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Here's a look at some of the defining moments, exciting scenes, triumphs and defeats from the world of sports.

Japan has six months to merge basketball domestic leagues: FIBA

Japan has six months to hammer out a plan for merging its two national basketball leagues, or risk not qualifying for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics, a senior International Basketball Federation (FIBA) official said Thursday. During a visit to Tokyo, FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann repeated calls for the Japan Basketball Association (JBA) to usher in reforms by June, after the body susp

Federal judge rebuffs NCAA concussion settlement

(Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday rebuffed a $75-million NCAA settlement that aimed to end a massive class-action lawsuit over head injuries suffered by student athletes, court records show. U.S. District Judge John Lee wrote in a 21-page opinion that while the proposed agreement was a step in the right direction, the $70 million devoted to fund concussion testing and diagnosis for player

Another victory for Raptors, first in the East to 20 wins

Kyle Lowry scored 20 points and handed out 12 assists Wednesday to lead Toronto to a 105-89 NBA victory over Brooklyn that made the Raptors the first Eastern Conference team to 20 wins this season. Patrick Patterson and Lou Williams contributed eight points apiece in the fourth quarter and Lowry scored six as the Raptors out-scored the Nets 29-16 in the final frame to pull away for their fourth

ADVISORY-Reuters sports awards and yearenders

LONDON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - On Thursday Dec. 18 we will publish the result of the Reuters sports awards, voted for by the agency's journalists around the world. Alongside the results we will publish a series of profiles, interviews and factboxes relating to the winners. The award categories are: Sportsman of the year Sportswoman of the year Team of the year Coach of the year Comeback of the year Br

NFL's 49ers release McDonald amid sexual assault investigation

By Steve Ginsburg (Reuters) - The San Francisco 49ers released defensive tackle Ray McDonald on Wednesday after police said he was a possible suspect in a sexual assault case. San Jose police said they were investigating the assault of a woman seeking treatment at a hospital on Tuesday when officers determined that McDonald might have been involved in the incident. Police then searched the San J

Rory's the story in golf after stellar year

Paris (AFP) - Rory McIlroy dominated golf in 2014, winning two majors, recapturing the world number one spot and starring in Europe's latest Ryder Cup triumph.

Deep Mavericks lighten load on Nowitzki

By Larry Fine NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dirk Nowitzki can still fill up the basket in his 17th season with the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, but it has become time to lighten the load on the 7-foot German sharpshooter. "Our roster is built on a lot of guys that can make plays. A lot of guys that can contribute, not just one guy to lead every night," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle told reporters before Tuesday'

49ers cut McDonald amid sex assault investigation

The San Francisco 49ers dumped veteran defensive tackle Ray McDonald on Wednesday after police said he was the focus of a sexual assault investigation, the latest to hit the NFL. The National Football League team's general manager Trent Baalke said the 49ers notified McDonald and his agent that his contract was terminated. The team had stood by McDonald after he was arrested in August on charges

Thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations won't affect baseball right away: experts

By Steve Ginsburg WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There will be no immediate flow of top Cuban players into Major League Baseball despite the major U.S. policy shift toward the communist-run island, experts on baseball in Cuba said on Wednesday. Any move to let Cuban players leave their country freely will not happen for at least several years, said author Pete Bjarkman, who has written extensively about C

Hefty punishments for brawl in China women's league

BEIJING (Reuters) - Twenty three female basketball players in China have been suspended for their part in an ugly, bench-clearing brawl as organizers attempted to clamp down on ill-discipline in the scandal-hit league. The incident came during the Sichuan Whales's home game against the Zhejiang Bulls on Sunday, with the hosts reacting angrily to a heavy foul from the visitors that brought about th

Grizzlies snap Warriors 16-game streak

The Memphis Grizzlies dealt Golden State their first defeat in more than a month, snapping the Warriors NBA winning streak at 16 games with a 105-98 triumph. Spanish center Marc Gasol scored 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Memphis in the battle between the top two teams in the league. It was the first Golden State defeat since a November 11 setback against reigning NBA champions San Ant

Bucks rookie Parker out for season with knee injury

(Reuters) - Highly regarded Milwaukee Bucks rookie Jabari Parker will miss the rest of the season after the forward tore a ligament in his left knee, the team confirmed on Tuesday. Parker suffered the injury, initially believed to be a sprain, when making a drive to the basket in Milwaukee's win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday. "Parker will undergo surgery to repair the injury and is expected to

Ex-wife of Deion Sanders sentenced to week in Texas jail over custody

By Marice Richter DALLAS (Reuters) - The former wife of Hall of Fame football player Deion Sanders was booked into jail on Tuesday after a Texas judge sentenced her to serve seven days for violating a custody agreement by not returning the couple's children on time, his attorney said. Pilar Sanders appeared in court in suburban Dallas without an attorney for a hearing requested by Deion Sanders’ a

Florida man pleads guilty to helping baseball star Puig flee Cuba

By Zachary Fagenson MIAMI (Reuters) - A Florida man who received $2.5 million after helping to smuggle Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Yasiel Puig out of Cuba pleaded guilty on Tuesday, according to court documents. Gilberto Suarez, 40, faces up to 10 years in prison at a March sentencing for conspiring to bring in or harbor aliens. In his plea agreement, he acknowledged coaching Puig on his 2012 defe

Speed up game to attract youngsters: McIlroy

World number one Rory McIlroy said on Tuesday that golf should be made quicker at grassroots level in order to attract more young players to the sport. McIlroy, who won the British Open and the US PGA in 2014, taking his tally of major wins to four, added: "The viewership in golf is up, but the participation is down.

Cabrera signs with White Sox

Former drugs cheat Melky Cabrera, who was slapped with a 50-game ban in 2012 for testing positive for testosterone, officially agreed to a multi-million dollar contract with the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. The 30-year-old Dominican Republic outfielder reportedly signed a three-year deal worth $42 million. "Melky provides us with a professional hitter, who reaches base on a consistent basis," s

Busy White Sox add outfielder Melky Cabrera

(Reuters) - The Chicago White Sox crossed another key item off their long holiday shopping list by agreeing with outfielder Melky Cabrera on a three-year $42 million contract, the club said on Tuesday. Cabrera, 30, batted .301 with a .351 on-base percentage for the Toronto Blue Jays last season to go with 16 home runs and 73 runs batted in. The addition of Cabrera, who in 2012 was leading the Na

Spanish women shine in dark year for men

By Iain Rogers MADRID (Reuters) - In a year when the men's soccer and basketball teams flopped on the biggest stage and Rafa Nadal's season was wrecked by injury and illness, it was the women who helped protect Spain's reputation as a nation of sporting excellence. The standout performers were swimmer Mireia Belmonte, who set two world records at the short course world championships in Doha this m

McIlroy named European Tour's Golfer of Year

LONDON (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy has been named the European Tour's Golfer of the Year for the second time in three seasons, capping an outstanding 2014 for the world number one. The 25-year-old Northern Irishman landed the British Open title in July and the U.S. PGA Championship crown in August -- the third and fourth majors of his career -- before winning three points as Europe retained the Ryd

Brees's Saints march past Bears

Drew Brees threw for 375 yards as the New Orleans Saints seized sole possession of first place with a 31-15 victory over the struggling Chicago Bears. Brees also tossed three touchdowns in his 200th career NFL contest for the Saints who vaulted over Carolina Panthers for first place in the woeful NFC South Division. New Orleans now controls their own postseason destiny with two games remaining a

Fast-starting Saints tame Bears 31-15

(Reuters) - The New Orleans Saints climbed into first place in the jumbled NFC South after feasting on the struggling Chicago Bears in a 31-15 win on Monday. Drew Brees fired three touchdown passes and the Saints took advantage of the Bears to move atop their division despite their 6-8 record. “We responded, our defense came out and played fantastic. Offensively, we did enough,” Brees told repor

Highlights of Monday's NBA games

(The Sports Xchange) - Highlights of Monday's National Basketball Association games: Raptors 95, Magic 82 Lou Williams came off the bench to score 18 points as the Toronto Raptors continued their domination of the Orlando Magic with a comfortable victory on Monday. The win was the third in a row for the Raptors (19-6), who defeated the Magic for a 10th consecutive time to remain top of the Easte

Bucks forward Parker suffers knee injury in Suns encounter

(Reuters) - Highly regarded Milwaukee Bucks rookie Jabari Parker suffered a left knee sprain and had to be carried off the court during his team's 96-94 win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday. Parker, the number two overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, was driving to the basket during the third quarter when his knee buckled and he fell to the court. He finished the night with eight points in 15 minu

Pacers trounce Bryant's listless Lakers

It didn't take long for the Los Angeles Lakers to come down from their high of watching Kobe Bryant pass Michael Jordan for third place on the all-time NBA scoring list. Just 24 hours after Bryant hit a pair of free throws against Minnesota to pass Jordan, the Indiana Pacers compiled a 33 point halftime lead en route to a 110-91 thrashing of Los Angeles on Monday night. "We were just embarrassed

Royal Trophy 'postponed' just days before tee off

The Royal Trophy golf team event which pits Europe against Asia has been "postponed", organisers told AFP on Tuesday, just days ahead of the scheduled tee off in China. Played in a similar matchplay format to the Ryder Cup, the Royal Trophy was founded by the late Seve Ballesteros, whose vision was to bring together the continents of Europe and Asia in a team matchplay contest. The eighth editio

Struggling Kings sack head coach Malone

Sacramento (AFP) - Mike Malone has been fired as head coach of the Sacramento Kings and replaced by interim coach Tyrone Corbin, the National Basketball Association team announced Monday.

Golfer Torrance slams Faldo over Garcia remarks

Ryder Cup vice-captain Sam Torrance has strongly criticised Nick Faldo for labelling Sergio Garcia "useless" shortly before this year's tournament, in a magazine interview published on Tuesday. Faldo, Britain's greatest golfer, led Europe to defeat by the United States in the 2008 Ryder Cup and said in September that Spain's Garcia had shown a "bad attitude" during the contest. He subsequently s

Browns receiver defends protest T-shirt

Cleveland wide receiver Andrew Hawkins made an emotional defense on Monday of his decision to wear a "Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford" T-shirt prior to the Browns' NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The gesture was denounced by the president of the Cleveland police union as "pathetic" and demanded an apology from the Browns. "My wearing of the T-shirt wasn't a stance against every

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