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Sports in Brief: Director John Avildsen dies at 81; won Oscar for ‘Rocky’

LOS ANGELES — John G. Avildsen, who directed “Rocky” and “The Karate Kid” — two dark-horse, underdog favorites that went on to become Hollywood franchises — died Friday at age 81.

Anthony Avildsen said his father died Friday in Los Angeles from pancreatic cancer. “He was a pretty extraordinary man in my estimation. He was super talented and very driven and very stubborn and that was to his detriment but also often to his benefit,” Anthony Avildsen said.

“Rocky” was a huge success. It won Oscars for best picture, director (Avildsen) and editing and was nominated for seven others. No less a Hollywood eminence than Frank Capra loved it, telling The New York Times in 1977, “When I saw it, I said, ‘Boy, that’s a picture I wish I had made.’ “ For his part, Avildsen said Capra — who also championed underdogs on film — was his favorite director.

“Rocky” was a chance venture for Avildsen. Sylvester Stallone, then unknown, had written the script and sought Avildsen to direct it, but Avildsen was already working on another film. Suddenly the production company ran out of money and that film was canceled.

A friend sent Avildsen the “Rocky” script. “On page 3, this guy (Rocky) is talking to his turtles, and I was hooked,” Avildsen remarked. “It was a great character study.” Avildsen agreed to direct “Rocky” even though he knew nothing about boxing.

Tiger Woods’ arraignment on DUI charge delayed until August

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The arraignment of golfer Tiger Woods on a DUI charge has been delayed until August.

Court documents filed Thursday show the presiding judge canceled the original July 5 hearing and reset it for Aug. 9. No details were provided.

Woods was charged with driving under the influence after police in Jupiter, Florida, found him asleep at the wheel of his Mercedes-Benz about 2 a.m. May 29. Breath tests showed no presence of alcohol, but Woods told officers he had a reaction to several prescription drugs, including Vicodin and Xanax.

Woods could qualify for a diversion program in which the DUI charge is downgraded to reckless driving, which results in probation, fine and other conditions such as taking a DUI course.

Woods’ attorney did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Nike to slash 1,400 jobs, cut sneaker styles in shakeup

NEW YORK — Nike wants to be more nimble on its feet.

The sneaker maker said Thursday that it plans to focus on the hottest-selling sneakers, slash the number of styles it offers and sell more shoes directly to customers online as part of a restructuring in which it also will cut about 1,400 jobs.

Nike said the moves will help it offer products to customers faster as it is facing increasing competition from smaller brands and premium labels. Another problem: The running and basketball shoes Nike is famous for may be outdated.

More people are choosing fashion over function, with sales of classic sneakers industry-wide climbing 26 percent last year, according to research from The NPD Group. Meanwhile, sales of running performance sneakers were flat and sales of basketball performance sneakers dropped, according to the same report.

Nike, known for its swoosh logo, will also make its sneaker-selling apps available in more countries at a time when online sales mean many big retailers and department stores are closing stores.

Nike said a main focus will be the 12 key cities in 10 countries that it expects to represent more than 80 percent of its projected growth through 2020. Those cities are New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Milan, Mexico City, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and Beijing.

Ex-infielder John Valentin, mom injured in crash

RED BANK, N.J. — Former Red Sox and Mets infielder John Valentin and his mom were injured when the SUV he was driving crashed into a building in New Jersey.

Red Bank Police Chief Darren McConnell says the 50-year-old Holmdel resident was driving along Route 35 on Thursday when the SUV left the roadway and slammed into a building used by the Visiting Nurse Association. More than half the SUV went into the building, which was unoccupied because the agency is moving.

The police chief says Valentin and his 71-year-old mother sustained injuries that were not life-threatening.

McConnell says Valentin may have suffered a medical problem prior to the crash.

Valentin played for the Red Sox from 1992 to 2001. He finished his major league career with the New York Mets in 2002.

Bucks stay in-house, hire Jon Horst as general manager

MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Bucks stayed in-house to fill their general manager vacancy.

The team named director of basketball operations Jon Horst as its next GM on Friday.

He will replace John Hammond, who left last month to take the Orlando Magic job.

Horst will take over building a young, promising roster led by All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and coached by Jason Kidd.

The Bucks finished above. 500 for the first time since 2009-10, losing to the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs in six games.