats.

He said a number of angry former CBA operatives are also considering legal action against Thomas.

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