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Taurasi’s kiss becomes an Internet sensation

Video of Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi giving Minnesota’s Seimone Augustus a kiss during Thursday’s playoff game got more than 2.5 million views on YouTube in 36 hours.

Taurasi gave Augustus a peck on the cheek after the players were called for double personal fouls in Minnesota’s 85-62 rout of the visiting Mercury in Game 1 of the best-of-three Western Conference finals.

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“I had no idea it would catch fire like it did,” Augustus said Saturday. “I guess I should’ve expected it when I woke up the next morning and saw ESPN had its little segment on sentimental smooches. But I didn’t think it would reach this magnitude. It’s great. I hope those 2.5 million views transfer over to the game.”

Taurasi and Augustus helped the U.S. team win Olympic gold medals in 2008 and last year. They have known each other since playing AAU basketball in their early teens.

A league spokesman said “both players were given personal fouls for contact made coming up the floor.”

The pair had been jostling up and down the court and an official stepped in to contain the situation early in the fourth quarter. As the players started to square off, Taurasi responded with the kiss.

“We talked about it and laughed it off,” Augustus said. “If you think about it, it could have escalated into an all-out brawl. We have a great friendship and it turned a very stressful situation into a show of sportsmanship.”


Bryant is not certain about his return date

Superstar Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers stepped off a flight from Dubai and showed up at the Lakers’ training complex in El Segundo, joining teammates for the first morning of training camp.

Bryant is recovering from surgery on his Achilles tendon and said, “I don’t think we have a particular timetable as to where I should be right now, but I’m feeling good.”

The No. 4 scorer in league history is running on a special treadmill and doing some court drills, but isn’t sprinting or playing basketball.

“It feels like the hard part is over,” he said.

Bryant grudgingly acknowledges his return will have to wait for at least a little while.

“I need to get in shape, but it doesn’t really take me long to do that,” he said. “I work hard at it. When I get back on the court, I’ll be good to go. I don’t think I’ve ever played a season where I was 100 percent. Like 70, 80 percent is fine.”

Heat promotes Elisburg

The champion Miami Heat promoted Andy Elisburg to general manager and hired former player Juwan Howard as an assistant coach.

Elisburg, who has been with the Heat since the team’s 1988 inception, previously was the assistant GM of basketball operations.

Horse racing

Ron the Greek wins at 21-1 odds

Ron the Greek pulled a 21-1 upset in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

The 6-year-old trained by Bill Mott beat runner-up Palace Malice — winner of this year’s Belmont Stakes — by 6¾ lengths. Ron the Greek, ridden by Jose Lezcano, ran 1¼ miles in 1 minute, 59.70 seconds and paid $44 to win.

Ron the Greek snapped a 1-for-9 slump.

“Every once in awhile, he’ll throw one of these,” Mott said of Ron the Greek’s huge effort. “I can’t determine when, but he did it today.”

There were four other Grade I races on the Belmont card.

Little Mike ($16.80 to win), a 6-year-old gelding, took the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic; 5-year-old mare Laughing ($3.20) won the $600,000 Flower Bowl on turf; 4-year-old gelding Private Zone ($9.20) sprinted to victory in the $400,000 Vosburgh; and 3-year-old filly Princess of Sylmar ($6.20) beat older female opponents in the $392,000 Beldame.

Stevens has big day

Jockey Gary Stevens won two of the five Grade I races at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., which had purse values ranging from $250,500 to $251,250.

Hall of Famer Stevens, the leading rider at Longacres in Renton in 1983 and 1984, guided 5-year-old Mucho Macho Man ($5.20) to victory in the Awesome Again and helped 3-year-old filly Beholder ($5.20) beat older females in the Zenyatta.

In other Grade I events, 5-year-old mare Tiz Flirtatious ($5.40) won the Rodeo Drive on turf; Secret Compass ($23.40) took the Chandelier for 2-year-old fillies; and colt Bond Holder ($23.80) captured the FrontRunner for 2-year-olds.


• Seventh-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic beat fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-2, 0-6, 6-3 to win the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament in Tokyo.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., back from a 54-week layoff, beat Bryan Vera by unanimous decision in a fight for 173-pounders in Carson, Calif. Chavez (47-1-1) was booed afterward. Vera (23-7) landed 176 punches, compared with 125 for Chavez.

• Canadian Adonis Stevenson retained the WBC light-heavyweight title in Montreal when Tavoris Cloud failed to answer the bell for the eighth round after suffering a cut over his right eye.

Marianne Vos of the Netherlands won her third title in the road race at the world cycling championships in Florence, Italy.

• Japanese figure skater Nobunari Oda won his second straight title at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany.

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