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LeBron James not on Ron Artest’s short list of top players

10.14.10 at 11:28 pm ET
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According to a report from ESPN, Ron Artest of the Lakers feels that Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant is “the second-best player in the NBA,” behind Artest’s Lakers teammate, Kobe Bryant.

“Kobe’s got five rings, six game-winners [last season], 23 straight points in [Game 5 of the finals] off mostly jump shots,” Artest said. “[He’s] the biggest shot maker, big shot maker. So, that said, Durant’s the second-best player in the NBA.”

Asked who he felt was the third-best player in the league, Artest made no room for anybody else, including back-to-back MVP LeBron James.

“I only count to two,” Artest said. “I’ve been out of school 15 years, so I only count to two.”

Read More: LeBron James, Ron Artest, Rumor Mill,

Colt McCoy probable starter for Browns

10.14.10 at 1:28 pm ET
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Browns coach Eric Mangini said on Wednesday that he was pleased with the progress Colt McCoy has shown in practice and that he was leaning toward making the rookie quarterback the starter Sunday against the Steelers. McCoy has taken the majority of snaps with the first-string offense in practice and Mangini said that he will continue to get the bulk of the reps in practice on Thursday. He added that he is grasping the Browns’ game plan nicely.

The Browns have had injury problems at the position as Jake Delhomme went down in Week 1 with an ankle injury, and Seneca Wallace suffered an ankle injury of his own this past weekend.

Read More: Colt McCoy, Eric Mangini, Jake Delhomme, Rumor Mill

John Elway caught up in Ponzi scheme

10.14.10 at 10:44 am ET
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Legendary Broncos quarterback John Elway and a business partner invested $15 million in an alleged Ponzi scheme with a hedge-fund manager, according to court documents. Sean Mueller has been charged with racketeering, securities fraud and theft. Mueller turned himself in to authorities on Wednesday. Elway and his business partner, Mitchell Pierce, declined to comment.

[Read the full report here]

Read More: John Elway, Rumor Mill,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: ‘Best teams for the buck’

10.14.10 at 7:54 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 TODAY:
No games scheduled

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Forbes magazine has a list of baseball’s “Best Teams for the Buck.” The Padres, who recorded 90 wins with a payroll of just $37.8 million (29th in MLB), top the list, with the Rangers and Rays close behind.

‘™¦ Former Texas Rangers managing partner George W. Bush is enjoying the team’s success this fall. The New York Times has some interesting anecdotes about Bush’s time leading the Rangers, collected from other owners and former commissioner Fay Vincent.

‘™¦ Shawne Merriman‘s fall from grace with the Chargers is complete, as San Diego placed the once-feared linebacker on season-ending injured reserve with the additional stipulation that he be released once he is healthy. At the San Diego Union-Tribune, Tim Sullivan writes about how Merriman went from being a beast to a burden for the Chargers.

‘™¦ At ESPN.com, Bill Simmons explains in great details how he was the first to tweet about the Patriots’ Randy Moss trade.

‘™¦ Some versions of the 2011 Cavaliers calendar feature LeBron James on the cover. It’s not selling well in Cleveland.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Oct. 14, 1975, the Red Sox lost Game 3 of the World Series to the Reds, 6-5 in 10 innings. The game is remembered for the non-interference call on Ed Armbrister, when Sox catcher Carlton Fisk bumped into the batter before madking an errant throw to second base. Which Reds player later singled in the winning run?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’ve got an 11 o’clock reservation I had to make. I didn’t want to stay any longer than I had to, you know what I’m saying? It’s my birthday.” ‘€” Celtics guard Paul Pierce, after hitting the winning jumper vs. the Knicks on Wednesday, his 33rd birthday

STAT OF THE DAY: 2 ‘€” Batters hit by Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett in a simulated game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday

‘NET RESULTS: A brawl breaks out during a basketball game between China and Brazil.

Roger Federer nails another between-the-legs winner, much to the dismay of John Isner.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Joe Morgan

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Cliff Richard turns 70 on Thursday.

Read More: Bill Simmons, George W. Bush, LeBron James, Randy Moss

Shaquille O’Neal finally decides on a nickname

10.14.10 at 6:32 am ET
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According to the Boston Herald, Celtics‘ center Shaquille O’Neal has decided on his nickname for the coming season.

‘€œThe Big Shamrock, aka Blackie Bulger, aka the Godfather of Sudbury,’€ he told the Herald.

Asked about the challenge of the Miami Heat, O’Neal said, “‘€œI don’€™t really worry about other teams. Of course they have a historical backcourt, but it’€™s going to be a very exciting year for a lot of teams. A lot of teams feel they can win. May the best team win.’€

Read More: Rumor Mill,

Chargers place Shawne Merriman on season-ending IR

10.13.10 at 2:17 pm ET
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Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman was placed on the reserve-injured list Wednesday with a calf injury and a “minor-injury designation,” the team said in a news release. According to the designation, the Chargers must release Merriman when he is ready to play again.

Merriman, 26, re-injured his calf in San Diego’s loss to the Raiders on Sunday. He has struggled with injuries the last three seasons, including missing 15 games in 2008 after having reconstructive knee surgery.

Read More: Rumor Mill, Shawne Merriman,

Video: Blackhawks’ Niklas Hjalmarsson suspended for hit

10.13.10 at 11:03 am ET
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Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was suspended Tuesday by the NHL for two games after a hit on Sabres right wing Jason Pominville. Hjalmarsson was ejected from Monday night’s 4-3 win after hitting Pominville from behind just inside the Sabres’ zone, sending him crashing into the boards, where his head slammed against the glass. Pominville sustained a concussion and a gash above his eye that required at least seven stitches.

“My intention wasn’t to hurt him,” Hjalmarsson said after the game. “You never want to see someone laying on the ice like that.” Hjalmarsson was given a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct, which forced the Blackhawks to play with five defensemen for the rest of the game. With the suspension, he will miss Wednesday’s game against the Predators and Friday’s game against the Blue Jackets.

The suspension may come as a small relief to Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who on Tuesday urged the NHL to “change the culture” and send a message that blindside hits are not acceptable.

Read More: Jason Pominville, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Rumor Mill, Ryan Miller

Video: Islanders’ James Wisniewski suspended for obscene gesture

10.13.10 at 10:59 am ET
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Islanders defenseman James Wisniewski was suspended Tuesday by the NHL for two games because of an obscene gesture he made toward Rangers forward Sean Avery during Monday’s game on Long Island (video below). During a stoppage of play in the first period, Wisniewski made a gesture simulating oral sex while being separated from Avery by the referees. Wisniewski said he didn’t remember making the gesture, but the actions were caught on tape and available on YouTube before the game was even over.

“A lot of actions on the ice are regrettable,” Wisniewski said in a statement. “I’ve been given a suspension from the league, and I’m going to accept it and move on from here.” Wisniewski will sit out games against the Capitals on Wednesday and the Penguins on Friday.

Read More: James Wisniewski, NHL, Rumor Mill, Sean Avery

Gilbert Arenas admits faking injury to let teammate start

10.13.10 at 10:05 am ET
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Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas said he faked a knee injury before the team’s preseason home opener so that teammate Nick Young could start.

Prior to Tuesday night’s game vs. the Hawks, Washington coach Flip Saunders announced that Arenas would sit with a sore knee. After the game, Arenas told a different story.

“I told [Young] I’d sacrifice playing tonight so he can get some time in because I know he’s kind of frustrated he’s not getting a chance to crack the [small forward] position, especially since we’re going three guards,” Arenas said with a smile. “So I told him I’ll go and fake an injury or say something’s wrong with me so you can start.”

Young started and played 31 minutes, scoring a team-high 24 points in the Wizards’ 107-92 victory.

Arenas, who is returning from a 50-game suspension last season for bringing guns into the locker room, said his knee was fine and that he would play in Thursday’s game vs. the Bucks.

Read More: Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young, Rumor Mill,

Report: Fredi Gonzalez to manage Braves

10.13.10 at 9:53 am ET
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According to MLB.com, multiple sources have confirmed that Fredi Gonzalez will be introduced as the Braves new manager on Thursday. Gonzalez was speculated as a leading candidate to succeed Bobby Cox since Gonzalez’ dismissal by the Marlins on June 23. Gonzalez served as a member of the Braves coaching staff from 2003-06, during which time he was widely respected by players and administrators.

As manager of the Marlins, Gonzalez went 276-279 in three-plus seasons and posted winning seasons in 2008 and 2009. The Marlins were just two games below .500 when he was dismissed in June. During his time with the Marlins, Gonzalez kept his family’s residence in suburban Atlanta, continuing to strengthen his close friendship with Cox as well as Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell. Other Braves veterans who have voiced their support for Gonzalez include Chipper Jones, Tim Hudson and Brian McCann. They were all in Atlanta while Gonzalez completed his four-year stint as Braves third base coach.

Read More: Atlanta Braves, Bobby Cox, Fredi Gonzalez, Rumor Mill