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Busch brothers marvel at Vegas’ sports growth beyond NASCAR

BY GREG BEACHAM all prelude to the Raiders’ likely Tarkanian’s UNLV Runnin’ Reb- cheer for, and now we’ve got a ent trends we’ve seen with the
AP Sports Writer arrival in 2020. els were beloved, but it wasn’t the bevy of options to choose from.” hotels,” Kurt Busch added. “It
This onetime sports desert has same as the world’s best athletes Several sports pursuits are cur- was a family atmosphere back
LAS VEGAS — Not too many become a mecca, but the drivers rolling into the town where many rently converging for what Vegas in the ‘90s, and then it seemed
years ago, NASCAR was the big- who grew up in Vegas don’t mind top entertainers already made is calling the Ultimate Sports like it turned into the nightclub
gest show on the Strip during its the competition. In fact, they’re their home. Weekend. Representatives from atmosphere, and then it was the
annual week in Las Vegas. thrilled. “It really kind of blows my NASCAR, the UFC, the Golden chefs from around the world who
This week, the fast cars are “It’s definitely grown,” Kyle mind,” said Xfinity Series driver Knights and the 2018 USA Sev- created a residency and they had
competing for Sin City’s sports Busch said Friday before quali- Spencer Gallagher, a Palo Verde ens rugby tourney met for a pep their type of marquee restaurant
fans with the NHL’s first-place fying. “When I was a kid here, I High School grad who raced in rally earlier this week outside introduced to the hotels and casi-
Vegas Golden Knights, the UFC always kind of wondered why we the Legends series at Las Vegas T-Mobile Arena, which will host nos. Now we’re going through
222 show and a major interna- didn’t have a professional team Motor Speedway before moving the Pac-12 Tournament starting a sports phase, and I think it’s
tional rugby tournament. That’s of any kind, whether it would be into stock cars. “You grow up Wednesday. huge.” The NASCAR season is
all leading into next week, when hockey or basketball or baseball in this town for 20 years hop- “It’s incredible,” said Kurt still young, but the Busch broth-
several college basketball tourna- or football.” ing and wishing for any kind of Busch, a Durango High School ers would love to get a win on
ments invade town. Later in the But Las Vegas didn’t have a sports team, and the floodgates graduate just like his younger their hometown track. Kurt has
year, soccer’s Las Vegas Lights FC major pro sports team while the just opened. We went from going brother. “The sports dominance never won here, while Kyle has
and the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces Busch brothers grew up here in our whole lives having to pick that we’re experiencing here in one Sprint Cup win in 2009 and
will take center stage — and it’s the 1980s and 1990s. Sure, Jerry other (cities’) sports teams to Vegas is similar to the differ- an Xfinity Series win in 2016.

Sharma soars Smith soups

into the lead on assistant;
in Mexico one-game ban
AP Sports Writer
MEXICO CITY — Success has come
quickly for Shubhankar Sharma, and the INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Chicken
Mexico Championship is no exception. noodle or tomato? J.R. Smith didn’t
Sharma hit a 3-wood that landed on serve up any explanation.
the green and settled 2 feet away for an Cleveland’s mercurial shooting guard
eagle on the opening hole at Chapulte- declined an interview request Friday,
pec Golf Club. He finished with three a day after the Cavaliers suspended
straight birdies for a 5-under 66. And in him one game for throwing a bowl of
his first World Golf Championship, he soup at assistant coach Damon Jones.
takes a two-shot lead into the weekend. DARRON CUMMINGS | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The soup toss came following Thurs-
“I worked all my life to come and play DENVER BRONCOS GENERAL MANAGER John Elway speaks Wednesday during a press conference at day’s shootaround at the team’s training
at a high stage like this,” said Sharma, the NFL football scouting combine, in Indianapolis. facility, hours before the Cavs played

Seeing the future

who turned pro when he was 16. “You the Philadelphia 76ers, a person with
have to expect great things from your- direct knowledge of the situation told
self if you want to play at a high stage. I The Associated Press on Friday. The
just try and not think of anything before person spoke on condition of anonym-
I start. I just try and concentrate on the ity because the team has not disclosed
success, and just let things go.” details.
Sharma overcame a pair of three-putt Smith was with his teammates Friday
bogeys early in his round and was at — the Cavs didn’t practice, but watched
11-under 131.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia had
a 65 and was two shots behind, along
NFL teams look potential franchise QB film — and after getting in some extra
shots, he told a team spokesman he will
address the media at Saturday’s shoot-
with Xander Schauffele (66) and Rafa BY ARNIE STAPLETON go after a veteran again in free agency around before the Cavs play Denver.
Cabrera Bello (67). AP Pro Football Writer such as Kirk Cousins. But the Broncos Until then, what triggered his brothy
Sharma’s greatest asset is stable mind, own the fifth pick in the draft and this outburst remains a mystery.
and he has not shown any moments of INDIANAPOLIS — This year’s deep group of quarterbacks is unusually deep first reported the reason
being overwhelmed. class of quarterbacks features as many as and top-heavy. for Smith’s suspension.
Even so, there has been a few surreal a half-dozen first-round NFL prospects “There is a possibility of some really Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said Smith
moments, such as warming up the range full of hope, hype and hazard. good quarterbacks coming out of this did not address the team over the lat-
before the second round. There’s Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield , and draft,” Elway said. est drama for a team that has had no
Jordan Spieth, the British Open cham- questions about the Heisman winner’s Maybe not like his own class in 1983, shortage of theater this season.
pion and former No. 1 in the world, was size and stature. A lot of teams would which produced three Hall of Famers in “I had a little discussion with him,”
hitting balls behind him. And then when love UCLA’s Josh Rosen for his skills and himself, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly, but Lue said before refusing to say if he
Spieth left, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson strength, but wonder if he’s a good fit in this year’s crop of quarterbacks is filled was the one who suspended Smith.
took his place. It was hard for Sharma not the locker room and with their organi- with intrigue and promise. The 32-year-old Smith, who served
to glance at over his shoulder. zation. And plenty of questions. his suspension while the Cavs were
“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Wyoming’s Josh Allen has enviable size, Among them: beaten by the Sixers, had a history of
he said. but faces questions about his regression TALL ORDER fines and other issues before arriving in
And then it got better. last season. USC’s Sam Darnold has to Is Mayfield too short? He measured in Cleveland by a trade in 2014. However,
Sharma had such control over his game answer queries about his ball security and just over 6 feet tall with a hand size of he’s had few problems with the Cavs
that he putted for birdie on every hole why he’s not throwing at the NFL combine 9¼ inches. and has been a key member of three
except the par-4 eighth, where he escaped this weekend like the other prospects. “Height doesn’t matter,” Mayfield insist- straight Eastern Conference champion-
from the trees into a bunker, blasted out Louisville’s Lamar Jackson , the 2016 ed. “You see guys like Tyrod Taylor, (Drew) ship teams. Smith has endeared himself
to 12 feet and saved par. He shot 31 on Heisman winner, needs to prove he’s a Brees, Russell Wilson. They’ve proven to Cleveland fans with his hustle and
the back, finishing with a gap wedge he better pro prospect throwing the ball than that it doesn’t matter. If you want to say knack for knocking down big shots.
hammered to 10 feet for a final birdie, and catching it. And teams wonder if Okla- anything else, I’ve got three years of tape But Smith hasn’t been himself this
he walked off the green to a big ovation. homa State’s Mason Rudolph can tran- you can watch. I think I have fewer batted season. He’s always been a streaky
Russell Knox is the only other player sition to the pro offense after operating balls than all the other guys here, and I’m shooter, but his shot isn’t falling as
to win a World Golf Championship in exclusively out of the shotgun. pretty sure I’m shorter than them, too.” often. In 59 games (56 starts), Smith
his debut, at the 2015 HSBC Champions No inquiry is out of bounds. Elway, for one, isn’t concerned, about is averaging 8.3 points — the second-
in Shanghai. “Absolutely. They’re investing a lot of Mayfield’s measurements, saying, “I think lowest average of his career — and
So much more is at stake. money in these guys they’re drafting, so that (stigma) has been broken.” shooting 39 percent.
Sharma, the only two-time winner on they can ask any question,” Mayfield said. Nor is Elway turned off by Mayfield’s An emotional player and person,
the European Tour this season who leads “This whole process is about finding out crossing the line at times, such as when he Smith was clearly bothered by the
the Race to Dubai, is No. 75 in the world. what’s wrong with you. It’s pointing out grabbed his crotch and swore at the Kan- arrival before the season of Dwyane
Still in his sights is a chance to move flaws, seeing if they can look past them, sas sideline after the Jayhawks wouldn’t Wade, who briefly took his starting
into the top 64 after next week to get seeing if they can work with it. So, any- shake his hand last fall. spot. Wade was traded to Miami at
into the Dell Match Play in Texas, and thing they ask is fair game.” “A lot of times you get tied up in the the deadline, and the move seemed to
he has an outside chance of getting into Teams are asking themselves whether emotions of the situation and where he invigorate Smith.
the Masters. these guys can be the next Carson Wen- is. I like to see a guy with that kind of pas- Rodney Hood started in Smith’s place
And to think that just three months tz, who ignited the Philadelphia Eagles’ sion,” Elway said. against the Sixers and scored 11 points
ago, he had yet to win anywhere in the Super Bowl run in just his second season HOT WATER on 5 of 14 shooting. Before Thursday’s
world. Then, he shot 61 in the second before getting hurt and rooting on Nick Rosen’s time in Westwood was defined game, Lue said Smith will return to
round on his way to winning the Joburg Foles from the sideline. as much by his proclivity for creating the starting lineup following his sus-
Open. Last month, he closed with a 62 Or whether they’re the next Paxton headlines away from the field. pension.
to win the Malaysian Open. Now he’s 36 Lynch, the 2016 first-round flop whose A viral photo showed a hot tub he Smith’s target, Jones, previously
holes away from a World Golf Champi- inability to grasp the complexities of the brought into his dorm room. Another played for the Cavs and is in his sec-
onship. “Everything has happened so pro game has Broncos GM John Elway photo showed Rosen playing golf and ond season as an assistant on Lue’s
fast for me,” Sharma said. “In the past once again among those searching for wearing a headband that disparaged then- staff. Jones played in the NBA for 11
four months, my life has totally change. answers at the position. presidential candidate Donald Trump. seasons for 10 teams.
Obviously, the final destination for me Elway has found it difficult to land a Questions have arisen about how well Before Thursday’s clash with Smith,
is the PGA Tour. That’s always been my franchise quarterback from the college Rosen will get along with his new team- the talkative Jones engaged in a live-
dream. Just playing well here this week ranks like he did in free agency with Pey- mates in the NFL, but two Bruins here at ly shooting contest with point guard
will get my closer to my dream.” ton Manning six years ago. Elway could the combine vouched for their QB. George Hill.

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