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LeBron James seems to be getting sick of the media 06.07.17 at 3:18 pm ET
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The NBA finals seems to be putting a strain on the relationship between LeBron James and the media.

Following Game 2, James gave these testy responses to reporters when questioned about his postgame interview being in the locker room instead of at the podium and if the Cavs need to defend home court.

Then, in shootaround on Wednesday morning James seemed annoyed by a question about what the Cleveland’s priorities are heading into Game 3.

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Report: Steve Kerr could return to coach Warriors in Game 2 06.02.17 at 12:37 pm ET
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Steve Kerr could return to coach the Warriors for Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Steve Kerr 

When the Golden State Warriors take on the Cleveland Cavaliers at Oracle Arena for Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, Steve Kerr might be courtside.

According to ESPN, there is internal optimism among the Warriors that Kerr is set for a return. The decorated head coach has been sidelined since Game 3 of the first round, reportedly dealing with symptoms related to the back surgery he underwent two years ago. The report adds he is feeling better.

Golden State certainly hasn’t struggled in his absence, going a perfect 11-0 under interim coach Mike Brown. A former NBA Coach of the Year, Brown has a great deal of familiarity with LeBron James, having coached him during his first tenure in Cleveland from 2005-10.

The return of Kerr could give a boost to a Warriors club that doesn’t seem to need much added motivation. Following its 113-91 blowout win in Game 1 of the Finals on Thursday, the team is a perfect 13-0 overall in the playoffs. No team has ever swept the NBA postseason, but these Warriors have a real shot.

Re-inserting their head coach, whose .841 regular-season winning percentage is the best in NBA history, could help them attain that goal.

Read More: LeBron James, Mike Brown, Steve Kerr,
Martellus Bennett slams Jason Whitlock for saying LeBron James is too wealthy to experience ‘real racism’ at 11:22 am ET
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Martellus Bennett took umbrage with Jason Whitlock's comments on race in America.  (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Martellus Bennett took umbrage with Jason Whitlock’s comments on race in America. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

When LeBron James commented this week on the racist graffiti that was allegedly spray-painted on his Brentwood mansion, he said it’s a reminder of the difficulty of being black in America. But FS1 personality Jason Whitlock disagrees.

In a rant Thursday, Whitlock called the reported vandalism a “disrespectful inconvenience,” but stopped short of saying it’s emblematic of the racism black people face in the U.S. According to Whitlock, James is too wealthy to feel the effects of bigotry.

“Racism is an issue in America but is primarily an issue for the poor. It’s not LeBron James’ issue,” he said. “He has removed himself from the damages and the ravages of real racism.”

Whitlock especially took issue with James invoking Emmett Till, a 14-year-old who was lynched in Mississippi in the 1950s for supposedly whistling at a white woman. The basketball star referenced Till’s mother’s decision to have an open casket at his funeral, saying it was a message to the world about the hardships of African-Americans.

“The people that murdered Emmett Till got off, an all-white jury let them off; there was no real investigation, the whole town was against him. LeBron’s $20 million Brentwood home gets vandalized and I see two or three police cars trying to get to the bottom of it,” Whitlock said. “LeBron’s staff, I’m sure, cleaned up the spray paint within hours. This ain’t Emmett Till.”

Countless people, including FS1 anchor Mike Hill, lambasted Whitlock for his dismissive viewpoint. But few issued a stronger rebuttal than Packers tight end Martellus Bennett, who unloaded on Whitlock in a Twitter rant Thursday.

Bennett, who won a Super Bowl with the Patriots last season, frequently opines on race and other social topics. In February, shortly after telling reporters he would skip the Patriots’ White House visit, he explained on Twitter why he refuses to stick to sports.

“When you look at me what do you see? I know you wanna ask me what sport I play. I mean what else could I possibly be besides an athlete,” he wrote. “When you look at me, see the father, the awesome dad, the author, film director, business owner, champion, friend, Hufflepuff beast.”

Whitlock fired back at Bennett Thursday, telling the tight end he “missed his point.” Bennett responded in kind.

While Whitlock’s assertion is overly simplistic, it is refreshing to hear a voice that challenges conventional wisdom. James was nearly universally applauded for his press conference, but it is fair to question his comments about having a “tough life” in America. Those with an estimated net worth of $400 million can make a lot of problems go away.

Saying that kind of money can eliminate racism, though, seems foolish. James’ point was that to some folks, black people will always be nothing more than their skin color, regardless of social status. It’s difficult to dispute that argument.

Read More: Jason Whitlock, LeBron James, Martellus Bennett,
Regardless of Finals result, LeBron James has already cemented legacy as sports’ best spokesman 06.01.17 at 4:40 pm ET
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LeBron James spoke eloquently about race Wednesday. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

LeBron James spoke eloquently about race Wednesday. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

When LeBron James steps onto the court for Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday, he’ll be gunning for his fourth championship. If he’s able to knock off the star-studded Warriors for the second straight year, it will further cement his legacy as one of the two greatest players of all-time –– right alongside Michael Jordan.

But James’ place in history will be defined by more than his basketball excellence. He’ll also be remembered as one of the most outspoken athletes of his generation, opining on hot-button social issues with eloquence and dignity. That’s what he did Wednesday, when he commented on the state of race in America after racist graffiti was spray-painted on his house in Los Angeles.

“Just shows that racism will always be a part of the world, part of America. Hate in America especially for African-Americans is living every day. It is hidden most days. It is alive every single day,” he said. “No matter how much money you have, how famous you are, how much people admire you, being black in America is tough.”

It was a poignant message, meant to demonstrate that high social status doesn’t erase skin color. Yes, LeBron James enjoys a better life than the vast majority of Americans. But that doesn’t mean he’s exempt from experiencing acts of hate.

During James’ first years in the NBA, he was portrayed as a prima donna, if not a coach killer. It seemed like every few months, the country’s premier basketball reporter, Adrian Wojnarowski, was tossing a bomb in his direction –– either ripping his sycophantic high school buddies or chastising him for his perceived selfishness. And James, who orchestrated the embarrassing “Decision” special, didn’t do much to change the perception.

Since then, James has admitted the error of his ways. He expressed remorse about the “Decision” in 2011, saying he would “probably change a lot of that.” When he returned to Cleveland in 2014, he told his story to Sports Illustrated, and promised to bring a championship to his hometown.

That’s what he did last year, when the Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 series deficit to best the Warriors.

In between all of that, James developed his voice as the NBA’s unofficial statesman. Perhaps his finest moment came in 2014, when he led the charge to oust ex-Clippers owner Donald Sterling after a racist audio clip leaked of him asking his mistress to not bring black people to games. “There is no room for Donald Sterling in our league,” he said at the time. “There is no room for him.”

Three days later, commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life. Talk about wielding influence.

Whether it’s wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt to protest Eric Garner’s death or speaking out against gun violence at the ESPYs with other NBA stars, James uses his bully pulpit more effectively than any other athlete today. He may never be able to match Jordan on the court, but he’s a better spokesman than Jordan ever was.

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LeBron James comments on racist graffiti on his house 05.31.17 at 7:09 pm ET
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LeBron James spoke on Wednesday about the racist graffiti spray painted on his house in Los Angeles.

“Just shows that racism will always be a part of the world, part of America. Hate in America especially for African-Americans is living every day. It is hidden most days. It is alive every single day,” James said. “No matter how much money you have, how famous you are, how much people admire you, being black in America is tough.”

“Time heals all,” he continued. “End of the day, if this incident happened to my family can keep the conversation going, to keep progressing, not regressing, I’m not against it happening to us again.”

 

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House of LeBron James reportedly vandalized with racial slur at 1:18 pm ET
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LeBron James’ L.A. home was vandalized, according to TMZ Sports. Police responded to the house after the n-word was spray painted on the front gate of the house.

Police are looking at footage neighbor’s security cameras to find the perpetrator.

James bought the house in 2015, but he was not present at the house during the incident. He is preparing to face the Warriors in the NBA finals.

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Draymond Green on Cavs: ‘I want to annihilate them’ 05.26.17 at 12:56 pm ET
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When the Cavaliers ended the Celtics’ season on Thursday night with a 135-102 rout at TD Garden, it set them on an NBA Finals collision course with the Warriors for the third straight season.

Following an epic seven-game series last June and the now infamous blown 3-1 Golden State lead, tensions are high between the two league powerhouses.

In October, Draymond Green told NBA.com’s David Aldridge exactly what he wanted to do if the two teams met again.

“If Cleveland comes out of the East, I want to destroy Cleveland,” Green said. “No if, ands, and buts about it. But I also know that there are steps to get to that point. And if and when we get to that point, I want to annihilate them.”

Both teams have made it to that point, and if Green’s comments are any indication, it should prove to be a fiery, exciting series. The two split their two-game regular season series, but the rivalry dates back to 2015.

They first met during the 2015 NBA Finals, LeBron James’ first season back in Cleveland following his South Beach experience. The David Blatt-led Cavs were a shell of themselves, though, without Kevin Love for the entirety of the series and Kyrie Irving for the final five games. (Love was out due to a shoulder injury he suffered after getting tangled up with Kelly Olynyk in Game 4 of the first round.) The Warriors would go on to defeat the Cavs in six games, securing the franchise’s fourth championship.

Last year, the two met again – with a much healthier Cavs roster – and tensions flared in Game 4. Green hit LeBron in the groin, was suspended for Game 5 and Klay Thompson said postgame that, “I guess [LeBron’s] feelings got hurt.”

The Cavs went on to defeat the Warriors in seven games, and some believe LeBron trolled Golden State by wearing an Ultimate Warrior shirt to the team’s victory parade.

This year, analysts have been hard-pressed to predict what a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals would like, considering the lack of parity in both conferences – the Cavs were an Avery Bradley 3-pointer away from sweeping the first three rounds of the playoffs like Golden State – and the Warriors’ addition of Kevin Durant.

The Warriors won 67 games in the regular season to the Cavs’ 51, and while they owned a 36-5 regular season record at Oracle Arena, the Celtics have proven that they are beatable at home. On the strength of a 15-0 run, Isaiah Thomas’ 25 points and Kelly Olynyk’s 17 off the bench, the Celtics cruised to a 99-86 victory in Golden State on March 8.

It remains to be seen whether the addition of Durant will propel the Warriors to victory, or LeBron will secure a second-straight championship for his city. One thing is certain: the entire NBA world will be watching this rivalry unfold.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love
Monday’s Morning Mashup: David Ortiz receives honorary doctorate degree from Boston University 05.22.17 at 9:34 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Monday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB:
 San Francisco at Chicago Cubs, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Golden State at San Antonio, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Anaheim at Nashville, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— David Ortiz stole the show at Boston University’s graduation on Sunday and all he said was “Thank you very much.”

Ortiz received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letter from the university in front of more than 20,000 people at Nickerson Field.

BU president Dr. Robert A. Brown introduced Ortiz by highlighting his career stats, his leadership, charitable endeavors and speech after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

The crowd chanted “speech!” as Ortiz accepted his degree but Ortiz only said those four words when he took the mic and then returned to his seat.          

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Dan Le Batard criticizes ESPN colleague Sage Steele for airport Instagram post; LeBron James goes on Charles Barkley rant, calls him a ‘hater’ 01.31.17 at 10:04 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Tuesday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Boston at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Oklahoma City at San Antonio, 8:30 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Charlotte at Portland, 10 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Creighton at Butler, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: George Washington at URI, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Iowa at Rutgers, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Maryland at Ohio State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Pittsburgh at North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Wake Forest at Boston College, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Temple at Tulane, 8 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Dayton at Fordham, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Georgetown at DePaul, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Georgia at Kentucky, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Vanderbilt at Texas A&M, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: West Virginia at Iowa State, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Wisconsin at Illinois, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Wyoming at San Diego State, 11 p.m. (CBSSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— ESPN’s Dan Le Batard went after his colleague Sage Steele on Tuesday after Steele complained on Instagram after protests against Donald Trump’s immigration ban delayed her travel to Houston for the Super Bowl.

“The genie is out of the bottle on this because we all have our own Twitter accounts and all have our own social media,” Le Batard said on his show. “This is what ESPN is trying to prevent because once one person does it, it opens the floodgates for the rest of us because, of course, I, as the son of exiles, look at this and I’m like what the hell are you talking about [that] your travel plans were affected? What are you talking about? The height of privilege. But you can’t give this a voice and then muzzle the rest of us. You can’t give Sage Steele this voice and muzzle the son of exiles.”

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LeBron James gives LeGarrette Blount a shoutout on Twitter 01.23.17 at 8:37 am ET
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LeGarrette Blount took a page out of LeBron James’ book in the AFC championship game. After scoring a touchdown late in the third quarter, he brought out “The Silencer,” mimicking James’ signature road celebration. James, who was presumably tuned into the game like most sports fans, appreciated the gesture.

Though James is an unabashed Cowboys fan, it was difficult to not admire the Patriots’ dismantling of the Steelers Sunday night. Blount’s touchdown run, which came after he had dragged seven Pittsburgh defenders all the way to the goal line, served as the proverbial nail in the coffin. The burly running back finished with 16 carries and 47 yards.

Of course, when James mentions you on Twitter, it’s only appropriate to return the favor. Blount let him know the shoutout was appreciated.

Read More: LeBron James, LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots,