ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Retired Lt. Cmdr. Wesley Brown, the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy, has died, the Academy said. He was 85.
The Capital of Annapolis reported that Brown died Tuesday May 22. An Academy spokesman did not know where Brown died and a cause of death was not immediately known Wednesday.
Brown, a 1949 graduate, was appointed to the Academy in 1945. He was the sixth Black admitted but the first to earn a degree.
Brown “embodied the highest ideals of the Academy’s mission and dedicated himself to decades of selfless and distinguished service to our nation,” Vice Admiral Michael H. Miller, the Naval Academy’s superintendent, said in a statement.
At the Naval Academy, Brown ran varsity track and cross country, and was a cross-country teammate of former President Jimmy Carter. A 1995 interview on Brown by The Baltimore Sun noted a framed 1989 letter from his fellow track team member, who would stop by to talk to him and encouraged him to “hang in there.”
“I ran with you (you were better). Jimmy Carter,” the letter read.
Brown spent his four years at the academy without a roommate by choice, he recalled in a 2005 interview with The Capital. He said he didn’t want to feel responsible for unwilling or friendly white midshipmen.
He was featured in the book, “Breaking the Color Barrier: The U.S. Naval Academy’s First Black Midshipmen and the Struggle for Racial Equality” by Navy historian Robert J. Schneller Jr. The author said in a 2005 interview that upperclassmen would give Brown excessive demerits for allegedly not maintaining his uniform properly and some classmates would not sit next to him in the cafeteria.
He told The Baltimore Sun in a 2005 interview that he learned to not be frustrated when faced with a situation that couldn’t be changed.
“When I came to the academy, I learned that there were all kinds of prejudices — against Jews, Catholics, even the Irish — and I looked around and thought that these prejudices were instilled in them by their families and they could not be blamed for feeling the way they did,” he said.
Brown, a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, had a 20-year career with the Navy. He helped build houses in Hawaii, roads in Liberia, waterfront facilities in the Philippines, and a seawater conversion plant in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
He retired from civilian employment at Howard University in 1988.
In 2008, the Naval Academy constructed the Wesley Brown Field House to accommodate physical education classes as well as the academy’s athletic programs.
“I believe this is symbolic,” Brown told The Baltimore Sun that year. “Some of the Navy policies, procedures in the past, have not been the kind that African Americans were in favor of. And I think this indicates their dedication to diversity in general.” — (AP)
PHILADELPHIA — LeSean McCoy ran his way onto the short list of the best running backs in the NFL. He can now stamp his name among the highest paid.
McCoy and the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to a five-year contract extension that runs through 2017. The deal is for a reported $45 million, with $20.765 million guaranteed.
McCoy set franchise records in 2011 with 17 touchdowns rushing, and 20 total scores, while earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. He also led the NFL with 102 first downs and 48 runs of 10-plus yards, while finishing as the league's fourth-leading rusher with 1,309 yards.
"I love this team, and I'm kind of a hometown kid from Harrisburg which is like an hour and a half away," McCoy said Thursday night. "Nothing could be better than being here for the long term. Once you kind of realize the feeling of wanting to be here for the long term, we contacted the team and it was a mutual feeling. So, it kicked off from there."
In 2010, McCoy ranked fourth in the NFL with 1,672 yards from scrimmage while leading all running backs with a career-high 78 catches.
Philadelphia had a disappointing 4-8 start last season, before rallying with four straight wins to end the year. The Eagles did not make the playoffs.
Usually called by childhood nickname, Shady, McCoy was Philadelphia's 2009 second-round draft pick out of Pittsburgh. He has played in 46 games, with 32 starts, and has registered 4,241 yards from scrimmage.
"He does it all, so this isn't a one-dimensional running back," coach Andy Reid said. "This is a running back that can not only carry the football for you but can catch the football as well as the wide receivers and he can block and loves playing the game. That brings great energy to this football team."
He had one year left on his original four-year rookie contract.
The Eagles already this offseason signed wide receiver DeSean Jackson to a five-year contract that runs through 2016 and acquired two-time Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Houston Texans. They signed defensive end Trent Cole to a four-year extension through 2017 and tackle Todd Herremans to a three-year extension through 2016.
The Eagles believe they have the pieces in place to again become contenders in the NFC. McCoy doesn't turn 24 until July, giving the Eagles hope they can get a full five years of use out of McCoy, even at a rugged position like running back.
"It's exciting because we are trying to build for the long term," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. "We're trying to bring a championship to the city of Philadelphia and we're going to do whatever we can to do that, but on the same token, we're going to try and keep building it and sustain some success. Keeping him here is a big piece of that."
McCoy now his name up there with Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson and DeAngelo Williams as one of the highest-paid running backs. Minnesota's Peterson signed a $100 million, seven-year contract before last season. Johnson signed a $53.5 million contract extension worth $30 million guaranteed with Tennessee before last season.
"I'm just honored to be in the range financially with those guys," McCoy said.
McCoy ran for 2,731 yards in his two seasons, and posted 38 total touchdowns at Pitt. -- (AP)
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — For the second time in less than a week, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers must figure out how to fight back after a humbling loss.
Bryant responded the first time by calling out his teammates for lackluster effort.
It might not be so simple this time.
Russell Westbrook had 27 points and nine assists, Kevin Durant added 25 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder blasted the weary Lakers 119-90 Monday night in the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals.
This blowout came four days after Bryant's Lakers trailed by as many as 28 in a loss at Denver, then bounced back to win Game 7. They'll need to find some answers before Game 2 in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.
"I've seen both sides of that equation and my experience has taught me just to be patient and to think the game through," said Bryant, who tied Andrew Bynum for the team lead with 20 points.
"We can come up with a different strategy and we can do a much better job and have a much better showing in the next game."
The Thunder took a 15-point halftime lead, opened the third quarter with a 15-2 blitz filled with crowd-pleasing 3-pointers and dunks, and never looked back. The final margin ended up being the fourth-largest in the history of the Oklahoma City franchise, including its years in Seattle.
It matched the 12th-largest defeat in Lakers postseason history, and the sixth worst of Bryant's career. Three of those losses came in close-out games when L.A. was done for the series. Once was the start of a four-game sweep. The other two times, the Lakers came back to win the next game — both during their run to the 2000 NBA title.
"We got beat tonight. You can say anything you want to about a seven-game series and us having a day or whatever," Los Angeles coach Mike Brown said. "The bottom line is this is the playoffs, we've got to come to play and we didn't. We got beat.
"It's one game, so we've got to bounce back for the next one."
The Thunder didn't need any dirty tactics to get even for Metta World Peace's suspension-worthy elbow that gave Oklahoma City's James Harden a concussion with a week left in the regular season.
The league's most turnover-prone team — committing 16.4 per game in the regular season — gave it away only four times, a record low for the franchise.
"I think that's huge," coach Scott Brooks said. "Four — we've had that the first 6 minutes of games at times."
While the Lakers were making a quick turnaround less than 48 hours after ending the first round, the Thunder had eight full days off following their first-round sweep of defending NBA champion Dallas.
That gave starting center Kendrick Perkins time — but apparently not enough — to rest a strained muscle in his right hip after he hurt it in the final game of the Dallas series. He limped out of the game after dunking just after halftime and did not return — although coach Scott Brooks said he could have. He will be re-evaluated Tuesday.
The possibility of rust had been a concern for Brooks, and he fought it by alternating light days with demanding, training-camp style practices.
"There's no question we have a team full of gym rats. They want to play basketball," Brooks said. "That's all they want to do: They want to play basketball. They're basketball players. They probably don't have much of a life off the court."
All that pent-up energy came flowing out just after halftime, in highlight-reel fashion.
Durant lobbed the ball to Westbrook for a two-handed slam, then connected on a 3-pointer from the left wing to draw a timeout from Brown.
That still didn't slow Oklahoma City, which got what could have been a costly two-handed dunk from Perkins on its next trip and then another 3 from Durant before Thabo Sefolosha swiped the ball from Bryant and ran out for a layup that made it 74-46 with 8:39 left in the period.
"From then on, it was cruising for us," said Westbrook, who had nine assists against one turnover.
Both coaches started going to their benches with 8½ minutes left, and Los Angeles reserve Devin Ebanks ended up getting ejected with 2:18 to play after walking up to a scrum for the ball after the whistle. Official Greg Willard said at the scorer's table that he was ejected for "what he said" in drawing a technical foul.
"Obviously, they're more well-rested than we are, but I don't think it made that much of a difference for us," Bryant said.
"We could have had the same amount of days off. They're just younger and faster. And tonight, what you saw is them executing extremely well."
The buildup to the game focused largely on it being the first meeting between the teams since World Peace got a seven-game suspension for elbowing Harden. He returned just in time to help L.A. win Game 7 against Denver.
A sold-out crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena wasn't happy to see him back, although World Peace — who changed his name from Ron Artest — was hardly fazed by the chorus of boos that greeted him during pregame introductions or again whenever the ball came his way.
World Peace knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key amid boos the first time he touched the ball, set up a two-handed jam by Bynum and drilled another 3 within the first 2½ minutes.
The boos continued throughout the game whenever he got the ball.
"Right now, it's about basketball," World Peace said. "After the season we can talk about that but right now it's more about basketball."
Notes: Bryant tied former teammate Shaquille O'Neal for the third-most playoff games in NBA history with 216. ... Perkins was called for a lane violation in the first quarter after arguing with Willard about a call and then walking up to his spot along the lane while Bynum was shooting. Bynum made both foul shots when awarded the extra chance. ... Toby Keith's daughter, Krystal, sang the national anthem.
BOSTON — Evan Turner can take a coach on a roller-coaster ride with the best of them.
Doug Collins can loathe and love his brash playmaker from minute to minute. And after Collins got so irritated with his play to start the third quarter, there was reason to wonder if Turner might spend crunch time watching from the Doughouse.
Instead, he stayed out there, saved the day and sent the 76ers home with a split.
Turner used some ridiculous acrobatics to make a pair of late baskets, then hit a pair of crucial free throws that led the Sixers to an 82-81 win over the Celtics at TD Garden Monday night, knotting the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals at a game apiece.
“For our guys to scrap through a game like this ... all the guys who played, everyone gave us a great effort,” Doug Collins said. “Now our guys are believing they can do it.”
First, Collins had to believe Turner would get his act together.
After getting the quick hooks early in the first and third quarters and hitting just two of his first nine shots, Turner finally found a way to get it down. First he bulled his way to an ugly layup, then made a twisting reverse with 40.4 seconds left to put the Sixers up, 76-75.
“Evan was totally out of sync all game ... he was playing so fast,” Collins said. “The thing I was happy about (was) that he bounced back. He had that look in his eye ... I told him, ‘Evan, you just have to calm down.’ And he did.”
It wasn’t that long ago that an opening few minutes like that by Turner in the second half would have meant a permanent seat on the bench. These days, the coach and player are gaining confidence in each other.
“I think the most important thing is that whether I mess up or not, I can’t be scared of myself,” Turner said. “You have to take risks, play through it and learn through it. Taking me out and sitting me down is never going to help me in the end.”
After Turner’s second bucket, the Sixers got a huge stop with some terrific defense to force a tough shot by Ray Allen. When they got the rebound, there was a six-second differential between the shot clock and the play clock. Boston was letting the clock wind down, but then Rajon Rondo — who took a wise foul late in Game 1 — decided to foul Jrue Holiday with 14.4 seconds left. The Celtics weren’t in the penalty yet, so that wiped out the difference on the shot clock.
From there Turner took the inbounds pass and cooly hit a pair of free throws. Then an almost unthinkable whistle was blown on Kevin Garnett for a moving pick during an inbound play, giving the ball back to the Sixers.
Collins had been browbeating the officials about Garnett’s picks, but the timing for this call was eye-popping.
“That was worth everything,” Turner said of the whistle on Garnett. “I was surprised he called it, to tell you the truth. I was like, ‘What happened? What’s going on?’ And they called a foul. I was like, ‘Wow. Somebody’s gonna be mad.’”
Lou Williams and Jodie Meeks made free throws in the final 10 seconds, which were crucial when Boston made two 3-pointers, including a too-late shot by Garnett at the buzzer.
After Boston jumped to a 9-0 lead to open the game, the Sixers battled back behind Holiday’s 13 first-half points and it was 38-36 Celtics at half.
The third quarter started like something spawned from a sixth-grade CYO game — the Sixers went 0-for-5 from the floor with six turnovers in the opening 51/2 minutes. After getting a quick yank when the Sixers came out weakly to open the game, Turner got that fast hook when he made a couple of sloppy giveaways to start the second half.
The guy who came to the rescue was Lavoy Allen. The rookie had another huge game off the bench, getting 10 points and eight rebounds while playing fierce defense against Garnett. Allen’s biggest basket was his luckiest — a fadeaway bank shot from 20 feet on an inbounds pass with .9 second on the shot clock.
“It was pretty clutch,” Turner said of Allen’s prayer. “We needed that.”
After putting Garnett through 38 laborious minutes in Game 1, the Celtics tried to save a little in his tank in the first half. Garnett played 15 minutes and only attempted three shots, his two makes coming in the opening three minutes as Boston ran out to its early lead.
But Allen was ready for his late push, and he and Turner made the Celtics show their age as the Sixers wrested home-court advantage away after feeling like they let Game 1 slip away.
“Sometimes in losses you learn the most and realize how close you are,” Turner said. “Last season we went 3-13 and lost to the Heat in a close game and ‘Dre said, ‘We’re almost there, we’re close to turning a corner.’ And we did.
“Hopefully the fans will be our sixth man and help us protect home court.”
PHILADELPHIA — Jay-Z is in a Philadelphia State of Mind.
The rapper has announced a two-day music festival in Philadelphia. It'll feature nearly 30 acts "that embody the American spirit" across three stages at Fairmount Park on Sept 1. and Sept. 2, which is Labor Day weekend.
Jay-Z was joined by Mayor Michael Nutter on Monday atop the city's art museum steps, made famous by Rocky. The "Budweiser Made in America" festival will benefit United Way Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Tickets go on sale May 23 and will include rap, rock, R&B, Latin and dance performers.
The New York-born rapper says 70 percent of the acts are confirmed. A feverish crowd of fans was on hand, chanting his name. When one yelled out that Jay-Z's was the best, the rapper paused and said: "I agree." -- (AP)