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Original Issue

The Beat

HOW COOL has LeBron James made the Cleveland Cavaliers? Cool enough that Usher (below) wants to be a part of the team. Michigan businessman Dan Gilbert last month agreed to purchase the Cavs from Gordon Gund for $375 million, and Usher, a five-time Grammy winner, will have a minority stake. He's not the first hip-hop artist to take on the role of part owner of an NBA team. Nelly is part of the Bobcats' ownership group, and one of the owners of the Nets is Jay-Z, who has enlisted a rival--Knicks guard Jamal Crawford--to appear in television ads promoting The S. Carter Academy (Jay-Z's real name is Shawn Carter) for kids who want to pursue a career in music, art or sports.

■ Roger Federer and Andre Agassi took tennis to new heights last week, hitting balls 700 feet above the ground on a helipad at the Burij Al Arab hotel in Dubai (page 4), where the stars were playing in the Dubai Duty Free Men's Open. "I had no issues with the height as long as I didn't have to bungee jump off the side," said Agassi.

■ It might cost him his beloved cowboy hat, but Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar has nonetheless seems amenable to being made over this month on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. "I won't cut my hair, but they can do my face, nails, toes, whatever," Millar, 33, told the Boston Herald. "They said they've got some surprises planned, whatever that means, but it will be funny." Instead of renovating Millar's home--which is currently a spring training hotel room--the Fab Five would rebuild a Little League field in Port Charlotte, Fla., that was damaged by the hurricanes last year.

■ It's official: "DerekJeter" is a dirty word in Boston. At least that's what FleetCenter president Richard Krezwick said last week when New York City lawyer and Yankees fan Kerry Konrad bid $2,325 and won an eBay auction for the naming rights to the arena and tried calling it the Derek Jeter Center. (Bank of America acquired FleetBoston last year and the facility's name is obsolete, so daily naming rights are being auctioned off for charity, with the new name plastered on signs throughout the facility and website.) Konrad's idea, however, was rejected. "All names have to be rated G," said Krezwick. "We determined that the Derek Jeter Center is an obscene and vulgar use of the English language in Boston." Konrad then had a friend donate an extra $6,275 to rename the building the Jimmy Fund Center, after a Boston cancer charity. The total of the bids, $8,600, amounts to 100 bucks for each of the 86 years the Red Sox went before winning the 2004 World Series.

■ Mo Vaughn doesn't play for the Mets anymore, but he is still trying to do his part for New York. Vaughn recently procured a $28.6 million housing development loan to buy two low-income apartments in the Bronx, which he will spend $5 million to renovate--and he won't raise the rent. "I came to New York to play ball, and that didn't work out so well," said Vaughn. "So I had to figure out something else that might."



A Norwegian soccer player delayed his retirement when his team offered to buy him all the pizza he could eat for another season.

They Said It


Former Ohio State running back, on his new attitude heading into the NFL draft combine (page 42): "It's a humbling thing being humble."






What was Poland's Dariusz Michalczewski thinking as fellow light heavyweight Fabrice Tiozzo rearranged his face? Ouch! and I came out of retirement for this? are good bets. Michalczewski, 36, a former WBO champ, returned to the ring last Saturday after a 16-month hiatus to take Tiozzo's WBA belt. Tiozzo won by TKO in the sixth round, forcing Michalczewski to face the fact that his career has gone as flat as his nose.