Buss Group Assumes Ownership of Sparks

From Wire Reports

The Buss family has assumed ownership of the two-time WNBA champion Sparks after a restructuring of the league, and team President Johnny Buss said Wednesday the Sparks could turn a profit in 2004.

Ownership of the Sparks will be on the same percentage basis as the NBA’s Lakers, in which the family has a majority stake, Buss said.

Staples Center owners Philip Anschutz and Edward Roski, and Magic Johnson, also own shares of the Lakers.


The Buss family had operated the Sparks since the team’s inception in 1997 under the WNBA’s original format, which called for each team to be operated by an NBA team. The 29 NBA teams collectively owned the women’s league.

Buss said he and his father, Laker owner Jerry Buss, decided to continue their involvement with the Sparks because the league’s changes will bolster the team’s chances to become profitable.

Under the restructuring approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors in the fall, each WNBA team was required to have an owner, with non-NBA owners permitted to own WNBA teams.

WNBA franchises also were permitted to be relocated to non-NBA markets.

WNBA teams also are allowed to make sponsorship agreements in categories previously reserved to the league as a whole.

The ability to attract sponsors is “how we are going to quickly turn this thing around” after taking “a big hit” since 1997, Buss said.

Buss declined to reveal a specific loss figure for the Sparks.

Winter Sports

A sponsor of the Croatian ski team wants Ivica Kostelic to explain remarks he made comparing his attitude before a race to that of a German soldier in World War II.


The Austria Press Agency reported that the Austrian bank Hypo Alpe Adria is unhappy about Kostelic’s comments after winning his third consecutive World Cup slalom race Sunday at Bormio, Italy.

The skier’s spokesman, Ozren Mueller, confirmed that Kostelic compared himself to a German soldier in 1941. Mueller said Kostelic made the comment “in the heat of the moment.”

Nacional magazine also published an excerpt from an interview more than a year ago in which Kostelic, 23, reportedly compared Adolf Hitler’s Nazism to Josef Stalin’s Communism, saying that “Nazism was a healthier system.” He also said Stalin was more inhumane by randomly killing subordinates, whereas “Hitler ... killed only those who were after his own life.”

Mueller claimed the quotes were taken out of context.


Russia defeated Germany by more than a minute and dominated a women’s biathlon World Cup race at Ruhpolding, Germany. Norway finished third.

Auto Racing

Former Formula One team owner Craig Pollock will field a new team in the CART series this season.

PK Racing, with Pollock and businessman Kevin Kalkhoven as owners, has “about three or four candidates” for drivers, Pollock said at a news conference.



Formula One teams won’t be able to communicate with their drivers or exchange data between the cars and pits at races because of cost-cutting moves imposed by the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile.


A bartender was sentenced to 45 days in jail for punching New York Yankee pitcher David Wells in a Manhattan diner in September, the pitcher’s lawyer said. Rocco Graziosa also received three years’ probation.


The Ice Dogs gave up two third-period goals in a 3-1 loss to the San Diego Gulls in a West Coast Hockey League game at Long Beach. The Ice Dogs are 13-19-2; the Gulls are 22-12-1.


Emily Carlsten of Gainesville, Fla., has been suspended for two years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency because she tested positive for amphetamine, a banned stimulant, after winning the women’s javelin at the 2002 Penn Relays.

Carlsten, who must forfeit the first-place finish, had been taking an amphetamine-containing prescription medicine.