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Friday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James grades himself ‘F’ in Cavaliers’ win over Celtics; Rob Gronkowski parties on yacht in Miami 12.30.16 at 8:20 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Friday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS: 
NBA: Miami at Boston, 7:30 p.m. (CSN)
NBA: Milwaukee at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (NBA)
College football: Georgia vs. TCU, 12 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Stanford vs. North Carolina, 2 p.m. (CBS)
College football: Nebraska vs. Tennessee, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Michigan vs. Florida State, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: West Virginia at Oklahoma State, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Valparaiso at Illinois-Chicago, 5 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: La Salle at Dayton, 6 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Texas Tech at Iowa State, 6 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Baylor at Oklahoma, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: URI at Saint Louis, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Texas at Kansas State, 8 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: VCU at George Mason, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Kansas at TCU, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: South Carolina at Memphis, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: USC at Oregon, 10 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Arizona at California, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

— LeBron James and the Cavaliers beat the Celtics, 124-118, Thursday night, but James didn’t think he played well at all. He blamed himself for Cleveland almost giving up a 20-point lead in the second half of the win.

“I think I was horrible tonight,” James said. “In every facet of the game, I was just pretty bad, and it’s unacceptable. I can’t do that if I want to help this team get to where we want to get to. So if there was a report card, I’d give myself an ‘F’ for tonight’s performance. I’ve just got to be better.”

James committed eight turnovers in the game, two in the fourth quarter, one of which was a pass to Kyrie Irving that Avery Bradley stole before scoring to put the Celtics within three.

“I just didn’t see him, and definitely got to pay attention to what’s going on in the flow of the game,” James said of Bradley and the turnover. “So I was just throwing it back in to Kyrie, and he just jumped it, so if I was paying attention to him, with Avery being the defensive-minded guy he is, I should have seen him. So, big mistake.”

Cleveland’s coach Tyronn Lue called James’ pass “lackadaisical” and said James talked to the team about how badly he played.

“He came to the locker room and the bench and said, ‘My fault. I was terrible tonight. It won’t happen again,’ ” Lue said. “He took credit for it and took blame. And we moved on.”

James blamed his lack of concentration for his subpar play.

“My concentration at different parts of the game [was poor],” James said. “I had eight turnovers, and some of them were just plain stupid turnovers, especially the one that Avery Bradley got in the backcourt. I was just not concentrating on the game, so it’s not always about the statistics or not. It’s about how I go out and I approach the game. So, I was happy that I got two All-Stars alongside me, and I was able to carry us to a win.”

Friday is James’ 32nd birthday.

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Von Miller lists 3 Patriots as toughest he’s ever faced; NBA, NBAPA reach new CBA 12.15.16 at 8:12 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Thursday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS: 
NHL: Anaheim at Boston, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Chicago at Milwaukee, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: New York at Golden State, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NFL: Los Angeles at Seattle, 8:25 p.m. (NBC; NFL Network)
College basketball: Appalachian State at NC State, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Women’s college basketball: Texas-Rio Grande Valley at Texas, 8 p.m. (Longhorn Network)

AROUND THE WEB: 

Von Miller

Von Miller

— In his piece in The Players’ Tribune published on Wednesday, Broncos linebacker Von Miller lists “The Five Toughest Guys I’ve Ever Faced,” and three of them are Patriots.

Miller lists Tom Brady as the toughest quarterback, Rob Gronkowski as the toughest tight end and Bill Belichick as the toughest head coach.

“What makes him the best isn’t just his accuracy throwing the ball. His presnap vision is the best I’ve ever seen, bar none,” Miller wrote of Brady, adding: “The biggest challenge in playing the Patriots is simply getting off the field. You’re never worried about Brady hitting you for 70 yards, but he’ll chip away at you and keep drives alive, which wears you down. … Getting a consistent first step on a 15-play drive is pretty much impossible.”

Of Gronkowski, Miller wrote, “This term is almost overused in the media now, but Gronk really is a true game-changer. He’s almost like LeBron James in that his body type and skill set has never been seen before at his position. The NFL has never seen anything like his combination of size, speed and hands.”

As for toughest head coach, Miller said he likes Jack Del Rio, too, but “with Belichick, his genius comes from the fact that he always gameplans based on the personnel he has. He’s had Hall of Famers like Randy Moss, and he’s also had guys who you never heard of before, and no matter what, the Patriots are always contenders. Some of the packages we see from the Patriots, I’ve never seen before on a football field.”

Chris Ivory as toughest running back and Trent Williams as toughest offensive tackle round out the list.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, George Springer, rob gronkowski, Tom Brady
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Bud Selig voted into Baseball Hall of Fame; Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis giving Donald Trump a chance 12.05.16 at 7:52 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Monday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Boston at Houston, 8 p.m. (CSN; NBATV)
NHL: Florida at Boston, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Buffalo at Washington, 7 p.m. (NHL)
NFL: Indianapolis at NY Jets, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: CSUN at St. John’s, 6:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Stetson at Iowa, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: UConn at Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

Bud Selig

Bud Selig

— Former MLB commissioner Bud Selig was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday along with MLB executive and current Braves president John Schuerholz. The two will be inducted into the Hall in July 2017.

They were voted in by the Era Committee on the the “Today’s Game Era Ballot” spanning from 1988 to the present.

Former players are considered for induction along with non-players involved in the game.

Others being considered for induction but who missed the cut included Lou Piniella, Mark McGwire, Orel Hershiser, Albert Belle and George Steinbrenner.

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Read More: bud selig, Kristaps Porzingis, rob gronkowski,
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Rob Gronkowski’s party cruise cited in lawsuit against NFL 02.24.16 at 8:02 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.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Penguins at Bruins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Sharks at Avalanche, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Wizards at Bulls, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Spurs at Kings, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Villanova at Xavier, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Houston at UCF, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Mississippi State at Texas A&M, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Marquette at Creighton, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: East Carolina at Tulane, 8 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Arizona at Colorado, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: San Diego State at Wyoming, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Washington at Oregon State, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Manchester City at Dynamo Kyiv, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: CONCACAF Champions, Santos Laguna at Los Angeles, 10 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— As tales of drunken debauchery during Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski‘s weekend party cruise continue to filter out, the cruise now is being included in a lawsuit against the NFL.

Last summer, the NFL effectively shut down a fantasy football convention in Las Vegas because the event was being held on casino-owned property. The league barred players (most notably Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, one of the event’s organizers) and league employees from attending.

The National Fantasy Football Convention responded with a lawsuit, and the two sides reportedly will be in court Monday for a hearing on the NFL’s motion for summary judgment.

NFFC apparently is upset that the NFL did not object until after players and members of NFL Media had agreed to appear at the event, and it claims the league’s policy about gambling is ambiguous.

In an amended petition filed Monday in a Texas court (via Pro Football Talk), the NFFC references Gronkowski’s event, noting that there was gambling on the cruise.

Wrote the NFFC lawyers: NFL player Rob Gronkowski hosted a party cruise from Miami to the Bahamas on February 19-22, 2016. The four-day party took place on Norwegian Cruise Line, where Gronkowski’s fans and attendees can take full advantage of Norweigan’s famed ‘Casinos at Sea.’ Photos from the booze-cruise show fans gambling at the on-board casino. The NFL specifically knew about the party cruise and its ties to gambling for more than seven months leading up to the event; yet the NFL took no action to either discipline Rob Gronkowski or prevent the event from taking place.

If the NFL fails to win Monday, the case will head to trial (barring a settlement).

— Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler admitted to supervising a fight between his girlfriend and the mother of his child at a Florida apartment complex that was captured on surveillance video.

The gossip website TMZ posted the video, which shows Fowler between the two women signaling for them to start fighting. After they brawl for a little while, Fowler breaks it up by tossing his ex off his girlfriend. He then leaves via the elevator with his girlfriend.

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Top Boston Sports Stories of 2013, No. 2: Aaron Hernandez charged with murder 12.31.13 at 10:29 am ET
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Over the final days of the year, WEEI.com will count down the top 13 stories of 2013 in Boston sports. This is No. 2: Aaron Hernandez charged with murder. To see the previous entries, click here.

On Aug. 27, 2012, the Patriots rewarded tight end Aaron Hernandez, one of the team’€™s most promising players, with a lucrative contract extension. The deal would lock up Hernandez until 2018, paying him $40 million over five years.

“As soon as we started talking about contracts, I was emotional from that day on,” Hernandez said at a preseason gala hosted by the team just after the details of his contract were revealed.

“Honestly, it’s hard for me here [at the gala] to stay, keeping my mind off it, and it’s just, like I said, it’s surreal. Probably when I’m done with this conversation I’ll get some tears in my eyes. But it’s real, and it’s an honor.”

But less than one year later, the 23-year-old Hernandez was in a whale of legal trouble, and football and the monstrous contract he’€™d signed seemed immensely inconsequential. On June 26, Massachusetts State Police took Hernandez into custody on first-degree murder charges and five gun-related charges. Nearly two months later he was indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semipro football player from Boston who hung around with Hernandez. There also reportedly are ongoing investigations into other shootings in Florida and Massachusetts as well as gun trafficking that have links to Hernandez.

New England acted swiftly, cutting the third-year tight end.

“A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss,” the team said in a statement. “Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Bill Belichick, Boston Sports Stories of the Year 2013, Matt Light
Top Boston Sports Stories of 2013, No. 7: Patriots stung by injuries to Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, other key players 12.26.13 at 9:40 am ET
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Over the final days of the year, WEEI.com will count down the top 13 stories of 2013 in Boston sports. This is No. 7: Patriots stung by injuries to Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, other key players. To see the previous entries, click here.

In any sport, but especially football, injuries are viewed and accepted as an unfortunate part of the game. While every team has to deal with injuries, the 2013 season has been particularly cruel to the Patriots, who have had to endure the absence of some key contributors.

While the Patriots offense struggled to string together impressive performances for most of the first half of the season due in part to lingering injuries to players such as Rob Gronkowski, as well as the release of Aaron Hernandez, who was charged with murder, an improved defensive unit, featuring players such as Jerod MayoChandler JonesVince Wilfork and Aqib Talib gave New England hope.

Over the first five games of the year, the new and improved New England defense allowed an average of just 14 points per game. With players such as Gronkowski expected back later in the season, expectations were high for this Patriots squad, as it promised to have better balance than the last few seasons.

However, these expectations were soon dashed, as injuries to key players on the roster quickly began to pile up.

During the Patriots’ 30-23 victory against the Falcons on Sept. 29, New England lost the anchor of its defensive line, as Wilfork went down early in the first quarter after stepping on another player’s foot and was carted off the field. After the game, it was revealed that the All-Pro defensive tackle had torn his Achilles tendon and would miss the rest of the season.

The loss of Wilfork was a big hit to the Patriots defense, as the five-time Pro Bowler has been an integral part of New England’s stout defensive line since his arrival in 2004.

“I just want to thank everyone for your support and encouragement. … I know what signing up to play football means and I know the rewards and the risks,” Wilfork said in a message to his fans. “This is my job and I will switch positions for now and play the role of patient, but that is only temporary. I have so much confidence in my team and I know that they will do great and I will be right besides them maybe not in uniform but in all other ways. Thanks again.”

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Read More: Boston Sports Stories of the Year 2013, Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots, rob gronkowski
Titans DB Bernard Pollard fined $42K for hit to head 09.18.13 at 11:03 am ET
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Titans safety and noted Patriots villian Bernard Pollard was fined $42,000 by the NFL for his hit Sunday that concussed Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson. On the play, Pollard led with his shoulder but contacted the defenseless receiver’s head. He was not penalized by the on-field officials.

The eight-year pro tweeted his fine this morning, writing:

So @nfl said I did “everything right” but 42k later I still get fined. Wow! It’s called football but they want 2 hand touch. #TitanUp#

In Tennessee’€™s first two games, Pollard has 15 tackles and one interception.

He also was fined $10,000 for a late hit out of bounds in Tennessee’s first preseason game.

Pollard is infamous in New England for his role in a number of key injuries and plays.

As a member of the Chiefs, Pollard delivered the low hit that tore Tom Brady‘€™s ACL in 2008. The then-Texan was preparing to tackle wide receiver Wes Welker when Welker’€™s knee gave out, resulting in a torn ACL during the 2009 season. With the Ravens, his tackle on Rob Gronkowski in the 2012 AFC championship game led to a severe ankle sprain that hampered Gronkowski in New England’€™s Super Bowl XLVI loss to the Giants. And in last season’€™s AFC championship game, Pollard knocked Stevan Ridley out of the game with a brutal hit to the head that also forced a decisive turnover.

Fortunately for the Patriots, the Titans are not on the regular-season schedule this year.

Read More: Bernard Pollard, rob gronkowski, Stevan Ridley, Tom Brady
Ravens DB Bernard Pollard predicts demise of NFL 01.28.13 at 9:39 am ET
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Ravens safety Bernard Pollard, best known in New England for his injury-causing hits over the last five years to Patriots players Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Steven Ridley, said the league’s attempts to make the game safer are likely to lead to its end.

“Thirty years from now, I don’t think it will be in existence,” he told CBSSports.com. “I could be wrong. It’s just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going — where [NFL rules makers] want to lighten up, and they’re throwing flags and everything else — there’s going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it.

“Guys are getting fined, and they’re talking about, ‘Let’s take away the strike zone,’ and, ‘Take the pads off,’ or, ‘Take the helmets off.” It’s going to be a thing where fans aren’t going to want to watch it anymore.”

Added Pollard: “The league is trying to move in the right direction [with player safety], but, at the same time, [coaches] want bigger, stronger and faster year in and year out. And that means you’re going to keep getting big hits and concussions and blown-out knees. The only thing I’m waiting for … and, Lord, I hope it doesn’t happen … is a guy dying on the field. We’ve had everything else happen there except for a death. We understand what we signed up for, and it sucks.

“Like I said, I pray it never happens, but you’ve got guys who are 350 pounds running 4.5 and 4.4s, and these owners and coaches want scout-run blockers and linemen to move walls. At the same time, they tell you, ‘Don’t hit here, and don’t hit there, or we’ll take your money.’ Like I said, I hope I’m wrong, but I just believe one day there’s going to be a death that takes place on the field because of the direction we’re going.”

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Read More: Bernard Pollard, rob gronkowski, Rumor Mill, Stevan Ridley
Top Stories of 2012, No. 1: Patriots lose Super Bowl XLVI to Giants 12.31.12 at 1:50 pm ET
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Over the final week of 2012, WEEI.com has been counting down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. This entry in the countdown is No. 1: the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Giants.

Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: NHL lockout
No. 9: Wes Welker’s up-and-down year
No. 8: Bruins’ early playoff elimination
No. 7: Ray Allen’s departure from Celtics
No. 6: Tim Thomas’ political controversy and sabbatical
No. 5: Celtics’ Eastern Conference finals loss to Heat
No. 4: Red Sox’ megatrade with Dodgers
No. 3: Tom Brady’s MVP-caliber season
No. 2: Bobby Valentine’s nightmare season as Red Sox manager

It wasn’€™t a perfect season that was ruined, but the second time that the Giants ended the Patriots’€™ hopes for a fourth Super Bowl title was equally as heartbreaking.

For the Patriots, hopes were high at the beginning of the postseason. That’€™s because New England won the AFC East with a 13-3 record. For the Pats, especially after the previous year’€™s loss in the divisional playoffs to the Jets, it was Super Bowl or bust.

The Giants dealt the Patriots one of their three losses on the season in Week 9. In a game that featured no scoring in the first half, the Giants came out strong after the half and put 10 points on the board in the third quarter while the Patriots were held to just a field goal. Despite two touchdown drives and a field goal in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady and the Patriots couldn’€™t overcome Eli Manning and the Giants offense, who put up another 14 points for a 24-20 victory. It was the Patriots’€™ last loss of the regular season.

The Pats trounced the Broncos in the divisional playoffs on a frosty night in Foxboro. Brady threw for 363 yards and six touchdowns, three of which were to Rob Gronkowski.

The Patriots went on to a close win in the AFC championship game against the Ravens. After Brady’€™s fourth-quarter rushing touchdown put the Pats up 23-20, the defense was able to hold off the Ravens for two drives. The Pats forced the Ravens to place their trust in kicker Billy Cundiff. Luckily for the Pats, Cundiff shanked a 32-yard field goal attempt with 15 seconds on the game clock, ensuring another Patriots Super Bowl appearance.

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Read More: 2012 Stories of the Year, Eli Manning, Mario Manningham, rob gronkowski
Top Stories of 2012, No. 9: Wes Welker franchised, phased out, back to form 12.25.12 at 3:04 pm ET
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Over the final week of 2012, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. Our second entry in the countdown is No. 9: Wes Welker’s up-and-down year.

For five seasons in New England, Wes Welker seemingly could do no wrong, and it seemed unfathomable that the Patriots would not want to keep him in Foxboro for as long as possible.

Then came the drop in February’s Super Bowl loss — a difficult but catchable pass that went through Welker’s hands late in the fourth quarter. Instead of giving the Patriots a likely game-ending first down, it gave the Giants the opportunity for their game-winning drive. And suddenly Welker’s true value was being questioned by some. It didn’t help that the Patriots played hardball during contract negotiations in the offseason, electing to place the franchise tag on Welker and settle for a one-year contract rather than agree to a long-term deal.

The $9.5 million, one-year deal ensured that Welker would stay with the Patriots through the 2012 season. After that, who knows?

It certainly is possible that Welker could re-sign with the team after the season, but judging by his consistency and continued success, he might demand a larger contract next year, both in terms of money and years. For now, he is enjoying another tremendous season after professing happiness that he and the team were able to agree on a deal that kept him with a perennial Super Bowl contender.

“There are 9.5 million reasons why I wouldn’t miss any regular-season games,” Welker said during a May 14 appearance on Mut & Merloni, dismissing speculation that he would hold out for a long-term contract. “I don’t think there are any sort of hard feelings on my side or their side. I think we’re all looking forward to the 2012 season and hopefully do some big things there.”

Welker did not exactly do “big things” in the first couple of games this season, but he was not solely to blame. In the Patriots’ 34-13 victory over the Titans in Week 1, Welker’s playing time was limited and he had only three receptions for 14 yards while being targeted just five times (including a drop on third-and-8 in the first quarter). Speculation abounded that he was being phased out of the offense, either as punishment for asking for too much money or so fellow receivers such as Julian Edelman could get more of an opportunity.

Week 2 was better for Welker, as he finished with five catches for 95 yards, albeit in a 20-18 loss to the lowly Cardinals. Still, it was not the 10-catch, 100-plus-yard receiving performance New England fans were accustomed to seeing.

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Read More: 2012 Stories of the Year, Aaron Hernandez, Bill Belichick, Brandon Lloyd