Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers have agreed on a $122 million, two-year extension that puts the Olympic gold medalist under contract through the 2026-27 season. Lillard will make about $59 million in 2025-26, then about $63 million the next year. He’ll make about $137 million over the next three seasons, before the extension begins. Lillard is a six-time All-Star who has spent all 10 of his NBA seasons in Portland. He was limited to 29 games this past season because of a core injury that required surgery, and told ESPN in a televised interview early Friday that the time off — while frustrating — should help him long-term. He has averaged 24.6 points in his career, is a six-time All-NBA player and was selected as a member of the league’s top 75 players as part of the NBA’s 75th anniversary celebration this past season.
FIFA, Qatar prepare beer policy for fans at World Cup
Beer with alcohol is expected to be sold at World Cup stadiums in Qatar but fans may be allowed to take only non-alcoholic drinks to their seats. FIFA and Qatari organizers are still working on plans to serve all fans who want to drink at games when the tournament starts in November in the Muslim-majority country. Hospitality packages offering “premium beverages” at stadiums have been sold since February 2021 but a policy for most fans at the eight venues and long-time World Cup sponsor Budweiser still needs to be finalized less than five months before the tournament. The favored option is serving beer with alcohol in stadium compounds before and after games and allowing fans to take non-alcoholic Budweiser Zero to their seats. The 2022 World Cup is the first in the tournament’s 92-year history to be played in a Muslim country with such strict social taboos around alcohol. Questions about how Qatar would cater for fans wanting to drink alcohol have been asked since FIFA picked the host nation in 2010. The next year, FIFA renewed a sponsor deal through 2022 with Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch. That partnership started at the 1986 World Cup. At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, pressure from FIFA led local lawmakers to pass a special bill exempting the tournament from a ban on selling alcohol at stadiums.
Ronaldo missing United tour amid doubts over future at club
Cristiano Ronaldo will miss Manchester United’s preseason tour to Thailand and Australia amid doubts over his future at the club. United said that the 37-year-old forward had been granted additional time off to deal with an unspecified family issue that prevented him from reporting back for practice this week. The Portugal star has reportedly asked to leave United. Ronaldo only returned to United last season after 12 years away from Old Trafford but the team finished in sixth place and only qualified for the Europa League rather than the more prestigious Champions League.
Halfway through season, Kyle Busch still awaiting contract
Kyle Busch doesn’t know what he will be driving next year as he hits the halfway point of the NASCAR season. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Busch won’t be driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. But he heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s race in a contract year and waiting to see if JGR can find the sponsorship money to keep the two-time Cup Series champion. M&M Mars has sponsored Busch since he joined the Gibbs organization in 2008, but the company is pulling its NASCAR marketing spend at the end of this season. Busch earned his first win as a Gibbs driver four races into his debut season, at Atlanta, with Mars brand Snickers on the No. 18 Toyota. Dave Alpern, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, said he intends to have Busch back next year. It’s just a question of what company will be on his car. “We’re still working on sponsorship, and as much interest as there is in our sport, these take a long time,” he said. “This one’s taking a little longer than we thought. It’s not for lack of interest. It’s just trying to get everything put together.” Busch is the only active Cup driver with multiple championships and Alpern implied the delay in locking down a new contract is finding the right sponsor. Busch is a favorite of young children because of the bright, candy-themed paint schemes on his car. “What we do is get sponsors. I mean, we’ve been doing that for 30 years. We’re in the business,” Alpern said. “I think it’s not a matter of just slapping something on the car. It’s finding a partnership that makes sense. And so we’re just trying to find the right fit.”