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Top stories of 2010, No. 2: Celtics’ playoff run

12.30.10 at 8:10 am ET
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For the final 10 days of 2010, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year. In what was a memorable 12 months for all four of Boston’s major professional teams, there was a plethora of compelling storylines. The countdown continues with No. 2: The Celtics‘ playoff run.

Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: Kevin Garnett’s return to form
No. 9: Patriots’ playoff meltdown vs. Ravens
No. 8: Marc Savard-Matt Cooke incident and aftermath
No. 7: Red Sox derailed by injuries
No. 6: Bruins’ playoff collapse vs. Flyers
No. 5: Patriots’ Randy Moss saga
No. 4: Red Sox’ signings of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford
No. 3: Patriots’ resurgence

Also, make sure to cast your vote in WEEI.com’s poll for the 2010 Boston Athlete of the Year.

On June 17, 2010, the Celtics suffered one of the worst losses in their franchise’s history in Game 7 of the NBA finals against the Lakers. It was only the fourth time the Celtics had lost an NBA finals series and it was the first time they had ever lost a deciding Game 7. That it came against the Lakers in a game that was there for the taking only adds to the agony.

And yet this historic defeat also represented one of the great triumphs in team history, because exactly two months earlier when the Celtics took the court against the Heat to open the playoffs, not even Tommy Heinsohn himself would have predicted that they would have been four points away from an 18th championship.

Their improbable run to the finals defied all wisdom, both conventional and analytic, and breathed life into a franchise that spent the winter months of 2010 on a respirator. The Celtics went 27-27 over the final four months of the regular season and won only two of their last 10 games heading into the playoffs. The nadir came in a home loss to the lowly Wizards when afterward Doc Rivers uttered the quote that seemed to serve as their epitaph.

“If we make a run in the playoffs, will you forget [the regular season]? That’s my question,” Rivers said. “If we don’t, then it’s probably who we were all year ‘€” an inconsistent team ‘€” at least in the second half of the year. We’ll find that out.”

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Read More: doc rivers, Glen Davis, kendrick perkins, kevin garnett

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Jenn Sterger’s attorney disappointed with NFL’s conclusion regarding Brett Favre

12.30.10 at 7:57 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 Thrashers, 7 p.m. (NESN)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was fined $50,000 for failing to cooperate with a league investigation into his alleged inappropriate text messages to Jets hostess Jenn Sterger. Jason Cole at Yahoo! Sports writes that it’s clever solution for commissioner Roger Goodell. However, Sterger’s attorney is not pleased with the ruling. Joseph Conway‘s biggest gripe was with the NFL’s determination that there was no conclusive evidence that Favre sent the texts in question.

“There was ample evidence to show that the sexually explicit photographs were part of Favre’s inappropriate behavior,” Conway said in a statement. “Our evidence clearly showed that the photos were sent by Favre.”

Added Conway: “It clearly shows that an NFL star player was given preferential treatment and tells all other players that failure to cooperate may cost you some money but will not result in other punishment. [Wednesday’s] decision is an affront to all females and shows once again that, despite tough talk, the NFL remains the good old boys’ league.”

‘™¦ Oney Guillen, the 24-year-old son of White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, added to his legend Wednesday when he ripped new Red Sox reliever Bobby Jenks and accused him of having marital and drinking problems. In the Chicago Tribune, David Haugh writes that this latest episode undermines the father’s ability to manage his clubhouse.

‘™¦ Nets guard Devin Harris said he was “offended” that LeBron James mentioned his name ‘€” even though he was praising Harris ‘€” in his suggestion that the league contract a couple of teams.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 30, 1989, the Bruins held a 6-1 lead with 21 minutes remaining in regulation but surrendered six consecutive goals and fell in overtime to which team? [Answer below]

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Read More: Bobby Jenks, brett favre, jenn sterger, Ozzie Guillen

Rafael Palmeiro denies ever taking steroids, despite testing positive in 2005

12.29.10 at 10:14 pm ET
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Former Rangers and Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro told SI.com on Wednesday that he never used performance-enhancing drugs at any point during his long career, despite testing positive for steroids just weeks after reaching the 3,000 hit mark in his career.

Palmeiro said that he hopes Hall of Fame voters will forgive his mistake of taking a tainted vitamin injection in 2005, given to him by former Baltimore teammate Miguel Tejada. He hopes that Hall voters will overlook the hiccup and elect him to receive Hall induction in his first year of eligibility.

Palmeiro said that Tejada gave him a vial of vitamin B-12 in 2005. The slugger hit 569 home runs and 3,020 hits in his career, and asserted to a congressional hearing in 2005 that he never used performance-enhancing drugs in his life.

Read More: Miguel Tejada, Rafael Palmeiro, Rumor Mill,

NCAA denies playing favorites in recent rules violation cases

12.29.10 at 10:13 pm ET
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In a statement released on Wednesday, the NCAA denied that the organization plays favorites, defending recent rulings in cases involving violations by certain athletes that play for bowl teams. The NCAA defended its ruling in the case involving five Ohio State football players that were suspended for the first five games of 2011, but were allowed to play in the upcoming Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.

Auburn and quarterback Cam Newton were let off by the NCAA without repercussions after it was found that Newton’€™s father had solicited money from Mississippi State while the school was recruiting his son. The NCAA received criticism after both rulings, implying that it played favorites.

In the statement released on Wednesday that was displayed on its website, NCAA representatives said: ‘€œThe notion that the NCAA is selective with its eligibility decisions and rules enforcement is another myth with no basis in fact. Money is not a motivator or factor as to why one school would get a particular decision versus another. Any insinuation that revenue from bowl games in particular would influence NCAA decisions is absurd, because schools and conferences receive that revenue, not the NCAA.’€

Players from Ohio State, including starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, are eligible to play in the Sugar Bowl after selling personal artifacts, including rings and jerseys, and receiving improper benefits for them.

Read More: Cam Newton, ncaa, Rumor Mill, terrelle pryor

Vikings QB Brett Favre fined $50,000 for failure to cooperate with league investigation

12.29.10 at 2:20 pm ET
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According to ESPN, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could not conclude that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre violated the league’€™s personal conduct policy based on the evidence that was presented to him and league officials. Favre, however, will be fined $50,000 for ‘€œfailure to cooperate’€ with the league investigation.

Favre was accused of sending inappropriate photos via text message to Jets hostess Jenn Sterger while Favre was a member of the Jets. According to Goodell, Favre would have been hit with a much stiffer penalty had he violated the NFL’€™s workplace conduct rules.

The allegations originally surfaced when the website Deadspin published the photos Favre had supposedly sent. The pictures were posted in a video by Deadspin on Oct. 7. In a statement released by the NFL, representatives said, ‘€œThe forensic analysis could not establish that Favre sent the objectionable photographs to Sterger. The review found no evidence to contradict the statements of both Favre and Sterger that they never met in person, nor was there anything to suggest that Sterger engaged in any inappropriate conduct.’€

Read More: brett favre, jenn sterger, Roger Goodell, Rumor Mill

President of 49ers contacts Bill Parcells regarding team’s future

12.29.10 at 2:02 pm ET
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Jed York, president of the 49ers, intends to contact Dolphins consultant Bill Parcells about his feelings concerning where the team is headed, a source told ESPN’€™s Adam Schefter. Parcells, according to ESPN, will also be asked about his opinion on current 49ers vice president of player personnel Trent Baalke, who was hired by Parcells while with the Jets.

After firing coach Mike Singletary following the 49ers’ loss on Sunday to the Rams, the team is in search of a new coach for the 2011 season. The 49ers are also seeking a general manager, but have started the interview process with Tony Softli, a former Panthers and Rams personnel man.

This season will mark the eighth straight season in which the 49ers have missed the playoffs. The new GM for San Francisco will choose the successor for Singletary at the coaching position. Notable names mentioned in talks to fill the vacancy at head coach include current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden along with Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.

Read More: Bill Parcells, Mike Singletary, Rumor Mill, San Francisco 49ers

David Garrard to miss Jaguars’ finale with finger injury

12.29.10 at 12:32 pm ET
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Jaguars quarterback David Garrard will miss the team’s regular-season finale after breaking the middle finger of his right hand. He is scheduled to have surgery Thursday.

Garrard injured his finger when he hit a Colts player’s helmet during a game Dec. 19.

Trent Edwards is expected to start Sunday against the Texans.

Read More: David Garrard, Rumor Mill, Trent Edwards,

Hakeem Nicks doubtful for Giants’ regular-season finale

12.29.10 at 12:28 pm ET
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Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks is expected to miss the team’s regular-season finale against the Redskins. Nicks, the team’s leading receiver, has a broken big toe on his left foot, and coach Tom Coughlin told reporters at Wednesday’s news conference that he does not expect Nicks to play Sunday.

Coughlin also said Pro Bowl center Shaun O’Hara aggravated an Achilles’ tendon problem in his left leg in Sunday’s loss to the Packers.

Read More: Hakeem Nicks, Rumor Mill,

Top stories of 2010, No 3: Patriots’ resurgence

12.29.10 at 12:01 pm ET
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For the final 10 days of 2010, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year. In what was a memorable 12 months for all four of Boston’s major professional teams, there was a plethora of compelling storylines. The countdown continues with No. 3: The Patriots’ resurgence.

Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: Kevin Garnett’s return to form
No. 9: Patriots’ playoff meltdown vs. Ravens
No. 8: Marc Savard-Matt Cooke incident and aftermath
No. 7: Red Sox derailed by injuries
No. 6: Bruins’ playoff collapse vs. Flyers
No. 5: Patriots’ Randy Moss saga
No. 4: Red Sox’ signings of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford

Also, make sure to cast your vote in WEEI.com’s poll for the 2010 Boston Athlete of the Year.

This was supposed to be the end. The Patriots were supposed to be in a decline as the decade closed on their memorable dynasty. In last year’€™s playoffs, New England had suffered perhaps its second-most demoralizing loss of the decade in a 33-14 defeat at the hands of the Ravens in Foxboro. While the Patriots entered the offseason early with significant questions on offense and defense, the rival Jets charged through the competition to reach the AFC championship game.

In the offseason, while star receiver Wes Welker silently recovered from a devastating knee injury, the Jets and coach Rex Ryan made headlines starring in HBO’€™s “Hard Knocks.” While the Patriots were forced to groom young position players including BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, the Jets re-signed star cornerback Darrelle Revis and acquired receivers Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes.

What ensued was a season-long obsession with everything Gang Green, as Ryan and Co. became media darlings thanks to a smash-talk attitude and complemented by a fair share of team controversy. It was only bolstered by a Week 2 defeat of the Patriots, and the final changing of the guard in a crowded AFC East was expected to take place in a Week 13 Monday night rematch that would likely determine the division champion.

In the weeks following the Week 2 loss, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady produced possibly their most impressive masterpiece. With the Patriots just outside of the national headlines, Belichick rebuilt the team around a no-nonsense and team-first philosophy as the antithesis to the Jets’€™ media machine: a philosophy in which no superstar is too big to be let go and no player is too small to make a difference.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, deion branch, Randy Moss, Tom Brady

Brett Favre expected to be fined, not suspended

12.29.10 at 10:49 am ET
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According to various reports on the web, Vikings quarterback Brett Favre will be fined but not suspended by the league for his behavior in the Jenn Sterger texting controversy, with a decision expected to be announced by Thursday. NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora tweeted Wednesday morning: The fine will not exceed $50,000, and could in fact be less.