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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Marlon Byrd apologizes to Indians teammates after 1-year suspension for PEDs

06.02.16 at 8:17 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Giants at Braves, noon (MLB Network)
MLB: Dodgers at Cubs, 3 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Royals at Indians, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA Finals: Cavaliers at Warriors, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Soccer: Women’s exhibition, United States vs. Japan, 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Exhibition, England vs. Portugal, 3 p.m. (FS1)
Tennis: French Open, 7 a.m. (Tennis Channel), 11 a.m. (NBC)


Marlon Byrd

Marlon Byrd

— Indians outfielder Marlon Byrd apologized to his teammates Wednesday after being suspended a full season for his second violation of MLB’s drug policy — a suspension that he says will end his career.

Byrd first was suspended 50 games in 2012 after he tested positive for Tamoxifen. That came after he was released by the Red Sox following a 34-game stint in Boston. This time he tested positive for Ipamorelin, a growth hormone.

The 38-year-old called manager Terry Francona on Wednesday morning and spoke to his teammates in the clubhouse later in the day.

“Marlon stood up in front of everybody and took responsibility and apologized,” Francona said. “And, basically, he told the guys that his career is over and this is not how he wanted it to end. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of criticism of the situation, but it doesn’t take away that we care about him. We care about our team, but we also care about the individuals. So, that hurts.

“It feels like we got kicked in the stomach a little bit.”

In a statement, Byrd said he did not intentionally cheat. He acknowledged taking supplements that were not approved, but he said he must have taken a tainted supplement.

“I assumed certain risks in taking them,” he said. “I alone am responsible for what I put in my body, and therefore, I have decided for forgo my right to an appeal in this matter and accept the suspension. I apologize for any harm this has caused the Cleveland Indians, Indians’ fans, my teammates, and most importantly, my family.”

Byrd was hitting .270 with five home runs and 19 RBIs in 34 games.

— It might go against the Red Sox playbook, but Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler was not afraid to blast his struggling team during a radio interview Wednesday. And the team came through hours later, erupting for a 14-6 victory over the Mariners.

The morning after the Padres capped a 1-7 road trip with a 16-4 loss to the Mariners on Tuesday night, Fowler called the team’s recent performance “embarrassing” and “pathetic” during an interview with San Diego’s Mighty 1090.

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez recounts battle with Zika virus

06.01.16 at 8:20 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Twins at Athletics, 3:35 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Dodgers at Cubs, 8:05 p.m. (ESPN)
Stanley Cup Final: Sharks at Penguins, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Exhibition, Belgium vs. Finland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tennis: French Open, 7 a.m. (Tennis Channel)


Francisco Rodriguez

Francisco Rodriguez

— Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez on Tuesday recounted his battle with the Zika virus over the offseason, saying he wouldn’t blame athletes for skipping this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro due to health concerns.

Rodriguez, who spent the offseason in his home country of Venezuela, said he was laid up for two weeks with headaches, body aches and joint pain after contracting the virus, which is being blamed for causing microcephaly in South American infants.

He said the symptoms started out like those of a cold, but it soon became clear he had contracted the mosquito-transmitted disease, and tests later confirmed it.

“It wasn’t a cold, trust me,” he told “It wasn’t a cold. A cold, you have a sneeze, have a headache, take a couple Tylenol and you’re done. You don’t have a cold for two weeks, you don’t have a body ache for two weeks, you don’t have headaches, throwing up, weaknesses for two weeks.”

Although the World Health Organization recently downplayed the importance of moving the Olympics out of Brazil — despite terming it a “public health emergency of international concern” — a number of athletes have publicly questioned whether it’s worth risking their health.

“I wouldn’t blame them,” Rodriguez said. “If they have plans to have kids in the future, you’ve got to think about it. You have to be aware of that as well. You have to do some homework, some research about it.”

The 34-year-old Rodriguez, who last week became the sixth pitcher in MLB history with 400 career saves, said he was still recovering when he began spring training, and it took two months before he was back to feeling like his old self. He said he understands the fear that people visiting Brazil for the Olympics could help spread the disease back to their home countries.

“It’s something people have to be careful with and worry about,” Rodriguez said. “There’s no vaccine for it. It’s not like you take a shot and [improve]. . . . It could be global.”

— Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze addressed accusations by former lineman Laremy Tunsil that cash payouts were made to players, acknowledging some issues but playing down the severity of the problem.

“I stand here owning the mistakes, but that is what they are, not some staff out trying to buy players,” Freeze said Tuesday at the Southeastern Conference’s annual meetings. “There’s not a single charge in our letter that charges a coach with [being] out buying players. While I have struggles in life that I don’t always get right, breaking the rules in recruiting is not one of them. I won’t do it.”

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Kevin Durant has ‘no regrets’ after Thunder’s Game 7 loss to Warriors

05.31.16 at 8:19 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Padres at Mariners, 3:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Pirates at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Dodgers at Cubs, 8:05 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Tigers at Angels, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)
WNBA: Lynx at Liberty, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)


— It only took minutes after the Thunder’s disappointing Game 7 loss to the Warriors on Monday night before Kevin Durant was asked about his future in Oklahoma City.

The most high-profile pending free agent of this offseason, Durant was not interested in starting that discussion after his team squandered a 3-1 series lead to the defending NBA champions.

“We just lost like 30 minutes ago. I haven’t even thought about it,” Durant said at the postgame press conference following OKC’s 96-88 loss. “I’m just embracing my teammates and reflecting on the season.”

Durant can make about $30 million per year if he signs a five-year deal to return to the Thunder franchise for a 10th season, or he could take a couple million less per year and get a fresh start somewhere else. It’s also possible he could sign a one-year deal and take his chances again next season, with the salary cap expected to rise again.

The Thunder have been eliminated by the eventual NBA champions four times in the last six seasons, not including this season’s elimination at the hands of the team that set the all-time record for regular-season wins with 73.

Durant scored 12 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter Monday as the Thunder cut an 11-point deficit to four with 1:40 remaining, but he could not lead OKC all the way back.

“We wanted to win the whole thing,” Durant said. “There’s no moral victories in our locker room after the game. We were all upset. We wanted to get a chance to play for a championship in the finals, so that hurts.”

Added Durant: “It hurts losing, but everybody fought hard every single moment, left their soul out on the court. We have no regrets.”

— Baylor continued to make changes in the wake of its football scandal, parting ways with athletic director Ian McCaw and hiring former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe as coach.

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Read More: Alan Pulido, Ian McCaw, Jim Grobe, Kevin Durant

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Mexican soccer player Alan Pulido rescued after kidnapping

05.30.16 at 8:17 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Orioles, 1:35 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: White Sox at Mets, 1:10 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Twins at Athletics, 4:05 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Yankees at Blue Jays, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Thunder at Warriors, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Stanley Cup Final: Sharks at Penguins, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Lacrosse: NCAA championship, North Carolina vs. Maryland, 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tennis: French Open, 11 a.m. (NBC)


Alan Pulido is safe after being rescued following his kidnapping. (David Banks/USA Today Sports)

Alan Pulido is safe after being rescued following his kidnapping. (David Banks/USA Today Sports)

— Mexican soccer player Alan Pulido made an appearance before the media Sunday night, hours after being rescued by government forces from kidnappers in his hometown of Ciudad Victoria in the troubled state of Tamaulipas.

The 25-year-old striker, a member of Mexico’s 2014 World Cup team who plays professionally for Olympiakos, held a press conference outside a hospital, wearing a bandage on his right hand.

“I’m very well, thanks to God,” he said.

Pulido reportedly had been kidnapped after leaving a party late Saturday night, as masked men surrounded his car and took him away while his girlfriend was left unharmed. State and federal forces launched an aggressive response and retrieved Pulido on Sunday, with one suspect arrested.

Tamaulipas, which borders the southernmost part of Texas, has one of the world’s highest kidnapping rates, with hundreds — possibly thousands — held for ransom each year.

Pulido formerly played for the Mexican club Tigres. He left in 2014 to play in Europe, but he has been locked in a dispute with Tigres about his contract. He was left off Mexico’s Copa America team due to the legal issues.

— While police continue to investigate the shooting death of Pelicans rookie Bryce Dejean-Jones, his agent said it was a case of “wrong place, wrong time.”

Dejean-Jones was visiting his girlfriend in Dallas and went for a walk early Saturday morning. When he returned, he went to the wrong apartment, agent Scott W. Nichols said. Dejean-Jones kicked down the front door, then started kicking at the bedroom door. The resident, inside the bedroom, took out a handgun and shot Dejean-Jones, who was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

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Thinking Out Loud: Ben Bentil’s decision to remain in NBA draft leaves hole at Providence

05.27.16 at 11:24 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Dave Stapleton.

— It’s very hard to root against someone in search of their dream, but count me among those believing Ben Bentil’s decision to enter the NBA draft as premature. Could he use more time at the college level? Of course. This is the problem inherent in the pro game these days — a lot of players just aren’t “ready” for the skills needed to be a long-term, consistently productive pro.

— This being said, Bentil has worked out well for several teams and had a great combine, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that he’s now mentioned as a first-round possibility. Hopefully, someone sees his potential and signs him to a multiyear contract. We’ve seen this before around here, or have you forgotten Ricky Ledo and God Shammgod?

— I will say this: Providence has never had two first-rounders selected in the same year, so I’ll be rooting for that come draft day. A program first like that one certainly would stand out on the recruiting trail for Ed Cooley and his staff.

— And in case you needed a reminder, this is what it’s like for a college basketball blue blood. Wanna be like Duke, Kentucky and Kansas? Get used to losing players before their eligibility expires. The tough part is reloading. For true blue bloods, it’s simply, “Next man up.”

— It seems as if each of the past few offseasons, the Friars have had a need for new players to emerge, and so far they’ve managed to do just that. Consider the losses — Marshon Brooks, Bryce Cotton, LaDontae Henton, Carson Desrosiers, Tyler Harris, Kris Dunn and now Bentil — and each time a player emerges to be just what the program needs.

— My money is on Rodney Bullock to be the all-conference player PC needs him to be in order to have a shot at the postseason again. Jalen Lindsay, Kyron Cartwright and Emmitt Holt also will need to contribute in a major way. Hard to expect too much out of newcomers (Holt being a transfer), but Isaiah Jackson also will need to figure prominently for Providence to pick up next season where it left off this past March.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Ravens bring in former RB Ray Rice to advise rookies

05.27.16 at 8:20 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Dodgers at Mets, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Cavaliers at Raptors, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
WNBA: Dream at Wings, 8:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
Soccer: Exhibition, England vs. Australia, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


Ray Rice

Ray Rice

— The Ravens apparently wanted to make sure their rookies understood the importance of staying out of trouble, so the team called in the one player most likely to get the young players’ attention: Ray Rice.

The former Ravens running back, who has been out of the league since video emerged of him punching out his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator in February 2014, lectured the team’s rookis Wednesday in his advisory role.

According to a story on the team’s website, Rice “made a terrible mistake” that caused him to be suspended and then released by the Ravens, who have since “dedicated themselves to the cause of domestic violence awareness and education.”

Explained the team in a statement: “Our 27 sessions to our rookies through our player engagement program review and teach life management and life lessons. Rice, who played for the Ravens from 2008-2014, delivered an important message that included his story, both the good and the bad. He clearly had the attention of our rookies.”

Owner Steve Biscotti indicated after the team released Rice in September 2014 that he believed Rice could help guide the younger players.

“I believe in my heart that Ray would be a great addition to us when it comes to trying to steer these guys from young men to grown men,” Biscotti said then.

— Alex Rodriguez returned to the Yankees on Thursday after a stint on the disabled list, and he picked right up where he left off, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in New York’s 3-1 loss to the visiting Blue Jays.

The Yankees wasted a strong performance from CC Sabathia in losing for the second game in a row after a six-game winning streak.

“Definitely a missed opportunity at home,” Rodriguez said. “Anytime that our big guy gives us seven strong, two runs, we should win those games.”

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Jets WR Eric Decker reportedly skips OTAs in support of unsigned Ryan Fitzpatrick

05.26.16 at 8:14 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Rockies at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Marlins at Rays, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cardinals at Nationals, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Thunder at Warriors, 9 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Lightning at Penguins, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)


Eric Decker

Eric Decker

— Jets receiver Eric Decker commented earlier this month that the AFC East — which the Patriots have dominated the past decade and a half — is “up for grabs,” and the Jets are “ready to make the run now.”

That was before he elected to skip New York’s voluntary OTAs this week, reportedly in protest of the fact that the team has not re-signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The cash-strapped Jets have been negotiating with Fitzpatrick for a while but have yet to reach an agreement, despite Fitzpatrick’s optimism that it will happen.

Last week, Decker showed some of his frustration in an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio, saying he felt like the drawn-out negotiations were some kind of prank.

“We’re waiting for that day. It’s like April Fool’s, wondering when he’s coming back,” Decker joked. “All I have to say is we have to move on without him right now. They’re stuck where they are. It’s a business decision. Where do they want to go with the money? Who’s going to break?

“We have a job to do and that’s to field the best football team with who we have in the locker room right now. I have a lot of respect for Ryan Fitzpatrick, but we don’t have a ton of time left. We’re all getting older.”

Meanwhile, Geno Smith, the likely starter if Fitzpatrick does not return, became annoyed with questions about the unsigned veteran. Speaking to reporters after the team’s second OTA practice Wednesday, Smith made it clear he had no interest discussing Fitzpatrick’s situation.

“That’s up to the front office,” he said. “Why would I speak on that.”

— Bills general manager Doug Whaley backtracked Wednesday, one day after questioning what football does to players’ bodies.

During an interview Tuesday morning on Buffalo radio station WGR 550, Whaley was responding to a question about whether Bills receiver Sammy Watkins is injury-prone, and he replied, “This is the game of football. Injuries are part of it. It’s a violent game that I personally don’t think humans are supposed to play.”

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Comedian Jim Breuer says Patriots staffer at center of Deflategate is angry at organization

05.25.16 at 8:21 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Rockies at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mets at Nationals, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Blue Jays at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Raptors at Cavaliers, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Blues at Sharks, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Exhibition, United States vs. Ecuador, 8 p.m. (ESPN)


— Deflategate has been a comedy of errors on a number of levels, so it’s only appropriate that a comedian has injected himself into the controversy.

Jim Breuer, a former “Saturday Night Live” regular, told Sports Illustrated that he ran into Patriots equipment staffer John Jastremski at a comedy festival in Mexico a few months ago and had an interesting conversation with the man at the heart of the accusations that the Patriots deflated footballs.

Breuer said he was working out in a resort gym while watching Deflategate coverage on TV when Jastremski introduced himself and asked Breuer’s opinion of the story.

“He was there with his wife,” Breuer recounted. “They were actually trying to get away because they were being so harassed in the Massachusetts area, his family’s being harassed.”

Acccording to Breuer, Jastremski expressed frustration with the Patriots organization for “holding me down” and not letting him comment publicly. Breuer said Jastremski wouldn’t answer the question of if he deflated the footballs for Tom Brady, insisting, “Tom’s my guy, Tom takes care of me.”

“All I remember is that guy would not throw Tom Brady under the bus,” Breuer said. “He said Tom Brady does so much for him.”

Breuer added that Jastremski’s wife eventually joined them and complained about the Patriots organization as well, while Jastremski explained that he had no other employment options.

“He said he can’t get [another] job, either,” Breuer said. “This is all he knows, all he does.”

— Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports NBA sideline reporter who has been battling leukemia, was selected to receive the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS in July.

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Government report blasts NFL for trying to influence concussion study, withholding donation

05.24.16 at 8:10 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Rockies at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Rays at Marlins, noon (MLB Network)
MLB: Cubs at Cardinals, 7:10 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Padres at Giants, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Warriors at Thunder, 9 p.m. (TNT)
WNBA: Dream at Liberty, 11 a.m. (NBA TV)
WNBA: Sparks at Sky, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL playoffs: Penguins at Lightning, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)


— On the same day Tom Brady’s legal team filed an appeal of his Deflategate suspension, the government took the NFL to task for trying to influence a study of football’s effects on the brain.

The NFL had agreed in writing to donate $30 million to the National Institutes of Health to fund brain research, but after the NIH awarded a $16 million grant to Boston University researcher Robert Stern — an expert on the link between football and the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy — the league withdrew its donation, forcing taxpayers to pick up the cost, a government report concluded.

To make matters worse, some members of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee apparently pursued the grant for themselves despite the obvious conflict of interest.

The league’s actions violated NIH policy on donors interfering in the grant process and were part of a “long-standing pattern of attempts” by the NFL to steer concussion research in the direction it wanted, the 91-page report concluded.

“Our investigation has shown that while the NFL had been publicly proclaiming its role as funder and accelerator of important research, it was privately attempting to influence that research,” the report states.

“This investigation confirms the NFL inappropriately attempted to use its unrestricted gift as leverage to steer funding away from one of its critics,” New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone said. “Since its research agreement with NIH was clear that it could not weigh in on the grant selection process, the NFL should never have tried to influence that process.”

The NFL, which denied the allegations when ESPN first exposed them in an “Outside the Lines” report, acknowledged raising concerns about Stern but continues to insist it was done appropriately despite evidence to the contrary.

“The NFL rejects the allegations,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement Monday.

— Warriors forward Draymond Green escaped a suspension for his kick to the groin of Thunder center Steven Adams during Sunday’s game, but the NBA fined him $25,000.

The league also upgraded the foul to a flagrant 2. If it was called a flagrant 2 by the game officials, Green would have been ejected. With the upgrade, he now has three flagrant foul points this postseason, and if he accrues one more he would receive an automatic suspension.

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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Warriors F Draymond Green denies intentionally hitting Thunder C Steven Adams in groin for 2nd straight game

05.23.16 at 8:19 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NBA playoffs: Cavaliers at Raptors, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Sharks at Blues, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB: Angels at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Bundesliga, Eintracht Frankfurt at FC Nuremberg, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


— For the second straight game, Thunder center Steven Adams was hit in the groin by Warriors forward Draymond Green. And despite Green’s protestations, Adams is convinced it’s no accident.

During the second quarter Sunday’s Game 3 — an Oklahoma City victory — Green kicked out his leg after being fouled by Adams in the post, and his foot hit Adams right in the sweet spot.

Officials reviews the play and gave Green a flagrant foul 1 for the play. Green — who did not apologize to Adams during or after the game but said he plans to — is hopeful the call will get rescinded.

“I followed through on a shot,” Green insisted. “I’m not trying to kick somebody in the men’s section. I’m sure he wants to have kids one day. I’m not trying to end that on the basketball court. That don’t make sense. I brought the ball over the top this way [makes motion], he fouled me, and I brought my leg up. I mean, I know my core’s not strong enough to stop my leg halfway from wherever it was going.

“Honestly, I didn’t know I hit him. I walked to the 3-point line and clapped everybody’s hand, and I turned around and he was on the floor. I’m like, ‘What happened?’ I’m standing at the 3-point line, I look at [teammate Andrew] Bogut, and he looked at the replay, and he was like [cringes]. So then I looked at the replay, like, ‘Uh oh.’

“But like I said, I thought it would get rescinded because I’m not trying to kick him. I was following through on the shot, and my leg went up. So no, I don’t think I’ll get suspended. I don’t know how anyone could possibly say I did that on purpose, regardless of the way it looked.”

Green has his coach’s support.

“Stuff like that happens all the time,” Steve Kerr said. “There’s contact, people’s arms, legs flailing. If they think it’s on purpose, play the game, you know. This stuff happens all the time. [Russell] Westbrook kicks his feet out on every 3, and there is contact. I mean, that’s just part of the game. So I don’t understand how that can be deemed a flagrant 1. I think it should be rescinded.”

The Thunder, of course, have a different perspective, and the fact that Green kneed Adams in the groin on a drive to the basket in Game 2 makes them less sympathetic.

“I mean, it happened before, mate,” Adams said Sunday. “He’s pretty accurate, that guy.”

Added Thunder guard Bryant Westbrook: “Honestly, I think it’s intentional. That’s two times in the last two games. I don’t think you can keep [hitting] somebody in their private areas.”

— Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is keeping his options open regarding the race for president.

During comments that aired on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, the “fiercely independent” Cuban said he’d “absolutely” consider an offer to be running mate to Republican Donald Trump.

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Read More: Donald Trump, Draymond Green, Georges Laraque, hillary clinton