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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson critical of Lakers front office 03.13.14 at 8:05 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:
NHL: Coyotes at Bruins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Rangers at Wild, 8 p.m., 8 p.m. (NHL Network)
NBA: Rockets at Bulls, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Lakers at Thunder, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Rhode Island vs. UMass, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Florida State vs. Maryland, noon (ESPN)
College basketball: Villanova vs. Seton Hall, noon (FS1)
College basketball: St. Bonaventure vs. La Salle, noon (CSNNE)
College basketball: Illinois vs. Indiana, noon (BTN)
College basketball: Kansas State vs. Iowa State, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Houston vs. SMU, 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Purdue vs. Ohio State, 2:25 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: St. John’s vs. Providence, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Dayton vs. Fordham, 2:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Rutgers vs. Louisville, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: San Diego State vs. Utah State, 3 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: UNLV vs. Wyoming 5:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Duquesne vs. Richmond, 6:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Penn State vs. Minnesota, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: N.C. State vs. Miami, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: UCF vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Creighton vs. DePaul, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Northwestern vs. Iowa, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Memphis vs. UConn, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Clemson vs. Georgia Tech, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: New Mexico vs. Fresno State, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Marquette vs. Xavier, 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Arizona State vs. Stanford, 11:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Nevada vs. Boise State, 11:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
MLB preseason: Red Sox at Twins, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Reds at Dodgers, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Rockies at Athletics, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

– The Lakers are on a downward spiral, and Kobe Bryant is not happy with the way the front office is handling the situation. And he’s got Magic Johnson in his corner.

Bryant, speaking Wednesday after the team announced he would not play again this season as he recovers from a fractured knee, said he had no patience regarding the team’s reported plans to wait until 2015 to rebuild.

“Oh, yeah, let’s just play next year and let’s just suck again,” Bryant said sarcastically. “No Absolutely not. It’s my job to go out there on the court and perform, no excuses for it. Right? You’ve got to get things down.

“Same thing with the front office. The same expectations they have of me when I perform on the court, it’s the same expectations I have for them up there.”

Bryant and Johnson both criticized the organization for passing over Phil Jackson last season and then allowing the coaching legend to join the Knicks front office this week. Bryant called out team executives (and siblings) Jim and Jeanie Buss and questioned the future of coach Mike D’Antoni.

“I think we have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team,” he said. “What type of culture do you want to have? What type of system do you want to have? How do you want to play? It starts there.

“You’ve got to start with Jim. You’ve got to start with Jim and Jeanie and how that relationship plays out. It starts there and having a clear direction and clear authority.

“Then it goes down to the coaching staff. What’s Mike going to do? What do you want to do with Mike? It goes from there. It’s got to start from the top.”

While Bryant was talking, Johnson tweeted out his concern about the direction of the team.

“I love Jim & Jeanie Buss, but we need Phil Jackson to be the face of our great organization, the Los Angeles Lakers,” Johnson wrote in a series of tweets. “Kobe Bryant is the face of the Lakers’ team. Who is the face of the Lakers’ organization? In signing Phil Jackson, [Knicks] Owner Jim Dolan & [team executive] Steve Mills are saying to the Knicks fans, they’re ready to win now!”

Blake Griffin continues to make highlights and enemies. The Clippers star, who has had numerous run-ins with opponents this season, had a dispute with veteran Warriors forward Jermaine O’Neal that carried over into the Staples Center hallway.

O’Neal, a onetime Celtic, received a technical foul with 8:55 left in the game after he walked toward the Clippers bench to yap at Griffin before being directed away by teammates and officials.

After the game, as Griffin was making his way to a postgame press conference following Los Angeles’ 111-98 win, O’Neal shared a few choice words with the young star. Griffin would not comment on the conversation, but the Los Angeles Times reported that he told O’Neal, “Why you going to walk up on me like that? Leave that ‘€¦ on the court.” A snarling O’Neal then quickly shook Griffin’s hand and walked away, saying, “Man, I’m a monster off the court.”

Said Griffin: “Man, get out of here with that.”

Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino is offering two fans a chance to attend spring training as his guest as part of a contest to raise money for the Shane Victorino Foundation, which benefits underprivileged children.

Fans who donate $1 or more by Monday via the new digital fundraising platform Fame4Good.com are entered into the contest. The winner and a guest will receive round-trip plane tickets, a two-night stay at a Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Fort Myers, Fla., and a visit with Victorino on the field prior to a game against the Rays on March 23.

“Partnering with Fame4Good allows me to shine a light on our foundation’€™s incredible efforts to support kids in need and it does so in a way that fans can have fun with and really get engaged,” Victorino said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to the communities that have given so much to me and I look forward to meeting the lucky winner.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 13, 1971, who became the third player in Bruins history (and fifth in NHL history) to record 100 points in a season when he scored a goal in a 6-3 victory over the Canucks in Vancouver?

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Read More: Blake Griffin, Jermaine O'Neal, kobe bryant, Magic Johnson
Reports: Lakers decide to shut down Kobe Bryant for rest of season 03.12.14 at 12:06 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, the Lakers will shut down Kobe Bryant for the remainder of the season.

Bryant, who signed a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension in November, missed the first 19 games of the season while recovering from a torn left Achilles suffered last season, then he played in just six games before taking a leave on Dec. 17 with a knee fracture.

Bryant, 35, is in his 18th NBA season.

The Lakers are tied with the Kings and Jazz for last in the Western Conference and in a four-way tie with the Celtics for the fourth-worst record in the NBA at 22-42.

Read More: kobe bryant,
Lakers star Kobe Bryant likely to miss NBA All-Star Game due to lingering knee issue 01.29.14 at 9:22 am ET
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Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is likely to miss the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 16 as he continues to deal with a knee issue. Bryant fractured a bone in his left knee on Dec. 17 and has not played since. The 16-time NBA All-Star tore his left Achilles tendon last April and returned for six games before the knee break.

The initial prognosis on the knee was that it would keep Bryant out for six weeks. According to a recent tweet from the Lakers, it appears Bryant will miss more time. Tweeted the Lakers: INJURY UPDATE: Kobe Bryant was examined tonight & still has pain and swelling in his left knee. Examined again in approximately 3 weeks. 

ESPN Los Angeles quoted Bryant as saying that he felt he didn’t deserve the All-Star honor because of his lack of playing time.

“With all due respect to the fans that voted me in, I certainly appreciate that, they know how much I appreciate that, but you got to do the right thing as well,” Bryant said. “€œMy fans know you got to reward these young guys for the work that they’ve been putting in.”

If Bryant does miss the All-Star Game, a replacement from the Western conference will be chosen by the West All-Star coach.

The Lakers have lost 17 of their last 20 games.

Read More: kobe bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA,
Kobe Bryant says he will not recruit potential free agent Carmelo Anthony 01.27.14 at 10:33 am ET
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Despite his close friendship with Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant said he would not actively attempt to recruit the Knicks forward to the Lakers this summer.

“Well, everybody wants to play in Los Angeles,” Bryant said, according to ESPN.com. “I mean New York is a beautiful place, don’€™t get me wrong, but it is colder than [expletive] out here. You know, palm trees and beaches obviously are a little more appealing.

“All jokes aside, I think that players, when that time comes, will have to make the best decision for them and their families. I try not to think about it too much. If he wants to call me for advice later as a friend, I will be more than happy to give it to him.”

Bryant made his comments after the Lakers fell to the Knicks 110-103 and two days after Anthony broke Bryant’€™s Madison Square Garden scoring record. Despite playing for a team that has jus a 16-27 record, Anthony scored 62 points on Friday.

If Anthony opts out of the last year of his contract with the Knicks, he will become a free agent on July 1. According to ESPN’€™s Larry Coon, the forward could get a five-year, $129.1 million contract if he stays with the Knicks, while he would max out at $95.8 million over four years if he went to a different team.

Despite his success on the court, Anthony has not won a championship since he was part of an NCAA title team at Syracuse. Bryant, who went through a seven-year drought without winning a title after picking up three in his first six seasons, said a ring-less career could have an impact on Anthony.

“It is hard from a psychological perspective as a player, you don’€™t want to get too frustrated about things that you can’€™t control,” Bryant said. “You have to find that balance.

“At the same time, it is important for the organization to understand the level of competiveness that you have, that you won’€™t tolerate having a team that is not in contention for an NBA championship, which is what I did. It rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but sometimes you got to kick down a few doors and piss some people off and trust that it will pay off in the long run. If you are willing to do that, more times than not, you will be OK.”

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Read More: Carmelo Anthony, kobe bryant,
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Seahawks CB Richard Sherman apologizes for postgame rant 01.21.14 at 7:50 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’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.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Celtics at Heat, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE, NBATV)
College basketball: Georgia Tech at Boston College, 9 p.m. (ESPNU; WEEI-AM)
College basketball: Butler at Providence, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Temple at UConn, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Indiana at Michigan State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Kansas State at Texas, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Missouri at LSU, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Rutgers at SMU, 8 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Texas A&M at Kentucky, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Purdue at Northwestern, 9 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Boise State at New Mexico, 9:15 p.m. (CBSSN)
NHL: Wild at Stars, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Tennis: Australian Open, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

– Controversial Seahawks star Richard Sherman apologized Monday for his postgame rant after Sunday’s NFC championship game in which screamed about being the best cornerback in the game and insulted 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

“I apologize for attacking an individual and taking the attention away from the fantastic game by my teammates… That was not my intent,” Sherman said in a text to ESPN.

Speaking on the “SVP and Russillo” show on ESPN Radio earlier in the day, Sherman acknowledged that he let his emotions get the best of him.

“Obviously I could have worded things better and could obviously have had a better reaction and done things differently,” he said. “But it is what it is now, and people’s reactions are what they are.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he spoke with Sherman to clear the air, and he said the player was receptive.

Said Carroll: “You’re talking about a guy in a warrior’s mentality in the middle of everything. He’s a fiery guy. That was Richard being Richard in a moment where you would like to pull him to the side and take a knee for a while, then we’ll talk to you.

“It’s unfortunate that it was so crazed, but that’s who he is. His mental makeup to get ready for that matchup was expressed right there so he could play the way he can play. Unfortunately, sharing with the world, it didn’t come across so well.”

Kobe Bryant remains sidelined as he works his way back from a broken left knee suffered during a Dec. 17 game against the Grizzlies, and he said Monday that he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to return.

“Try not to think about it too much,” he said before the Lakers lost to the Bulls in Chicago. “Just go day to day.”

Bryant, who missed the start of the season while recovering from a turn left Achilles tendon, has been limited to riding an exercise bike until he’s ready to get back on the court.

“There was before I came back the first time because I didn’t know how my Achilles was going to respond to playing and changing directions,” Bryant said. “The game in Memphis I had a pretty good feel for it, getting back to being able to do what I normally could do. I feel confident about it. I did play that second half on a fractured leg and played pretty well. I feel pretty good about my chances.”

Bryant, 35, also said he has not wavered on his decision to skip the 2016 Olympics.

“I’ll go an spectate,” he said, adding: “Maybe I’ll go watch [Pau] Gasol win another silver.”

– Jamaica has a team in the bobsled event at the upcoming Sochi Olympics — rekindling memories of the 1988 “Cool Runnings” squad — but it’s going to take some money to get the athletes to Russia.

So the team posted a collection page on Crowdtilt in an effort to cover the $80,000 needed to fund the trip and training. As of Tuesday morning, donations of more than $110,000 had poured in.

The team has been training in Wyoming, getting by with what it has been able to afford.

“We have not come close to covering our costs,” Jamaican Bobsled Federation general secretary Chris Stokes told ESPN.com. “We have many outstanding obligations, and we have to pay three more weeks of training. We’ve had very lonely days when we struggled to make ends meet by borrowing equipment. Our guys haven’t had the proper jackets.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Jan. 21, 1954, the NBA All-Star Game went to overtime for the first time. Which Celtic scored 10 points in the extra session and was named MVP after leading the East to a 98-93 victory?

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Read More: Jamaican bobsled team, kobe bryant, Pete Carroll, Richard Sherman
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Lakers star Kobe Bryant pays surprise visit to BC marketing class 01.17.14 at 7:46 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: Lakers at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Clippers at Knicks, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Warriors at Thunder, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Green Bay at Wright State, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Canisius at Iona, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
NHL: Ducks at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NHL Network)
College hockey: Boston University at Boston College, 7 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-AM)
College hockey: Western Michigan at St. Cloud State, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College hockey: Lake Superior State at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Tennis: Australian Open, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

Kobe Bryant, who is in town as his Lakers are playing the Celtics on Friday night, apparently was looking for something interesting to do Thursday night. So, he showed up at an international marketing class at Boston College.

A number of students documented the surprise visit on social media, posing with Bryant (who won’t play Friday due to a knee injury).

The 35-year-old future Hall of Famer jumped from high school to the pros, so perhaps he’s considering colleges for when his NBA career ends.

 

Former BC star Craig Smith, who now plays in Israel after six NBA seasons, appeared impressed.

 

– The Rockets scored 73 points in the first half of Thursday’s game against the Thunder in Houston, a season high. They then set another mark in the second half, but this one was not as impressive. Houston was held to 19 points in the second half, a franchise record and tied for the second-fewest points in a second half in NBA history.

The Thunder, who at halftime watched video of each of the Rockets’ 12 first-half 3-pointers, overcame a 14-point deficit and went on to win, 104-92.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “That’s inspiring.”

Said Rockets coach Kevin McHale of his team’s struggles after the break: “We had a terrible time shooting the ball, laying it in, making simple plays. We couldn’t sustain anything offensively in the second half. Give them credit. They got out and got after us.”

– Redskins owner Daniel Snyder might be adamant about not changing his team’s nickname despite outside pressure, but one of his players isn’t so sure.

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall apparently is the first current player who hasn’t shown support for the name when he hedged about its future during an interview with Fox Sports.

Said Hall: I think eventually they will change it. ‘€¦ They probably should. But they won’t for a while at least.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Jan. 17, 1970, future Red Sox standout Fred Lynn was drafted by which team, refusing to sign and instead choosing to play college ball at USC?

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Read More: DeAngelo Hall, kobe bryant,
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Seahawks CB Brandon Browner reportedly facing 1-year suspension 11.26.13 at 8:03 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’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.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Ducks at Stars, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College football: Western Michigan at Northern Illinois, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Arkansas vs. Minnesota, 2 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Chaminade vs. Gonzaga, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Monmouth at Penn State, 6 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: West Virginia vs. Old Dominion, 6 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: California vs. Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Longwood at St. John’s, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Texas vs. DePaul, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Evansville at Indiana, 8 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Saint Louis vs. Wisconsin, 8:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Pittsburgh vs. Stanford, 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Baylor vs. Dayton, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: BYU vs. Wichita State, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Illinois at UNLV, 10:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Chelsea at Basel, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Brandon Browner

Brandon Browner

• The 10-1 Seahawks continue to roll in the NFC, led by a stellar defense, but there could be a crack in the armor. Two Seattle cornerbacks reportedly are facing suspensions for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs on a team with a recent history of such problems.

Brandon Browner, who was suspended for the final four games of last season, is said to be facing a one-year suspension this time around, indicative of a Stage 3 offense. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Browner already had his appeal hearing on the matter, although the player and his agent are denying it.

Tweeted Browner: “I’m not facing suspension for PEDs, it’s sad that the NFL is reporting this.”

Browner, recovering from a groin injury, was not expected to be healthy enough to play until mid-December. The former Canadian Football League star who was a Pro Bowl player in 2011 already had been losing playing time to Walter Thurmond III.

Meanwhile, it was reported Sunday that Thurmond is facing a four-game suspension for a similar offense. The Seahawks are said to be considering bringing back Antoine Winfield, whom they signed in the offseason but later released.

The Seahawks have had five players suspended since 2010, not including cornerback Richard Sherman, who won his appeal after allegedly testing positive for Adderall in 2012.

• The ex-Marine who tried to save a woman who jumped about 50 feet from the third deck to a concourse at Oakland’s O.co Coliseum after Sunday’s Raiders game is resisting being called a hero.

Donnie Navidad, a 61-year-old government worker and Raiders season ticket-holder, attempted to break the fall of the woman, who remained in extremely critical condition a day after the incident. Navidad was released from the hospital Sunday night.

“I don’t know who she was,” Navidad told the Contra Costa Times. “I just happened to be there. … I’m just an average government worker trying to survive in the world. I just did what I did.”

Navidad said he plans to return to the stadium for the Raiders’ final two home games in December. And he’d react the same way if faced with a similar situation.

“Had I not taken any actions and she hit the pavement, that there alone would have been etched in my mind until the day I die, knowing that I could have done something,” he said. “That would have left an impact you’d never forget.”

Kobe Bryant isn’t playing now, but when he does return, it will be in a Lakers uniform. And he doesn’t want to play anywhere else.

Bryant, recovering from surgery on his torn right Achilles tendon, signed a two-year contract extension Monday. Although he’s taking a pay cut from his $30.45 million salary this season, he’s still making a reported $48.5 million over the two years.

Bryant, 35, tweeted a picture of his signature on the contract with the hashtag “Laker4Life.”

While there were some who questioned the decision to allocate so much money to an aging superstar considering there will be some prime free agents available next offseason, the team voiced its satisfaction with the deal.

“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “We’ve said all along that our priority and hope was to have Kobe finish his career as a Laker, and this should ensure that that happens.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Nov. 26, 1962, the Red Sox traded reigning American League batting champion Pete Runnels to the Houston Colt .45′s for which player?

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Read More: Brandon Browner, Donnie Navidad, kobe bryant, Walter Thurmond III
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Fox sideline reporter Pam Oliver gets in digs at New Yorkers at Super Bowl business breakfast 10.25.13 at 8:04 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:
NHL: Ducks at Senators, 7:30 p.m. (NHL Network)
College hockey: UMass at Maine, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA preseason: Nets at Heat, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA preseason: Kings at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College football: Boise State at BYU, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: Liga MX, Guadalajara at Morelia, 8:25 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

Pam Oliver

Pam Oliver

• Fox Sports NFL sideline reporter Pam Oliver might not be welcome in New York anytime soon after her performance at a Super Bowl breakfast for regional business leaders Thursday in Times Square.

Oliver asked New York-New Jersey Super Bowl Committee chairman Al Kelly how his group would make sure people dressed warm enough for the February game at MetLife Stadium, and Kelly said there probably would be “a couple of idiots” who are underdressed.

Responded Oliver: “Probably Jets fans.”

Oliver later asked Jets owner Woody Johnson, “How does Rex [Ryan] keep his job,” despite the team’s 4-3 start.

Oliver, who suffered a concussion when she was hit by a wayward pass before a preseason game in August at the Meadowlands, also got in a dig about the 1-6 Giants, asking co-owner Jonathan Tisch to explain “what in the hell is the matter with the Giants?”

The loudest groans (and boos) from the crowd came when Oliver asked members of the panel how they would “instruct people of this area, particularly New Yorkers, to be nice? To say, ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ and, ‘I’ll get that.’ ”

Qualified Oliver: “I’m sorry — I’m from the South.”

Responded Tisch: “I’m from New York City, and I take exception with that. New Yorkers are unbelievably hospitable.”

• For the third time in three years, Stephen A. Smith is denying he used the N-word during an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take.” During a debate with co-host Skip Bayless on Wednesday, Smith appeared to say, “That’s the way it goes. That’s all! [N-word], please. Please.”

As he did the previous two times, Smith has insisted he did not use the offensive word. ESPN apparently agrees — at least publicly.

“We have concluded no inappropriate language was used after closely reviewing the segment several times, including physical aspects of speech and speaking to Stephen A., who maintains he jumbled his words,” an ESPN spokesperson said.

Following the controversy in 2012, when he appeared to say the word in a similar manner, Smith insisted people misunderstood him.

“I did not say the things reported that I said,” he explained then. “Hopefully I will not have to address this again. … If I were to have said anything like that, I would have instantly issued an apology.”

• In ESPN’s recent annual player rank, the media entity tabbed Lakers star Kobe Bryant as the 25th-best player in the league, dropping him 19 spots from a year ago. Another ESPN poll had the Lakers 12th in the Western Conference.

That’s not sitting well with Bryant, who last week changed his Twitter avatar to “1225.”

On Thursday, Bryant made it clear he hasn’t softened his stance, telling reporters that anyone who thinks he’s only 25th best in the NBA needs drug testing.

“The way I look at it, 25 is pretty silly,” he said. “Still and all, it’s a challenge that I willingly accept.”

Bryant, 35, tore his Achilles’ tendon in April and missed the postseason after averaging 27.3 points and 5.6 assists in 78 games. He appears doubtful for the team’s regular-season opener Tuesday night after acknowledging pulling back on his rehab to “let it heal up a little bit more.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Oct. 25, 1986, the Red Sox famously lost Game 6 of the World Series to the Mets despite having a two-run lead in the 10th inning. Which Mets pitcher — who later played for the Red Sox — got the win even though he surrendered two runs in the top of the 10th?

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Read More: kobe bryant, Pam Oliver, Stephen A. Smith,
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Lakers say improving Kobe Bryant could return for preseason 07.19.13 at 8:04 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: Yankees at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN, MLB Network; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cubs at Rockies, 8:30 p.m. (WGN)
Soccer: Liga MX, Morella vs. Queretaro, 8:25 p.m. (ESPN2)
Cycling: Tour de France, 6 a.m. (NBCSN)
Golf: British Open, 4 a.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Kobe Bryant isn't sure the Lakers have the answers. (AP)

Lakers star Kobe Bryant is working his way back from a torn Achilles. (AP)

Kobe Bryant, who last week expressed optimism about his recovery from a torn Achilles he suffered during the playoffs in April, might be back even earlier than expected.

“I would bet a lot of money on him coming back in the preseason,” Lakers vice president Jim Buss said Thursday in an interview with NBA TV at the Las Vegas Summer League (via the Los Angeles Times). “He’s going to come back when he is right. I see him coming back at the beginning of this season.”

Following the departure of Dwight Howard (free agent) and Metta World Peace (amnesty waiver), the Lakers are in need of a boost. An early return from Bryant would provide just that.

For what it’s worth, commissioner David Stern rejected a suggestion that the Lakers are conceding that they’re in for another long season.

“I expect that the Lakers aren’t thinking about the premise of your question, which implies that they’re not going to do better next year than they did the last year,” Stern told reporters in Las Vegas. “I don’t want to speculate beyond that, but I can tell you that’s not the basis upon which the Lakers are functioning. They expect to have a much better year.”

Josh Brent retired from the Cowboys as he prepares to face an intoxication manslaughter charge in the car crash that caused the death of teammate and close friend Jerry Brown.

Brent, 25, has not played since the Dec. 8 accident. He was placed on the reserve non-football injury list at the end of last season. He is free on bond, despite twice testing positive for marijuana.

“I am at a point where my main focus is all about getting the priorities in my life in order,” Brent said in a statement from the team. “Those priorities are more important than football. Doing the right things in life are more important than football. I love the game very much. I love my teammates, but this is the right thing for me to do.”

Team owner Jerry Jones said he remains supportive of Brent.

“I promised Jerry’s mother that we would support Josh in every way we could,” Jones said. “That’s been our only thought since the accident is to support him and support our team in their support of him.”

♦ Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, a well-known Mets fan, expressed his disappointment with fellow fans at Citi Field who booed some of baseball’s best players during Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

“This is one of the lowest moments of my lifetime of Mets fandom, when the Citi Field crowd was booing [players] that they see as rivals to their Mets team,” Seinfeld said in an interview with New York sports radio station WFAN (via CBS 2 New York). “And I’m standing there, I was in shock. I was embarrassed. I thought it was horrible manners. … These are the best players, in the game you love, that have come here to put on a show for you, and we’re booing them like 5-year-olds. As if there’s some sort of real animosity.”

“The American League is not the Taliban,” he added. “What are we booing Miguel Cabrera [for]? … So, I was very embarrassed by that.”

On the positive side, Seinfeld said he was happy to see the stadium show some class late in the game toward a crosstown rival.

“I felt redeemed by the reception that we gave Mariano Rivera,” Seinfeld said, “and that brilliantly staged farewell.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 19, 1933, when the Red Sox played the Senators, brothers on opposing teams hit home runs for the first time in major league history. Who were the brothers (who later teamed up on the Sox)?

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Kobe Bryant settles dispute with parents, auction house 06.11.13 at 7:51 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’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.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Giants at Pirates, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Reds at Cubs, 8 p.m. (WGN)
NBA finals: Heat at Spurs, 9 p.m. (ABC; WEEI-AM)
Soccer: World Cup qualifier, Costa Rica vs. Mexico, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: World Cup qualifier, Panama vs. United States, 10 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant’s dispute with his parents about them selling his memorabilia ended Monday, with his parents apologizing and 90 percent of the items being pulled from the auction.

Bryant and the auction company were due to go to trial in New Jersey next week. Bryant said the items were still his, while his mother, Pamela Bryant, claimed she owned the things Bryant had left at her house. Instead, Goldin Auctions will sell just six items from Bryant’s past, including two high school uniforms from Lower Merion (Pa.), Bryant 2000 NBA All-Star Game ring, and two rings celebrating the 2000 Lakers championship team that were given to Bryant’s parents.

“We regret our actions and statements related to the Kobe Bryant auction memorabilia,” Pamela and Joe Bryant said in a statement. “We apologize for any misunderstanding and unintended pain we have caused our son and appreciate the financial support he has provided over the years. We also apologize to Goldin Auctions for their inadvertent involvement in this matter and thank them for their assistance.”

The auction begins June 17, with bidding continuing until July 19.

♦ Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones was arrested Monday on an assault charge after he allegedly struck a woman outside a Cincinnati bar last week following a Reds game.

Jones, who has had numerous run-ins with the law since being drafted in 2005, insisted that he acted in self-defense. Tweeted Jones: Just got arrested for protecting myself, I will not let this break me or change what I have work so hard for …

Video surfaced on the web Monday and it appears to show Jones arguing with a woman while the two were on opposite sides of a low gate, the woman attempting to poor the contents of her bottle on him, and Jones responding by unleashing a left to the woman’s face.

In an interview with Cincinnati radio station ESPN 1530, Jones again claimed he did nothing wrong.

“I’m not out acting a fool. I’m not out drinking, getting drunk,” he said. “All I was doing was protecting myself, man. I wouldn’t like to harm no woman, period. I have two beautiful little girls and a wife at home [and] my mother. Most of my family are all women, I don’t even had a dad. That’s not Adam. That’s no part. I’m not into that, and I don’t condone that. So I don’t want you to try to tweak it and make it sound any other way. All I was doing was protecting myself and trying to clear my space.”

♦ Feuding golf rivals Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia met up Monday at the practice range for the U.S. Open in Ardmore, Pa., and shook hands in their first meeting since Garcia made a racially insensitive comment about Woods.

After the pair had a dispute at The Players Championship last month when they were paired together, Garcia, at an awards dinner in England, joked that he would have Woods over for dinner and “serve fried chicken.” Woods downplayed the incident and said he wanted to move on.

Both players are scheduled to speak to the media on Tuesday.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On June 11, 1987, the Celtics tied an NBA finals record by having five players score 20 or more points in a 123-108 victory over the Lakers in Game 5. Which player led the way with 25 points?

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Read More: Adam "Pacman" Jones, kobe bryant, Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods