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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James ‘not about saving franchises’ like Knicks

12.16.10 at 7:52 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WHAT’S HAPPENING LOCALLY THURSDAY:
NHL: Bruins at Canadiens, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Hawks at Celtics, 8 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ With the Knicks losing another game to the Celtics but claiming they’ve earned respect, New York moves on to prepare for Friday night’s arrival from LeBron James and go back to complaining about how the superstar spurned New York to sign with the Heat in the summer. James explained yesterday some of his thinking about choosing a more established team over a struggling franchise. “Winning appeals to me. And it’s all about winning. I’m not about saving franchises or saving this or that,” he said. Meanwhile, Knicks president Donnie Walsh now says he knew James wasn’t going to take his talents to Times Square after meeting with him.

‘™¦ Free agent pitcher Cliff Lee has his introductory press conference with the Phillies on Wednesday. In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Phil Sheridan writes that Lee’s decision to spurn the Yankees and sign with the Phils wasn’t so much about a disdain for New York as a love for Philadelphia.

‘™¦ With Mark Sanchez struggling, Clifton Brown at the Sporting News writes that the Jets can’t afford to be patient or worry too much about Sanchez’ feelings. They need to pull him if he does not play well Sunday vs. Pittsburgh.

‘™¦ At Sports Illustrated, Richard Rothschild has a list of 10 failed dynasties ‘€” those that were one-and-done. The Jerry West-led Lakers are No. 1. No Boston teams are on the list.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 16, 1964, the Red Sox announced plans to move their spring training headquarters to Winter Haven, Fla., beginning in 1966. Which city served as their spring training home the previous seven seasons?

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Read More: cliff lee, Jerry West, LeBron James, Mark Sanchez

Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal to conduct Boston Pops at holiday concert

12.15.10 at 6:30 pm ET
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Celtics center Shaquille O’€™Neal will take a night off from rehabbing injuries and the hard court, and will trade it in for the scene at Symphony Hall, as O’€™Neal will conduct the Boston Pops on Monday night as they perform Leroy Anderson‘€™s ‘€œSleigh Ride,’€ The Associated Press reports.

O’€™Neal will climb to the podium and conduct in place of Boston Pops regular, Keith Lockhart, who will step aside to let the 7-foot-1 center guest appear at their annual Christmas concert.

For more information about the concert, check out bostonpops.org.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Rumor Mill, Shaquille O'Neal,

Cowboys LB Anthony Spencer fined for late hit on QB Michael Vick

12.15.10 at 6:30 pm ET
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Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer was fined $12,500 for his late hit on Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, which was near the head area, ESPNDallas.com reports. Spencer was flagged for a personal foul penalty on the play for a late hit, which is what drew the fine.

According to ESPN, the fine takes nearly 30 percent out of Spencer’€™s weekly pay check, which amounts to $43,588 per week. Earlier in the game on Sunday night, Spencer hit Vick near the sideline, which did not draw any fine form the league.

Jaguars defensive back Will Middleton was also fined by the league on Wednesday for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell. Middleton’€™s fine was $5,000. Middleton’€™s hit resulted in a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, but was waved off due to a flag on the hit.

Read More: Anthony Spencer, Dallas Cowboys, michael vick, Rumor Mill

Texans place DE Mario Williams on IR with ailing groin injury

12.15.10 at 5:15 pm ET
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The Texans officially put defensive end Mario Williams on IR on Wednesday, effectively ending his season with a groin injury. Williams has been a Pro Bowler the last two seasons, but struggled with a multitude of injuries throughout the 2010 campaign, The Associated Press reports.

The team struggled with the decision to put the former first-overall pick on IR, HoustonTexans.com reported earlier on Wednesday. Head coach Gary Kubiak said on Tuesday that if Williams can help the Texans win, then they would not shut him down for the season. The 5-8 Texans, however, are losing playoff hopes fast, especially after Monday night’€™s overtime loss to Baltimore.

Kubiak also said in his press conference that if the team doctors thought it would be detrimental to Williams if he were to play the remaining three games of the season, then they would ‘€œdo what’€™s right by Mario.’€

Williams recorded 28 tackles, including 8.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 13 games this season.

Read More: Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans, Mario Williams, Rumor Mill

Attention after autograph debacle ruined Tashard Choice’s surprise for nephew

12.15.10 at 5:15 pm ET
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It was a postgame oddity to see Cowboys running back Tashard Choice receive an autograph from Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in Sunday night’€™s Eagles versus Cowboys matchup. The attention stirred up the national media, and had everyone watching ask, ‘€œWhy did an NFL player ask an opponent for his autograph?’€ However, three days after the event occurred, Choice said that his teammates have no issue with him asking for a signed Vick glove, The Associated Press reports.

It turns out Choice had planned on asking Vick for his autograph even before the game had started, as he told his fellow Cowboys running backs prior to kickoff. Choice planned on getting Vick’€™s autograph for his 2-year-old nephew. Choice and Vick knew each other while Vick was with the Falcons and Choice with Georgia Tech.

Choice said that the NBC cameras that caught the autograph session and all the attention it received afterwards ‘€œmessed up my doggone surprise for my little nephew for Christmas.’€

The Eagles narrowly escaped Dallas with a 30-27 win.

Read More: Dallas Cowboys, michael vick, Rumor Mill, Tashard Choice

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis downplays critical comments made by Terrell Owens

12.15.10 at 4:02 pm ET
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Just one day after making comments on his cable television show with Chad Ochocinco essentially blaming the Bengals coaching staff for the poor season, receiver Terrell Owens said that he should not have made those statements, but he stands by them. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, despite receiving a large blame from Owens regarding the 2-11 season thus far, downplayed Owens’€™ comments, saying it is unfortunate that the receiver gets criticized nationally for speaking his mind.

Owens said on his show that there was a lot of underachieving going on, starting from the owner on down. He added that the coaches are responsible for how the players perform.

The Bengals tied a franchise record with 10 straight losses heading into their game with the Browns, against whom the 10-game skid started on Oct. 3 in Cleveland.

Read More: Chad Ochocinco, Marvin Lewis, Rumor Mill, Terrell Owens

Jimmie Johnson wins fourth consecutive Driver of the Year Award

12.15.10 at 4:00 pm ET
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NASCAR‘€™s Jimmie Johnson won his fourth consecutive Driver of the Year Award, which was announced on Wednesday, ESPN.com reports. Johnson ties Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon as the only drivers to ever win the award four times.

Johnson won his fifth straight Sprint Cup championship after a thrilling come-from-behind victory in the final race of the Sprint Cup series. Johnson has won the Driver of the Year Award four of the past five years ‘€“ Tony Schumacher of NHRA Top Fuel drag racing won it in 2008.

According to ESPN, Johnson was told privately that he won the award while in Las Vegas during the NASCAR award ceremony two weeks ago.

‘€œAwesome. It’s an honor to win the award again,’€ Johnson said. ‘€œAmong such tough competition; with the voting panel, who it is and how well versed they are in motorsports, it’s a huge, huge honor.’€

Read More: Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR, Rumor Mill

Cowboys place WR Kevin Ogletree on season-ending IR with toe injury

12.15.10 at 4:00 pm ET
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The Cowboys placed wide receiver and kick returner Kevin Ogletree on the season-ending IR list with a toe injury, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Ogletree was injured on Sunday night in a loss to the Eagles. The Cowboys are 4-9 on the season.

Ogletree was a direct replacement at the wide receiver and kick returner positions after the Cowboys placed rookie receiver Dez Bryant on IR. Ogletree had three catches for 34 yards and six kick returns for 109 yards this season. The Cowboys promoted practice-squad receiver Manuel Johnson to the active roster after placing Ogletree on injured reserve. Johnson was a seventh-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2009.

Read More: Dallas Cowboys, Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, Rumor Mill

Former Dolphin Zach Thomas says Jets sideline incident was ‘orchestrated’

12.15.10 at 3:04 pm ET
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Former Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas said on Miami’s WQAM radio on Tuesday that he thought the Jets coaching staff orchestrated the whole ‘€œtripping on the sideline’€ incident, and that there was more to the story than was originally reported. Thomas said that he believes that Sal Alosi, the strength and conditioning coach, was ordered to stand as close to the sideline as possible to obstruct any player coming down the sideline.

Alosi tripped Dolphins rookie Nolan Carroll on a punt coverage as he ran down the Jets sideline. Alosi was suspended indefinitely by the organization and fined $25,000. Thomas said the fact that six members of the organization were standing toe-to-toe as close to the sideline as allowed had to be intentional, and probably ordered.

‘€œThey had to be ordered to stand there because they’€™re foot-to-foot,’€ Thomas said. ‘€œThey’€™re only out there to restrict the space of the gunner.’€ The gunner is the outside player on punt coverage that sometimes gets blocked out of bounds.

Read More: New York Jets, Rumor Mill, Sal Alosi, Zach Thomas

New York Jets suspend Sal Alosi indefinitely

12.15.10 at 3:01 pm ET
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The New York Jets on Wednesday suspended strength coach Sal Alosi indefinitely after learning that he instructed five players to form a wall before Alosi tripped Miami gunner Nolan Carroll.

“Over the last day as we continued our investigation we discovered some new information,” said New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum. “The players at the Miami game were instructed by Sal to stand where they were forcing the gunner in the game to run around them. Based on that new information we’ve suspended Sal indefinitely, pending further review.”

Tannenbaum told reporters Wednesday that Alosi – who was fined $25,000 on Monday – acted alone and could lose his job for his actions.

“All options are certainly on the table we’re going to complete the review and get all the information,” Tannenbaum said. “Mike Westhoff was not involved, Rex Ryan was not involved, but we just want to be thorough and get all the information.”

Read More: New York Jets, Rumor Mill, Sal Alosi,