Kevin Garnett showed everyone the new, younger look of the U.S. national team, capping a 20-point performance with a crowd-pleasing burst of raw talent Thursday night in a 118-72 victory over Uruguay at San Juan, Puerto Rico.
It was the first game of the Olympic qualifying tournament for the Americans, who toyed with the awe-struck, undersized Uruguayans and led by as many as 53 points.
"It was an honor for me to have a shot blocked by Kevin Garnett," Uruguay's Juan Moltedo said. "It's going to be something I'll tell my grandchildren about."
Gary Payton, who opened the game with a three-point basket, also scored 20 points and assisted on several of Garnett's baskets. None pleased the crowd more than a between-the-legs, no-look bounce pass to Garnett on a fastbreak that ended in a resounding dunk and a 99-46 lead.
The United States needs to finish first or second in the 10-nation tournament to earn a berth in the 2000 Olympics.
In Thursday's other games, Canada defeated Cuba, 75-65, and Venezuela beat Brazil, 91-68.
The Atlanta Hawks signed guard Dion Glover, one of the team's three first-round draft choices, to a three-year contract.
Steffi Graf, who said earlier this week she would probably leave the women's tour at the end of the year, retired from her quarterfinal match with Jennifer Capriati after the first game of the third set in the A&P; Tennis Classic at Mahwah, N.J.
Phil de Picciotto, a spokesman for Graf, said she was sickened by a cough suppressant given her by a trainer during the second set. Graf has had bronchitis.
Russia may file an official complaint against a Swedish company that it says supplied radioactive sand for a court being laid for a Davis Cup quarterfinal.
The Swedish company, Lawnit Sport AB, was quoted as saying the sand was not dangerous and was the usual bedding for top-class Swedish tennis courts.
Custom officials last week barred entry to 45 tons of sand shipped from Sweden for a clay court at Moscow's Olympic Sports Complex, saying it had high levels of radioactivity. The court is to be used for Russia's Davis Cup quarterfinal against Slovakia.
Big-time college athletics got an assist from an unlikely corner when the Internal Revenue Service ruled that boosters can deduct most of the donations they make to lease stadium luxury boxes.
The ruling in the case of Nebraska businessman Rod French means that major schools such as Nebraska, Penn State and Texas will not have to rethink their methods for funding their athletic departments.
At issue was whether boosters should be allowed to deduct part of their contribution as a charitable donation if they receive the right to lease a luxury box in exchange.
Coach Kevin O'Neill, who guided Northwestern to a 15-14 record and the National Invitation Tournament last season, has been rewarded with a contract extension. . . . Purdue is appealing an NCAA committee's recommendation to sanction its men's basketball program for alleged rule violations. The proposed sanctions won't take effect until the appeal is resolved, which may take several months. . . . Steve Heaston, who coached California's men's water polo team to national titles in 1990, '91 and '92, died at his home in Pleasant Hill, Calif., after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 51.
The Mighty Ducks signed defenseman Niclas Havelid, their third-round pick in this year's draft, to a one-year deal with a club option for a second year.
Team officials are hoping that Havelid, 26, will make the jump to the Ducks this season. He has played for Sweden's national team and was one of the top defensemen in the Swedish League.
The Kings have agreed to terms with veteran winger Steve McKenna and Frantisek Kaberle, a defenseman they selected in the third round of the entry draft.
New York Ranger defenseman Jeff Beukeboom, 34, said he will be unable to resume his NHL career because of a series of concussions last season. The Rangers also continued their free-agent signing blitz, agreeing to terms with center Tim Taylor, 30, on a four-year, $5.8-million contract.
In a deal with leaseholder SMG, the Pittsburgh Penguins will pay about $1 million a year to play hockey in the Civic Arena, a fraction of the $6 million to $7 million in previous years.
Claudio Reyna of the U.S. national team will sit out this month's FIFA Confederations Cup to remain in Europe with the Glasgow Rangers for Champions Cup qualifiers. The Americans play New Zealand on July 24, Brazil on July 28 and Germany on July 30, all at Guadalajara, Mexico.
* Randy Harvey is on vacation.