July 13, 2017 07:38 GMT by foxsports.com

Wednesday's Sports in Brief

PRO BASKETBALL

LAS VEGAS (AP) The NBA has for years heard complaints that a free-flowing, fast-paced and athletic game grinds to a halt at the most important and compelling time, when everyone tunes in to watch the final few minutes of a tight game.

Now the league is finally taking steps to make sure crunch time doesn’t get bogged down by commercial time.

The league’s Board of Governors unanimously approved some changes that will potentially eliminate four timeouts per game, help speed up the final minutes of games and emphasize a timely resumption of play after halftime.

The changes all go into effect starting this coming season, the NBA said.

Teams will be limited to two timeouts in the final three minutes of a game, instead of having up to three. All four quarters will have two mandatory timeouts, after the 7- and 3-minute marks.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Paul George never expected to end up in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder and their fans are already making the pitch to keep him for a while.

A day after hundreds of fans greeted George at the airport, the Thunder pulled out all the stops with a lavish, invitation-only welcome party Wednesday night. It was out of character for the buttoned-down Thunder to throw such a bash – general manager Sam Presti said he couldn’t recall anything like it.

Of course, George has just one year left on his deal, so now is the time to start making a lasting impression.

SOCCER

NEW YORK (AP) – Chuck Blazer, the disgraced American soccer executive whose admissions of corruption set off a global scandal that ultimately toppled FIFA President Sepp Blatter, died Wednesday. He was 72.

Blazer’s death was announced by his lawyers, Eric Corngold and Mary Mulligan. At a November 2013 court hearing during which Blazer entered guilty pleas to 10 federal charges, Blazer said he had rectal cancer, diabetes and coronary artery disease.

A person familiar with his death said Blazer died in New Jersey. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the place of his death was not disclosed in the statement.

With girth, charm and a pet parrot, Blazer was a bon vivant as he made deals from an office and apartment in Trump Tower. The No. 2 official in the governing body of soccer’s North and Central American and Caribbean region from 1990-2011 and a member of FIFA’s ruling executive committee from 1997-2013, Blazer was central to the rise of the sport in the United States. He relished his status, posting a photo on his blog of him in a private jet with Nelson Mandela.

ESPYS

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Russell Westbrook won best male athlete at The ESPYS, while Olympic gymnast Simone Biles earned best female athlete honors.

The 25th annual show honoring the past year’s top athletes and sports moments was hosted by Peyton Manning, who humorously mocked his reputation as a control freak and an overexposed commercial pitchman in the retired NFL quarterback’s opening monologue.

Westbook was the NBA MVP, led the league in scoring and set a record for most triple-doubles in a season with 42. The Oklahoma City Thunder star won the trophy over Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

Biles became the most decorated U.S. Olympic gymnast at the Rio de Janeiro Games, winning five medals, including four golds and a bronze. She beat out Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky, WNBA star Candace Parker and Serena Williams for the honor.

BOXING

WASHINGTON (AP) – The IRS still has Floyd Mayweather Jr. on the hook for $7.2 million in taxes from 2010, according to records that show a lien as unresolved for the year he fought Shane Mosley.

That’s on top of the $22.2 million the undefeated boxer nicknamed ”Money” owes in 2015 taxes for the year he earned $200 million to fight Manny Pacquiao. He brushed off the tax debt in comments to reporters Tuesday at the start of his tour to promote an Aug. 26 boxing match against Irish MMA star Conor McGregor.

Mayweather’s public bravado about his wealth doesn’t match up with county records in Las Vegas and his own petition to the U.S. Tax Court in Washington.

A petition filed by Mayweather last week argues that as wealthy as he is, he doesn’t have the cash on hand to pay his debt for 2015. The IRS refused a direct request by the fighter to pay in installments until he is paid for the McGregor fight, and the agency said it intends to levy Mayweather.

PRO FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) – The Dallas Cowboys are worth $4.2 billion, making them the most valuable sports franchise for the second straight year, according to Forbes .

In its annual rankings, Forbes placed the New York Yankees second – up from fourth a year ago – with a value of $3.7 billion.

Next are three soccer clubs: Manchester United ($3.69 billion), Barcelona ($3.64) and Real Madrid ($3.58).

The rest of the top 10 includes the New England Patriots ($3.4 billion), New York Knicks ($3.3 billion), New York Giants ($3.1 billion), San Francisco 49ers ($3 billion) and Los Angeles Lakers ($3 billion).

The rankings are based on Forbes’ valuations done over the last year for all NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, soccer, NASCAR and Formula One teams.

The average current value of the top most valuable teams is $2.5 billion, the highest to date, an increase over last year, when the average value was $2.2 billion.

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