Nike sticks with Maria Sharapova

Tennis start Maria Sharapova was recently hit with a two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation, but Nike is sticking with the sexy Russian player even as other brands have distanced themselves from her. It’s an interesting move by Nike as it’s showing loyalty that might help them with other athletes.

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Take Sasha Vujacic…please!

Brian Windhorst is reporting that the Lakers are trying to move Sasha Vujacic:

Sources said Lakers are trying to trade Sasha Vujacic wfirst round pick to get his salary off books. They tried to do it for Delonte West.

IMO, Vujacic is hands down the most annoying player in the league. If I were running a team, the Lakers would have to include Pau Gasol or his girlfriend, Maria Sharapova, in the deal to get me to take on his contract/personality.

After a reasonably decent 2007-08 — 8.8 ppg, 44% 3PT — Sasha averaged 2.8 ppg and 31% from 3PT last season. The only productive thing he did all year was get under Goran Dragic’s skin in the Suns series, and even that almost backfired.

Obligatory pics (of Maria) after the jump, of course.

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Kirilenko upsets Sharapova at Austalian Open

We already have an upset at the 2010 Australian Open. It took three achingly long hours, but Maria Kirilenko defeated countrywoman Maria Sharapova 7-6, 3-6, 5-4 in the first round. Dressed for late-night dancing in Hawaii rather than competitive tennis, Maria Sharapova never got comfortable as she struggled with her serve and stumbled around the court. After overcoming a shoulder injury, we expected Sharapova to arrive reinvigorated and close to top form. During her loss against Kirilenko, however, it’s obvious that something is simply wrong with her game.

As for Kirilenko, this is one of the biggest victories of her career. The women’s draw at this tournament is loaded with decorated players, but that shouldn’t frighten Kirilenko. Given her performance in this match, she should give any of them a run for their money.

Pic of Sharapova (and her night club outfit) after the jump.

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Blogging the Bloggers: Sasha’s new girl, porn stars and more

SPORTSbyBROOKS gives us one more reason to hate Sasha Vujacic. (Hint: He’s dating the girl in the picture.) They also have a strange story about Dwight Howard, as told by porn star Mary Carey.

RED’S ARMY says that people should forget about LeBron James joining Kobe in Los Angeles. Are there actually those who think this might happen?

PRO FOOTBALL TALK reports that the 7-1 Minnesota Vikings face potential blackouts after this week’s bye. Seriously. That’s pathetic.

LARRY BROWN SPORTS wonders if the sign that the Chiefs posted is aimed at a certain running back with the initials “LJ.”

Finally, Maria Sharapova wins a tournament

Maria

Maria Sharapova, who’s been mired in a horrific slump since returning from an injury 10 months ago, won the Toray Pan Pacific championship earlier today in Japan.

Sharapova was leading 5-2 in Saturday’s final at Ariake Colosseum when the seventh-seeded Jankovic took a timeout to have her right arm examined by the trainer.

The Serbian player returned to the court and lost the first two points of the eighth game before retiring.

“It’s disappointing,” Sharapova said. “It’s toward the end of the year and there are a lot of injuries so I wish Jelena a speedy recovery.”

It was Sharapova’s first title since Amelia Island in April, 2008, although she has spent long periods of the tour in the interim.

Even if Jelena Jankovic did have to retire in the first set, everyone on the WTA Tour is so broken down by the end of the year that nagging injuries are expected. I wasn’t able to catch this match for obvious reasons, but I would’ve liked to see how Sharapova looked coming out strong. She hasn’t been atrocious, but lately she’s tended to lose her rhythm rather quickly. With her performance today, Sharpova proved she’s down but not out. Anything is possible. Just look at Kim Clijsters, who won this past U.S. Open after taking two years off to start a family. Sharapova is only 22, so she has plenty of time to regain her authority.

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