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Monday, January 23, 2017

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Jason Terry: Thunder Are Team to Beat in Western Conference Right Now

While Dirk Nowitzki didn’t concede any praise for his Western Conference opponents recently, Jason Terry went the other direction. After the Mavs lost to the Thunder 95-86 Wednesday, the Dallas guard praised Oklahoma City.

“They’re the team to beat,” Terry said of the Thunder. “They’re playing the best right now, and that’s fine with us. For the time being, they are the team to beat. And they are playing very well together. Can they be beaten? Yes. They just were the better team tonight.”

Terry qualified his praise by saying OKC is the team to beat at the moment. It may be a different story when the playoffs roll around. But here’s the thing: If the Thunder clinch the top spot in the West — which seems highly likely — they will be tough to beat with a home court advantage. I have to consider them the favorite to reach the NBA Finals at this point.

Video: Boston Radio Host Asks Madonna if Alex Rodriguez Has a Painting of Himself as a Half-Man, Half-Horse in His House

For those of us who have experienced the Toucher and Rich Morning Show on Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub, the craziest question Madonna was asked at the Super Bowl on Thursday came as no surprise.  I’m sure Madonna has fielded questions that are much more bizarre than the one Rich Shertenlieb threw at her in Indianapolis, but probably not in a sports setting.  As only Shertenlieb or his partner Fred Toettcher would do, Rich decided to ask Madonna if the rumors about Alex Rodriguez having a painting that depicts himself as a half-man, half-horse in his house are true.  Here is a video of the exchange that The Nosebleeds passed along:

I’m not sure what would have been more embarrassing: the answer she gave about the picture of her on a horse or if she just simply said “yes, he does.”  Now we know A-Rod has (or had) a large picture of Madonna laying on a horse in his house.  In addition, he may or may not have a picture of himself depicted as a centaur.

Kudos to Shertenlieb for traveling all the way to Indianapolis to ask a question like that.  Considering these are the game guys who hung up on the legendary Bill Walton, a question of that nature was expected.

C.J. Wilson’s Agent Wouldn’t Let Jerry DiPoto Use Bathroom During Negotiations Until He Added $5 Million to Offer

Sam Miller of the OC Register has been providing plenty of excellent background for the Angels’ signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson over the past week. If you’re an Angels fan or a fan of the business side of the game, it’s great reading to see how the deals came together. On Wednesday, Miller shared a great anecdote from the Wilson negotiations.

According to Miller, the Angels were only offering Wilson four years for $60 million. Wilson’s agent wanted another year and $80 million, and he believed the Marlins would offer six years for $100 million. The Angels explained that their finances were limited because they were pursuing another big-money player (which turned out to be Pujols).

Their offer to Wilson was five years for $75 million. But as previously stated, Wilson’s agent wanted $80 million. Now here’s the best part.

Quoting Miller, “They’re going back and forth, Dipoto asks if he can use the restroom, and Garber tells him “not until we get another $5 million.”

DiPoto, the new Angels’ GM, calls owner Arte Moreno and wakes him up, but he’s able to get an extra $2.5 million. Final offer? Five years for $77.5 million, which Wilson accepted.

It’s now moot, but another cool item from the negotiations is that the Marlins wanted Wilson so badly owner Jeffrey Loria even offered to sponsor Wilson’s car racing team. That’s serious dedication.

Madonna on Whether or Not Rob Gronkowski Will Play: I Would if it Was Me

You ever have a tough decision to make and you really don’t know which way to turn, so you ask yourself. “What would Madonna do?”  I know it has happened to me many times in my life, and if Rob Gronkowski has that thought at any point this week he’ll be out on the field come Sunday evening. 

Madonna, who is performing at halftime of Super Bowl 46, sat down with reporters on Thursday afternoon. Since everyone else has had to answer questions about Gronkowski’s ankle, reporters figured they’d get her opinion on the subject as well.

“Well, a lot of people would say I’m a bit of a masochist,” Madonna said according to Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald. “I would just tape my ankle, and say prayers, take an anti-inflammatory and get my butt out there. Is that the answer?”

She also said she “hopes” Gronk ends up playing.  We don’t really know what Gronk’s fake limping performance from Thursday morning means, but we know Madonna thinks he should get his butt out there regardless of how much he’s hurting.  Gronk or no Gronk, at least we now know nothing is going to keep Madonna from fulfilling her halftime duties.  If she suffers an injury over the next few days, just get a cortisone shot in her and send her on her way. If only she had rubbed off on her ex-boyfriend.

Michael Irvin Says Dez Bryant Will Be the Best Receiver in the NFL

Dez Bryant is widely considered to be one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL. As a first-round pick, he has been somewhat disappointing. The Cowboys expected Bryant to have an immediate impact on their offense and he has done just that — when he plays. A combination of injuries and mental check-outs in the second half of games have resulted in Bryant being an underachiever. Former Cowboys receiver and current Hall of Famer Michael Irvin believes Bryant will get it together. When he does, Irvin thinks he’ll be tough to stop.

“I thought Dez made great strides this year on the football field,” Irvin said according to the Dallas Morning News, noting that the third-year receiver will have to work on his conditioning. “He has a lot of room to continue to grow, but he made great strides. When Dez really locks it all in, understands it, Dez will be the best receiver in the NFL.”

Irvin didn’t say “one of the best,” he said “the best.”  We already know who his favorite NFL receiver was this past season, and it wasn’t the guy who will likely stand in the way of Irvin’s prediction Bryant prediction over the next several years.  That guy I’m referring to is Calvin Johnson.  Megatron is only three years older than Dez, and he is already one of the best — if not the best — receivers in the game.  With a young quarterback in Matthew Stafford who continues to improve, he’ll be tough to dethrone as the NFL’s best receiver over the next five years or so.

On a separate note, the Cowboys are likely thankful Irvin decided to provide some words of encouragement for their young star.  As we saw earlier in the season, some of Dallas’ former wide-outs haven’t exactly been supportive of Bryant.

Stephen A. Smith Flips the Bird to Skip Bayless on ESPN (Picture)

Believe me, we do everything in our power here at LBS to not feed the beasts that are Stephen A. Smth and Skip Bayless.  Both guys are annoying, and we generally try not to talk about them unless one of them flips the other one off. Well, that happened on Thursday morning’s ESPN First Take. The above screenshot comes to us courtesy of @BDPFOLIFE. If you don’t believe it actually happened, we’ve got the NSFW shot waiting for you after the jump.

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Channing Crowder on Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland: He’s Not a Good Person

Channing Crowder has given a number of reasons to support his decision to unexpectedly retire a year ago at the age of 28.  At the time he was cut by the Dolphins, Crowder’s wife was nine months pregnant and he said his heart was no longer in football.  Both seem like legitimate reasons, but his recent comments would seem to indicate there was also a problem between him and the Dolphins front office — particularly G.M. Jeff Ireland.  Crowder said in a recent interview that he is interested in returning to the NFL next season, but would never play for Miami.

“I wouldn’t go on a team with Jeff Ireland. I’m not very confident in him,” Crowder said Wednesday on Radio Row according to NFL.com. “He doesn’t know what he’s doing in my opinion. He’s real disrespectful, he doesn’t know how to deal with people and the whole Dez Bryant (situation) kind of showed to the world what he’s about, but guys in the building know what he’s really about.

“He’s not a good person. He has no class, and I wouldn’t choose to go back and play there. And I would have to say it’s the only team I don’t want to play for.”

In case you don’t remember, the Dez Bryant situation Crowder is referring to is the time Ireland asked Bryant if his mother was a prostitute when meeting with him before the draft.  As we saw this season, Dolphins fans aren’t exactly fond of their team’s G.M., either.  I’m not the biggest Crowder fan, but I can’t say I blame him. If what they say about Ireland is true, I doubt many players enjoy playing for him.

Giants Can Pretend Nobody is Giving Them a Shot, But It’s Not True at All

Everyone in sports loves to be the underdog. It takes the pressure off. Technically, the underdog is not supposed to win. If you are the underdog and you lose, you fulfilled expectations. If you win, you exceeded them. When you’re the favorite, there is no way to exceed expectations. That is why the Giants are doing their best to pretend they are a major underdog in Super Bowl 46. If playing the role of underdog gives New York a better shot at winning, then they are doing what’s necessary. We should not, however, take the Las Vegas spread to heart.

“It’s still us against the world,” Tom Coughlin said Thursday. “Talk is cheap, play the game.”

“We have something to prove,” Eli Manning added. “No one giving us a whole lot of chances. It’s brought out the best (of) our ability.”

While some Giants have taken the time to guarantee a victory on Sunday, this has been the mindset all along.  The Giants are no less than a 2.5 point underdog at most Las Vegas sports books.  Earlier in the week, Justin Tuck compared the way people were talking about the Giants at Super Bowl 42 to the way they have been talking this week.

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Rob Gronkowski Gives a Fake Limp as He Walks to the Podium (Video)

In just three short days, Rob Gronkowski’s ankle will officially become one of the most photographed body parts in Super Bowl history.  We certainly know the pictures and videos have been rolling in over the last two weeks.  The thing that has made this particular injury fun for the media is that Gronkowski is a fun-loving guy.  Bill Belichick has trained Gronk well this week — and by trained I mean drilled the phrase “day-to-day” into his head — but the Patriots tight end has still managed to have some fun with his injury.  On Thursday, Gronk decided to bust out the fake limp for the cameras as he took the podium for his media session.  Check out this video that Jimmy Traina shared with us:

As you heard in the video, Gronk is expected to play.  He may even return to practice Thursday in a limited role.  That is good news for Patriots fans, but it is something everyone knew all along.  The question is not whether or not Gronk is going to play, it’s how effective he will be.  If there’s any beast in the NFL who is equipped to fight through the pain, it’s this dude.

H/T SI Hot Clicks

Tom Brady Dreamed of Being Able to Wear Socks Once and Throw Them Away

Don’t worry, folks: the Super Bowl is almost here. These next three days will be long ones, but we’ll all get through them together. Just think, when you finished watching the Giants overtime victory over the Niners back in January the big game was a full 14 days away. We’re in the home stretch. But until that time comes, let’s talk about Tom Brady’s socks.

In one of those “pass the time” feature stories that was written by Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN.com, we learned some interesting and entertaining information about Tom Brady. For example, he has a tendency to call his male teammates “babe” and likes to eat hummus and go surfing. Clearly, he’s a Cali bro. What I found to be particularly interesting is the information that Brady’s former Michigan teammate, tight end Aaron Shea, shared about No. 12’s dreams in college.

“‘If I hit it real big,'” Shea recalled Brady telling him, “‘I want to be able to wake up, put a pair of socks on, and at the end of the day, I throw ’em away.’

“I’m like, ‘That’s all you want?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want. I love new socks.'”

Mission accomplished.  Given some of the things we’re hearing about Brady and Gisele’s new mansion and its heated toilet seats, I’m guessing he has 365 pairs of brand new socks sitting in his house somewhere.  When you’re a multimillionaire with dreams that are are that simple, you truly can have it all. As for all those “old” pairs of socks that have only been subjected to a 16-hour workday, let’s just hope they find their way to the Salvation Army.

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