|Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: With Alex Rodriguez in New York, Yankees open spring training under cloud||02.13.13 at 7:40 am ET|
WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Bulls at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Rockets at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Wake Forest at Boston College, 7 p.m. (NESN: WEEI-AM)
College basketball: Nebraska at Indiana, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Miami at Florida State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Syracuse at UConn, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Central Florida at Memphis, 8 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
College basketball: West Virginia at Baylor, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Purdue at Illinois, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Providence at South Florida, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: North Carolina at Duke, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: San Diego State at Colorado State, 10 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
College basketball: Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Oregon at Washington, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL: Blues at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
AROUND THE WEB:
♦ With Alex Rodriguez rehabbing in New York, the Yankees opened spring training in Tampa, Fla., insisting that A-Rod’s latest PED scandal won’t divert their focus from the task at hand.
“I don’t think I’ve ever really come to a Yankee camp where there hasn’t been something that people might call a distraction,” manager Joe Girardi said. “This club’s used to it.
“A lot of times, it’s a two-day event, a three-day event, then the story kind of goes away. It may change for a day or two, but there will be something else that comes up that we’ll have to deal with. Him being in New York has nothing to do with trying to get rid of a distraction. It’s the best place for him to be.”
Added pitcher CC Sabathia: “We’ve dealt with a lot around here since I’ve been here, and this is my fifth year. It’s been a lot to deal with, but you learn to be a professional and go out and do your job.”
Catcher Francisco Cervelli, also linked to the controversial Biogenesis clinic in South Florida that allegedly prescribed PEDs to a number of major leaguers, is slated to address the issue publicly Wednesday.
“Of course that can weigh on his mind, but it’s a distraction that he’s going to have to block out to be able to perform,” Girardi said of Cervelli, who is competing for the starting catcher’s job. “There are other things that come up in a person’s life that can be distracting if you let them be. In a sense, this is a test for him, how he’s able to block this out.”
♦ Four University of Alabama football players were arrested and face charges for their involvement in two violent assaults and robberies of fellow students Monday. According to the police report, linebacker Tyler Hayes, safety Eddie Williams and running back Brent Calloway admitted their participation in the crimes that allegedly also included defensive lineman D.J. Pettway.
The players are said to have punched and kicked the victims, knocking them out, before stealing their wallets and at least one computer. The players then used a stolen credit card to buy snacks from vending machines in a dormitory.
The players, all backups, were suspended by the team, which is coming off its second straight national championship.
“This behavior is unacceptable for any student-athlete at the University of Alabama and not representative of our football program,” coach Nick Saban said in a statement.
♦ The 21-year-old son of Celtics legend Larry Bird was arrested Sunday after allegedly trying to run over his ex-girlfriend with his car. Conner Bird, a student at Indiana University, is accused of throwing a cell phone at the woman and then driving his car at her during an argument.
Bird faces preliminary charges including intimidation with a deadly weapon, battery with injury and possession of marijuana.
“It is a private matter we are hoping to resolve as quickly as possible,” said Bird’s attorney, John Tompkins. “We are happy no one was seriously hurt.”
♦ The international Olympic Committee voted Tuesday to drop wrestling starting with the 2020 Games. Wrestling was voted out from a final group that included modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey, accordion to an Associated Press report.
Eliminating one of the 26 sports allowed the IOC to add a new sport later this year. Wrestling can attempt to be reconsidered for inclusion, but it faces an uphill battle, competing with seven other sports also hoping to be in the 2020 Games: baseball/softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu (martial arts).
“This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It’s not a case of what’s wrong with wrestling, it is what’s right with the 25 core sports.”
Wrestling, which includes freestyle and Greco-Roman events, has been held in every modern Olympics, starting with the Athens Games in 1896. There were 344 wrestlers at least year’s London Olympics, competing in 11 medal events.
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Feb. 13, 1985, the Bruins fired coach Gerry Cheevers. Who replaced him for the remainder of the season?
|Larry Bird officially steps down, Pacers name Donnie Walsh as replacement||06.27.12 at 6:36 pm ET|
Larry Bird officially stepped down from his position as Pacers president of basketball operations on Wednesday. Indiana tabbed Donnie Walsh as his replacement and Kevin Pritchard as the team’s new general manager.
“I’m going to take some time off and evaluate what I will do in the future,” Bird said. “This has nothing to do with any conflict or anything else, it’s just time. I considered leaving last year, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, I like the position this team is in, and with Kevin and Donnie, the basketball side won’t miss a beat.”
The 55-year-old cited health reasons for his departure. Bird, who served as the team’s president for nine years, also coached the team from 1997-2000 and to one NBA finals appearance. After leaving his coaching job, Bird returned to the team in 2003 and became president in 2007-08.
Walsh, Bird’s replacement, has also spent time with the Pacers. He was Indiana’s president from 1988-2008, after which he left to pursue a job with the Knicks. Previously Walsh had served as Pacers general manager for two years.
Pritchard served as Portland’s general manager from 2007-10 before joining the Pacers before last season as director of player personal. The Indiana native is taking a spot that was vacated when David Morway resigned on Tuesday.
|Larry Bird to step down as president of Pacers||06.26.12 at 8:28 am ET|
Larry Bird is “100 percent sure” he will not return as president of the Indiana Pacers, sources told The Indianapolis Star on Monday.
Bird, 55, is dealing with some health issues and is expected to take a year off before deciding if he wants to partake in a front-office position with the Pacers again, according to The Star. The former Celtic is expected to meet with team owner Herb Simon later today to confirm his departure.
“(I want to talk to Simon about) the direction of the team, what kind of job he thinks we’re doing, if there’s anything he sees that we should be doing better,” Bird said May 30. “Just a number of questions. I’ve got a lot of them written down to ask him, and hopefully we can get the answers we like and move on.”
Bird steps down less than two months after being named NBA’s Executive of the Year, which made him the first person in NBA history to be named Executive of the Year, Coach of the Year (1998, Pacers) and the league’s Most Valuable Player (1984-1986, Celtics).
|Larry Bird says he wants to return as Pacers president||05.30.12 at 8:12 pm ET|
Larry Bird told reporters on Wednesday that he loves his job, likes his team, and would prefer to return as Pacers president next season. According to The Associated Press, the Indiana native is simply waiting to work out an agreement with team owner Herb Simon.
The statements challenge earlier reports that Bird would step down as the team’s president at the end of the year.
Bird took over as president when Donnie Walsh left for the Knicks in 2008. After failing to glimpse the postseason since 2005-06, the Pacers have made the playoffs in back to back seasons and this year forced the Heat into a seven-game series in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The turnaround earned Bird his first NBA Executive of the Year award, making him the only person to ever be named Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.
|Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Larry Bird calls Pacers ‘soft’ after Heat take liberties in rout||05.23.12 at 7:41 am ET|
WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA playoffs: Celtics at 76ers, 8 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI)
NHL playoffs: Devils at Rangers, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB: Red Sox at Orioles, 12:35 p.m. (NESN; WEEI)
MLB: Nationals at Phillies, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
MLB: Cubs at Astros, 8 p.m. (WGN)
AROUND THE WEB:
♦ Not only did the Heat rout the Pacers in Tuesday night’s Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, they got in a couple of vicious hacks in the process. Following a hard foul from Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough on Dwyane Wade in the second quarter, Heat forward Udonis Haslem responded moments later with a two-handed foul to Hansbrough’s face. Then, in the closing seconds, Heat sub Dexter Pittman threw an elbow to the throat of Pacers loudmouth Dwight Stephenson, and Pittman gave a little wink for good measure. All three fouls were ruled flagrant-1.
“I don’t know if that was retaliation. … I’m sure the NBA will and do what they have to do,” said Pacers forward Danny Granger, who left in the third quarter with an ankle injury.
Pacers president Larry Bird was not happy with his team’s reaction — or lack thereof.
“I can’t believe my team went soft. S-O-F-T,” Bird told The Indianapolis Star’s Mike Wells. “I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen.”
♦ Rangers forward Mike Rupp escaped further punishment from the NHL after his shot to the face of Devils goalie Martin Brodeur in Monday night’s Game 4, and Rupp later admitted that his hit was unprovoked.
Rupp, whose team was trailing 3-0 en route to a 4-1 loss, had just been given a roughing penalty for a hit behind the net when he skated by Brodeur and caught the unsuspecting goalie with a quick jab. There had been speculation that Brodeur said something to spark Rupp’s anger.
“No, nothing was said,” Rupp acknowledged Tuesday. “It’s a hockey game. Things happen in the moment. I’m just focused on this game [Wednesday] and looking forward to the opportunity of having home ice.”
♦ Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who was arrested for driving 93 mph on a suspended license early Monday, has a more pressing issue. Chapman is being sued for $18 million by a Cuban-American man who claims the pitcher is responsible for his imprisonment in Cuba.
Danilo Curbelo Garcia was arrested in 2008 and is serving a 10-year sentence for involvement in human trafficking because he allegedly came up with a plan to help Chapman defect in exchange for a portion of Chapman’s first major league contract. Chapman testified against Curbelo Garcia at his trial, the lawsuit states, in order to earn back his spot on the Cuban national team after his suspension for a previous attempt to escape the communist island.
Chapman defected to the Netherlands in 2009 while playing for Cuba in the World Port Tournament.
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On May 23, 1976, the Celtics beat the Suns, 98-87, in Game 1 of the NBA finals. Which Celtic led the way with 25 points and 21 rebounds?
|LEEInks List: 10 worst Boston sports collapses||09.28.11 at 11:15 am ET|
Boston sports have become known through the early 21st century as a success story. The city has celebrated seven championships among the four major sports teams since 2001. But as Boston fans know, the city’s sports scene has its share of historic and painful collapses — and this year’s September swoon by the Red Sox ranks right up there. Here’s a look at 10 of the most noteworthy Boston sports heartbreakers of the past 40 years.
10. 2009-10 Celtics
Just two years removed from their 17th NBA championship, the Celtics returned for a 12th NBA finals confrontation with the Lakers. The Celtics carried a 3-2 series lead into Game 6 in Los Angeles, but they suffered a crushing blow when center Kendrick Perkins blew out his knee early in the game and had to miss the rest of the series. The Lakers won 89-67, forcing a Game 7 in Los Angeles.
The Lakers and Celtics traded leads through the first half, but it was the Celtics who led 40-34 after two quarters. Boston came out strong in the second half, going on a 9-3 run to extend its lead to 13 points. But the Celtics could not hold on and the Lakers crawled back to within four at the end of the third quarter. The Celtics offense struggled in the final frame while the Lakers caught fire, outscoring the C’s 30-22 for an 83-79 win and their 16th NBA championship.
9. 1974 Red Sox
Before there was the horrific September of 2011, there was the terrible September of 1974. The Red Sox entered September leading Baltimore in the American League East by three games but sank fast. Boston lost six games from Sept. 1-6, three of which came against Baltimore, to fall 1½ games back in the division. The Red Sox never recovered, going 12-13 through the rest of the season and falling to a third-place finish.
|Report: Frank Vogel to be named Pacers coach||07.06.11 at 8:48 am ET|
According to The Associated Press, the Pacers will make interim coach Frank Vogel the team’s permanent head coach. Vogel, a former Celtics assistant, took over for Jim O’Brien in the middle of last season and the team finished the year 20-18. The Pacers made the playoffs for the first time since 2006, before falling in five games to the top-seeded Bulls in the first round.
President of basketball operations Larry Bird called Vogel the favorite to get the job from the beginning of the search after success the Pacers had under Vogel last season. The Pacers were said to be interested in former Pacers assistant and former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, but he recently took the head coaching job with the Lakers.
The Pacers have announced a news conference with Vogel for Wednesday. He will be joined by Bird.
|Larry Bird to remain Pacers president||05.11.11 at 9:30 am ET|
Larry Bird will remain Pacers president, the team announced Tuesday. The Celtics legend met with owner Herb Simon in Los Angeles to discuss the future of the Pacers, who made the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
“I’m quite pleased with the success we experienced this past season and pleased with the direction our team is going,” Simon said in a statement. “I’m glad Larry is staying to help us continue in the positive direction we are going.”
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Simon said that Bird, who has been team president since 2003, has done exactly what he said he would do when he drew up a new plan for moving forward three years ago.
“He gave us a three-year plan, and I think he’s lived up to his three-year plan,” Simon said. “He said it would be tough going, but by the third year, he thought we could probably make the playoffs, which he did, and that we would have cap space to build upon the core group that he’s established.”
|LEEInks List: Boston sports figures’ movie cameos (no Oscars here)||02.28.11 at 9:08 am ET|
Editor’s note: In recognition of Sunday night’s Academy Awards, during which one of the honored movies was the Massachusetts-based sports film “The Fighter,” we’re republishing this list that first appeared on our site last year.
Some people just can’t be pleased. Common knowledge has it that many musicians want to be athletes, hundreds of athletes want to be musicians, and plenty of actors are envious of athletes. The same stands for athletes being actors. All too many times, athletes stand out as the awkward people who never have more than a few droning lines and can never really advance the plot of the film beyond the lone scene they’re in. Of course, the ploy never matters much to the studio bigwigs as it can bring in thousands of an athlete’s fans to just catch a brief glimpse of their hero during the course of a two-hour film.
It’s not always that way, however; whenever an athlete is being an athlete on screen, things seems slightly more natural. Think Barry Bonds in “Rookie of the Year,” Reggie Jackson in “The Naked Gun,” or the litany of NBA players who co-starred with Lil Bow Wow in “Like Mike.” For every Jim Brown (“The Dirty Dozen”), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (“Airplane!”) and O.J. Simpson (“The Naked Gun”), there’s a Michael Jordan (“Space Jam”), Shaquille O’Neal (“Kazaam” and “Steel”) and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (“The Game Plan” and “The Tooth Fairy”) who should never step on a Hollywood set.
For Boston fans, they can only hope that their heroes can get onto a list of the former and not the latter. Rajon Rondo can now be seen in the basketball-rich movie “Just Wright” starring Queen Latifah and Common — when he isn’t making historic plays that can be added to the pantheon of Celtics playoff moments, that is. Thankfully, Rondo is starring as himself, playing basketball, so things are looking good so far. In his honor, let’s count down some of the best movie cameos by Boston sports icons. Note that we are not including Celtics guard Ray Allen (“He Got Game”) because he was playing for another team at the time. And we’ll tell you right now, Dennis & Callahan fans, that your heroes didn’t make the cut. Sorry.
10. Derek Sanderson
During the heyday of the Big Bad Bruins, Turk made an appearance as himself in the 1971 movie “Face-off,” about a pro hockey player and a folk singer who fall in love. He also appeared in the horror film “A Knife for the Ladies” in 1974, during his second stint in Boston. It wasn’t surprising to see Sanderson on the big screen, as he was known as someone who rode his fame and fortune as far as he could take it.
9. Rick Fox
Fox, a first-round draft pick of the Celtics in 1991, played in Boston until 1997, when he signed with the Lakers in part so he could continue the acting career he started while a Celtic. In 1994, he made an appearance in the college basketball movie “Blue Chips,” and two years later he had a role in “Eddie,” the movie that starred Whoopi Goldberg as a fan turned coach of the New York Knicks. Fox has gone on to become a regular on the big and small screens. Read the rest of this entry »
|Pacers fire coach Jim O’Brien||01.30.11 at 1:40 pm ET|
The Indiana Pacers have reportedly fired head coach Jim O’Brien after three and a half seasons. The former Celtics coach was 121-169 in his time with Indiana and failed to lead the rebuilding franchise to the playoffs during his tenure.
According to a report from the Indianapolis Star, the team thought about firing O’Brien after a recent 0-4 west coast trip, but decided against it. The Pacers were blown out in Chicago Saturday, which apparently was the final straw for team president Larry Bird. The Star’s Mike Wells is reporting that assistant Frank Vogel will be named interim coach.
O’Brien began his head coaching career with the Celtics when he replaced Rick Pitino in the middle of the 2001 season. He led the Celtics to 49 wins and a surprising run the Eastern Conference finals the following year. O’Brien’s style didn’t mesh well with Danny Ainge, however, and Ainge replaced him in the middle of the 2004 season. O’Brien spent one disappointing season with the 76ers before taking over in Indiana.
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