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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Magic Johnson defends himself following criticism from banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling 05.14.14 at 8:01 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’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.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Twins, 8:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Tigers at Orioles, 12:35 (MLB Network)
MLB: Yankees at Mets, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Canadiens at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Ducks at Kings, 9:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA playoffs: Nets at Heat, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Trail Blazers at Spurs, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
Soccer: UEFA Europa final, Sevilla vs. Benfica, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Magic Johnson responded to criticism from Donald Sterling by calling the suspended Clippers owner’s latest comments “disturbing” and “sad.”

In an earlier interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Sterling said Johnson is not a good role model for children because he became HIV positive due to his irresponsible sexual behavior. He also questioned Johnson’s financial commitment to the African-American community.

“That’s his opinion if he things I’m not a role model,” Johnson told TMZ. “I know the things that I’ve done in urban America and for people.”

Johnson also sat down with Cooper and said Sterling is struggling with the fact that he “is not welcome back in the NBA.”

“He’s trying to find something that he can grab on to help him save his team. And it’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen,” Johnson told CNN. “The board of governors now have to do their job. Adam Silver, our commissioner of the NBA, did a wonderful job of banning him for life. Now the board of governors have got to do their job.”

Johnson said Sterling called him after the tape of Sterling’s racist comments — including specific mentions of Johnson — was released, but the owner never apologized to him.

“I’m tired of talking about Donald, it’s a shame, I wish I would had did something to deserve this,” Johnson told CNN. “[I take] a photo with a young lady and I have to answer all these questions.”

Shelly Sterling, meanwhile, said she thinks her husband is having mental issues.

“He’s not the man I know, or I knew,” she told NBC’s “Today” show. “There’s something wrong. I really think, personally, he has dementia.”

– The Clippers did their best to tune out the Sterling distraction in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals, but they squandered a seven-point lead inside the final minute and dropped a controversial 105-104 decision to the Thunder on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.

“We were robbed,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, referring to an out-of-bounds call with 11 seconds left that went in favor of the home team — and stood after a review.

“That could be a series-defining call,” Rivers said. “And that’s not right.”

On the ensuing play, Chris Paul was called for touching Russell Westbrook‘s elbow on a 3-point try. Westbrook hit all three from the line for a one-point advantage with 6.4 seconds left.

Paul then had the ball stripped from him in the closing seconds as he drove the lane.

“Probably the toughest thing I’ve been through, basketball-wise,” said Paul, who also had a key turnover down the stretch. “Everything that happened there at the end is on me. It was just bad basketball.”

The Clippers got a memo from the league after a bad call in their opening-round series against the Warriors admitting the officials erred. Rivers said he doesn’t want a similar note this time.

“No, I don’t need it,” he said. “I’ll release the memo. They blew the call. That’s the memo.”

– Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson apparently is not convinced his team is on a fast track back to respectability.

The Texans were among the league’s elite in 2012 but are coming off a disastrous 2013 season and have a new coach, Bill O’Brien. Johnson, the team’s longest-tenured player, has played on just three winning teams in his 11-year career in Houston, and he acknowledged that “over time it can become very frustrating.”

When he looks at the team’s roster of quarterbacks, Johnson sees an unimpressive list that includes Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, T.J. Yates and fourth-round draft pick Tom Savage.

Speaking to reporters at a charity event Tuesday, Johnson said: “I just kind of wonder sometimes: ‘Is this still the place for me?’ ”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On May 14, 1981, the Celtics captured their 14th NBA title with a 102-91 victory over the Rockets in Game 6. Who was named finals MVP?

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Read More: Andre Johnson, Chris Paul, doc rivers, Donald Sterling
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Doc Rivers recounts players’ anger after Donald Sterling story broke 05.05.14 at 7:55 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’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.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA playoffs: Wizards at Pacers, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Clippers at Thunder, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Penguins at Rangers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Kings at Ducks, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB: Cardinals at Braves, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: Premier League, Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Rivers

Doc Rivers has been thrust into the limelight as the face of the Clippers due to the Donald Sterling controversy. (AP)

– Clippers coach Doc Rivers, in a sit-down interview with ESPN’s Michael Wilbon on Sunday, a day after his Clippers eliminated the Warriors in Game 7 of their first-round series, recounted how his players reacted when they first heard about owner Donald Sterling‘s racist comments last week.

“This was a distraction,” Rivers acknowledged. “In our first meeting after the tapes came out and we had a meeting before practice, and when I walked in that room and looked at [the players'] faces, it was bothering them. They were angry. They wanted to DO something. ‘€¦ As a coach, I had to think about it. I’m not going to kid you. I walked out with my gear on, because I needed the players to see me with the gear on, but it wasn’t easy to do it on that day. Because at that moment, at that time, you’re representing something else, and you didn’t want to and that was hard.”

Rivers recalled his experiences with racism growing up in Chicago, but he said sports has helped make him color blind.

“I think sports helps me, too,” Rivers said. “Sports, you don’t care what’s next to you, you just want to know, can he play? I think that does help. I think people who play sports learn that early on. That there’s no race. There’s people and I think that’s important.”

Meanwhile, reports emerged out of Los Angeles that the Clippers and Warriors had an altercation in the tunnel after Saturday night’s Game 7. The Warriors reportedly did not appreciate the Clippers’ celebrating and taunting outside their locker room, and that led to a confrontation.

The teams have had battles all season, on and off the court, and hard feelings apparently have continued. While Blake Griffin usually is in the middle of things, Warriors center Marreese Speights said earlier in the series that Chris Paul “starts all of that stuff.”

– Racism continues to be an issue in European soccer, most notably Spain, where for the second straight Sunday there was an embarrassing incident.

In Levante’s 2-0 upset victory at Atletico Madrid, midfielder Papakouli Diop danced like a monkey after the final whistle in response to monkey gestures from the crowd.

“They called me a monkey and I turned and imitated a monkey,” Diop said. “I’m tired of racism in football. And there’s a lot.”

Added Diop: “I did the monkey dance to highlight the matter. I wanted people to know what happened. I do not know if it’s racist or disrespectful, but they have to stop the monkey noises made by some people.”

One week earlier, in a game at Villarreal, Barcelona’s Dani Alves picked up a banana that was thrown at him and took a bite of it before taking a corner kick. Fellow players then posted photos of themselves eating bananas to draw attention to the cause.

– Florida State Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston was reinstated to the school’s baseball team Sunday after being suspended for a shoplifting incident last week.

Winston, who was issued a citation by police after leaving a supermarket with $32 worth of crab legs and crawfish, was held out of action until he completed community service as part of his agreement with the court.

Winston, FSU’s closer, missed the team’s three game series against Minnesota.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On May 5, 1969, in Game 7 of the NBA finals, the Celtics edged the Lakers, 108-106, for their 11th title in 13 seasons. It was the final game for which two Celtics legends?

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Read More: Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, doc rivers, Donald Sterling
Doc Rivers: Clippers ‘should be better than any team I’ve ever coached’ 10.03.13 at 11:35 am ET
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Doc Rivers has been quick to praise his new team. (AP)

He left the Celtics about three months ago, but Clippers coach Doc Rivers continues to make news in Boston.

His latest head-turning comments came at Clippers practice on Wednesday, when Rivers said that he believes his current squad of players could be the most talented group that he’s ever worked with.

“They should be better than any team I’ve ever coached, I really believe that. They’re more athletic,” Rivers said. “They don’t have the veteran IQ, but they should be good in that area. We have a couple of individual defenders that can be dominating on defense. We have great speed, but we don’t have the size in some ways as some of the teams I’ve coached.”

That’s certainly lofty praise for his new team, as Rivers helped lead some impressive teams during his tenure in Boston, including a 66-win Celtics team that won the NBA title in 2008 and a 62-win squad that won 19 games in a row, the longest streak in franchise history, during the 2008-09 season.

Rivers also found similarities between LA and his prior Celtics teams by stating that he believes the Clippers have a “big three” of their own in Chris PaulBlake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

“I’ve always focused on our big three guys, Blake, DJ and Chris. Their leadership is important to our team. I’m always watching them. I think those are the guys that I have more focus on than anybody else,” Rivers said. “That’s our big three, I like our big three.”

Rivers will make his return to Boston on Dec. 11, as the Clippers and Celtics will face off that night at the TD Garden.

Read More: Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Clippers, doc rivers
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: New NBA players’ union president Chris Paul says organization needs ‘rebuild’ 08.22.13 at 7:35 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.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Diamondbacks at Reds, 12:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Nationals at Cubs, 2:20 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Braves at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. (MLB Network)
Little League World Series: Mexico vs. Panama, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Little League World Series: Washington vs. Connecticut, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NFL preseason: Patriots at Lions, 7:30 p.m. (WBZ-TV)
NFL preseason: Panthers at Ravens, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Chris Paul

Chris Paul

• Six-time All-Star Chris Paul was elected president of the NBA players’ association Wednesday and said the union needs a “rebuild” following the firing of executive director Billy Hunter six months ago.

Paul replaces Derek Fisher, who was accused by Hunter of conspiring with NBA officials during the 2011 lockout. He gives the union a star turn for the first time since Patrick Ewing was the top representative in 2001, and he said he understands the job won’t be easy.

“It was something I saw as a challenge, something I knew I’d be able to handle,” Paul said. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity, a lot of responsibility comes with this position but I’m very fortunate to have an outstanding committee of guys. The past couple of days have been outstanding, the dialogue we’ve had as an executive committee also with the players that have come in town, it was amazing.”

Paul, who served as vice president the last four years, said naming a replacement for Hunter might take a little more time.

“We definitely discussed [hiring an executive director], but there’s no rush,” Paul said. “For us, it’s all about getting our house in order and making sure that everything moves right in that direction.”

Roger Mason Jr., who played for the Hornets last season, was elected first vice president, while Bobcats forward Anthony Tolliver and Lakers guard Steve Blake were named vice presidents.

“We want to make sure that nothing remotely close that has gone on in the union in the past 12 months or so will ever happen again,” Tolliver said. “It’s a huge job. It’s a huge responsibility. I’m glad to be a part of that.”

Jeremy Lin, speaking to a crowd about 20,000 at a youth conference in Taiwan, talked about how difficult last season was as he placed unrealistic expectations upon himself in his first season with the Rockets.

“I became so obsessed with becoming a great basketball player … trying to be Linsanity, being this phenomenon that took the NBA by storm,” the former Harvard star said. “The coaches were losing faith in me; basketball fans were making fun of me. … I was supposed to be joyful and free, but what I experienced was the opposite. I had no joy, and I felt no freedom.”

Lin, who signed a three-year, $25 million contract last offseason after his NBA breakthrough with the Knicks, averaged 13.4 points and 6.1 assists per game and struggled with injuries that forced him to miss two games during the team’s first-round playoff loss to the Thunder.

“The one thing I learned was how empty fame and worldly success really are. … The desire for success never stopped,” Lin said. “If the voice that you listen to the most isn’t God’s voice, then eventually you will experience that emptiness, confusion and misery that I felt when I listened to the voice of Linsanity.”

• New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio found himself involved a controversy this week when The New York Times published a story about his “deep devotion” for the Red Sox.

The Democrat was raised in Cambridge and said, “I have my loyalty to the team of my youth.”

Current mayor Michael Bloomberg, who grew up in Medford, also had an allegiance to the Red Sox when he took office in 2001. However, Bloomberg, admittedly not much of a sports fan, claimed to have switched his support to the Yankees.

That doesn’t seem likely for de Blasio.

“The team that I grew up with was constantly the underdog but managed to prevail,” he said. “I don’t know any better lesson in life.”

Added de Blasio: “Everyone I knew was a Red Sox fan. Living up there in 1967 — the Impossible Dream season — that moment was incredibly compelling. I just naturally gravitated to the team. 1975 was arguably the greatest World Series of all time.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Aug. 22, 1993, which veteran outfielder, acquired a day earlier in a trade with the Tigers, hit a home run in his first at-bat for the Red Sox as part of a 3-for-6 day in a 3-2 loss to the Indians?

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Read More: Bill de Blasio, Chris Paul, Jeremy Lin,
NBA free agency update: Knicks reportedly acquiring Andrea Bargnani from Raptors; Dwight Howard sweepstakes heating up 07.01.13 at 10:20 am ET
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Andrea Bargnani reportedly is on the verge of being traded to the Knicks. (AP)

Andrea Bargnani reportedly is on the verge of being traded from the Raptors to the Knicks. (AP)

He’s tall, he’s injury-prone, he’s expensive, and soon he’s going to be a Knick — maybe.

The Knicks and Raptors are close to finalizing an agreement that would send 7-foot power forward Andrea Bargnani to New York, ESPN reported, in exchange for center Marcus Camby and small forward Steve Novak.

However, the NBA refused to approve the deal Sunday night, so in order to complete the trade under 2013-14 cap terms, the Knicks are expected to sign-and-trade at least one player they had at the end of the season as part of the deal, according to ESPN’s Jared Zwerling. Earl Barron and Quentin Richardson are two candidates.

Howard Beck of The New York Times reports the Knicks also will include their 2016 first-round draft pick, and USA Today indicates two second-round picks will also go the Raptors’ way.

In his seven seasons since joining Toronto for 2006-07, Bargnani has averaged 15.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, with those marks down to 12.7 and 3.7 in 2012-13. Tommy Beer of hoopsworld.com points out that Bargnani was the first 7-footer to average both 28 minutes and fewer than four rebounds per game in NBA history this season.

The native of Italy has missed 98 games the last two seasons, including the end of this season after suffering an avulsion sprain of his right elbow. He is also set to make $23 million before his contract expires in two years.

The teams cannot officially complete the trade until July 10.

The Knicks aren’t the only team — or individual — preparing deals to be finalized in a week and a half.

The Rockets are pulling out all the stops as they enter the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, according to Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Besides Houston brass, a dinner meeting with the free agent also reportedly featured former Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, plus Yao Ming Skyping in from China. The AP reports the team cut guards Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks in an effort to open up some cap space.

Howard will visit with the Warriors and Hawks on Monday, then the Mavericks on Tuesday, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak met informally with the 6-foot-11 Howard Saturday and Sunday in an effort to get a head start on his competition.

The Lakers are using billboards and newspaper ads to woo Howard, and Dallas is getting some help from the community: Fast-food chain Raising Cane’s is offering Howard free chicken fingers for the rest of his life if he signs with the Mavs.

The Clippers’ acquisition of Doc Rivers, meanwhile, appears to be paying off. ESPN reports that Chris Paul, reportedly one of the driving forces in Los Angeles trading for the coach, is expected to accept a five-year, $107 million extension from the Clippers, and that it is such a sure thing that Paul’s agent told other teams to not bother with offers.

Forward Andrei Kirilenko, who averaged similar numbers to Bargnani with the Timberwolves in 2012-13, is turning down $10 million and opting out of his contract in favor of testing free agency again. His 12.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game were his best totals since 2005-06.

Read More: Andrea Bargnani, Andrei Kirilenko, Chris Paul, doc rivers
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Japanese team reportedly had interest in Alex Rodriguez 06.10.13 at 8:04 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’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.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Rays, 7 p.m. (NESN, ESPN; WEEI-FM)
College baseball: CWS regional, Mississippi State at Virginia, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
College baseball: CWS regional, South Carolina at North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College baseball: CWS regional, Kansas State at Oregon State, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

Alex Rodriguez

♦ After Alex Rodriguez flamed out in the postseason last fall, there was little interest in the oft-injured third baseman. However, one team reportedly reached out to the Yankees to see if they would be interested in a deal.

The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan contacted the Yankees through an intermediary, The New York Times reported.

However, the Yankees never responded, knowing that Rodriguez was destined for extensive hip surgery and that he would not agree to play in Japan.

Rodriguez entered this season with five years and $114 million remaining on his contract.

Jason Kidd, only days after announcing his retirement as a player, apparently thinks he’s ready to step right in as an NBA head coach. According to a report from Yahoo! SportsAdrian Wojnarowski, Kidd is pursuing the Nets vacancy and trying to assemble a staff that would help him overcome his lack of experience.

Kidd, a 10-time All-Star, led the Nets to consecutive NBA finals appearances in 2002 and ’03 as part of his 19-year NBA career. He spent the past season with the Knicks.

The Nets are said to be looking at Brian Shaw as their top choice, although the Clippers and Nuggets also have an interest in the former Celtics player and longtime NBA assistant.

♦ According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets are preparing to make a push to land high-profile free agents Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. The team’s interest in Howard previously has been documented, and Howard is rumored to have mutual interest, having spoken with Rockets players James Harden and Chandler Parsons.

Howard, who had a trying 2012-13 season with the Lakers after leaving the Magic, also is said to be intrigued with the possibility of playing under coach Kevin McHale, a Hall of Fame big man.

Paul, also friends with Harden after they played together on the U.S. national team, might be more of a challenge for Houston to pry from the Clippers, as they would need to move some money around to create some room. The Chronicle report speculates that the team would try to move young forward Thomas Robinson or try something more creative. Said a source, “There are about 20 other ways.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On June 10, 1970, Jim Lonborg was put on the 21-day disabled list and the Red Sox made the rare move of activating a coach to the roster. Which coach-turned-player went on to hit .343 in 38 games that season, while making appearances at all three outfield positions, first base, third base and even catcher?

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Jason Kidd
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Ailing Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett ‘concerned’ about future 05.31.13 at 7:56 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’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.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (NESN, MLB Network; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Tigers at Orioles, 7 p.m. (MLB NEtwork)
MLB: White Sox at Athletics, 10 p.m. (WGN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Josh Beckett is winless this season and worried about his future as he deals with a nerve issue in his right hand. (AP)

♦ Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett acknowledged feeling uncertainty about his future after experiencing numbness in the fingers on his right hand over the last 4-5 weeks. The 33-year-old right-hander, who was placed on the disabled list on May 15 with a groin injury, had an MRI that will be reviewed by a nerve specialist in Dallas on Monday.

“Any time something like that happens to your arm or you start losing feeling and stuff … you think about [never pitching again] for sure,” Beckett said, via the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t really want to think like that right now. I want to think about figuring out a way to deal with this.”

Added Beckett: “I’m concerned. I’ve never dealt with anything like this for this amount of time. We’ll just have to see what happens there.”

Beckett, traded from the Red Sox to Los Angeles last August, is 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA in eight starts this season. He’s in the third year of a four-year, $68 million contract.

The Dodgers are 22-30 and in last place in the National League West, 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Diamondbacks.

♦ Jets coach Rex Ryan said it’s too early to tell who’s leading the competition to be the team’s starting quarterback, but Mark Sanchez made it clear what he thinks after Thursday’s practice.

“I’m planning in playing,” Sanchez said, as reported by the New York Daily News. “I’m planning on starting.”

Ryan did acknowledge that Sanchez appears to have regained his confidence after a turnover-prone 2012 season.

“I think he’s done a nice job this offseason,” Ryan said. “I think he’s in great shape. Is he more accurate with the football? I’m not sure what the numbers will say, I really don’t know.”

Meanwhile, second-round draft pick Geno Smith said he would not be disappointed if he’s not starting the opening game Sept. 8 against the Buccaneers.

“Not at all,” he said. “The coaches are going to choose who they feel is best for the team. It’s not my job to really worry about that.

“It wouldn’t hurt my confidence, it just means I need to continue to work hard. It’s going to take time.”

♦ The Clippers’ decision to fire coach Vinny Del Negro last week reportedly was done to appeal to free agent guard Chris Paul, with owner Donald Sterling admitting, “This is a players’ league, and, unfortunately, if you want to win, you have to make the players happy.”

It might have backfired, as Paul reportedly is upset with the team for allowing his name to be linked to the story.

“He’s angry right now and his anger is directed toward the Clippers organization,” a source told ESPN. “Chris is a man of principle and if he feels like you’ve gone against his principles, it will affect how he feels about you. He’s very agitated that his name has been put out there as the reason for Vinny’s firing. He had nothing to do with it.”

The Clippers are said to be considering Byron Scott, Jeff Van Gundy, Alvin Gentry, Nate McMillan, George Karl and Brian Shaw for their vacancy.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On May 31, 1984, Celtics guard Gerald Henderson stole a crosscourt pass and hit a layup with 13 seconds remaining to tie Game 2 of the NBA finals against the Lakers. The Celtics went on to win the game in overtime and win the series in seven games. Which Laker threw the fateful pass?

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Read More: Chris Paul, Geno Smith, Josh Beckett, Mark Sanchez
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: ESPN fires Rob Parker, apologizes for Brent Musburger 01.09.13 at 7:41 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’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.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Suns at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Lakers at Spurs, 8 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
NBA: Mavericks at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Boston College at Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-AM)
College basketball: Nebraska at Michigan, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Louisville at Seton Hall, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Iowa State at Kansas, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Minnesota at Illinois, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Arkansas at Texas A&M, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: West Virginia at Texas, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: UNLV at New Mexico, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Washington at California, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Hawaii at UC-Irvine, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
College hockey: Harvard at Boston University, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Rob Parker

♦ Two days after Rob Parker went on a Detroit television show and attempted to convince people his comments about Robert Griffin III were taken out of context and that he was not questioning RGIII’s “blackness,” ESPN announced that it was parting ways with the “First Take” panelist.

“Rob Parker’s contract expired at year’s end,” a statement from the network read. “Evaluating our needs and his work, including his recent RGIII comments, we decided not to renew his deal.”

Parker, who had been on the show for six years, was serving a 30-day suspension. A “First Take” producer also reportedly was suspended, apparently due to the fact the show re-aired repeatedly with the offensive comments unedited.

In other ESPN news, the network apologized on Tuesday for announcer Brent Musburger gushing about the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron during Monday night’s national championship game. Katherine Webb, the 2012 Miss Alabama, said she wasn’t offended — and her Twitter following has jumped about 200,000 since she was shown on TV during the game — but ESPN felt the need to silence critics of the announcer’s behavior.

“We always try to capture interesting storylines, and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test,” the statement from ESPN read. “However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far, and Brent understands that.”

♦ Tuesday was a rough day for the NFL’s Ryan family. On the same day the Cowboys announced the firing of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, Jets coach Rex Ryan confirmed that two of his assistant coaches (offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh) would not be retained. The Jets also need to hire a new defensive coordinator to replace Mike Pettine, whose contract expires at the end of this month and is interviewing with the Bills, but apparently it won’t be Rex’s brother, as a New York Daily News reports indicates the Jets will go with Dennis Thurman.

“I inherited a team that was 31st in the league in defense and made them better,” Rob Ryan told ESPNDallas.com. “I [expletive] made them a hell of a lot better. I’ll be out of work for like five minutes.”

Rex Ryan, who has two years and more than $6 million remaining on his contract, acknowledged Tuesday that he had concerns he might not be retained after the Jets’ woeful 2012 season. Now, he has a renewed focus as he looks to turn around the team’s fortunes.

“I’m approaching this day like it’s the first day. Period. Like my first day as a head coach,” he said. “This is a new chance for me. This is a beginning, certainly not an end.”

Ryan also continued to express confidence in his team.

“We are going to be a dangerous football team,” he said. “I can promise you that. I’m going to tell you: You’re not going to want to play the Jets.”

Added Ryan: “We’re not going to be bullied. We might not win every game, and no team does. But you’ve got to stand for something. We’re going to be the team you don’t want to play.”

♦ Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain was arrested in his hometown of Decatur, Ala., after he allegedly lied about his identity following a traffic stop for tinted windows. McClain, who was sentenced to 180 days in jail for firing a gun next to a man’s head in 2011 (the case eventually was dismissed after the victim decided to drop the charges), insisted police are out to get him.

“I’m falsely accused of everything,” he told the Decatur Daily. “It’s corrupt. It’s terrible.”

McClain, 23, the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft, was suspended by the Raiders two games late this season after arguing with coach Dennis Allen. He played in 11 games (starting nine), recording 60 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. He has two years and more than $9 million remaining on his rookie contract.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Jan. 9, 1993, who resigned after two seasons as Patriots chief executive officer, clearing the way for the new staff led by coach Bill Parcells?

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Read More: A.J. McCarron, Brent Musburger, Chris Paul, Katherine Webb
Reports: Clippers’ Blake Griffin to sign extension, Chris Paul declines 07.01.12 at 8:35 pm ET
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Clippers power forward Blake Griffin intends to sign a five-year contract extension, according to a report from ESPN.

In less positive news for the team, The Los Angeles Times reports that Chris Paul will decline his three-year, $60 million extension.

Griffin can’t officially sign the extension until July 11, but sources told ESPN that the negotiations between the two parties will not be drawn out because no player coming off a rookie-scale contract has ever passed on a max contract extension. The 23-year-old could amass up to $95 million on his five-year extension if he is voted as an All-Star again or named an All-NBA second-team player in the so-called “Derrick Rose Rule.”

Paul, 27, still has $17.7 million left on the final year of his current deal and will wait until next offseason to sign a max contract extension of five years and $108 million, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The point guard was acquired last year in exchange for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and a first-round pick that turned out to be Austin Rivers.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Kobe Bryant questions ‘direction’ of Lakers 12.16.11 at 7:51 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’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.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA Preseason: Bulls at Pacers, 7 p.m. (WGN)

SATURDAY:
NHL: Bruins at Flyers, 1 p.m. (NESN)
NFL: Cowboys at Buccaneers, 8 p.m. (NFL Network; WEEI)
College basketball: Memphis at Louisville, 4 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: Notre Dame vs. Indians, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Syracuse at NC State, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Quinnipiac at UMass, 7 p.m. (NESN)

SUNDAY:
NFL: Patriots at Broncos, 4:15 p.m. (CBS)
NFL: Dolphins at Bills, 1 p.m. (CBS)
NFL: Redskins at Giants, 1 p.m. (Fox)
NFL: Ravens at Chargers, 8:20 p.m. (NBC; WEEI)
NBA Preseason: Celtics at Raptors, 1 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI)
College basketball: Bryant at Boston College, 1 p.m. (NESN)
Women’s college basketball: UConn at Baylor, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Kobe Bryant is no longer sure the Lakers have the answers to where the team is headed. (AP)

♦ On the day the Clippers introduced new guard Chris Paul, Lakers star Kobe Bryant questioned the future of his team. “I’m not sure what the hell the direction is, to be honest with you,” he said, referring to the team’s failed efforts to acquire Paul and subsequent trade of Lamar Odom to the defending champion Mavericks.

“I’ve never seen something like this unfold,” Bryant added. “It’s become somewhat of a mess.”

Told by a writer that many fans view the Clippers as a more exciting team, Bryant said: “I agree. I would definitely watch them.”

♦ A day after Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland expressed his hatred for the Canucks and the “Sedin sisters,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault defended his players. “They are great examples for players in the NHL, and for young people,” Vigneault said of the Sedins. “They are just two great young people. When you have comments like Bolland’s, he’s obviously an individual whose IQ is probably the size of a birdseed. And he has a face that only a mother could look at.”

Added Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa: “I think [Bolland] looks more like a girl than they do..”

♦ The NFL does not allow computers on the sideline, but that may change in the near future. The Wall Street Journal reports that the league has been meeting with technology and communications companies to determine how to better use technology without sacrificing the integrity of the game.

Said Giants coach Tom Coughlin: “It is going to affect competition without a doubt, but it’s certainly going to make it more convenient.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 16, 1979, in a 27-23 victory over the Vikings in the season finale, which two players became the first Patriots to pass the 1,000-yard single-season receiving yardage mark?

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Read More: Alain Vigneault, Chris Paul, Dave Bolland, kobe bryant