Speed Read: Magic Ready To Ruin Dream Finals

Somehow LeBron James ended another game against the Orlando Magic in their Eastern Conference Finals with the ball in his hand and a chance to win the game. But unlike Game 2, he couldn’t find the miracle the Cavaliers needed, as his desperation heave from 35 feet was off the mark, wrapping up the Magic’s 116-114 OT victory. Orlando now holds a commanding 3-1 series lead, as the Cavaliers are threatening to take a page from the Ohio State football team and choke at the worst possible moment.

LeBron James

And perhaps it was fitting, since the game only went to overtime on two James free throws on a questionable foul committed by Mickael Pietrus with six seconds left - with James needing a friendly roll to get the second. (And honestly, how can the best player on the planet be so average and unreliable from the free throw line? Do you ever remember feeling nervous when Michael Jordan stepped to the line at the end of a game?)

Dwight Howard

It’s hard to blame James for Game 4: after all, he did have 44 points and 12 rebounds. Even the eight turnovers in the box score are more a reflection of him trying to do everything because he had to than any faults. No, the big problem for Cleveland is that they’ve pretty much turned back into King James and His Inept Court of Jokers this series, with his supporting cast basically providing nothing (Delonte West and Mo Williams combined to go 12-for-30 in Game 4, including 0-for-6 from behind the arc.)

Meanwhile, the Magic were unconscious from three-point range, going 17-for-38, with Rafer Alston leading the way with six threes on the way to a 26 point night. And Dwight Howard played angry in overtime - perhaps over picking up his sixth technical foul of the season, or because he thought he was fouled at the end of regulation. No matter what the reason, he took it out on the Cavaliers, scored on three straight dunks en route to 10 points in the extra session. So a dominant big man plus great outside shooting is a good thing, I guess.

Sidney Crosby

Also a good thing: having your league’s best player and leading scorer on the same team. That’s exactly what the Pittsburgh Penguins have, and why they are heading back to the Stanley Cup after a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes to sweep the Eastern Conference Finals. And even though they didn’t score in the series-clincher, Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had done more than enough, proving to be way too much for a game but overmatched Carolina side. So while the NBA is wincing at losing their dream match-up, the NHL has to be thrilled with a likely Penguins vs. Red Wings rematch.

Mike Tyson

Finally, to update a tragic story we told you about earlier today, KPHO-TV in Phoenix reports that Mike Tyson’s daughter Exodus, 4, has died from injuries she sustained in a freak accident at her family home in Arizona. No matter what you think about Mike Tyson as a person, monster or character in a classic Greek tragedy, your heart has to go out to him and his family. For anyone with a child, reading about this gets your stomach all tied up in knots.

  • So after what PRO FOOTBALL TALK had reported was a tug-of-war to sign John Lynch as an NFL analyst, NEWSDAY says that the winner is Fox, snatching the former Buccaneers and Broncos standout from ESPN. Lynch will likely be replacing Brian Baldinger, which means that he’ll need to have his finger run over with a steamroller to match the “analyst with the gross digit” quota at the network.
  • Brian Baldinger and his gross finger

  • Is this a sign that the Anquan Boldin contract mess is about to come to an end?: ESPN.COM says that the disgruntled Cardinals wide receiver has fired Drew Rosenhaus as his agent. Stepping in? This guy.
  • Ready for a career switch to the exciting and fast-paced world of sports business? Fat chance, says the NEW YORK TIMES, as tough economic times have made jobs in the industry tougher to get than ever. In fact, it’s so bad that people actually want to work for the Cincinnati Bengals.
  • A new blog is asking people to vote Manny Ramirez into the 2009 All-Star Game to prove a point about how ridiculous MLB’s stance is on steroids. I say let’s really send a message and vote Jose Guillen in.
  • A STERN WARNING digs up an old Japanese tire commercial featuring Dennis Rodman, and it’s every bit as weird and indecipherable as anything you would expect involving Japanese TV and The Worm. But at least there weren’t any midgets involved:

  • As the BOSTON HERALD says, this is how bad it’s gotten for David Ortiz: last night against the Twins, he was dropped to the No. 6 spot in the line-up for the first time in more than five years. Not that it mattered; thanks to another lousy start by Jon Lester, Boston fell to Minnesota 5-2.
  • Top Orioles prospect Matt Wieters is getting his call-up to the big leagues, and is expected to make his big-league debut as a catcher on Friday against the Tigers. CAN’T STOP THE BLEEDING wonders if the Baltimore sports media is making too big of a deal about this. (i.e. could Peter Schmuck please remove his tongue from Wieters’ mouth?)
  • The NEW YORK TIMES has the latest from Roland Garros (English translation: Ron Garrett) Stadium and the French Open: Serena Williams serves a “horrendous” performance, while James Blake is bounced yet again.
  • Just how dominant has Zack Greinke been this season for the Royals? As the KANSAS CITY STAR reports, he gave up one earned run in his fifth complete game of the season, a 6-1 win over the Tigers…and his ERA actually went up slightly, “ballooning” to 0.84.
  • Probably not what Marshall wanted to hear about their prized football recruit A.J. Graham: the TALLAHASSE DEMOCRAT says that Florida’s “Mr. Football” was arrested on robbery charges - just hours before his scheduled high school graduation.

Who is the best NBA player to never win a title?

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Strahan Says Boldin Needs To Shut Up And Play

The Anquan Boldin vs. the Arizona Cardinals contract situation is getting messier by the day; the latest news is that the team is now “considering” trade offers for their disgruntled star wide receiver. And everyone in the league seems to have an opinion on the situation. The latest personality to weigh in is Michael “Sylvester the Cat” Strahan, and as PRO FOOTBALL TALK notes, he has a simple message for Boldin: shut up and play.

Anquen Boldin and Michael Strahan

While fulfilling a sponsorship commitment in Phoenix this weekend at the NASCAR Subway Fit 500, Strahan had some pointed advice for the disgruntled Boldin. According to Strahan, Boldin isn’t doing himself any favors by talking to the press about his desire to either get more money or go somewhere that will pay him more money:

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Speed Read: Rumor Mill Heats Up Valley Of Sun

We last left the never-ending stand-up comedy routine that is Shaquille O’Neal’s life as he was engaging in a prank battle with Suns rookie Louis Admunson. But then came word that he might soon be taking his show on the road, as the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS reported that the big man expected to be heading to New Orleans in the off-season in a trade for Tyson Chandler.

Shaquille O'Neal

While the prospect of O’Neal - who had something resembling a career resurgance this past season - joining Chris Paul and David West might make Hornets fans (hello, anyone?)  scream like a teenage girl bumping into Joe Jonas at an am/pm, the TIMES-PICAYUNE says that they can save their voices. They looked at the trade and said that the numbers just don’t work - basically, the Hornets would have to trade $8 million more in player salaries in addition to Chandler’s, which doesn’t help their goal of trimming salary to stay under the cap.

Anquan Boldin

So while the Suns’ trade of Shaq might have stalled, the same isn’t true of Arizona Cardinals’ wide receiver Anquan Boldin. First, the DALLAS MORNING NEWS said that Boldin appeared as a guest on Michael Irvin’s radio show and pretty much pleaded to be traded:

As for getting traded Boldin said, “I just want to get it resolved, it’s been going on way too long.” Later he said, “it would hurt but at the same time, change is necessary. My only problem has been management, always has been.”

While this was happening, the ARIZONA REPUBLIC was reporting that the Cardinals have changed their course and are now open” to listening to trade offers for Boldin, who has two years left on his contract, but still prefer to resign him. Boldin mentioned in his interview that he’d love to play in the NFC East. With basically every team in the division needing a go-to wide receiver, it certainly is an attractive option.

And while this all was happening, on the other side of the country former Delaware football player Julian James was hungry - really hungry.  The DELAWARE NEWS-JOURNAL says that a video surveillance camera at an off-campus apartment complex allegedly shows James entering an unlocked apartment and leaving with loot, while unsuccessfully trying to get into six other apartment. His haul?

Julian James

“100 frozen chicken wings, a pound of frozen salmon, 18 frozen Hot Pockets and 20 hamburger patties worth a total value of $82.”

Or as John Kruk would call that, “lunch.” I hope they recovered the stolen food before James had a chance to eat it; Otherwise, I’d think the state’s Exhibit A in the trial is going to be pretty smelly and disgusting.

  • What’s hotter than Miss America in a basketball jersey? How about Miss America in a basketball jersey draining an NBA 3-pointer. INDY CORN ROWS says current Miss America Katie Stam did just that before a Pacers game last night.
  • Miss America with the Pacers

  • What happens when a stick from an opposing team’s player gets stuck halfway through the glass in Boston? As PUCK DADDY says, it turned into a tug-of-war between Montreal’s Alexei Kovalev and a Bruins fan during the Canadiens’ 4-2 loss, with the stick breaking in half. If this were the 1970s and the Bruins were playing the Rangers, Mike Milbury would have made sure someone ate some leather.
  • Congratulations to Ichiro, who the SEATTLE TIMES reports set the record for most hits by a Japanese baseball player with a fourth inning single, giving him 3,086 for his career in Japan and the U.S. So that’s what was causing his bleeding ulcer.
  • As if the Flyers needed an obstacle in trying to take down the Penguins in their NHL first-round playoff series: the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS says that Philadelphia enforcer Daniel Carcillo has been suspended for Game 2 after giving a “message” hit to the back of the head of Pittsburgh’s Max Talbot at the end of the Flyers’ Game 1 loss.
  • In the wake of Nick Adenhart’s tragic death and with the Angels’ nearly tragic bus crash from 1992 still on longtime team fans’ minds, HALOS HEAVEN looks at MLB’s contingency plans in case of a catastrophic accident that wipes out a team. George Costanza can rest easy tonight.
  • The ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH says that Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter left the team’s game against the Cubs in the fourth inning with a strained oblique. How did he get the injury? Taking a swing during an earlier at-bat. THIS IS WHY WE HAVE THE DH, PEOPLE!
  • Remember when the Cavs fans got on LeBron James’ case when he dribbled out the ball with the team needing one more point to ensure fans a free Taco Bell item? The CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER says King James was still ticked about Chalupagate as he addressed the fans before the team’s home finale.
  • If I am Kurt Busch and my NASCAR career has stalled, the one person I wouldn’t be yelling at during a race is his car owner, racing legend Roger Penske. FROM THE MARBLES agrees, and has the audio and video proof (about 55 seconds in):

  • Kenyon Martin on Sacramento Kings co-owner Joe Maloof to SI.COM after Maloof demanded an apology after Martin gave a hard foul to the Kings’ Spencer Hawes: “Apologize to him? I’m not apologizing to him. I apologized to Spencer after the game, but before he opens his mouth he needs to know what’s going on.” Guess someone just got uninvited to the Palms VIP suites this off-season.
  • Congratulations to former Arizona basketball star Eugene Edgerson, who the ARIZONA DAILY STAR says was arrested for his second domestic abuse charge within the past two months. Edgerson currently plays for the Harlem Globetrotters, leading me to wonder if his wife is the Washington Generals of marriage.

With Stephen A. Smith out the door, which ESPN talking head should be the next to get the ax?

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Speed Read: Cleveland Is A Hot Mess Right Now

It was an incredibly tumultuous night in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers losing to the Wizards was the least shocking news of the night. (Although as the WASHINGTON POST’s Michael Lee points out, Washington joins the Lakers and Celtics as the only teams to beat Cleveland twice this season.) Yes, it’s not often that the best team in the league loses to the worst team in the league, but the Wizards are a unique case, with Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood finally back playing after missing almost all of the season with injuries.

Jay Cutler Brady Quinn Jason Campbell

No, most of the evening drama in Cleveland involved the Browns. First came some fallout from Jay Cutler’s trade to the Bears, specifically reports that Cleveland had tried to work out a three-way deal with the Broncos and Redskins that would have sent Brady Quinn to Denver and Jason Campbell to Cleveland. Browns coach Eric Mangini spent Thursday night denying these reports; expect Quinn to demand a trade because the Browns tried to trade him sometime within the next week.

Donte Stallworth

And later in the evening, there was news in the DUI manslaughter case against Browns WR Donte Stallworth, and it was more than just his first appearance at a court hearing. It turns out that Stallworth was already in the NFL’s substance abuse program at the time of his arrest, which opens him up to a whole range of punishment from the league. Of course, he’s facing charges that could land him in jail for at least eight years, and having a history of substance abuse issues is not going to help his case, so I’d say that Roger Goodell is the least of Stallworth’s problems right now.

Bernie Williams

Meanwhile, there were no problems at the opening of the Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium yesterday, just a lot of unintentional comedy as reported by MLB.COM. What do I mean? How about Yankees’ Executive Vice President Hal “The Pretty One” Steinbrenner joining rock stars/C-list celebs with nothing better to do Ace Frehley of KISS, Scott Ian and Frank Bello of Anthrax, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Bernie Williams and members of the Seminole Nation to smash guitars instead of cutting a ribbon. And yes, this means rock and roll is officially dead.

(Oh yeah, “Late Show With David Letterman” band drummer Anton Fig was there, which only means one thing: even Paul Shaffer had too much dignity to show up to this thing.)

Other news while you were rioting in the streets of State College to celebrate Penn State’s NIT victory:

  • As PUCK DADDY notes, it must be like getting their hearts ripped out all over again for Hartford Whalers fans to see a Hurricanes jersey with the Whalers’ logo (and a God awful color combination). Although I’d love it if the Ravens wore Browns jerseys for “Turn Back The Clock” day against Cleveland.
  • Whalers jersey

  • While the Jay Cutler trade solved one long-running NFL saga, the Anquan Boldin/Arizona Cardinals mess continues to fester. The latest comes from NFL.COM which reports that Boldin told a Florida radio station that he would “love to” play in his home city of Miami.
  • I had hoped that the America’s Cup had gone the way of 1980s fads like The Lambada, Swatches and The California Raisins. But apparently it’s still happening, and it’s now the focus of lawsuits involving people with more money than they know what to do with. The AP has the latest news, as software tycoon Larry Ellison and his boat “Oracle” have won the right to challenge the current Cup holders, Judge Elihu Smails and his boat “The Flying Wasp” (seen below at its coronation):

  • It looks like things are going anything but “perfect” for former Cincinnati ace Tom Browning: THE NEWS & OBSERVER reports the Reds have dropped him as the pitching coach for the Carolina Mudhens after he was arrested on Friday for failure to pay child support.
  • If you’re a former NFL player who gets arrested on drug charges, you would hope that the headlines wouldn’t call you “forgettable.” But that’s just how NBC DALLAS FORT WORTH described former Cowboy Leonardo Carson, arrested yesterday on intent to sell charges, and I’ll be damned if they aren’t right.
  • Now that Tim Floyd has turned down Arizona, TUCSON CITIZEN columnist Anthony Gimino wants to know if there’s anyone left who wants the Wildcats’ coaching job. May I make a suggestion: Former Baylor coach Dave Bliss is available and ready to talk. Sure, he’s got a checkered past, but the guy knows how to win. Barring that, perhaps Jerry Tarkanian is available.
  • Sports is creeping its way into politics in Los Angeles, as the LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS reports that City Attorney candidate Carmen Trutanich is being ripped by his opponent and NOW for successfully representing former USC defensive back Eric Wright on rape charges in 2005.
  • I can’t imagine why parents in Shenendehowa, NY are upset to find out that a part-time track coach had his teaching license revoked 11 years ago after an alleged sexual abuse case. WTEN-TV says that while Don Paretta was not convicted, he admitted to giving a former student a note at graduation saying he would “miss the student’s face and body.” And this guy coached pole vaulting: let the jokes commence.
  • According to the NEWARK STAR-LEDGER, Boston College DT B.J. Raji - a projected Top 10 pick in the NFL Draft - committed a crime worse than scoring single digits on the Wonderlic test: he reportedly flunked a drug test at the NFL Combine.
  • Finally, HOME RUN DERBY sends a hearty congratulations to Manatee Community College, which defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 yesterday. Yes, those Pittsburgh Pirates, as in the “allegedly major league Pirates.” Bill Mazeroski would be rolling in his grave, if he were dead.

Who would you rather have as your franchise QB?

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Chiefs Star ‘Shocked’ By New Coach’s ‘Arrogance’

If Kansas City Chiefs fans thought that new head coach Todd Haley and GM Scott Pioli would bring new stability to the organization, they should think again. The KANSAS CITY STAR is reporting that Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters is asking to be released or traded after being shocked” by the arrogance of the two in their first meetings - confirming what he has heard about Haley from Arizona Cardinals players at the Pro Bowl.

Brian Waters

There were three Cardinals at the Pro Bowl this year: Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Kurt Warner, all of whom played under Haley’s direction as Arizona’s offensive coordinator, and all of whom have their reasons for bad-mouthing Haley to his new star lineman. But old grudges aside, Haley and Pioli did themselves no favors with Waters in terms of making good first impressions.

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Cardinals Turn Trent Edwards Into Kimbo Slice

What a difference a week made for the Cardinals. One week after getting blown out by the Jets and having receiver Anquan Boldin get knocked silly at the end of the game, Arizona turned the tables and was the one putting the hurt on their opponents, in this case handing the Buffalo Bills a 41-17 defeat.

Trent Edwards KOed

And I mean that they put the hurt on the Bills literally: Buffalo QB Trent Edwards was knocked out of the game on the team’s third play of the series after a hard hit by Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson. The God of concussions can take away and he can give, too.

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NY Mets’, Scott Linehan’s Seasons End Too Soon

• The New York Mets are out of the playoff picture, thanks to a late-season swoon. This is not a repeat.

Scott Linehan Mets fans

• Not Ram tough: Scott Linehan is given the St. Louis toodle-oo.

• Don’t call it a comeback: Shawn Kemp goes AWOL from his Italian b-ball club, blames it on Hurricane Ike.

• Hard to tell which was more painful to watch - Anquan Boldin taking a hit to the helmet, or the Jets’ Titan-ically terrible throwback duds.

• The Brewers’ season-ending run was exciting enough to make you tinkle in your trousers. But make sure you don’t sing “Go Cubs Go!” at Miller Park.

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Anquan Boldin OK After Getting KOed By Jets

Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin tweaked his hamstring during practice on Friday, putting his status for yesterday’s game against the Jets into some doubt. In retrospect, he probably wishes that he did sit that one out. If he remembers that he had a hamstring injury, or is even aware that he did play yesterday.

Anquan Boldin

That’s because he had his brain scrambled from a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jets’ safety Eric Smith (who also suffered a concussion on the play). It was a scary scene as Boldin was taped to a backboard and removed from the stadium. The good news is that the EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE reports that Boldin had been released from the hospital and had flown back to Arizona on a charted plane with Cardinals’ owner Bill Bidwell and his son Michael.

Video of the hit is after the jump:

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Coles Misses Pennington, But Doesn’t Hate Favre

Soon after the Jets released Chad Pennington to make way for Peter King’s personal lord and savior Brett Favre, wide receiver Laveranues Coles was characterized as being none too pleased with the move, primarily because he and Pennington were BFFs.

Jets on Sesame Street

He eventually accepted that his friend wasn’t coming back, and has since moved on. Sort of. Yesterday, he spoke candidly about how tough it’s been transitioning to a new quarterback.

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Are The Cardinals Sick Of Leinart’s Sucking?

Remember all that talk that this was the season that Matt Leinart was going to shed his party boy image and get down to the business of being a franchise quarterback? You know, actually having a grasp of the offense as opposed to last season?

Matt Leinart is choking

Things haven’t been going well this training camp, and yesterday’s 3-12, 3 INT performance against the Raiders might have been the last straw: ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that the Cardinals are prepared to name Kurt Warner the starter for their regular season opener.

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