Died at 85, after a long illness, Gunder H√§gg, who set the world record in the mile in 1945 and held it until Roger Bannister broke the four-minute barrier in 1954. The son of a forest woodcutter, H√§gg (left) grew up in the Swedish countryside and said he competed from the age of 16 not to become a national hero but to "make myself eligible for a decent job." Without a coach or formal training regimen, H√§gg rose to prominence in the summer of 1942, when he set world marks at seven distances and became the first person to run 5,000 meters in under 14 minutes. In all, "Gunder the Wonder" set 15 middle-distance world records, and after a tour of the U.S. in 1943 he was named Male Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press. Two years later H√§gg ran the mile in 4:01.4, a mark that seemed unbreakable until Bannister's renowned run.
Ended Nebraska's NCAA-record 35-year bowl streak, after a 26--20 loss to Colorado last Friday. In their first season under former Raiders coach Bill Callahan the Cornhuskers went 5--6, their worst record since 1961. Callahan's West Coast offense was a radical change for the traditionally run-oriented Huskers, who ranked 70th in the nation in total offense. Last weekend Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson, who was booed by the Huskers faithful during last week's game, reiterated his support for Callahan, who took over a team that went 9--3 for coach Frank Solich in 2003. But he added, "We do not want to let this program gravitate toward mediocrity for any extended period of time."
Angered by a graffiti-inspired Nike ad campaign, citizens of the neatnik nation of Singapore. In recent weeks hundreds of small, seemingly randomly placed posters featuring cartoon images of LeBron James have been pasted over other advertisements in Singaporean bus shelters. "The idea is to do something naughty ... to disrupt the neat environment of Singapore and stay in line with the street feel of this LeBron James basketball campaign," a Nike spokesperson said. In a country whose leaders sometimes seem obsessed with civic order--remember the American teenager who was publicly caned for vandalism in 1994?--some people think naughty isn't nice. More than 50 complaints have been lodged with the company that owns the ad rights to the bus shelters. The Nike campaign is part of a $100 million marketing agreement the shoe giant signed with the NBA last month to promote basketball in Asia.
Stunned by Indianapolis police, Timberwolves center Michael Olowokandi, who was arrested on Thanksgiving Day on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing. In the wee hours of Nov. 24, Olowokandi, 29, refused to leave Tiki Bob's, an Indianapolis nightclub, at closing time. Later, when Olowokandi disobeyed orders from police to leave, they subdued the seven-footer with two blasts from a stun gun and took him into custody. Olowokandi was released from jail on Thursday afternoon and suspended for two games by the Timberwolves.
Died at age 67 from complications of a viral infection, former major league catcher Tom Haller. The three-time All-Star, who retired in 1972, spent most of his 11year career with the Giants and served as their G.M. from 1981 to '85. Haller was also known for being the answer to a trivia question. In July '72, while with the Tigers, he made history by catching a game against the Royals with older brother Bill, an American League umpire, working behind the plate.
Injured in a plane crash near Telluride Ski Area in Colorado, NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol, 57. The 18-seat jet carrying Ebersol and sons Charles, 21, and Edward, 14, burst into flames during takeoff for a flight to South Bend. Six people were on board; the pilot and a flight attendant were killed. Ebersol was helped from the wreckage by his older son. On Monday searchers believed they had found Edward's body.
JIM RUYMEN/REUTERS (EBERSOL)