FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Celtics  at Rockets, 8 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Grizzlies  at Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Div. 3 championship, St. Thomas vs. Mount Union, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: FCS semifinal, Georgia Southern at North Dakota State, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
AROUND THE WEB:
‘¦ ESPN host Rob Parker is the talk of the Internet  following his analysis of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III as it pertains to the black community.
RGIII responded to a reporter’s question Wednesday by saying:
‘I am [aware] of how race is relevant to [some fans]. I don’t ignore it,. I try not to be defined by it, but I understand different perspectives and how people view different things. So I understand they’re excited their quarterback is an African-American. I play with a lot of pride, a lot of character, a lot of heart. So I understand that, and I appreciate them for being fans.’
Speaking on ESPN’s “First Take,” Parker — who also is African-American — said Thursday:
“This is an interesting topic. For me, personally, just me, this throws up a red flag, what I keep hearing. And I don’t know who’s asking the questions, but we’ve heard a couple of times now of a black guy kind of distancing himself away from black people.”
Added Parker: “My question which is just a straight honest question: Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?”
Asked to elaborate, Parker said: “I want to find out about him. I don’t know, because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancÃ©e. Then there was all this talk about him being a Republican, which there’s no information [about that] at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue.”
Stephen A. Smith, who was part of the discussion, tried to distance himself from Parker’s words.
“Well first of all let me say this: I’m uncomfortable with where we just went,’ Smith said. ‘RG III, the ethnicity, the color of his fiancÃ©e is none of our business. It’s irrelevant. He can live his life any way he chooses. The braids that he has in his hair, that’s his business, that’s his life. I don’t judge someone’s blackness based on those kind of things. I just don’t do that. I’m not that kind of guy.”
ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys responded to media requests Thursday night by tweeting : “The comments were inappropriate and we are evaluating our next steps.”
‘¦ The Packers  and Bears have been chirping at each other this week in advance of Sunday’s matchup in Chicago. Packers tight end Jermichael Finley started the latest round  when he implied that the Bears are better off without injured linebacker Brian Urlacher .
“Urlacher is at the end of his career right now; he’s playing a little slow out there,” Finley said Wednesday. “I don’t think they’re losing too much if he’s out. Putting another guy in there might help them a little.”
Responded Bears linebacker Lance Briggs : “[Finley’s] an idiot. Just suit up and play ball. His comments aren’t going to change the outcome of the game, they’re not going to help him or anybody else play better. Doesn’t really matter.”
Finley tried to play down the controversy on Thursday, tweeting: Urlacher is a hall of fame player and person. I meant no disrespect to him in previous comments, I was simply trying to explain that his replacement in the lineup is a good player as well.
Meanwhile, Urlacher might have gotten in the last word, noting that the Packers played pretty well without Finley when they won the Super Bowl  in February 2011.
“Just like a couple of years ago, I think, [Finley] tore his ACL and the Packers were actually better without him. You know, they won the Super Bowl,” Urlacher told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I hope we can duplicate that as well because it won’t hurt my feelings if we go on and win the Super Bowl without me like they did without him.
“People can say what they want. It feels like I deal with something like this every year. Someone’s always saying something about me.”
‘¦ Rutgers suspended basketball coach Mike Rice three games and fined him $50,00 for a violation of department policy, specifically a pattern of “inappropriate behavior and language.”
Rice, known for his intensity, apologized for his actions, the specifics of which were not revealed.
“Since becoming a coach at the age of 21, I have taken great pride in not only helping young men learn the game of basketball but also in teaching them about character, respect and hard work,” Rice said. “To the extent that my conduct has ever been in contrast with those principles, I have failed my players — and myself — and I take full responsibility for my actions and accept the terms of my suspension.
“I will learn from my mistakes and I will become a better coach, teacher and role model.”
Reportedly, former Providence College star Eric Murdock — fired over the summer as the team’s director of player development — threatened to release taps of Rice mistreating players.
Said Murdock to the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger : “There is some concern for these players — that’s the biggest thing — as far as how they’re being treated. Eventually a lot of stuff will come to light and it’s not going to shed a good light on Rutgers University.”
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 14, 1960, the first expansion draft in baseball history was held. The Red Sox  lost four players each to the Los Angeles Angels  and Washington Senators. One of the players they lost to the Angels went on to a long career as a manager of four major league teams. Who is he?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “What’s going to happen now is all participants, all these accusations, are going to go to federal court. They’re going to go to a judge, and from top to bottom, she’s going to hear testimony, and the penalty for perjury with her is going to be jail time.” — Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt, responding to a charge by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams that Vitt continued the team’s bounty program despite Williams’ protests
STAT OF THE DAY: 22 — Points for Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony in the first quarter of Thursday’s 116-107 victory over the Lakers , two points shy of the team record
‘NET RESULTS: A volleyball player hits a spike that caroms off the faces of three opponents.
Floridian Chad McLean sets a world record for strikes in one minute with nine.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Jim Fregosi
SOOTHING SOUNDS: The late Charlie Rich was born on this day in 1932.