Sports briefs – June 17

Reggie Evans isn’t in basketball to win a popularity contest. There is no love lost between the newest Toronto Raptor forward and his opponents; players hate to play him. Even Raptors captain Chris Bosh has said he never liked Evans until the two suddenly found themselves teammates last week.

Newest Raptor Evans brings instant toughness

TORONTO — Reggie Evans isn’t in basketball to win a popularity contest.

There is no love lost between the newest Toronto Raptor forward and his opponents; players hate to play him. Even Raptors captain Chris Bosh has said he never liked Evans until the two suddenly found themselves teammates last week.

That makes Evans smile.

“That’s a good thing, that lets me know I’m doing something good. When Chris says he doesn’t like me, I don’t like Chris,” Evans said laughing. “I like him now because we’re teammates, but I didn’t like him either. There’s nothing bad about it, it’s a good thing.”

The Raptors officially introduced Evans on Tuesday, a week after Toronto acquired the six-foot-eight, 245-pound hard-nosed forward in the trade that sent Jason Kapono to Philadelphia.

The Raptors also announced Tuesday they’ve extended a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Carlos Delfino, who spent this past season in Russia.

Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo wanted to add toughness to a team that’s been too nice for too long, and that’s exactly what he got in Evans. He’s a rough-and-tumble player, the likes of which Toronto hasn’t had since Charles Oakley patrolled the Air Canada Centre hardcourt.

Evans said he gets his work ethic from his mother, a single mom who worked two jobs to support her four kids.

“You just have to understand what it takes for hard work, we never had anything,” said Evans, whose father was in and out of prison throughout his childhood. “My mama worked all her life. My mama always told me, ‘One thing you never have to worry about: the lights will be paid and the rent will be paid.’ Just seeing her work so hard . . .

“And then I played for a high school coach who was really tough on me. So it’s a little bit of both of them.”

Magic willing to pay tax to keep Turkoglu

ORLANDO, Fla. — Hedo Turkoglu emptied his locker, shook hands with teammates and walked out of the Orlando Magic’s practice facility Tuesday.

The Magic are optimistic it wasn’t the last time.

Chief operating officer Alex Martins said the team is prepared to go over the luxury tax for the first time in its history, perhaps giving the Magic the space they need to re-sign the soon-to-be free agent Turkoglu and remain a contender to return to the NBA finals.

“The luxury tax won’t be a hindrance,” Martins said.

Turkoglu, Orlando’s starting forward and a key component to its Eastern Conference title, reiterated Tuesday that he’s planning to opt out of the last year of his contract to become a free agent July 1.

Turkoglu would make about US$7.3 million next season in the final year of a $36 million, six-year deal.

“Opting out doesn’t mean I’m going to leave,” he said. “I’m looking for the best opportunity for myself and my family. I hope everything will work out for both sides and I stay here because I became Turkoglu here. It’s a good time for me to make a decision, and hopefully everything will work out and I’ll be in a Magic jersey.”

There are plenty of other questions surrounding the Magic’s future.

With Jameer Nelson already named the starting point guard for next season, the team will have to decide whether it wants to keep Rafer Alston — and his $5.25 million contract that ends after next season — as a backup alongside reliable reserve Anthony Johnson. Alston was unhappy with his minutes in the Magic’s 4-1 series loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals, with Nelson returning prematurely from a shoulder injury that had sidelined him since early February.

Even Alston isn’t sure whether he’ll be back.

“I always think I’m going to be traded. Absolutely I do,” Alston said.

“That’s just the life of the business. I always think I’m going to be traded. I don’t know. I think (teams) don’t respect my point guard abilities. That’s every team I’ve been on.”

Cowboys at work

CARROLLTON, Texas — Roy Williams figures it is pointless to watch film from his 10 games with the Dallas Cowboys last season. There is nothing the receiver really wants to see.

“Maybe if I watch T.O. or something,” Williams said. “But I’m not going to watch myself block all day long. … I didn’t get many opportunities to catch a ball, which was tough on me because I know what kind of player I am.”

But with Terrell Owens gone, Williams now gets his chance to be Dallas’ top receiver. Considering what the Cowboys gave up to acquire Williams in the middle of last season, including first- and third-round draft picks and a US$45 million contract extension through 2013, that is what they expect.

The off-season work began in February, a month before Owens was released, when Williams started running routes and catching passes from Tony Romo. The final organized team workouts are at this week’s minicamp until training camp opens in late July.

“Oh, we’re close. There’s still little things, still routes,” Romo said.

“It’s not just about running a route on air. It’s about different coverages you’re going to see and how you’re going to come out of your break. … It’s our first full season.

“Once you see it from all of them, it’s easier the next go-around.”

Kuntz five back

MEDICINE HAT — Rob Kuntz of Lacombe was five shots back of leader Floyd Kilgore of Grimshaw following the first round of the Alberta Men’s Mid Amateur championship at Desert Blume.

Kuntz fired a 2-over 74 on Tuesday and was tied for 11th, while Kilgore turned in a 3-under 69 and held a one-stroke lead over Brian Laubman of Edmonton Highlands and Karl Parrington of DeWinton heading into today’s second round of the 54-hole tournament.

Tom Skinner of the Red Deer Golf and Country Club was second among Central Alberta competitors with a 3-over 75. Next in line were Kevin Campbell of the RDG&CC (78, tied for 27th), Les Swelin of Sundre (80, tied for 44th), Keith Newton of Olds (80, ied for 44th), Blair Neal of Ponoka (82, tied for 57th), Dean Bracken of Olds (83, tied for 63rd), Doug Staideker of Olds (89, tied for 96th) and Randy Podloski of Wolf Creek (92, tied for 102nd).

Former Red Deer resident Tom Alford of Calgary Earl Grey was tied for 63rd after carding an opening-round 84.

Game not jeopardized, says Cohon

TORONTO — B.C. Lions owner David Braley says he opened his wallet to assist in the purchase of the Toronto Argonauts because of his love of the CFL.

According to league commissioner Mark Cohon, Braley did nothing wrong.

Braley, Cohon and Argonauts owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon issued a joint statement Tuesday, responding to a Globe and Mail report that Braley fronted half the $2-million franchise fee to purchase the Argos out of bankruptcy in 2003 and continued to lend the team money.

“I am a passionate supporter of our country and those things which make it unique and strong, including the Canadian Football League,” Braley said in the statement.

“For that reason, at a difficult time in the history of the Toronto Argonauts, I offered Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon financial assistance. . . I have never directed the operations of the Toronto Argonauts, and I have certainly never been an owner of the Toronto Argonauts.”

Braley is the owner of Orlick Industries, an auto parts company.

The Globe and Mail also reported Braley acted without the knowledge of then CFL commissioner Tom Wright nor Cohon.

Cohon said he’d been informed of Braley’s assistance, and that the transaction had no effect “on the integrity of our game.”

“. . . all three of these gentlemen acted, and continue to act, out of love for the Canadian Football League and respect for its fans.

There has been no breach of the league’s constitution or its bylaws.

However, there is a need for improved transparency in such matters.”

Sokolowski and Cynamon said Braley offered the assistance to help make the purchase of the Argos more attractive during a difficult time for the team.

“David Braley is not an owner of the Toronto Argonauts and has never been an owner of the Toronto Argonauts, nor has he directed in any way the team’s operations,” Sokolowski and Cynamon said.

“David Braley is a staunch supporter of the CFL and has only ever acted to protect the league’s best interested.”

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