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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Dwyane Wade insists Heat ‘have no reason not to be proud’ after being routed out of NBA Finals 06.16.14 at 8:04 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Twins at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN: WEEI-AM)
MLB: Mets at Cardinals, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
College baseball: World Series, Texas vs. Louisville, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
College baseball: World Series, UC Irvine vs. Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
World Cup soccer: Ghana vs, United States, 6 p.m. (ESPN, Univision; WEEI-AM)
World Cup soccer: Germany vs. Portugal, noon (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
World Cup soccer: Iran vs. Nigeria, 3 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)

AROUND THE WEB:

– Heading into Sunday night’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Heat star LeBron James looked at a 3-1 series deficit no team had ever overcome in Finals history and said, “Why not us?”

The answer came swiftly: Because the Heat’s supporting cast was not up to the challenge.

San Antonio roared back from an early 16-point deficit and routed the Heat for the third straight game, 104-87, clinching its fifth title and denying the Heat a three-peat.

“They played exquisite basketball this series and in particular these last three games and they are the better team. There’s no other way to say it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

James recorded 31 points and 10 rebounds, including 17 points in the first quarter. Miami raced out to a 22-6 lead but was trailing by halftime, 47-40.

Ray Allen started in place of the slumping Mario Chalmers and scored five points on 1-of-8 shooting with four turnovers.

Chris Bosh — who before the game insisted, “We’re not going down. We’re going to win this game” — finished with 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting. He was 0-for-5 on 3-pointers.

Dwyane Wade shot 4-for-12 and finished with 11 points and three turnovers. He shot 7-for-25 in the last two games as the Heat’s fourth consecutive appearance in the NBA Finals ended badly.

“We’d love to be 4-for-4,” Wade said, “but we have no reason not be proud of each other.”

Said James: “We went to four straight Finals in four years. We’€™re not discrediting what we were able to accomplish in these four years. We lost one, we won two, and we lost another one. [We will] take 50 percent in four years in championships any day. Obviously, you want to win all of them, but that’€™s just the nature of the game. You win some,  you lose some. You’€™ve just got to come back the next year and be better as an individual, as a team, and go from there.”

The Spurs, meanwhile, celebrated their first title since 2007 and made amends for last season’s collapse vs. the Heat in the Finals.

“It makes last year OK,” Tim Duncan said.

– Mets starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka tried to play with a “severe upset stomach” Sunday — delaying the start of the game before taking the mound — but he lasted just one inning before leaving the game.

Matsuzaka, who is not aware of what he might have eaten that caused his issues, said he’s hoping to pitch in relief Monday.

“I’m fine physically,” he said through his translator (via the New York Daily News). “I’d definitely like to help the bullpen.”

Manager Terry Collins might take the former Red Sox hurler up on that offer.

“We’re going to talk about possibly [Monday] if he’s feeling good,” Collins said. “If he feels all right [Monday] we could use him for a couple of innings.”

– Former Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent, who was convicted of intoxication manslaughter in the death of teammate and friend Jerry Brown, was released from jail Sunday, one month before his six-month sentence was to end.

Brent, 26, had been sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years probation. He had faced up to 20 years in prison.

Brown’s mother, Stacey Jackson, asked for leniency for Brent, saying at the trial, “You can’t go on in life holding a grudge.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On June 16, 1978, which Red Sox player announced he was quitting the team, directing his anger at manager Don Zimmer and general manager Haywood Sullivan, only to return the following day?

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Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Dwyane Wade, Josh Brent, LeBron James
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Heat reportedly have interest in pursuing Carmelo Anthony 06.12.14 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.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Indians at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Dodgers at Reds, 12:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cubs at Pirates, 7 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Brewers at Mets, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA Finals: Spurs at Heat, 9 p.m. (ABC; WEEI-AM)
World Cup Soccer: Brazil vs. Croatia, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
Golf: U.S. Open, 9 a.m. (ESPN), 3 p.m. (NBC), 5 p.m. (ESPN2), 6 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

– Last week the hot NBA rumor was that the Celtics would make a run at Carmelo Anthony — after landing Kevin Love, of course. Now comes a report from ESPN that the Heat are trying to find a way to fit Anthony while retaining their three superstars.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all can opt out of their contracts this offseason, and the Heat would need them to accept new lesser-paying deals in order to have any chance to absorb Anthony’s salary. Role players Udonis Haslem and Chris Anderson also have player options for next season, putting the Heat in position to free up more than $50 million if everyone buys in to the plan.

James, who reportedly made $30 million from Apple’s recent acquisition of Beats by Dre headphones, would not comment on his future during Wednesday’s off day, telling reporters, “That’s kind of like on the back burner right now. ‘€¦ [Free agency] is the last thing I’m thinking about right now.”

The Heat, who host Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night looking to draw even with the Spurs, can’t contact Anthony until July 1 — and that’s assuming Anthony opts out of the final year of his deal with the Knicks. He reportedly has until June 23 to inform the Knicks of his plan.

James, Wade, Bosh and Anthony all entered the league as part of the 2003 draft class.

– FIFA president Sepp Blatter, speaking in Sao Paulo as the World Cup gets under way, suggested that soccer coaches should be allowed to challenge referee decisions, similar to the NFL and Major League Baseball.

“We could do something more on the field of play,” Blatter said. “Why don’t we give team managers the possibility of two challenges for refereeing during the match? If the manager disagrees with a decision, why should he not ask for an immediate TV review with the referee?”

The 78-year-old Blatter, who previously had voiced support for reviewing goal-line video but now appears comfortable expanding the system, intends to seek re-election for a fifth term next year. That decision was widely criticized, especially following accusations of corruption regarding the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Blatter has dismissed the corruption charges, accusing critics of being racist despite strong evidence of bribery from a Qatar soccer executive.

Landon Donovan was left off the U.S. soccer team roster, but he’s keeping close tabs on the World Cup — and getting paid for it. ESPN introduced Donovan, the U.S.’ career scoring leader, as an analyst during the network’s preview show Wednesday.

Said U.S. midfielder Jozy Altidore: “He’s a smart guy. He knows the game very well. It was always going to happen — right? — him to be a commentator.”

Donovan, working out of ESPN’s Los Angeles studios, questioned U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann‘s assessment that the Americans do not have a team that can challenge for a title this year.

“This will come as a surprise to nobody, but I disagree with Jurgen,” Donovan said.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On June 12, 1984, the Celtics defeated the Lakers in Game 7, 111-102, to win their 15th NBA title. Which Celtic posted team highs of 24 points and eight assists?

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Read More: Carmelo Anthony, Landon Donovan, LeBron James, Sepp Blatter
Report: Lakers delay coaching search while waiting on LeBron James 06.11.14 at 10:53 am ET
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Lakers fans could probably feel the sting on Tuesday as they watched former coach Phil Jackson introduce former player Derek Fisher as head coach of the Knicks, all while Los Angeles remains without a coach of its own.

The Lakers’ coaching search has been a slow one since Mike D’Antoni resigned on April 30. And with Fisher’s hiring on Tuesday, LA and the Cavaliers are the only two teams left without a head coach.

Why such a delay? One key factor reportedly remains at play: LeBron James.

A source told USA Today on Tuesday that the team’s slow coaching search has been timed deliberately with the league’s upcoming free agency, which begins July 1, in the hopes that luring a superstar such as James or Carmelo Anthony could potentially open up more options.

James and Anthony both have player options for next season, and James has reportedly expressed interest in playing with his friend, Anthony, someday.

The Lakers have already interviewed Mike Dunleavy, Bryon Scott, Kurt Rambis, Lionel Hollins and Alvin Gentry for their coaching vacancy. Rambis, however, will be an assistant under Fisher in New York.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Scott will receive a second interview with the Lakers on Tuesday. He is the first candidate to receive a second meeting with the team. The Times wrote that Scott’s biggest advantages are his friendship with Kobe Bryant and familiarity with the fan base after playing with the Lakers from 1983-93.

Read More: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers,
Monday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James attends yoga class before leading Heat to Game 2 win 06.09.14 at 7:44 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mariners at Rays, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Dodgers at Reds, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Stanley Cup finals: Kings at Rangers, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

– The air conditioning was back on in San Antonio, and so was LeBron James, who played 37-plus minutes Sunday night and finished with 35 points and 10 rebounds in a 98-96 victory over the Spurs in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

James, who had to be carried off the court in the closing minutes of Thursday’s Game 1 loss, said he attended a yoga class to help his body be prepared.

“One thing I did do differently [Sunday] morning, I took an 8 a.m. yoga class at our resort that we stayed at, outside,” James said after the game. “Me and three other people and also a little kid, but he didn’t want no parts of it. So that’s probably the only thing that I did differently today.”

James is not new to yoga; he has touted its benefits in past years. And he is not alone. Teammate Dwyane Wade started doing yoga during the lockout in 2011, and the Spurs have team yoga sessions for years.

James started slow Sunday, missing three of his first four shots and turning over the ball three times in the opening quarter. He then hit 11 of his next 14 shots and finished 14-of-22 to put memories of Game 1 behind him.

“What happened on Thursday was Thursday,” he said. “My whole focus was how I was going to try to help this team even this up and just try to make some plays.”

Down the stretch James had a steal of Tony Parker and fed Chris Bosh for the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:18 remaining. That came after he scored eight points in less than a minute in the third quarter to rally his team.

“For me, once I get into a good groove, I feel like everything is going to go in,” he said.

– On the heels of last week’s David Ortiz-David Price feud, the American League has a new feud.

During Friday’s Orioles-A’s game in Baltimore, O’s baserunner Manny Machado took exception to what he thought was a hard tag from A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson. Machado lost his balance and threw his helmet toward Donaldson while falling down. Machado then got up and barked at an incredulous Donaldson while the benches emptied.

“I just tried to tag the guy. I was walking over there to go pick his helmet up for him, then he jumps up and starts yelling at me,” said Donaldson, who was hit by a pitch three innings later. “I don’t know what happened on his end, but I’m just trying to do my job and play the game of baseball.”

On Sunday, the A’s appeared to be looking for some revenge, as Machado was nearly hit in the knee by an eighth-inning pitch from reliever Fernando Abad. On the next pitch, Machado pulled a Trot Nixon and “lost the grip” on his bat, sending it flying toward third base. Machado and Abad were ejected.

“The bat slipped out of my hands,” Machado claimed after his team’s 11-1 loss.

Said A’s designated hitter John Jaso: “It got pretty intense there for a while. There is a certain respect you have to have for this game. It’s a blessing for all of us to be where we are. When I feel somebody doesn’t see that and doesn’t respect the game as such, it doesn’t sit well with me.

“I think guys like that need to be taught a lesson because there’s millions of other people that would love to have the spot that he has.”

Pete Rose is banned from Major League Baseball, but that won’t stop him for serving as manager for a day for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League.

“This year is the 25th anniversary of the last time Pete managed,” Bluefish general manager Ken Shepard said (via the Connecticut Post). “So this really is a very special moment. Pete has not managed in professional baseball since the Cincinnati Reds in 1989. And we are just so excited to be able to be the team that hopefully could help in the process of furthering a relationship to see Pete be back in the good graces of Major League Baseball.”

The 73-year-old Reds legend will guide the team for its June 16 game against the Lancaster Barnstormers.

“I’m doing this because I love baseball,” Rose said in a conference call Saturday. “I love young players because they bring you one thing you need in sports: enthusiasm. These young men are here working their butts off. They don’t have egos — they are hungry. The run hard and they play hard, all the time.”

Added Rose: “I will tell each of the players in the clubhouse a few things before the game. I will look at each of them and say that every one of you guys has more ability right now than I did at 18 years old. I was told that I was too slow, didn’t have a strong arm, and didn’t have power, but I got an opportunity and I worked the rest of it out.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On June 9, 1982, the Bruins traded defenseman Brad McCrimmon to the Flyers for which goalie who would put together a Vezina-winning season in 1982-83 that included a 31-game unbeaten streak?

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Read More: LeBron James, Manny Machado, Pete Rose,
Friday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James, Heat wilt in Game 1 after AC breaks in San Antonio 06.06.14 at 7:51 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Tigers, 7:08 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Athletics at Orioles, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
College baseball: NCAA tournament, Stanford at Vanderbilt, 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
College baseball: NCAA tournament, Charleston at Texas Tech, 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
College baseball: NCAA tournament, Houston at Texas, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
College baseball: NCAA tournament, Pepperdine at TCU, 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
College baseball: NCAA tournament, Kennesaw State at Louisville, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College baseball: NCAA tournament, UC Irvine at Oklahoma State, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
WNBA: Minnesota Lynx at Seattle Storm, 10 p.m. (NBA TV)
Soccer: Exhibition, Mexico vs. Portugal, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
MLL: Boston Cannons at Ohio Machine, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
Tennis: French Open, 7 a.m. (Tennis Channel), 11 a.m. (NBC)

AROUND THE WEB:

LeBron James haters are out in force after the Heat star wilted in the San Antonio heat Thursday night and his team faded in the fourth quarter of a 110-95 loss to the Spurs in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

After the air conditioning inside San Antonio’s AT&T Center broke, temperatures soared into the low 90s, making it reminiscent of 1980s finals games at the old Boston Garden. James repeatedly asked out of the game in the closing minutes due to cramping, and the Spurs took advantage, ending the game on a 16-3 run.

“After I came out of the game, they kind of took off,” said James, who finished with 25 points in 33 minutes. “And it was frustrating sitting out and not be able to help our team.”

Added James: “It sucks not being out there for your team, especially at this point in the season.”

Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: “I think it felt like a punch in the gut when you see your leader limping like that back to the bench.”

Spurs guard Danny Green scored 11 of his 13 points in the final period, including a 3-pointer to spark the game-ending run, but he expressed empathy for James.

“You could see the heat was getting to a lot of guys,” Green said. “If I played as many minutes as he did, I’d probably be cramping up, too.”

NBA president Rod Thorn understood Miami’s frustration but insisted there were no safety issues that would give the league a reason to step in.

“LeBron had to leave the game in the fourth quarter with the game still in the balance,” Thorn told ESPN. “He’s such a great player that obviously when a player of that ilk leaves the game, it certainly affects the game.

“But again, both teams were playing under the same conditions. There was nothing wrong with the floor. We’ve played in these conditions before.”

– University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari was rewarded for making three Final Four appearances in the last five years when he received a seven-year, $52.5 million contract, the school announced Thursday.

Calipari’s base salary is $400,000 per year through the 2020-21 season, but he makes millions more in endorsements and retention bonuses.

Calipari, 152-37 in his five years at Kentucky, was rumored to be a target of the Lakers, but since the NBA job opened up he has denied any interest. Meanwhile, he’s again assembled one of the top recruiting classes in the nation.

“With the continued support from our administration and the greatest, craziest fans in college basketball, we have accomplished a lot in our five quick years, but we still have lofty goals for the future,” Calipari said in a statement Thursday night. “We want to continue to help young people and their families reach their dreams, while at the same time maintaining our success on the basketball court, in the classroom and in the community.”

– Colts owner Jim Irsay has his license suspended one year by a court due to his arrest in March for driving while intoxicated, according to court documents (via The Indianapolis Star).

Irsay refused a blood test after he was detained March 16 in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel, which automatically triggers the one-year suspension based on Indiana law. The suspension went into effect May 27.

Irsay is due back in court June 19 for an initial hearing on two misdemeanor counts of impaired driving. He has yet to be punished by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On June 6, 1977, which pitcher won his 100th game with the Red Sox?

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Read More: Jim Irsay, John Calipari, LeBron James,
Pacers’ Paul George unhappy with officiating: Heat ‘won this game at the free throw line’ 05.27.14 at 9:10 am ET
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The Heat are one win away from their fourth straight NBA Finals appearance after a 102-90 Game 4 win over the Pacers on Monday gave them a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

Miami never trailed in the contest and was seemingly in control throughout. However, Indiana guard Paul George wouldn’t attribute it to poor play from the Pacers, or even strong play from the Heat.

Instead, George was pointing his finger at the officiating.

“We outplayed them,” George said after the game. “They won this game at the free throw line.”

George’s case: the Heat had 34 free-throw attempts while Indiana had just 17. The Pacers hit just 11 of those 17 attempts from the line.

“You can’t tell me we don’t attack the basket as much as they attack the basket,” George said. “You can’t tell me we’re not aggressive. Maybe we’re too aggressive. But I feel like we’re just as aggressive as they are attacking the basket and making plays at the rim. Maybe this was just home cooking.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Indiana Pacers, Lance Stephenson, LeBron James, Miami Heat
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Pacers’ Lance Stephenson convinced he’s in LeBron James’ head 05.26.14 at 8:21 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Braves, 1:10 p.m. (NESN, ESPN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Yankees at Cardinals, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Cubs at Giants, 4 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Tigers at Athletics, 4 p.m. (WEEI-AM)
MLB: Reds at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Pacers at Heat, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
WNBA: Minnesota at Chicago, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL playoffs: Blackhawks at Kings, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
College lacrosse: NCAA championship, Duke vs. Notre Dame, 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tennis: French Open, 10 a.m. (Tennis Channel), noon (NBC)

AROUND THE WEB:

– The Pacers are down 2-1 to the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals heading into Monday night’s Game 4, but Indiana guard Lance Stephenson is confident that he’s in LeBron James‘ head.

Stephenson said Sunday that James does not usually engage in trash talk during the game, as he did in the first half of Saturday’s Game 3.

“To me, it’s a sign of weakness,” Stephenson said. “[People] used to say that to me. I’m going to do something to get you mad. Now he’s trying to do it to me. I feel like there’s a weakness and I feel like I’m doing something right to get underneath his skin.”

Stephenson conveniently ignored the fact that James and the Heat overcame a 15-point first-half deficit to win Game 3 by 12 points, 99-87.

James, who traded barbs after Stephenson drew a charge on him, said he’ll only get involved in trash talk if the other player starts it, as Stephenson did in this case.

“I’m not much of a talker, but I can,” James said. “I don’t ever start it, but I can get involved in it and still keep my head. Winning the game is more important. I understand what the main goal is.”

Stephenson, who drew criticism for making a “choke” sign toward James after a missed free throw when the teams met in the 2012 playoffs, is averring 17.3 points and 6.7 assists through three games, as compared to James’ 24.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists.

“I’ll never back down,” Stephenson said. “He’s the best player in the league. I will refuse to back down to him.”

– Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, whose popularity continues to dip, had a confrontation with veteran Philadelphia radio talk-show host Howard Eskin before Saturday’s game.

It’s believed that Papelbon was upset with Eskin claiming Papelbon was out late the night before a recent game against the Mets in New York. Papelbon said he was not available to pitch in the Sunday game — which would have been his third consecutive appearance — and Eskin implied the closer’s partying the night before might have had something to do with it.

Eskin, never one to shy away from controversy, then engaged in a Twitter back and forth with Papelbon’s wife, Ashley, who denied Eskin’s claim. Eskin had reported that the Papelbons were out partying with Jacoby Ellsbury‘s family, but Ashley noted that the Ellsburys were out of town (the Yankees were playing in Milwaukee) and explained that Eskin was “misinformed.” Eskin stood by his story.

– In a Friday press conference, Ravens running back Ray Rice admitted he “failed miserably” and apologized for his actions that led to assault charges following an incident with his wife in a hotel elevator in Atlantic City where she appeared to be knocked out. However, it was a comment from his wife that got the most attention.

“I do deeply regret the role I played in the incident that night,” Janay Rice said. “But I can say that I am happy that we continue to work through it together. I love Ray, and I know that he will continue to prove himself not only to you all, but to the community, and I know he will gain your respect back in due time.”

The Ravens Twitter account was bombarded with criticism after tweeting the first part of Janay’s comment, as fans accused the team of insensitivity toward the victim.

Rice’s lawyer then appeared on the radio and implied that Rice was “getting repeatedly hit” before hitting back, and that he could have won a court case but decided to accept a pretrial diversionary program for the benefit of all involved (he’s still expected to receive a suspension from commissioner Roger Goodell).

“I think it puts this matter behind him not only for his NFL career, but it was the right choice for his family as well,” attorney Michael Diamondstein told New Jersey’s ESPN Radio 97.3-FM (via The Baltimore Sun).

Diamondstein could not explain why Rice’s wife appeared at the press conference, noting: “That press conference is something that was done with Ray and Janay and the Ravens. I wasn’t a part of that.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On May 26, 1987, in the Celtics‘ 108-107 victory over the Pistons in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, Larry Bird stole Isiah Thomas‘ inbounds pass and fed which player for the game-winning layup with one second remaining?

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Read More: Jonathan Papelbon, Lance Stephenson, LeBron James, Ray Rice
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Donald Sterling’s lawyer reportedly tells NBA ‘no punishment is warranted’ 05.16.14 at 8:00 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: Tigers at Red Sox, 7 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Brewers at Cubs, 2 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Pirates at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL playoffs: Kings at Ducks, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey: IIHF World Championships, United States vs. Kazakhstan, 9:30 a.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Draft combine, 10 a.m. (ESPNU), 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
Softball: NCAA tournament, Boston University at Arizona, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

– National legal experts weighed in this week and said the NBA appears to be positioned to win its fight against Donald Sterling, but the suspended Clippers owner reportedly made it official: He’s not going away quietly.

According to a Sports Illustrated story by legal analyst Michael McCann, prominent antitrust litigator Maxwell Blecher informed the league that Sterling would not pay the $2.5 million fine commissioner Adam Silver imposed (and is past due). The letter asserts that “no punishment is warranted” for Sterling despite the racist comments he made on a secretly recorded tape that was made public by TMZ.

“We reject your demand for payment,” the letter to NBA executive vice president and general counsel Rick Buchanan reportedly reads.

Despite Sterling’s admission in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper earlier this week that he “made a terrible, terrible mistake,” Blecher apparently insists that the longtime owner has done nothing wrong and is prepared to sue the NBA if it persists in violating his “due process rights” and banning him.

If Sterling attempts to fight the league it might lead to a player boycott next season. Players union vice president Roger Mason Jr. said earlier this week that Heat star LeBron James indicated he’s prepared to lead such a protest, although Mason later backtracked and James publicly reaffirmed his support for the commissioner and his handling of the situation.

– In other Clippers news, coach Doc Rivers was fined $25,000 on Thursday for criticizing the officiating after Tuesday’s 105-104 loss to the Thunder, and Rivers acknowledged, “I thought it was deserved.”

After the game, in which some key calls went against Los Angeles in the closing minutes, Rivers said his team was “robbed.” On one play, Clippers forward Matt Barnes slapped the ball out of Reggie Jackson‘s hand as the Thunder guard was going in for a layup with 11 seconds remaining, and the officials awarded the ball to Oklahoma City. Rivers was sure the ball went off Jackson’s hand, but after a video review the ruling stood as initially called.

“In order to reverse the call made on the court, there has to be ‘clear and conclusive’ evidence,” NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn said. “Since no replay provided such evidence, the play correctly stood as called with the Thunder retraining possession.”

The Clippers were eliminated by the Thunder in Game 6 on Thursday night, 104-98. As the Thunder took control in the fourth quarter , fans showed their frustration, with a couple of them throwing drinks at referee Ed Malloy after an offensive foul on Blake Griffin with just over three minutes remaining.

“We’ve gone through a lot of stuff over the last three or four weeks,” Rivers said. “I don’t think that was why we didn’t win. I don’t think we should use that as an excuse. We’re a team in process. I believe we were good enough to win it this year. Oklahoma City told us we were not.”

– UConn coach Kevin Ollie, rumored to be a candidate for some NBA openings, acknowledged that he is willing to listen to job offers, but he insists he has no desire to leave Storrs after leading the Huskies to the national championship last month.

“I love this university,” Ollie said at an event in New York City. “I am not looking for another job. Of course, you listen to different things. I’ve got two ears, I’m going to listen, but I’m not running out there soliciting any other job. I want to be here at the University of Connecticut.”

Ollie is signed through the 2017-18 season, and he said he’s talking to athletic director Warde Manuel about a new deal. He made $1.6 million last season, including bonuses for the team’s postseason success.

“We are talking and hopefully we can get together once all this quiets down,” he said. “Have a nice talk and hopefully get everything situated.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On May 16, 1989, Mike Milbury was hired as Bruins coach, replacing which former teammate?

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Read More: doc rivers, Donald Sterling, Kevin Ollie, LeBron James
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Buccaneers WR Mike Williams allegedly stabbed by brother 03.24.14 at 8:02 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Canadiens at Bruins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Trail Blazers at Heat, 7:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: NIT, Georgetown at Florida State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: NIT, LSU at SMU, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: NIT, Arkansas at California, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: CBI, Penn State at Siena, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: CBI, Texas A&M at Illinois State, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
MLB preseason: Tigers at Pirates, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB preseason: Indians vs. Reds, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

– The troubles continue for Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams, as he was treated and released from a hospital Sunday after his brother allegedly stabbed him in the thigh with a kitchen knife, according to police (via Tampa’s WTSP.com).

An arrest warrant was issued for the brother, 23-year-old Eric Baylor, on a charge of aggravated battery/domestic violence.

Williams, meanwhile, is due to face charges Monday for trespassing and criminal mischief related to an incident in December. He has had multiple domestic issues, including damaging the property of neighbors in the exclusive gated community in Tampa where he resides, and has paid more than $43,000 in damages for destructive house parties.

The 26-year-old Syracuse product signed a six-year, $40 million contract last offseason, then caught 22 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns in six games in 2013 before being shut down for the season with a hamstring injury.

“There’s a pattern here and it’s disturbing,” new Bucs coach Lovie Smith said last month. “No one is bigger than this football team. He has to understand that.”

Added Smith: “Have I been disappointed in Mike Williams? Of course. There’s a standard. We’re just not going to put up with it, no better who it is.

“You have to be good on the field. Simple as that. And if you’re not doing what you need to do one or the other, you have problems, and that’s where Mike has to take care of a few things.”

The team released a statement Sunday: “We are aware of the situation that occurred at the residence of Mike Williams and are working with him and the authorities to get additional information. While we have limited knowledge at this time, our primary concern is for the safety and well being of all involved. We will refrain from further comment until we can get a better understanding of the situation.”

– When the Heat lost to the Pelicans, 105-95, on Saturday night, it was their seventh loss in 11 games (including a loss to the Celtics last week). LeBron James is not pleased with how his team is handling the situation.

“It’s too many excuses,” he said (via ESPN.com). “Everything is an excuse. We do something wrong, it’s an excuse. We turn the ball over, it’s an excuse. What we’re doing right ain’t good enough.

“It’s very frustrating. We’re all frustrated. We’ve just got to all get on the same page. I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’ve got to figure it out.”

Chris Bosh took his teammate’s frustration a step further.

“So I figure I’ll be the first one to say we suck,” Bosh said. “This is unacceptable. If we don’t change this, we will be watching the championship from home. … There’s no passion.”

Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: “Yes, our locker room is angry. We’re not accustomed to this type of play, these type of standards, particularly on the defensive end, and if we want to change, we have to look inward.”

– Mavericks owner Mark Cuban predicts trouble for the NFL after the league last month announced a television package that includes Thursday and Saturday games.

“I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion,” Cuban said Sunday night. “I’m just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they’re getting hoggy. ‘€¦ When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way.

“I’m just telling you, when you’ve got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always turns on you. That’s rule No. 1 of business.”

Added Cuban: “They’re trying to take over every night of TV. Initially, it’ll be, ‘Yeah, they’re the biggest-rating thing that there is.’ OK, Thursday, that’s great, regardless of whether it impacts [the NBA] during that period when we cross over. Then if it gets Saturday, now you’re impacting colleges. Now it’s on four days a week. ‘€¦ It’s all football. At some point, the people get sick of it.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 24, 1973, which guard who would go on to play for the Celtics finished the season as the only player to lead the NBA in both scoring (34.0 ppg) and assists (11.4 apg)?

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Nets work out Jason Collins, consider making him first openly-gay player in NBA 02.21.14 at 8:05 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: Celtics at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Nuggets at Bulls, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: VCU at UMass, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Mercer at Florida Gulf Coast, 6:05 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Iona at Rider, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Detroit at Wright State, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
College hockey: UMass-Lowell at Boston College, 7 p.m. (WEEI-AM)
College hockey: Boston University at Notre Dame, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College hockey: Cornell at Quinnipiac, 7 p.m. (NESN)
College hockey: St. Cloud State at Miami (Ohio), 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College hockey: Colorado at Denver, 9:35 p.m. (CBSSN)
Olympics: Men’s hockey semifinal, Sweden vs. Finland, 6:30 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s biathlon, women’s freestyle skiing, 9:30 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s hockey semifinal, United States vs. Canada, noon (NBCSN; WEEI-FM)
Olympics: Women’s freestyle skiing, women’s biathlon, 3 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s curling gold medal game, Great Britain vs. Canada, 5 p.m. (CNBC)
Olympics: Women’s Alpine, men’s short-track speedskating, women’s short-track speedskating, women’s speedskating, 8 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s speedskating, 12:30 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s snowboarding, women’s snowboarding, 3 a.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

The Nets worked out free agent center Jason Collins this week and are considering signing him to a 10-day contract. If they do, it would make Collins the first openly gay player in one of the country’s four major professional sports.

The Nets, in sixth place in the Eastern Conference at 25-27, have two roster spots open and a need for frontcourt depth, especially to help them get through their current West Coast road trip. They were rumored to be in the running for Lakers forward Jordan Hill but ended up standing pat at the trade deadline.

Enter Collins, who announced last offseason in a Sports Illustrated first-person article that is gay. Collins, who started 2012-13 with the Celtics and was traded to the Wizards late in the season, had an August tryout with the Pistons but otherwise has been working out on his own. The 35-year-old has said repeatedly that he’s in the best condition of his career.

“He’s in shape,” Nets general manager Billy King told reporters of Collins. “He’s one of the names on the list. We will look at anybody that’s a free agent that’s big that’s out there. We’re looking at any guys that are free agents, and he’s one of the guys. But we’ve got other guys that we’ll look it.”

Collins would see some familiar faces in Brooklyn. In addition to former Celtics teammates Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Collins played alongside current Nets coach Jason Kidd in New Jersey from 2001-08. He also played three seasons with Joe Johnson in Atlanta.

With NFL prospect Michael Sam‘s announcement that he is gay, Collins has returned to the spotlight. King said the team was not considering giving Collins a contract merely for publicity reasons.

“We’re going to bring in a basketball player,” he said. “It’s not about marketing or anything like that. ‘€¦ We are trying to get a guy in who can play basketball at this point. That’s my focus.”

LeBron James threw down an impressive dunk in the fourth quarter of the Heat’s 103-81 victory over the Thunder, but he paid the price as he got hit in the face by Serge Ibaka. He stayed on the floor as blood dripped out of his nose.

“I’m like everybody else, you’re used to seeing him like Superman, get up and sprint back even after tough hits and tough falls,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So we knew something was up.”

James, who left the game, passed a concussion test but is due for more testing Friday.

“He has a swollen nose right now. It’s bleeding,” Spoelstra said right after the game. “We’ll evaluate him when we get back to Miami, but it’s sore.”

– Much has been made about the disappointing performance by the U.S. speedskaters at the Sochi Olympics, with the Americans failing to claim a single medal despite coming off a strong showing in the World Cup circuit.

Part of the blame was placed on the team’s new Under Armour skin-tight uniforms, which the athletes replaced midway through the competition. However, Maria Lamb, who finished last in the 5,000 meters Wednesday, said the problems go much deeper than that.

“The skinsuit issue is honestly just the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “Over the last few years, a few of us have raced better in spite of the organization rather than because of it.”

Added Lamb: “The organization could have done a lot of things differently. We have lost a lot of staff and we’ve had to deal with a huge amount of controversy. That definitely affects you. ‘€¦ That [expletive] adds up over the years, and unfortunately it came to a head that we could no longer perform well.”

Lamb apologized on Thursday for sounding “like I was making excuses for myself or anyone else,” but she stood by her claim that U.S. Speedskating failed the athletes.

“I felt that we were let down by some of the leadership in U.S. Speedskating, mistakes were made that were out of our control,” she wrote on her blog. “The team atmosphere grew increasingly negative as time went on, and as much as I tried to stay positive, I struggled at times and I know it affected my training.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Feb. 21, 1982, which Bruins goalie recorded his only career shutout in a 1-0 victory over the Flyers in Philadelphia?

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