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Photos: Meb Keflezighi embraces Martin Richard’s family at Boston Marathon finish line

04.17.17 at 2:24 pm ET
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Meb Keflezighi ran his final Boston Marathon Monday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Meb Keflezighi ran his final Boston Marathon Monday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Meb Keflezighi, who won the Boston Marathon the year after the bombings, stopped at the finish line Monday for an emotional exchange with Martin Richard’s family.

The four-time Olympian kissed the hands of Bill and Denise Richards, who’s eight-year-old son was killed in the 2013 bombings. Since then, Keflezighi has developed a relationship with the couple. He met with them three years ago prior to running Boston for the first time.

“[Martin] was inspiring,” Keflezighi said in 2015, via MassLive. “To have that sign ‘No more hurting people, peace’ says it all for Martin.”

This was the last Boston Marathon for Keflezighi, who was the first American to win the event in 31 years. The 41-year-old California native plans to run one more New York City Marathon before retiring from racing.

Read More: Boston Marathon,

Playing one day after sister’s death, Isaiah Thomas shows unenviable side of professional sports

04.17.17 at 12:41 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points in the Celtics' 106-102 loss to the Bulls. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points in the Celtics’ 106-102 loss to the Bulls. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas played in a game one day after his 22-year-old sister died in a single-car crash, and now the think pieces must follow. It’s time to talk about how he “honored his sister” with a “heroic” performance and condemn Charles Barkley for saying it was “uncomfortable” watching him cry on the sideline. For the next day, we will debate whether Thomas should’ve suited up. If he decides to miss Game 2 of the Celtics’ first-round postseason series against the Bulls Tuesday, there will probably be a smattering of pundits who take him to task. It all seems so routine.

Professional athletes live charmed existences. They make lots of money and get to stay in the world’s finest hotels. But the downside was exhibited Sunday, when Thomas’ decision to play in the wake of a personal tragedy was on display for all to scrutinize.

Athletes and coaches typically don’t take a lot of time to grieve after their loved ones pass. Often times, their decisions to stay with their respective teams becomes a part of their legacies. Brett Favre, for example, is lionized for playing in a Monday night game the day after his father dead. It might be the most memorable moment of his Hall of Fame career.

In almost every other profession, it would be unfathomable for somebody to report to work in the immediate aftermath of a major life event, such as the birth of a child or a loved one’s passing. But in professional sports, it’s standard operating procedure. The games, especially playoff games, are vaunted into another stratosphere of importance. Earlier this season, Mike Felger ripped Al Horford for missing a regular season contest in November to see his wife give birth. Given the climate, it would’ve been far more surprising if Thomas announced he was taking the week off, rather than staying in Boston.

Since Thomas didn’t speak with reporters after the game, there’s no way to determine how he was feeling. So we’re left to interpret his behavior, which is a shoddy exercise at best. Barkley said it didn’t look like Thomas was ready to play, because he was seen sobbing on the Celtics’ bench next to Avery Bradley, who was consoling him. As it turns out, Barkley’s proclamation was incorrect. Thomas led all scorers with 33 points in the Celtics’ losing effort.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Meb Keflezighi to run final Boston Marathon; First woman to run Boston Marathon running again 50 years later

04.17.17 at 10:23 am ET
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Happy Patriots’ Day! Here is your Friday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

Boston Marathon, 9 a.m. (CBS, NBCSN)
MLB: Tampa Bay at Boston, 11:05 a.m. (NESN)
MLB: Pittsburgh at St. Louis, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Indiana at Cleveland, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Memphis at San Antonio, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL: Ottawa at Boston, 7 p.m. (CNBC, NESN)
NHL: Washington at Toronto, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Chicago at Nashville, 9:30 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL: Anaheim at Calgary, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)


— Meb Keflezighi, Olympic runner and winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon, will run his final Boston Marathon on Monday.

“People say, ‘Why stop? You’re still at a high level.’ But it takes a lot out of you,” the 41 year-old said. “I had the best job in the world for a long, long time.”

Keflezighi became the first American to win Boston in 31 years in 2014, one year after the Boston Marathon Bombing. He wore the names of the bombing victims on his bib and and crossed the finish line to chants of “U-S-A!”

He is a four-time Olympian and won the 2009 New York City Marathon. After the 121st Boston Marathon, Keflezighi plans to run one more New York marathon before he retires from racing.

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Devin McCourty and Chris Long explain decision to skip Patriots White House visit in anti-Donald Trump video

04.17.17 at 9:52 am ET
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Chris Long signed with the Eagles this offseason.  (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Chris Long signed with the Eagles this offseason. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Devin McCourty and Chris Long won’t be joining their teammates Wednesday for the Patriots White House ceremony. They elaborated on their decision to skip the proceedings in a video titled, “StandingPats (Be Patriots).” In it, the two players express their opposition to Donald Trump alongside several Patriots fans.

McCourty, who announced immediately after the Super Bowl he wouldn’t be making the trip to Washington D.C., said he believes Trump’s administration fails to embrace diversity.

“For me, it was simple. I don’t believe in excluding other people,” he said. “Right away I knew I wasn’t going, because it was something I thought about before we even won the game.”

Long added that he wants his son to remember he didn’t stand with Trump.

“My son grows up, and I believe the legacy of our President is gonna be what it is,” he said. “I don’t want him to say, ‘Hey Dad, why did you go when you knew the right thing was to not go?’”

In an interview with ESPN’s The Undefeated Friday, McCourty said he doesn’t agree with an array of the Trump administration’s policies. Martellus Bennett, Dont’a Hightower, LeGarrette Blount and Alan Branch aren’t going, either, but not all are abstaining for political reasons.

Read More: Chris Long, Devin McCourty, New England Patriots,

Aaron Hernandez’s attorney on K&C: Bill Belichick knew Hernandez feared for his safety

04.17.17 at 8:57 am ET
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Aaron Hernandez was acquitted Friday in a 2012 double-murder case. (The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA Today Sports)

Aaron Hernandez was acquitted Friday in a 2012 double-murder case. (The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA Today Sports)

One of Aaron Hernandez’s lead defense attorneys said Monday the Patriots knew about certain aspects of Hernandez’s unsavory off-field life, including that he feared for his safety.

In an interview on Kirk & Callahan, Ronald Sullivan, who successfully defended Hernandez in the 2012 double-murder case, said the former Patriots tight end told Belichick during a trip to Indiana in 2013 he felt his life was in danger. That anecdote coincides with reports that Hernandez visited Belichick at the 2013 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, which were first published in the Rolling Stone. The defense subpoenaed Belichick to testify at the trial, but ultimately decided against it.

According to Sullivan, Hernandez thought Alexander Bradley, the prosecution’s star witness, was going to kill him. He shared this concern with Belichick, who recommended precautions that could be taken.

“Belichick said he would help [Hernandez] with certain security measures here internally in Boston, but that he wasn’t in a position to trade him,” Sullivan said. “This would’ve gone to the notion that Alexander Bradley was in fact, of the two, this enforcer type, this drug enforcer, this killer type, and we were going to put evidence on to that effect. But in the end, we didn’t need to, and I think that decision was correct.”

The Rolling Stone story quotes an unnamed Hernandez associate who says Belichick told the ex-NFL star to lay low and rent a safe house. During the 2013 Odin Lloyd trial, jurors visited Hernandez’s apartment in Franklin, which contained several pieces of evidence that tied him to the shooting. Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder in the case.

“The term ‘flophouse’ is a characterization,” Sullivan said. “The Patriots did recommend apartments in other areas that were close enough for him to get back-and-forth from work. How the ultimate decision was made as to which apartment to get, that’s a longer story. But that was one of the recommendations, including the security system in his primary home that they went out and looked for other apartments where he might, at least, [live in during the season]. And in the offseason, he’d be out of state some place.”

In the double homocide case, the prosecution contested Hernandez killed Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a July 2012 shooting after one of them had spilled a drink on Hernandez at a club. The defense pinned the murders on Bradley, an ex-Hernandez confidante who’s currently serving a prison sentence in Connecticut for shooting up a Hartford club. Though Sullivan wouldn’t comment on the particulars of the Lloyd case, he said he thinks an appeal is possible.

“I do think he has a better than average chance of getting the first case overturned,” Sullivan said. “You guys saw the trial. There were some things in the trial that would allow for an appeal. And clearly, back to the case that I do know a lot about, had the jury convicted in this case –– and I didn’t think there was any chance, to be frank, of a conviction in this case given the quality of evidence that was put on –– there was ample reversible error in this case.”

In his post-trial remarks Friday, Sullivan called Hernandez a “beautiful young man.” He said he stands by the characterization.

“I’m sure he hung out with a crowd that was probably not the best for him –– was definitely not the best for him. I’m not making a comment on what he was like three or four years ago. I didn’t know him then,” Sullivan said. “I just commented on the individual who I know now. I definitely stand by that. … That’s the Aaron that I know. It was certainly an honor to represent him in this case, because there was a total absence of evidence connecting Aaron to this crime. It was really a tragedy.”

Read More: Aaron Hernandez,

Charles Barkley: It was ‘uncomfortable’ to watch Isaiah Thomas cry on sideline one day after sister’s death

04.16.17 at 9:57 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 33 points Sunday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 33 points Sunday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas decided to play Sunday one day after his younger sister was killed in a one-car crash. On TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” analyst Charles Barkley implied he thinks it was a mistake.

Prior to tip-off in Game 1 of the Celtics’ first-round playoff series against the Bulls, TNT showed footage of Thomas crying on the sidelines next to Avery Bradley, who was consoling him. Barkley said he thinks Thomas appeared too distraught to play.

“I’m not feeling comfortable with him sitting on the sideline crying like that. That makes me uncomfortable, because that tells me he’s not in shape to play” the outspoken commentator said. “I don’t know how this night is going to turn out, but to be sitting on the sideline a few minutes before the game, crying, that makes me uncomfortable for him. That’s just not a good look, in my personal opinion.”

Thomas’ 22-year-old sister, Chyna, died around 5:00 a.m. Saturday when her 1998 Toyota Camry veered off an Interstate in Federal Way, Wash. and crashed into a barrier. When the starting lineups were announced Sunday, Thomas received an emotional welcome from the T.D. Garden crowd. The All-Star point guard led all scorers with 33 points in the Celtics’ 106-102 losing effort.

Shaquille O’Neal, who hosts with Barkley, offered a different viewpoint on the subject. He said he went through a similar situation in his career after his grandmother had passed away, and originally didn’t think he would be able to suit up. But a conversation with his parents changed his mind.

“I didn’t feel like doing anything. The Magic said, ‘Take your time, we don’t need you to come back.” he explained. “I was just traveling. I was in New Jersey, I just drove to Atlanta, drove to Savannah, drove to Dublin. But then my mom and dad said, ‘OK. She’s in a better place, she’s watching you. You need to continue what you do. She’ll be proud of you; she’ll be watching.’ That’s why I played.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Charles Barkley, Isaiah Thomas,

Thinking out loud: Division I college recruiting game is crap-shoot

04.14.17 at 6:00 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud…while wondering whatever happened to my favorite Centerfold?

— The Division I college recruiting game is such a crap-shoot. Sure, coaches scout and recognize talent, then try to convince a 17 or 18-year-old kid that his (or her) school is the place they should spend their formative years. And if the kid doesn’t end up meeting the coaches’ expectations?

— Nothing, really. The kid gets a free ride to school, and if the coach misses on more than they correctly guess upon, the coach is often looking for another job. 30, 40 and 50+ year old adults constantly, year after year, put their fate squarely on the shoulders of 18-year-old kids who have a hard-enough time deciding between burgers at In-N-Out and Shake Shack.

— What does this say about coaches? And for the record, I’ll take In-N-Out, animal style. But Shake Shack is coming on strong.

— At any rate, Providence received a verbal commitment from a pretty good basketball recruit this week, 6-2 point guard Makai Ashton-Langford. The “experts” say he’s one of the best in the country at his position, and that he could be the best player to pick PC since Kris Dunn (and Ricky Ledo) chose the Friars in 2012.

— Sounds great, amiright? If, of course, he lives up to the heavy burden of expectation which is presently being placed upon his shoulders. Fair or not, that’s what happens when kids hyped-up by these so-called adult experts eventually land on a campus. Not everyone winds up living happily ever after.

— But Friar fans could also end up being very happy that Ashton-Langford landed on THEIR campus, after once telling UConn he was first headed to Storrs. Time will tell, of course.

— What’s the trickle-down effect? More (and better) recruits coming your way is what a program hopes for. But unless you’ve been one of the true blue-bloods of the college game, where your brand and logo mean as much as your talent level, it’s difficult to maintain a competitive advantage when everyone has playing time to sell to elite athletes.

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Aaron Hernandez acquitted in 2012 double murder case

04.14.17 at 3:17 pm ET
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Aaron Hernandez. The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Aaron Hernandez was acquitted Friday in 2012 double murder case. The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

A jury cleared Aaron Hernandez Friday of his role in a double murder. The former Patriots tight end was accused of killing two men, Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, in a drive-by shooting in Boston’s Theatre District in July 2012. He’s already serving a life sentence for the Odin Lloyd shooting in June 2013.

Unlike the Lloyd case, where there was an abundance of tangible evidence that tied Hernandez to the crime, the prosecution was forced to rely on a flawed eyewitness during this trial. The defense characterized Alexander Bradley, an admitted drug dealer who says he was in the car when Hernandez shot and killed the two victims, as untrustworthy. He’s currently serving a four-year prison sentence in Connecticut for shooting up a Hartford bar in 2014.

According to Bradley’s testimony, Hernandez became enraged when de Abreu spilled a drink on him and didn’t act apologetically afterwards. Later in the night, when they spotted de Abreu and Furtado in an SUV, Bradley says Hernandez pulled up next to them and fired five bullets into their car. The prosecution contested Hernandez’s body tattoos commemorate the killings.

Though video from that night shows Hernandez and Bradley entering the silver SVU that used during the shooting, there’s no clear evidence Hernandez pulled the trigger. Baez said last week Bradley had an “incentive to lie,” since he was offered immunity to testify against his former friend. Bradley also says Hernandez shot him in the face during a dispute months after the murders. The jury also found Hernandez not guilty of witness intimidation and all other charges except illegal possession of a firearm. He was sentenced four to five years for that offense.

Bradley’s inconsistencies, such as his refuted story about Hernandez getting angry when Abreu spilled the drink on him, appeared to be too much for the jury to overlook. There’s also no DNA evidence that links Hernandez to the crime.

Despite the not guilty verdict, Hernandez will head back behind bars. He intends to appeal the Lloyd murder conviction.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez,

Happy 10-year anniversary to the ‘Fenway Pizza Throw’

04.14.17 at 2:44 pm ET
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There have been many great moments in Fenway Park history: Dave Roberts stealing second base, Carlton Fisk’s ‘shot heard ’round the world,’ numerous David Ortiz walk-offs. But perhaps nothing compares to April 16, 2007, when somebody threw a pizza.

The Red Sox were leading the Angels 7-1 during their annual Patriots’ Day matinee when J.D. Drew stepped up to the plate in the seventh inning. He popped a foul ball into the left field stands, and it ricocheted off the hands of a fan back onto the field. At first glance, the event appeared to be an ordinary occurrence. But replay showed it was anything but.

As it turns out, somebody hurled a slice of pizza at the fan who was trying to catch the foul ball. Jason Sole, the victim, was allegedly heckling the assailants, Matt Madore and Danny Kelly, for bringing an entire pie into the section. Madore told the Boston Herald his buddy tossed the pizza at Sole for retribution.

“Next thing I know, there’s a fly ball to left field and it goes foul and my buddy says, ‘You want some pizza now?’ And he hits him right in the face,” Madore said. “Hey, the guy wasn’t paying attention. When you’re in the stands you’ve got to be ready for anything—a foul ball, a flying slice of pizza, everything.”

Once NESN broadcasters Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy saw the footage, they couldn’t control themselves for the rest of the half-inning. Since the 10-year anniversary of the incident is coming up this weekend, this is the perfect time to re-watch the carnage. The glorious footage is below:

Read More: Fenway Park,

Watch Jet the producer take on Alex Reimer in arm wrestling match

04.14.17 at 10:39 am ET
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Jet the producer took on Alex Reimer in an arm wrestling match for the ages Friday morning on the Kirk & Callahan show.

Check out the video below.