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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.

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)


— 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.

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)


— 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.

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)


— 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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Read More: Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Lovie Smith, Mark Cuban
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.

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)


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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Read More: Jason Collins, LeBron James, Maria Lamb, Michael Sam
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Optimistic Mark Teixeira says, ‘We’re back to being the Yankees again’ 02.17.14 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.

College basketball: North Carolina at Florida State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Delaware at Towson, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Oklahoma State at Baylor, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Mississippi Valley State at Southern, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Olympics: Women’s hockey semifinals, United States vs. Sweden, 7 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Figure skating, 10 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s hockey semifinals, Canada vs. Switzerland, noon (MSNBC)
Olympics: Men’s ski jumping, women’s biathlon, 1:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s biathlon, men’s snowboarding, men’s freestyle skiing, 3 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s curling, Denmark vs. Britain, 5 p.m. (CNBC)
Olympics: Figure skating, men’s snowboarding, men’s freestyle skiing, men’s ski jumping, 8 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s bobsled, 1 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s hockey qualification, Slovenia vs. Austria, 3 a.m. (NBCSN)


— After his lost season of 2013, Mark Teixeira is looking forward to returning to the diamond. He tested his surgically repaired right wrist in batting practice Sunday at Yankees training camp and voiced optimism about the team following an influx of free agent signings this offseason.

“Look at our lineup; we’re back to being the Yankees again,” Teixeira said, via the New York Daily News. “Last year, we weren’t the Yankees.”

Coming off an 85-win season and a third-place finish in the American League East, the Yankees spent $423.5 million to acquire Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka to bolster a roster that was decimated by injuries last year.

“We had a great offseason; it was fun to watch,” said Teixeira, who played just 15 games in 2013. “I was texting [Brian Cashman] every two weeks, telling him congrats on another signing and a great offseason. I basically told him, ‘You did your job, now it’s time for us to do ours.’

“No excuses this year. We have a team that can compete for a world championship.”

Teixeira, who turns 34 in April, said he’ll take things “a little bit slow” early in camp, but he plans to play 150-plus games this year and be a key part of the lineup.

“There’s not one guy that has to carry this team, but absolutely I expect to hit in the middle of the order, hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs,” he said. “That’s going to take pressure off everybody and help us win games.”

Added Teixeira: The team needs me, absolutely. It’s something I’ve taken a lot of pride in, my entire career — being healthy and being out there for my team, playing through injuries, playing through soreness. Last year I just couldn’t play through it. I know that when I’m out there and healthy, my team is a better team. And that’s no different this year.”

— Ravens running back Ray Rice was arrested after an incident with his fiancee in Atlantic City on Friday. One of Rice’s attorneys told the Baltimore Sun that the player was charged and released after a “very minor physical altercation” with the woman, while another predicted: “Once we’re able to go through the evidence, it should wind up to be little more than a misunderstanding.”

The Ravens released a statement that read: “We are aware of the Friday night situation with Ray Rice and his fiancee. We have spoken with Ray, and know that they returned home together after being detained.”

Rice, a three-time Pro Bowler, is coming off a disappointing 2013 season. The 27-year-old rushed 214 times for 660 yards and four touchdowns, while catching 58 passes for 321 yards.

Kevin Durant undoubtedly would be thrilled to have the success LeBron James has had of late, but the Thunder star has heard enough comparisons between himself and the player who has won four of the last five league MVP awards.

Asked during All-Star Weekend how tired he is of questions about comparisons to James — during a media session in which he was hit with at least 10 questions about LeBron and/or the Heat — Durant replied: “Um, about a 25. It’s every day, I mean. You should really focus on how good LeBron James is. I think people should appreciate that more than always comparing guys. In our world, you want to compare everything. You judge everything. That’s just how we are.”

Added Durant: “Let’s just sit back and judge basketball as we play it; not just LeBron and myself, but other guys in the league, too. Just enjoy it, because it’s here today and gone tomorrow. A lot of people take it for granted.”

James, meanwhile, said he was OK with talking about the player who has finished second to him in MVP balloting three times. He noted that Durant is having his best season coming off an offseason in which the two players worked out together.

“It just happened that way — what a coincidence,” James said. “When we both worked out a few times, we came into the season better prepared, better trained, better mentally. I don’t mind [Durant questions] at all. I’m a truthful guy. I don’t sugarcoat nothing.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Feb. 17, 1972, Bruins center Phil Esposito recorded a hat trick in a 4-1 victory over the Flyers in Philadelphia and became the second player in team history with 250 goals. Who was the first?

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Read More: Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Mark Teixeira, Ray Rice
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Masahiro Tanaka ‘looking forward’ to Yankees-Red Sox rivalry 02.12.14 at 8:04 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: Spurs at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Kings at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Heat at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Boston College at Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-AM)
College basketball: Syracuse at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Villanova at DePaul, 8 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: South Florida at UConn, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Tennessee-Martin at Southeast Missouri State, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: George Washington at VCU, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Baylor at TCU, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Penn State at Indiana, 7 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Duke at North Carolina, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: UCF at Memphis, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Stanford at Washington, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Illinois at Nebraska, 9 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: New Mexico at Boise State, 9:15 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: California at Washington State, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
Soccer: Premier League, Arsenal at Manchester United, 2:40 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s hockey, Canada vs. United States, 7 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Pairs figure skating, men’s nordic combined, 10 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s hockey, Latvia vs. Switzerland, noon (MSNBC)
Olympics: Men’s hockey, Czech Republic vs. Sweden, noon (USA)
Olympics: Men’s luge, 1:45 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s nordic combined, 3 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s curling, Switzerland vs. Britain, 5 p.m. (CNBC)
Olympics: Women’s alpine, pairs figure skating, women’s snowboarding, men’s speedskating, 8 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s luge, 12:05 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s hockey, Finland vs. Austria, 3 a.m. (NBCSN)


Masahiro Tanaka was welcomed to New York by the Yankees on Tuesday, with about 200 media members there to see him — the largest turnout since the 2003 introduction of outfielder Hideki Matsui.

“This is Yankee big,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “This is Steinbrenner big.”

Owner Hal Steinbrenner expressed no regret in shelling out $155 million (plus a $20 million posting fee) for the 25-year-old right-hander who went 24-0 in Japan last year.

“We needed another starter,” he said. “When we do things, we try to do them right. This guy is tough, he’s got tremendous ability and he’s going to be very exciting to watch. He’s going to be great for the team.”

Cashman said earlier in the week he considered Tanaka too be a solid No. 3 starter, despite his top-of-the-rotation salary. Asked if he viewed himself as an ace, Tanaka expressed confidence.

“When I take the mound, I feel that I like to win every single game,” he said through a translator. “Being an ace is something that not myself but other people label. What I want to do is go out there, compete and do my best.”

Tanaka said his goal is to win the World Series, which would mean getting the better of the rivalry with the defending champion Red Sox.

“Just by watching over the television of the Yankees-Red Sox games, you can see how intense the games are,” Tanaka said. “I’m very much looking forward to playing in that environment.”

— With two NBA titles and four MVP awards under his belt, LeBron James apparently is feeling better about his place in history.

During an interview with Steve Smith for NBA TV, James said he believes he will go up on the NBA”s “Mount Rushmore” as one of the game’s four greatest.

“I’€™m going to be one of the top four to ever play this game. For sure,” James said. “And if they don’€™t want me to have one of those top four spots, they better find another spot. We’€™ve got to bump somebody. Somebody got to get bumped. That’€™s not for me to decide. That’€™s for the architects, to chisel somebody’€™s face out and put mine up there.”

Asked who belongs on the current Mount Rushmore, James threw out some familiar names from his childhood.

“Four NBA greats — I would say, obviously, the easy three, that we all talk about in our league: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson,” he said. “I would say my fourth, wow, this is so tough. The greatest players of all time, that I would like to see on Mount Rushmore. This is not fair. This is not fair. You know how many great players there is? Oh my god, Oscar Robertson. Those are my four.”

— Wichita State, owner of the No. 4 ranking in college basketball, improved to 26-0 with Tuesday’s 78-67 victory over Southern Illinois, but it wasn’t the team’s smoothest performance. However, the Shockers got some advice from a former “Cheers” star on how to handle the ugly win, as Wichita native Kirstie Alley spoke to the team.

“She said to the guys, ‘Don’t read the reviews, the positive ones and the negative ones. Just play the game,’ ” coach Gregg Marshall said. “So, you’re getting it from a Hollywood star.”

Even the visiting coach was impressed with Alley — along with the rest of the sellout crowd that helped inspire the Shockers to rally from a four-point deficit early in the second half to become the first team since Memphis in 2008 to start the season 26-0.

“Kudos to them, seriously,” Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson said. “High-five to 10,505 — and Kirstie Alley, because I love her. I think she’s great.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Feb. 12, 1981, which Bruin recorded his 200th career goal when he scored twice in a 3-3 tie vs. the Colorado Rockies?

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett show frustration with Nets’ lack of heart 12.27.13 at 8:13 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.

NHL: Senators at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Wizards at Timberwolves, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Northern Kentucky at North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Lafayette at Seton Hall, 8 p.m. (FS1)
College football: Military Bowl, Marshall vs. Maryland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Texas Bowl, Syracuse vs. Minnesota, 6 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
College football: Fight Hunger Bowl, BYU vs. Washington, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
Speedskating: U.S. Olympic trials, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)


— The hope in Brooklyn was that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett would provide veteran leadership and toughness to lift the Nets into the realm of the NBA elite. That plan has gone awry, and the two ex-Celtics are showing their frustration with the team’s lack of heart.

“You can say what you want about individuals or certain people being mentally tough, but it has to be everybody,” Pierce said. “I can’€™t speak for everybody all the time. If this was an individual sport, I could speak for myself. But you know, some people respond to adversity different, no matter who is around or who says anything to them.”

Following Wednesday’s 95-78 loss to the Bulls — which came two days after coach Jason Kidd called out his team for “getting very close to accepting losing” following a blowout loss to the Pacers — Kidd reportedly lit into his team in the locker room, with Garnett adding some choice words as well.

Kidd benched players during Wednesday’s game for lazy defense, but it wasn’t enough to turn things around.

“We’ve got to keep fighting, keep grinding, and as a staff and players we need to keep moving forward, and right now we are not,” Kidd said.

Said guard Deron Williams: “I’m even surprised with this season, how it’s played out. It’s like a nightmare. The way the injuries have been and the things we talk about every day; the lack of energy, the lack of effort. I didn’t see that as being a problem when we put this team together.”

The Nets will be hard-pressed to start turning things around soon, as they face seven teams with winning records over their next 10 games, including the Pacers, Spurs and Thunder on the road, and the Warriors and Heat at home. Even in the woeful Atlantic Division, the Nets face a challenge to climb back to relevancy.

“Well, our record shows we’re not a good team right now,” Pierce said. “When you’re 9-19, you have a lot of work to do. Our goal is still to improve, but when you’re 9-19, your record speaks for itself.”

LeBron James was named The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year on Thursday after leading the Heat to their second straight NBA title while winning his fourth MVP award. Tennis star Serena Williams was named the Female Athlete of the Year a day earlier.

James received 31 of 96 votes to out-poll Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (20) and race-car driver Jimmy Johnson (7). He’s the third NBA payer to be so honored, joining Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.

“I don’t think I’ve changed much this year,” James said. “I’ve just improved and continued to improve on being more than just a basketball player. I’ve matured as a leader, as a father, as a husband, as a friend.”

Added James: “I’m chasing something and it’s bigger than me as a basketball player. I believe my calling is much higher than being a basketball player. I can inspire people. Youth is huge to me. If I can get kids to look at me as a role model, as a leader, a superhero … those things mean so much, and that’s what I think I was built for. I was put here for this lovely game of basketball, but I don’t think this is the biggest role that I’m going to have.”

— The NBA on Thursday baked up Clippers star Blake Griffin‘s assertion that he should not have been ejected from Wednesday’s 105-103 loss to the Warriors. Griffin was involved in separate confrontations with Draymond Green (who was fined $15,000 for failing to leave the court in a timely manner after he was ejected for elbowing Griffin) and Andrew Bogut, and while both Warriors players were given flagrant fouls, Griffin was assessed a technical each time for fighting back, and that caused his ejection.

“After a league review of the Clippers-Warriors game, we have come to the conclusion that Blake Griffin should not have been ejected from the game,” NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn said. “A common foul should have been called on Griffin for initially attempting to dislodge the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut and a technical foul should have been assessed to Bogut for grabbing Griffin by the shirt and wrestling with him.”

Griffin voiced his dissatisfaction after the game, implying that the Warriors knew what they were doing.

“If you look at it, I didn’t do anything and I got thrown out of the game. It all boils down to [the referees] fell for it,” Griffin said Wednesday night. “To me, it’s cowardly basketball. I don’t know their intentions, but it worked. … If I knew the answer I’d probably be in a different position. Tonight I got two technicals for nothing.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Dec. 27, 1956, which Celtics player had his consecutive free throw streak ended at 55 — an NBA record that stood for 19 years?

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Carmelo Anthony calls Knicks ‘laughingstock’ of league 12.05.13 at 8:09 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.

NHL: Bruins at Canadiens, 7:30 p.m. (NESN)
NFL: Texans at Jaguars, 8:25 p.m. (NFL Network; WEEI-FM)
College football: Louisville at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Knicks at Nets, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Heat at Bulls, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: West Virginia at Missouri, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: TCU at Mississippi State, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: LIU-Brooklyn at Seton Hall, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Providence at Rhode Island, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Mississippi at Kansas State, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: High Point at Georgetown, 9 p.m. (FS1)


‘€¢ The Knicks and Nets, New York’s two underachieving NBA teams, meet up Thursday night in Brooklyn with a combined record of 8-26, and Knicks star Carmelo Anthony says it’s “a big game for us.”

The Knicks, losers of nine straight, head into the game with a 3-13 record, tied with the Bucks for fewest wins in the NBA.

“We are the laughingstock of the league,” Anthony said. “I mean, it’s nothing to hide. We are. … Do I like being laughed at? Hell, no. I don’t like that feeling.”

J.R. Smith backed his teammate, while noting that the New York-Brooklyn rivalry, hyped up before the season, has lost much of its luster due to the teams’ performance.

“Right now we do [stink]. I think everybody in this gym would agree,” Smith said. “There’s so much animosity between the two teams, but our record, for the team we have, isn’t really doing any justice. Right now we have to put the rivalry on hold and focus on each individual team as opposed to focusing on, “We don’t like them and they don’t like us.’ ”

Jason Kidd, the Nets coach who played for the Knicks last season, analyzed the matchup by saying, “We both stink.”

Responded Knicks coach Mike Woodson: “I somewhat agree, we do stink. ‘€¦ But [expletive], I can’t worry about Jason. I’ve got to worry about the New York Knicks. ‘€¦ I’m not going to throw in the towel.”

Said Anthony: “We do [stink]. He wasn’t lying about that. I mean, we do. For us, we’ve just got to figure it out and try to turn it around. Why not start [Thursday]?”

‘€¢ Meanwhile, Lawrence Frank, demoted from top Nets assistant to glorified scout by Kidd, is not going away quietly. According to a report out of New York, Frank is hiring a high-powered attorney, apparently to negotiate a buyout from the team.

Kidd downplayed the fallout, saying: “It’s part of the job. He’s working. He’s giving his reports. ‘€¦ So, do I miss him? No. He’s doing his job and what I’ve asked him to do.”

Byron Scott, who coached Kidd with the Nets in the early 2000s with Frank as an assistant, knows both men well and said he isn’t shocked that the partnership did not last, as they are two “very strong-willed people who don’t back down.”

“It does surprise me a little that it happened so quickly,” Scott told the New York Post. “But it’s safe to say that I’m not [surprised] it happened at all because of the personalities involved.”

According to a report from Deadline.com, Heat star LeBron James will star in a movie with comedian Kevin Hart.

The movie, called “Ballers,” is about a man (Hart) who lives in the shadow of his brother (James), an NBA superstar, but gets a chance to prove himself at a weekend fantasy basketball camp in Miami.

The report indicates that James has been looking to star in a feature movie for a couple of years, and he’ll get his chance when the movie starts filming next summer.

Hart, who at 5-foot-3 is almost 1½ feet shorter than James, is a veteran of the celebrity game at All-Star Weekend.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Dec. 5, 1982, in a 6-4 victory over the Flyers, which Bruins player recorded a hat for the second consecutive day?

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Read More: Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd, Lawrence Frank
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Jets fan detained after punching female Patriots fan in fight at MetLife Stadium 10.21.13 at 7:59 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.

NFL: Vikings at Giants, 8:40 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Avalanche at Penguins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA preseason: Mavericks at Rockets, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
Soccer: Premier League, Crystal Palace vs. Fulham, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)


‘€¢ It’s not shocking that there was a fight involving Patriots and Jets fans at MetLife Stadium after Sunday’s game, but a video making the rounds is surprising for what it shows: a large male Jets fan delivering a punch to the face of a female wearing a Patriots shirt.

The man, wearing the No. 80 jersey of former Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet, appeared to jump into a fracas in the concession area. As he was being pulled away, a blonde woman was among those who ran at him and pushed him. He responded with a hard right that connected with the woman and knocked her back, although she remained on her feet. A man in a Patriots T-shirt then responded with a punch that caught the Jets fan on the left cheek.

A spokesperson for the Jets said the man was detained, and the New Jersey State police said the incident is under investigation.

“We are aware of the situation and we do not tolerate that behavior,” the Jets spokesperson said.

‘€¢ Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith is not happy with Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and he’s not shy about letting everyone know the reason why.

Smith claims Jenkins, a second-year pro from North Alabama, crossed the line when he tried to rattle the veteran receiver, making comments about Smith’s family.

“What I don’t like is a young guy who comes in, who obviously his first time every using the Internet and Google, and he Googles information about me, talks about my wife and stuff like that,” Smith said in a lengthy tirade. “That’s just some of the [expletive] I just don’t play with.”

Added Smith: “I don’t play them games. When you try to take it personal like that, I don’t have any great humbling things to say. So he can take his [expletive] back to St. Louis and watch the [expletive] film, ’cause I don’t play them games. And if I see him on the street, I’m going to bust him in the [expletive mouth.”

There were five personal fouls in the game — won by Carolina, 30-15 — including one that resulted in the ejection of Rams defensive end Chris Long for throwing a punch.

Smith got away with taunting Jenkins after hauling in a 19-yard touchdown catch, the 800th reception of his career.

“Yes, I directly points to him,” Smith said. “I don’t give a damn. ‘€¦ When you embarrass people, you rub it in their face. When your dog [expletive] on the carpet, you rub it in his face.”

‘€¢ LeBron James turned some heads when he said in a Twitter chat with fans Friday that “I wanna play one NFL game before it’s over.”

James has expressed interest in the past in playing professional football, and the owner of his favorite team, the Cowboys, sounds like he would be happy to accommodate him.

“I hope to see LeBron,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said when James attended a game in September. “I just wish I could suit him out.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Oct. 21, 1975, the Red Sox beat the Reds in Game 6 of the World Series on Carlton Fisk‘s 12th-inning home run off Pat Darcy. Which pitcher got the win for the Sox?

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Read More: Chris Long, Janoris Jenkins, LeBron James, steve smith
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Kevin Garnett tells LeBron James to ‘worry about Miami’ after Ray Allen comments 10.18.13 at 8:22 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.

MLB playoffs: Dodgers at Cardinals, 8:37 p.m. (TBS; WEEI-AM)
NBA preseason: Lakers vs. Warriors, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA preseason: Pacers at Bulls, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA preseason: Trail Blazers at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
MLS: D.C. United at Sporting Kansas City, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College football: Central Florida at Louisville, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
College hockey: North Dakota at Miami (Ohio), 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College hockey: Minnesota-Duluth at Colorado College, 9:30 p.m. (CBSSN)


‘€¢ An NBA preseason game in Brooklyn took on increased significance Thursday after LeBron James took a shot at Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers for accepting trades from Boston after they iced out Ray Allen for leaving the Celtics as a free agent a year earlier.

“I think the first thing I thought was, ‘Wow, Ray got killed for leaving Boston, and now these guys are leaving Boston,’ ” James said. “I think it’s OK; I didn’t mind it. But there were a couple guys who basically [expletive] on Ray for leaving, and now they’re leaving.

“That’s the nature of our business, man. I don’t know what Boston was going through at the end of the day. I know Ray had to make the best decision for him and his family and his career. Doc [Rivers, former Celtics coach], KG and Paul did that as well. You can’t criticize someone who does something that’s best for their family.”

After the Nets dismissed the Heat, 86-62, Garnett and Pierce dismissed James’ comments.

“Tell LeBron to worry about Miami. It has nothing to do with Celtic business,” Garnett said.

Pierce maintained that the situations were different.

“I left Boston?” Pierce asked.

‘€¢ Adrian Peterson rejoined the Vikings on Thursday after missing Wednesday’s practice so he could attend the funeral for the 2-year-old son he never knew.

“It was a difficult day, just taking in the circumstance and the whole situation,” Peterson said before Thursday’s practice. “A child was buried. That’s difficult for anyone.”

Peterson attended a private service for Tyrese Robert Ruffin in Sioux Falls, S.D., about two months after first learning the child was his. He first met the boy while the youngster was in critical condition last week, after allegedly being beaten by 27-year-old Joseph Patterson.

“I was planning on seeing him. I had a talk with his mom and we got some things together as far as financially helping her,” Peterson said. ‘”Unfortunately, this situation took place. It’s devastating.”

Added Peterson: “A lot of people won’t ever understand the situation that I’m in and see it the way I’m seeing the situation. It’s tough, but I’m able to deal with that and got a good supporting cast around me that’s been supporting me through this tough time.”

‘€¢ Chane Behanan, who helped Louisville win the NCAA basketball championship in April, was suspended by the team, and coach Rick Pitino was candid in talking about the forward’s inability to abide by team rules.

“I got together with [athletic director Tom Jurich] a few days ago. We both agreed that Chane should put basketball aside,” Pitino said. “Chane wouldn’t hurt a fly. It’s nothing of a violent nature. It’s just very difficult for Chane to follow rules. We don’t have a lot of rules, but the ones we do have, he needs to follow.”

Behanan averaged 9.8 points and 6.5 rebounds as a sophomore last season, and he was named to the all-tournament team after recording 15 points and 12 rebounds in Louisville’s 82-76 victory over Michigan in the national title game.

Pitino said Behanan might be able to return in December, if he can turn things around.

“He just has a difficult time understanding life’s values and the significance of life’s values,” Pitino said. “We’re going to try to help him along. … We want to see him prosper as a person as much as he’s been prospering as a basketball player. We’re going to move forward without him.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Oct. 18, 1994, the Red Sox named Kevin Kennedy as manager. Whom did he succeed?

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Read More: Adrain Peterson, Chane Behanan, kevin garnett, LeBron James