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Sports briefs for March 31, 2013

By Wire Service Reports, Special to the BDN

Bryant to make retirement decision before next season

A season filled with turmoil and injury has taken its toll on Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. So much so that it has him thinking about his future and how much longer he’ll play.

After passing Wilt Chamberlain on Saturday night to move into fourth place on the NBA career scoring list, the 34-year-old Bryant said he’ll make a decision before training camp starts next season whether 2013-24 will be the end of the storied career.

“I’ll talk to my family and stuff and really see if I want to continue to sacrifice as much as I’m sacrificing right now,” Bryant told “I’m putting my body through a lot to just try to get ready to play every single night. To do what I’m doing right now, it’s not easy. I’ll tell you, it’s taken a lot of commitment.”

Bryant, who began his career with the Lakers in 1996, is approaching the final year of a contract that will pay him $30.4 million in 2013-14.

British discus thrower draws NFL interest

British discus thrower Lawrence Okoye has never played American football, but he apparently has attracted the attention of NFL teams based on his potential.

After the 21-year-old Olympian participated in a regional scouting combine last week in Atlanta, he said five teams expressed interest in him. The next step is the super regional on April 7 in Dallas.

The 6-foot-6, 248-pound Okoye had come to Florida to train but plans to put his track and field career on hold for a shot at the NFL. He finished 12th in the 2012 Olympics in the men’s discus in London.

“At the combine, I really stood out because of my size, strength and speed,” Okoye told The Daily Mail. “I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I was good on the day — to the point that a lot of NFL clubs began talking to me immediately on the back of it. They all see me as a defensive end, which suits me just fine.

Okoye’s closest experience to football is as a rugby player.

Former AL Cy Young winner Turley dies at 82

Bob Turley, a former New York Yankees pitcher and an American League Cy Young Award winner, died Saturday at age 82 in Atlanta of liver cancer.

The hard-throwing Turley won 101 games and had 1,265 strikeouts in a 12-year career that included three All-Star appearances.

His best season came in 1958 when he received the Cy Young Award after winning 21 games with a 2.97 ERA and had six shutouts in 19 complete games and 31 starts.

That same year, Turley also was named World Series Most Valuable Player after he pitched a shutout in Game 5 against the Milwaukee Braves, posted a 10th-inning save in Game 6 and won Game 7 with 6 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.

Williams sinks Sharapova for record sixth Miami title

MIAMI — World number one Serena Williams fought back from a set down to beat Maria Sharapova 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 and win the Sony Open for a record sixth time on Saturday as she continued her dominance over her closest rival.

With the win, Williams, who struggled with her serve in the first two sets, becomes only the fourth woman in the Open era to win the same WTA tournament six times, joining Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf.

Second-ranked Sharapova has now lost to Williams in their last 11 meetings and has not beaten the American since her two victories in 2004.

To add to the pain, the match was Sharapova’s fifth Miami final and her fifth defeat.

Murray goes to No. 2 with Miami tie-break win over Ferrer

MIAMI — Britain’s Andy Murray defeated Spain’s David Ferrer 2-6 6-4 7-6 in a gruelling and enthralling Sony Open final on Sunday to move above Roger Federer to second in the world rankings.

Murray was far from at his best against a dogged Ferrer but won the tie-break 7-1 after surviving a scare when the Spaniard had match point at 6-5 up, with Murray serving, in the third.

Murray’s forehand landed close to the line and he faced a challenge from Ferrer, who called out rather than play the shot, but the ball was shown in, and the Scot won the next two points to force the tie-break.

“It was such a tough match, it could have gone either way, both of us were struggling physically at the end,” said Murray whose victory was his second at Miami following his triumph in 2009.

Animal Kingdom wins Dubai World Cup

Animal Kingdom, winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby, ran to a two-length victory in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race.

Animal Kingdom, ridden by Joel Rosario with 11-2 odds, captured the 1 1/4-mile event at Meydan Racecourse in a time of two minutes, 03.21 seconds. The 5-year-old is the first American horse to win the World Cup since Well Armed in 2009.

“Turning for home, he was looking around,” said Rosario. “I was hoping I had enough horse left because it’s a long stretch.”

Red Cadeaux, at 25-1, was second, with 10-1 shot Planteur third in the 12-horse field.

Barry Irwin’s Team Valor sold a majority interest in Animal Kingdom to John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud, based north of Sydney in Scone, Australia. The stallion, with $8.4 million in lifetime winnings, will begin his stud career in Australia in September.

Royal Delta set the early pace ahead of Side Glance, Animal Kingdom and 11-4 favorite Hunter’s Light. Rosario took Animal Kingdom to the front with about 2 ½ furlongs left and held off a late charge from Red Cadeaux along the rail for the win.

Hunter’s Light faded and finished back in the pack. Defending champion Monterosso was scratched from the race earlier after becoming lame.

Cubs’ Barney ruled out of opener

Second baseman Darwin Barney will miss the Chicago Cubs’ opener on Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates after suffering a deep cut on his left knee.

Barney’s knee was gashed Saturday during an exhibition game Saturday in Houston when he collided with a wall down the first-base line while chasing a foul ball. The wound required five stitches to close.

Brent Lillibridge is expected to start at second base in Barney’s place on Monday.

Barney, 27, won a gold Glove last season and had a .254 batting average with seven home runs and 44 RBI.

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