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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony thanks Boston writer for MVP vote 05.08.13 at 8:00 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.

NHL playoffs: Bruins at Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. (NESN, CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Capitals at Rangers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Kings at Blues, 9 p.m. (NHL Network)
NHL playoffs: Red Wings at Ducks, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey World Championships: United States vs. Finland, 1 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA playoffs: Bulls at Heat, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Warriors at Spurs, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
MLB: Twins at Red Sox, 7 p.m. (NESN Plus, ESPN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Braves at Reds, 12:30 p.m. (MLB Network)


Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks to a rout of the Pacers in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, and then he took a moment to thank Boston Globe writer Gary Washburn for giving him a first-place vote in the NBA MVP balloting.

“As far as the guy in Boston, I don’t know any he catches so much flak for that,” Anthony said, referring to the controversy after LeBron James fell one vote shy of a unanimous MVP. “He has the right to vote for whoever he wants. LeBron won the MVP. Why is everybody so mad that he didn’t win it unanimously? … Thank you.”

Anthony also addressed a tweet from the account of MSG Network Knicks analyst Bernard King that criticized Anthony following New York’s Game 1 loss. King has claimed an associate was responsible for the tweet, which has since been removed.

The tweet read: If Carmelo’s shoulder is hurting that bad — work the paint — drive and dish — become a facilitator — it’s a TEAM game.

Responded Anthony: “I found out about the alleged Bernard King tweet this morning. I didn’t think too much about it. I know Bernard very well and I heard he was trying to reach out to me to let me know it wasn’t something that he said. He just wanted to apologize. I didn’t really pay too much any mind to that at all.”

Knicks coach Mike Woodson defended Anthony earlier Tuesday.

“Melo’s had a hell of a season,” Woodson said. “He’s struggling a little bit. But we’re right in the thick of things. We’re still in the hunt. That’s all you can ask for.”

♦ During Tuesday night’s Blue Jays-Rays game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Toronto starting pitcher J.A. Happ took a line drive from Desmond Jennings off the side of his head. He was alert as he was wheeled off on a stretcher and taken to an area hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.

Jennings got a triple as the ball deflected down the right-field line. Happ fell to the ground next to the mound and covered his head with his glove.

“It’s devastating. … I could barely watch it,” Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey said. “You just don’t know what to think, really. It paralyzes you a little bit. And when it sounds like two bats, when you hear the sound off the bat and it sounds like it hits another bat, it’s scary. It’s really, really scary. I just started praying in the spot. That’s all I knew to do.”

Said Tampa Bay’s Ryan Roberts, who was in the on-deck circle at the time: “I just saw it come off the bat hot, and when it hit him I knew it hit him hard. I instantly started praying for him. That’s a situation you never want to see. It’s unfortunate. I hope he recovers and hope he’s back pitching as soon as possible. That’s something in a game you hate to see.”

♦ Former Lions wide receiver Titus Young was arrested twice in about 14 hours, according to police in Southern California. The 23-year-old was first arrested early Sunday on suspicion of DUI. Later that day, Young allegedly jumped over the fence of a tow company in an attempt to get his impounded car out of the yard. He was booked on suspicion of burglary.

Young, drafted out of Boise State in 2011, was released by Detroit in February.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On May 8, 2004, in a 9-1 victory over the visiting Royals, which Red Sox infielder hit two home runs, one of which was an inside-the-park homer?

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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Boston writer denies LeBron James unanimous MVP 05.06.13 at 7:51 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.

NHL playoffs: Bruins at Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. (NESN, NHL Network)
NHL playoffs: Capitals at Rangers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Ducks at Red Wings, 8 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Blues at Kings, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA playoffs: Bulls at Heat, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Warriors at Spurs, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
MLB: Twins at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN Plus; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Braves at Reds, 7 p.m. (ESPN)


LeBron James receives his fourth MVP award Sunday during a ceremony in Miami. (AP)

LeBron James received 120 out of a possible 121 first-place votes to win his fourth NBA MVP award, setting off a search to find out who could have considered the Heat star unworthy.

During Sunday’s award ceremony at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena, James — the only player this year to lead his team in scoring (26.8), rebounding (8.0) and assists (7.3) — offered his opinion.

“It’s probably a writer out of New York that didn’t give me the vote,” he said. “I know the history between the Heat and the Knicks, So, I get it.”

As it turns out, the renegade writer was Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Washburn voted for Carmelo Anthony first, and in a column Monday he attempted to justify his decision, claiming that Anthony was more valuable to the Knicks than James was to the Heat. Washburn wrote that he was “flabbergasted” to learn that he stood alone in his thinking.

For his part, Anthony agreed with the 120 writers who determined James deserved his fourth MVP in five years (Celtics legend Bill Russell is the only other player to accomplish that feat).

“LeBron gets it, I take my hat off to him, he deserves it,” Anthony said. “They had a hell of a year, to win 27 straight games, a hell of an achievement.”

However, added Anthony: “I’ll take that vote.”

Anthony didn’t even finish second, as he was well behind runner-up Kevin Durant. Nine writers or broadcasters did not include Anthony on their ballots.

♦ A Utah soccer referee who was punched in the head by a 17-year-old player a week ago died Saturday night, according to police. Ricardo Portillo, 46, suffered swelling in his brain after the assault and had been in critical condition for a week.

Portillo had given a yellow card to the teenager, a goalie in a recreational league, when the player started arguing and then threw a punch to Portillo’s head. The referee, who complained of dizziness and vomited blood, was taken to a hospital, where he slipped into a coma.

The teenager was booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault. There could be additional charges following Portillo’s death.

♦ The Shaquille O’Neal-Jose Canseco feud — the two supposedly were going to have a boxing match at one point last year — was reignited over the weekend, after Canseco sent out a simple tweet to to Shaq that read: hey pussy.

Responded O’Neal: ill beat your ass rat boy the whole world saw u run from hung man Choy. Set it up ill break your jaw #snitchesgetstitches

Added Shaq: u gonna need more than steroids to help u when I smack the rat fur off yo ass #snitchesgetstitches pt 2

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On May 6, 2000, Pedro Martinez struck out 17 batters, but the Red Sox were blanked and dropped a 1-0 decision to which team?

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Carmelo Anthony, red-hot Knicks clinch first division title since 1994 04.10.13 at 8:07 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.

NBA: Nets at Celtics, 8 p.m. (CSNNE, ESPN; WEEI-AM)
NBA: Spurs at Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Bruins at Devils, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB: Orioles at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Yankees at Indians, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)


♦ The Knicks won their 13th straight game Tuesday night, in the process clinching their first Atlantic Division title since 1994.

Carmelo Anthony, who averaged 41.8 points per game last week and took over the NBA scoring lead from Kevin Durant with his late-season surge, scored 36 points in the 120-99 victory over the Wizards at Madison Square Garden.

The players returned to the locker room to find shirts that read: Can’t Stop NY Knicks. 2013 Division Champions.

“There’s no reason not to have a smile on your face at this moment,” Anthony said. “We accomplished one of our goals that we set before the season in training camp, so it’s a stepping stone for us.”

♦ In a related note, Anthony’s jersey is the No. 1 seller in the NBA, as the Knicks forwarded unseated LeBron James in the top spot.

James is at No. 2, Durant has the No. 3 most-popular jersey, Kobe Bryant is at No. 4 and the injured Derrick Rose is at No. 5.

The list is based on sales at the NBA Store in New York as well as NBAStore.com since last November. Anthony ranked fourth on last year’s list.

In other jersey news, Robert Griffin III broke the NFL record for most jerseys sold in one year. The NFL did not release the number but indicated RG III beat out Peyton Manning for the top spot. Ray Lewis was third, Colin Kaepernick fourth and Tom Brady fifth.

♦ Rapper and businessman Jay-Z, who recently agreed to represent Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, will sell his minority share in the Nets so that he can represent NBA players, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation company has partnered with the powerhouse Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and is expected to make an immediate splash due to his profile in the entertainment world.

Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, owns a 1/15 share in the Nets, worth about $350,000, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

“It would be disappointing [if he left],” Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said. “I’d be disappointed. He had an enormous amount to do with the rebranding of the team.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On April 10, 1998, the Red Sox rallied from a 7-2 ninth-inning deficit against the Mariners, winning 9-7 on a walk-off grand slam by which Sox player?

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James upset about hard fouls after Heat’s streak ends vs. Bulls 03.28.13 at 7:57 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.

College basketball: NCAA tournament, Marquette vs. Miami, 7:15 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, Arizona vs. Ohio State, 7:47 p.m. (TBS)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, Syracuse vs. Indiana, 9:45 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, La Salle vs. Wichita State, 10:17 p.m. (TBS)
NHL: Kings at Blues, 8 p.m. (NHL Network)
MLB preseason: Twins at Red Sox, 7 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB preseason: Mets at Nationals, 1 p.m. (ESPN)


♦ The Heat’s 27-game winning streak, second-longest in NBA history, ended in Chicago on Wednesday night, and LeBron James is not happy with the physical treatment he received from the Bulls.

In the first quarter, Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, defending one-on-one against James on a fast break, appeared to try to draw a charge, but he put both arms around James as they fell to the floor. (Hinrich actually looked to get the worst of the play, as the back of his head bounced off the court.)

In the fourth quarter, Taj Gibson stopped a layup by bringing his arm across James’ neck and shoulder. (Gibson then offered to help James off the floor.)

“Let me calculate my thoughts real fast before I say [what I want to say],” James said postgame. “I believe and I know that a lot of my fouls are not basketball plays. First of all, Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter basically grabbed me with two hands and brought me to the ground. The last one, Taj Gibson was able to collar me around my shoulder and bring me to the ground. Those are not defensive … those are not basketball plays.”

James, who finished with 32 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in his team’s 101-97 loss, took out his frustration with 3:52 left when he drove his shoulder into the chest of a screen-setting Carlos Boozer and followed through with his elbow, earning a flagrant foul.

James admitted afterward that the hard fouls have started to bother him.

“It’s been happening all year, and I’ve been able to keep my cool and try to tell [Erik Spoelstra], ‘Let’s not worry about it too much.’ But it is getting to me a little bit because every time I try to defend myself, I got to face the consequences of a flagrant for me or a technical foul, whatever the case may be,” James said. “It’s tough. It’s tough. It’s very tough, and I’m not sitting here crying about anything because I play the game at a high level. I play with a lot of aggression, and I understand that some of the plays are on the borderline of a basketball play or not, but sometimes you just got to … I don’t know. It’s frustrating.”

♦ Former Red Sox star Manny Ramirez made his debut in Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League on Wednesday, going 2-for 6 in the EDA Rhinos’ 9-8 loss to the visiting Brother Elephants in 12 innings.

Ramirez, batting fourth, flew out to left off American Mike Ballard in the first inning. In the second inning, facing rookie right-hander Wu Ming-hsu, he singled to left field (video below) as part of his team’s five-run rally. Ramirez singled to right off Wu in the fourth.

Ramirez had a chance to be the hero twice, but in the eighth he stranded two runners with the game tied at 8, and in the 11th he couldn’t get the ball out of the infield.

The game reportedly was played in front of a capacity crowd of 20,000 fans.

Real Clear Sports has a list of the top 10 buzzer-beaters in NCAA tournament history. No. 1 is NC State’s Lorenzo Charles beating Houston in the 1983 championship game. No. 2 is Christian Laettner‘s jumper that gave Duke a win over Kentucky in the 1992 Elite Eight.

UConn makes two appearances on the list. No. 6 is Tate George‘s jumper that beat Clemson in 1990, and No. 8 is Richard Hamilton‘s fadeaway that beat Washington in 1998.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 28, 1986, the Red Sox made a trade with the Yankees to acquire designated hitter Don Baylor, who helped the Red Sox win the 1986 American League pennant. Which player did the Sox trade to New York?

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Texans’ Antonio Smith warns Manti Te’o to expect to be ‘butt of every joke’ 03.06.13 at 7:54 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.

NBA: Celtics at Pacers, 7 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Bulls at Spurs, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: North Carolina at Maryland, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Michigan at Purdue, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Oklahoma State at Iowa State, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Georgetown at Villanova, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Richmond at VCU, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: UConn at South Florida, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: West Virginia at Oklahoma, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Minnesota at Nebraska, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: New Mexico at Nevada, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Stanford at California, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL: Avalanche at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
World Baseball Classic: Japan vs Cuba, 5 a.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Dominican Republic at Yankees, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)


Manti Te'o better have a good sense of humor when he gets to the NFL. (AP)

♦ Texans defensive end Antonio Smith was frank about the rough treatment Manti Te’o should expect to receive should he get selected by Houston in next month’s NFL draft.

“Our locker room is full of clowns and, oh, man, people would kill him,” Smith said in an interview with NBC Sports Network’s Pro Football Talk. “I mean, he would be the butt of every joke for at least two, three years.”

Smith said the former Notre Dame linebacker will need to show he can take some kidding about his fake girlfriend situation if he’s going to succeed in the NFL.

“You’ve just got to be a good sport, man,” Smith said. “It is what it is, and, you know, it is out now, it’s out in the papers and on TV, so all you can do now, you can’t worry about it, you can’t change it, al you can do now is laugh — laugh with us while we’re laughing at you.”

♦ The NBA on Tuesday fined Thunder center Serge Ibaka $25,000 but did not suspend him for his chop to the groin of Clippers forward Blake Griffin, and that did not sit well with some other NBA players who felt the league was being inconsistent with its discipline.

Clippers forward Matt Barnes, who has a history of aggressive behavior, was suspended one game in February for pushing Timberwolves center Greg Stiemsma in the neck. Tweeted Barnes on Tuesday: You can INTENTIONALLY grab or hit someone in the balls & not get suspended, but you push someone & get suspended. #ImConfused

And: Let me or Metta World Peace do that & I guarantee its a 5 game suspension .. I luv *how* there are different rules, for different people!

Meanwhile, LeBron James wondered why Heat teammate Dwyane Wade was suspended one game in December for his kick to the groin of Bobcats guard Ramon Sessions.

Tweeted James: So explain to me the difference? My teammate gets a 1 game suspension and 150k+ taking away from him for his groin altercation #strangetome

♦ Grambling State became the first Division 1 college basketball team to go through the regular season without a victory. The Tigers did not even stay within single digits in all 27 of their losses.

Said coach Joseph Price: “Look at it this way: It can’t get worse.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On March 6, 1986, which Bruins forward recorded his 600th NHL point with two goals in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Nordiques at Boston Garden?

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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Female kicker comes up short at NFL combine 03.04.13 at 8:05 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.

NBA: Heat at Timberwolves, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Texas Tech at Kansas, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Cincinnati at Louisville, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Savannah State at UNC A&T, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Baylor at Texas, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Lightning at Penguins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Predators at Kings, 10:30 p.m. (NHL Network)
World Baseball Classic: South Korea vs Australia, 5:30 a.m. (MLB Network)
World Baseball Classic: Australia vs. Netherlands, 11:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
World Baseball Classic: Brazil vs. China, 3 a.m. Tuesday (MLB Network)


♦ Things did not go well Sunday for the first female to participate in an NFL regional combine tryout. Lauren Silberman came up embarrassingly short on two kickoffs before seeking medical assistance and then leaving in tears.

The 28-year-old Silberman, who said she is a former University of Wisconsin club soccer player, kicked the ball about 19 yards on her first try and a few yards less on her next.

Silberman did not take any warmup kicks before the event, which featured 38 kicking prospects hoping to attract the attention of an NFL team. She later explained that she injured her quadriceps earlier in the week and was hoping she could kick through it.

“I suffered a quad injury. I tried staying off it and waited for today. I didn’t even take kicks in warmup,” she said, according to New York’s CBS TV affiliate. “It’s pretty hard to know that you’d be in pain and wanted to work through it, and I certainly tried to, but I couldn’t do it today.”

Added Silberman: “I tried to work through the pain. The distance wasn’t there, but hopefully the scouts noticed my form.”

Silberman was not evaluated prior to the workout, signing up by paying a a $275 fee. She added to speculation that she was an unqualified publicity-seeker by being evasive when asked how far she kicked the ball in practices. “It’s hard to tell,” she said.

NFL regional combine director Stephen Austin offered no verification of Silberman’s ability.

“Our job is to evaluate talent and leave no stone unturned,” he said. “Until they get here, we don’t have any idea of how any of them are going to perform.”

LeBron James said Sunday that he’s considering an offer of $1 million by Magic Johnson to participate in the dunk contest during All-Star Weekend.

“I don’t have a response yet,” James told ESPN’s Lisa Salter, adding: “Tell [Johnson] I’ll get back to him.”

James has never taken part in the dunk contest, although he said Sunday, “I think about it every year.” He recently received some criticism for saving his highlight-reel dunks for pregame warmups and said he considered changing his warmup routine because of it. However, he decided to continue it.

♦ Following a tweet from Randy Moss on Saturday night, there is speculation that the receiver will not return to the 49ers.

Tweeted Moss: Wished we could’ve finished the job!!thanks for the opportunity an good luck in the future 9ers.

Moss, 36, ended his brief retirement in 2012 and recorded 28 receptions for 434 yards and three touchdowns in helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl. He caught two passes for 41 yards in the Super Bowl loss to the Ravens.

The onetime Patriot has 982 catches for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns in his 14-year career.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 4, 1984, which standout Red Sox catcher from the 1930s was chosen for the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee?

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Struggles continue for Dwight Howard, bickering Lakers 02.12.13 at 12:55 pm ET
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Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard‘s first season with the Lakers has been filled with controversy, injuries and disappointments. He has been dealing with a nagging shoulder injury and now is claiming that opponents have been targeting the injury.

Howard has been playing through a torn labrum, trying to help the Lakers fight their way back into the playoff picture. There have been a couple of games recently when Howard has said that players were grabbing at his right shoulder. After losing to the Heat on Sunday, Howard mentioned the targeting.

“They got me early,” Howard said. “They would yank it back.”

Howard also claimed that some of the Bobcats players were doing the same thing in Friday’s game.

“It’s like a jolt,” Howard said. “Then it hurts the rest of the night.”

In another on-court display of frustration, Howard was involved in a heated argument with fellow first-year Laker Steve Nash during Sunday’s game. During an offensive possession, Nash was in trouble along the baseline under the basket and Howard was holding his arms in the air, calling for the ball. Nash took a few extra seconds, was pressured by the Heat’s Udonis Haslem, and threw a difficult pass to Howard that the center was unable to handle.

The two bickered with each other at center court after LeBron James was fouled finishing off a layup at the other end.

The Lakers are 24-28 and are 3½ games behind the Rockets for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

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Nets’ Reggie Evans not impressed by LeBron James, Heat 01.31.13 at 12:36 pm ET
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Reggie Evans

Before Wednesday night’s game, Nets forward Reggie Evans provided LeBron James and the Heat with some bulletin board material, not that Miami needed any. The Heat defeated the Nets for the 13th consecutive time, 105-85, as James registered 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Earlier on Wednesday, Evans talked with the New York Daily News and attempted to devalue the Heat’s 2012 championship.

“It doesn’t prove nothing,” Evans said. “That was a lockout season.”

When James learned of the comments, he tweeted: Just keep throwing rocks at the throne, don’t matter cause nothing can break my zone.

Following the easy win, James continued with his response to the ineffective Evans (zero points, six rebounds).

“You can’t just come out and say something like that versus a champion,” James said. “No one knows what it takes unless you’ve done it. You can’t sit here and judge and talk about a team winning a championship unless you’ve done it. [Evans] hasn’t done it.”

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Notre Dame teammate says Manti Te’o was lying about dead girlfriend 01.17.13 at 8:08 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.

NBA: Knicks vs. Pistons, at London, 3 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Clippers at Timberwolves, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Heat at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT; WEEI-AM)
College basketball: Duquesne at UMass, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Michigan at Minnesota, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Valparaiso at Detroit, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Florida at Texas A&M, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Northwestern at Illinois, 8:15 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Oregon State at UCLA, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Georgia Tech at Duke, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Saint Joseph’s at VCU, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: South Florida at Rutgers, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Oregon at USC, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
College hockey: Providence at UMass-Lowell, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)


Manti Te'o's memorable season is ending badly. (AP)

♦ The Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah Winfrey hasn’t even aired yet, and already it’s been surpassed by a more shocking story from the sports world. The Manti Te’o dead girlfriend hoax was exposed by Deadspin on Wednesday, and despite claims by Notre Dame and Te’o that he was duped, the facts do not make it look good for the Heisman Trophy runner-up.

At least one Notre Dame football player was willing to speak out about the situation, albeit anonymously. Former CSNNE anchor/reporter Jackie Pepper, who now runs her own website, published an interview with a Fighting Irish player who said Te’o was caught in a bad situation that he made worse.

“He lied, but the media blew it up,” the player said.

The player claimed other teammates knew that what Te’o was doing as well, although no one ever confronted him.

“We would never bring it up,” the player said. “But we would look at him when he would get all emotional during media about his girl.”

Asked if he thought Te’o was a good actor, the player said: “Very good.”

♦ Depending upon whom you believe, the USC football team either had a verbal spat or an all-out brawl in the locker room following the Trojans’ 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.

The brouhaha started when some freshmen questioned the leadership from the team’s seniors, with at least one player calling out quarterback Matt Barkley for missing the game with a shoulder injury.

“It was one of the worst things I’ve seen in a locker room,” an unidentified player told the Los Angeles Daily News.

Barkley downplayed the incident in an interview with ESPN Radio.

“I would say tempers flared, yeah, but that’s football,” Barkley said. “It’s an emotional game, and when you end your season on a negative note like that, emotions are going to be high. Guys were expressing their opinions, for better or worse, but we had it under control. It was nothing to be alarmed about.”

Said freshman offensive tackle Zach Banner to the Daily News: “It’s going to be a whole new family atmosphere next season, and you can quote me on that. For the seniors, it’s terrible.”

♦ Knicks forward Rasheed Wallace, who returned to the NBA this season at the age of 38, is not expected to play again for a while — if at all — due to a stress reaction in his left foot. The 15-year veteran has been out since Dec. 15 and has yet to start running.

“He’ll be back — but when, I don’t know,” coach Mike Woodson said. “We’re gradually trying to get him back where he can run again so he can get back in a uniform. But when, we don’t know when yet.”

Wallace, who last played for the Celtics in 2009-10, is averaging 7.2 points and 3.2 rebounds over 14.6 minutes in 20 games.

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

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Dwyane Wade’s benching one of many minor concerns for Heat 01.16.13 at 5:00 pm ET
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Dwyane Wade's benching on Monday was the latest in a recent series of irritations for the Heat. (AP)

As Dwyane Wade sat on the bench and watched his teammates attempt a fourth-quarter comeback against the Jazz on Monday, some saw it as an example of the greater malaise that’s settled over the Heat recently (though they’re still 24-12 and in first place in the conference).

Wade’s benching — if it can be called that, given that it only lasted for one quarter — came after a recent dip in his offensive production, and hasn’t caused much of an uproar in and of itself. The same goes for the Heat’s 1-3 record so far on their Western road trip, in which they’ve beaten only the Kings and lost to the Pacers, Trail Blazers and Jazz.

However, comments and actions from Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh before and during the trip have raised some eyebrows. Despite the fact that the Heat have some of the most talented players in the game, James said after a two-point loss to Portland last Thursday, “We’re not the most talented bunch. We’re not the greatest team. So we can’t afford to just pick and choose when we want to turn it on and off.”

Meanwhile, Bosh is averaging the fewest rebounds of his career yet still campaigned this week on Twitter for fans to vote him into the All-Star Game.

Wade didn’t say anything particularly controversial about sitting out the end of the Jazz game, and neither did Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. The incident seems to be just one more facet of the Heat’s internal troubles, minor problems that only will become more detrimental if they’re allowed to drag on.

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