Sports Briefs

Pro Basketball

LOS ANGELES — Blake Griffin's first season with the Los Angeles Clippers is over before it even began.

Griffin will have surgery on his broken left kneecap, keeping the No. 1 draft pick out for at least more four months, the eternally star-crossed Clippers announced in a statement Wednesday.

Griffin hasn't played a regular-season game yet for the Clippers after injuring his kneecap in their final preseason game Oct. 23, wincing in pain as he landed after a dunk. After resting the stress fracture for several weeks, the former Oklahoma star recently increased his workload in rehabilitation by running on a treadmill.

But the power forward recently developed pain in his knee while jumping in a pool, and an examination Tuesday revealed his recovery wasn't progressing properly.

"It's a little disappointing, because he brings so much to the table," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said on a conference call. "As a group, we're coming together better all the time, and adding that talent to our lineup was something we were looking forward to."

After a loss in Memphis on Tuesday, the Clippers will play at New Orleans on Wednesday night before returning to Los Angeles for a road game against the Lakers on Friday. Dunleavy hadn't spoken to his team since learning Griffin won't be back until next season.


NEW YORK — This year, the New York Mets are hurting before the season even starts.

Carlos Beltran had surgery on his troublesome right knee Wednesday and the All-Star center fielder is expected to miss the start of the season. His decision to have the operation also sparked a dispute about whether he had received permission from the team, and perhaps whether the surgery was needed.

Either way, it's more bad news for the Mets, ravaged by serious injuries to several stars last year while sliding to 70-92 and fourth place in the NL East. Hoping for a fast start to the upcoming season, New York will likely be without one of its best players for at least the first few weeks.

A person with knowledge of the situation said Beltran did not obtain advance written consent from the club to have the surgery, which was performed by his personal physician, Dr. Richard Steadman, in Colorado. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Mets didn't discuss the matter publicly.

Beltran's agent, Scott Boras, said the guarantee language in the slugger's contract requires advance written permission only for elective operations.

"This was necessary surgery, necessary surgery to work," Boras told The Associated Press.

The Mets might claim that the operation was elective.

Boras said Steadman spoke with Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek on Monday and again after Beltran was examined in Colorado on Tuesday, and that Steadman obtained Altchek's consent for the surgery.

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — Expanded instant replay is on the agenda for the first meeting of Major League Baseball's newly formed committee of managers and longtime executives on Thursday.

The 14-man committee also will discuss expanding the first round of the playoffs to best of seven and ways to eliminate lengthy breaks during the postseason.

As owners and general managers met at a mountainside resort on Wednesday, commissioner Bud Selig said he will raise the replay issue. "I'll probably bring that up," Selig said.

Following a series of blown calls by umpires during the playoffs, many said baseball should expand video review, which began in 2008 and is limited to whether potential home runs are fair and whether balls go over the fence.

Selig wouldn't predict where the replay discussion might lead.

"What I want tomorrow, I want them to discuss everything," Selig said. "I really want to hear from them. I've encouraged this group to be very blunt, talk about anything they want."

The "special committee for on-field matters" includes managers Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia.

Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who is black, is the only minority on the panel.

NO DATELINE — Jose Canseco says Mark McGwire is still lying about his use of steroids and his former manager Tony La Russa isn't telling the truth either.

McGwire admitted Monday that he used steroids for a decade, including when he hit 70 homers in 1998, but denied Canseco's claims that he injected himself and McGwire with steroids in bathroom stalls.

"I've defended Mark, I know a lot of good things about him," Canseco told ESPN 1000 radio in Chicago on Tuesday. "I can't believe he just called me a a liar. Umm, there's something very strange going on here.

"I even polygraphed that I injected him, and I passed it completely. So I want to challenge him on national TV to a polygraph examination. I want to see him call me a liar under a polygraph examination."

In Canseco's 2005 book, "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big," Canseco claimed he introduced McGwire and other stars to steroids and performance-enhancing drugs. He wrote about injecting himself and McGwire in bathroom stalls, and how the effects of the drugs were the reason he hit 462 career home runs.

Canseco and McGwire helped lead the Athletics to a World Series sweep in 1989.

"Jose is out there doing what he's doing, but I'm not going to stoop down to his level," McGwire told ESPN on Tuesday. "None of that stuff happened. He knows it. I know it. I'm not going to stoop down to that level."

College Football

LOS ANGELES — Whether Norm Chow remains at UCLA as the football team's offensive coordinator or bolts across town to rejoin USC will be determined by money.

Chow, who is in the final year of a three-year contract, has asked UCLA to extend his contract. The request was made after USC contacted him, according to a UCLA athletics source who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation.

During an evening conference call with reporters, UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel said Chow "assured me that he wanted to be at UCLA" earlier in the day.

Chow is set to make $640,000 at UCLA next season, which includes a $250,000 bonus if he is the offensive coordinator on the first day of spring practice.

USC is thought to be able to pay considerably more than that.

"The profession is one where you certainly want commitment and you want people to be here and be excited about the job. I think Norm feels that and exhibits that," Neuheisel said. But, he added, "Nobody would deny somebody a blockbuster deal."

Pro Football

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Tom Cable is still waiting to meet with owner Al Davis to discuss his status as Oakland Raiders coach.

Cable said at his season-ending news conference Jan. 4 that he would meet with Davis sometime this week. As of Wednesday, that meeting had not occurred. Team senior executive John Herrera says there is no set time when the meeting will be held.

Cable's job status is in question after he went 5-11 in his first full season as coach and failed to develop JaMarcus Russell into a legitimate NFL quarterback.

Cable points to the team's improvement after Russell's midseason benching as proof that he deserves another year to get the Raiders back to the playoffs. Oakland has lost at least 11 games for seven straight seasons.

NO DATELINE — The magnitude-7.0 earthquake that devastated the capital of Haiti on Tuesday has hit home with Indianapolis wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who is of Haitian descent. Although his immediate family lives in Florida, numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives are still in Haiti, Garcon said.

"Haven't heard much from them," said a reserved Garcon, who is usually a cheerful voice in the Colts' locker room. "Still waiting to see. My mom is trying to call. Hopefully, I'll get some good news."

Haitian officials fear thousands are dead after the earthquake tore apart buildings, homes and streets in Port-au-Prince.

Caldwell said the anxiety of not knowing has been noticeable on Garcon's face.

"I'm sure it's weighing heavy on his heart," Caldwell said. "What we can do is support him and pray for him, and we'll certainly continue to do that."

Garcon visited Haiti last year (and missed a game) to attend his grandmother's funeral. Garcon said preparing for Saturday night has been difficult.

"It's tough, but you can't really do much," he said. "So I just have to try to do my best here and try to play for them. I'm going to try to represent them and maybe give them a little hope."

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets running back Thomas Jones did not practice, but is expected to play at San Diego in the AFC divisional round playoff game.

Coach Rex Ryan said Jones was held out of practice Wednesday, as he has for the past few weeks, to give the NFL's third-leading rusher a break. Fullback Tony Richardson was also given the day off.

Ryan said Jones was listed on the injury report with a knee injury, but added he could've practiced fully. Ryan said Jones has a bruised knee and there are "no problems at all with him."

Jones rushed for a career-high 1,402 yards and a franchise-record 14 touchdowns in the regular season.

Cornerback Donald Strickland (quadriceps) was a full participant after missing the last two games.


OBERHOF, Germany — U.S. Olympic luge veteran Tony Benshoof is racing with three herniated disks in his back, but doesn't expect his injuries to derail his chances for the Vancouver Games.

Benshoof announced his condition on Wednesday.

He has raced with a bad back for years, and was told in late November that he re-herniated a disk he had surgicially repaired in December 2008. More tests performed over the Christmas break revealed further disk issues, and Benshoof took his second epidural cortisone injection of the season for treatment.

Benshoof was fourth at the 2006 Turin Games, and has indicated this season — his 21st in luge — could be his last before retirement. He's currently eighth in the World Cup standings.

VAIL, Colo. — Casey Puckett's push to make his fifth Olympics is in jeopardy after enduring a severe shoulder injury in France.

Puckett, the 37-year-old, four-time Olympian in Alpine, came out of retirement to try to make it back to the Olympics in skicross this year.

He finished fourth in a race in France last week, but didn't make it to the bottom in the final because of a nasty crash in which he separated his shoulder from his collarbone.

— The Associated Press

In a blog posting Wednesday, Puckett said he was awaiting the results of an MRI and was "actually optimistic" after speaking with doctors.

His fourth-place finish put him in good position to make the U.S. freestyle team, which will be named later this month.

LONDON — London Mayor Boris Johnson is urging international Olympic officials to use public transportation during the 2012 Games.

Johnson says the International Olympic Committee and other "games family" should use London buses and underground trains for "all nonessential trips."

He says athletes and officials will still use the specially designated Olympic Route Network for traveling to the venues.

Johnson says he discussed the issue by phone Wednesday with IOC president Jacques Rogge.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams says Rogge will encourage people to use public transport "where appropriate."

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