Cleveland — LeBron and Shaq: Two of the NBA’s biggest stars are now teammates.
The Cleveland Cavaliers completed a blockbuster trade Thursday, bringing superstar center Shaquille O’Neal from the Phoenix Suns to join current MVP LeBron James.
The Cavaliers hope they are creating a basketball duo with the power of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — or even Shaq and Kobe Bryant.
Each of those pairs won multiple NBA titles. The Cavs would settle for their first.
The Cavs are sending center Ben Wallace and swingman Sasha Pavlovic to the Suns, along with a second-round pick in the 2010 draft and cash.
“Shaq is an incredible ball player and a four-time NBA champion,” James said in a statement. “I have a lot of respect for him and his game. It will be a real honor to play with Shaq as my teammates and I look forward to another great season with the Cavs.”
O’Neal has indeed won four championships during his 17-year career — three as member of the Los Angeles Lakers with Bryant and one in Miami with Dwyane Wade — and will now try to get yet another with James, who is only missing a title ring from his personal resume.
The trade is a gamble for the Cavs. They are hoping that the 37-year-old O’Neal, who is past his prime and has one year and $21 million left on his contract, can be the missing piece that helps James deliver his first championship to a city that has waited since 1964 for one of its major sports teams to win it all.
“This move and our goals are aligned with what our players want, including LeBron, to win a championship and win it this year,” Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry said. “We don’t want to be patient.”
O’Neal is coming off an All-Star season with the Suns — averaging 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds in 75 games — but doesn’t move as well as he once did and slowed Phoenix’s high-powered offense. Still, the 7-foot-1, 325-pounder is large enough to take on a player like Howard by himself.
“He is a force,” Ferry said. “Always has been, still is.”
Nets send Carter to Magic
East Rutherford, N.J. — Vince Carter is going home to Orlando, and to the Eastern Conference champion Magic. On a draft day when Cleveland made the biggest splash by trading for the Suns’ Shaquille O’Neal, Orlando made a blockbuster move of its own in acquiring the Nets’ Carter, an eight-time NBA All Star who grew up in Daytona Beach and lives in Orlando.
New Jersey also dealt forward Ryan Anderson to the Magic, who sent the Nets three players in return: point guard Rafer Alston, shooting guard Courtney Lee and power forward Tony Battie.
Orlando is hoping Carter, who has averaged 23.5 points over a 10-year pro career, will provide center Dwight Howard with a perimeter scorer who can create his own shot.
Marquette guard finished
Milwaukee — Marquette guard Maurice Acker will skip his final year of eligibility because he’s on track to graduate in December.
Coach Buzz Williams said in a statement Thursday that Acker is one semester short of completing his degree and they agreed it was in his best interest to make that his priority. Acker is from Hazel Crest, Ill., and played two seasons for the Golden Eagles after transferring from Ball State in 2006.
The 5-foot-8 guard made eight starts and played in 68 games for Marquette. He averaged 3.7 points and 1.8 assists.
Hall of Fame, Nike sued
Boston — A Massachusetts company has sued Nike and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, claiming it has been cut out of the sportswear business related to Michael Jordan’s upcoming induction into the Hall of Fame.
SportsFuzion Inc., of Westwood, claims plans by Nike and the Hall of Fame for a line of Jordan sportswear violate a contract SportsFuzion says gave it exclusive licensing rights to the Hall of Fame’s logos, trademarks, designs and photos for use in sportswear.
Nike is expected to release its Air Jordan Hall of Fame collection this summer, ahead of Jordan’s induction into the Hall of Fame in September. The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $10 million.
Perry’s 61 tops Travelers
Cromwell, Conn. — Kenny Perry shot a 61 Thursday to tie the course record and take a two-shot lead after the first round of the Travelers Championship. Perry, who has finished in the top 10 seven times at this tournament, shot a 29 on the front nine and had no bogeys. He was at 9 under through 16 holes and flirted with a 59, before making par on the final two holes.
Charles Warren and Paul Goydos each shot a 7-under 63 to tie for second place.
Gal leads at Rochester
Rochester, N.Y. — Germany’s Sandra Gal shoots an 8-under 64 and leads by one-stroke during the darkness-suspended first-round at the Wegmans LPGA.
Play was interrupted for 3 hours by an afternoon storm Thursday, then called off for the day at 8:37 p.m. with dozens of players unable to finish their round. Gal’s career-best round was one better than Jiyai Shin of South Korea. Becky Lucidi was in third place at 6 under through 15 holes.
Venus rolls at Wimbledon
Wimbledon, England — Even on one good leg, Venus Williams is tough to beat at Wimbledon. The five-time champion wore a strap on her left knee Thursday but still advanced to the third round by beating Kateryna Bondarenko, 6-3, 6-2.
The tournament favorite, Williams has been hampered by knee trouble in the past, but there was no indication of a problem this week until she walked onto sunny Court 1 bandaged from mid-calf to mid-thigh.
“Just for support,” she said twice in response to questions.
Williams wore the strap again later when she and sister Serena beat Virginie Razzano and Aravane Rezai, in doubles, 6-3, 6-3.
In men’s play, two-time runner-up Andy Roddick lost serve only once and defeated Igor Kunitsyn, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
He’ll next play good friend Jurgen Melzer, the Wimbledon boys champion in 1999.
Chiefs sign safety Brown
Kansas City, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs added depth to the defensive backfield, signing former Pro Bowl safety Mike Brown. Terms of the deal announced Thursday were not disclosed.
Brown played nine seasons with the Chicago Bears, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2005. He holds team records with seven defensive touchdowns and three fumble return TDs, and his four interception returns for touchdowns matches the team record.
Rooney Ireland ambassador
Washington — Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday as U.S. ambassador to Ireland. The nomination was approved by voice vote.
Alabama files appeal
Tuscaloosa, Ala. — The University of Alabama said Thursday it has taken the first step toward appealing a ruling by the NCAA that forced the Crimson Tide football program to vacate 21 wins.
Alabama, in announcing it had sent a notice of appeal, said it will also contest penalties vacating the individual records of 15 athletes in men’s tennis and men’s and women’s track.
The university said it won’t appeal other sanctions, including three years of probation for football and 15 other sports.
MLB cooperates on probe
New York — Major League Baseball is cooperating with a federal investigation into where Manny Ramirez got the performance-enhancing drug that resulted in his 50-game suspension.
Two shot after Angels game
Anaheim, Calif. — An off-duty police officer shot and wounded two men who had assaulted him in the crowded Angel Stadium parking lot after Wednesday night’s Colorado Rockies-Los Angeles Angels game, authorities said.
The officer, who was walking to his car with his wife and two small children about 25 minutes after the game, was hit in the head with beer bottles, police Sgt. Tim Schmidt said.