Celtics

Penn State is weighing settlement options

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Penn State is weighing settlement options

From Comcast SportsNetHARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- The lawyer brought in by Penn State to help settle Jerry Sandusky-related claims said Monday that he recently gave university officials monetary settlement offers from most of the people asserting they were molested by the former assistant football coach.Attorney Ken Feinberg told The Associated Press that he delivered the demands to Penn State administrators, lawyers and members of the board of trustees during a meeting Friday in Philadelphia."The next step is Penn State -- we'll see how Penn State responds in the next few weeks," Feinberg said.Asked about the meeting, a university spokesman declined to comment. Reactions by lawyers for the claimants ranged from hopefulness to no comment. None would say what dollar figure he or she is seeking.Feinberg "has assured us that within a degree of somewhat certainty, like 85 percent, he thinks he can get our case settled," said Harrisburg attorney Chuck Schmidt, whose client's lawsuit is on hold. "So far as it moving forward, I'm cautiously optimistic."Bala Cynwyd lawyer Mike Boni, who represents Aaron Fisher, the young man whose story launched the investigation into Sandusky and who wrote a book about the abuse, said Feinberg's response to his settlement offer was "hope springs eternal.""He said what he had to say, which is, You're asking for too much, I'll see what I can deliver,'" Boni said. "At the end of the day, I don't think we're all that far apart."Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison term for the sexual abuse of 10 boys over 15 years, including attacks on children inside Penn State athletics facilities. Penn State's president issued a statement the day Sandusky was convicted in June, vowing to settle "privately, expeditiously and fairly."Feinberg disclosed last month that he was working with 28 claimants, 18 more than were the subject of Sandusky's criminal trial. He emphasized Monday that not all claimants have made settlement demands.Also Monday, a Penn State trustee called on the university governing board to re-examine the findings of former FBI director Louis Freeh's school-sanctioned investigation into the scandal.A critique released this weekend by Joe Paterno's family raised "serious and troubling" questions about Freeh's findings, trustee Alvin Clemens said in a statement.Former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh was among the experts brought in by the Paterno family to review the Freeh report, which concluded that Paterno and other university officials covered up allegations against Sandusky to spare the university bad publicity. The family's review said the cover-up claims were inaccurate, were unfounded and equated to a "rush to injustice."Freeh has defended his work and stood by his findings. He has called the Paterno family's review self-serving and a campaign to shape the late Hall of Fame coach's legacy.Paterno died in January 2012 at age 85.The NCAA levied unprecedented sanctions on Penn State less than two weeks after Freeh released his stinging findings in July.Freeh's firm was hired by the board of trustees to perform "an independent, full and complete investigation of the Sandusky scandal," said Clemens, a trustee since 1995. "In addition to questions about accuracy and fairness, there is little question that the Freeh report is less than complete."Through a spokesman, the school declined comment on Clemens' request.Penn State had said Sunday that Freeh was brought in to conduct an independent investigation of the school's response to the allegations, and not actions of entities unrelated to Penn State. Freeh offered 119 recommendations to strengthen governance and compliance, the majority of which have been implemented, the school said.Freeh's report has never been formally discussed by the board as a whole. At the time of its release, trustees said they had accepted responsibility for failures of accountability.The public should devote equal time reading the Paterno family's critique and the Freeh report, said another trustee, former football player Adam Taliaferro. He joined the board last summer, but was not a trustee at the time of Paterno's firing in November 2011.In a phone interview, Taliaferro said Monday the board was off to a good start in implementing Freeh's recommendations. "But for me, personally, it wouldn't hurt for us to look at both sides ... There are always two sides to a story," he said.Paterno's family offered its answer to the Freeh report on Sunday, with experts attacking what they called flawed techniques and a lack of evidence.Paterno's widow, Sue, and three of the Paternos' children spoke with Katie Couric in an interview that aired on her syndicated TV show Monday. Former NFL linebacker and Nittany Lion standout Greg Buttle defended Paterno on the program as someone who would have taken issue and "taken care of it" if the coach knew of Sandusky's crimes."Joe Paterno didn't conspire to do anything," Buttle said. "The conspiracy to me was perpetrated by a cabal of trustees, and others that felt they needed a convenient way out to relieve Penn State of what had happened."

Blakely's takeaways: C's put entire league on notice

Blakely's takeaways: C's put entire league on notice

BOSTON – You had to figure Golden State’s explosive offense would probably come up a little short scoring-wise against the Boston Celtics and their top-rated defense. 

But for them to score 88 points – that’s about 32 below their average – was very one of those, “where the hell did that come from?” moments. 

And it was exactly what the Celtics needed to escape with a 92-88 win that extended their winning streak to 14 in a row but maybe most important, put the entire league on notice that this streak they’re on right now … it’s real. 

“They wrote us off coming in, saying Golden State was gonna beat us, and do this and do that,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “We came out and played basketball. Even though we got down, the make-up of our team is staying in; we’re resilient.”

Here are five takeaways from Boston’s signature win of the season, 92-88 over Golden State which extended Boston’s winning streak to 14 straight. 

 

BROWN’S GROWTH

Jaylen Brown was playing with a heavy heart less than 24 hours after the death of his best friend. But as we’ve seen in this still-young season, Brown is very much one of the league’s emerging talents. He certainly played that role on Thursday in leading Boston with 22 points with seven rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.  

 

TALE OF TWO HALVES FOR TATUM

There’s something about the second half of games against elite players that brings out the best in Jayson Tatum. When Boston opened the season at Cleveland, Tatum was noticeably better in the second half than the first. And in Thursday’s win over Golden State, it was more of the same. In the first half he had just two points only to finish with a 10-point second half (7 coming in the fourth) for a 12-point game on 2-for-5 shooting. 

 

AL HORFORD

As well as he’s played, a strong case can be made for Horford being a league MVP instead of their leading scorer, Kyrie Irving. Horford tallied a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds to go with a pair of assists. Horford now has six double-doubles this season which equals his double-double total from all of last season. 

 

MARCUS SMART

As much as you know Smart makes great effort plays consistently and does indeed make a difference when he’s on the court, his shooting woes are reaching critical mass even as Boston continues to gobble up wins. In the last five games, Smart has averaged 7.6 points. That’s not too bad, right? But then you look and see that he’s shooting 19.2 percent (10-for-52) in that span. Ouch! So far, the Celtics have been able to find success despite his shooting struggles. But you have to anticipate at some point it’ll catch up with them. 

 

SHORTENED ROTATION

For most of this season, pretty much everyone who suits up for the Celtics, have played. But against the Warriors, it had the feel of a playoff-like rotation with head coach Brad Stevens playing 10 guys with nine reaching double digits in minutes played. Considering how the second unit struggled to make shots (they missed 17 of their 19 shot attempts), it’s understandable why head coach Brad Stevens leaned a little heavier than usual on his second unit.

A. Sherrod Blakely’s Starting 5: Unmasking the NBA’s best

A. Sherrod Blakely’s Starting 5: Unmasking the NBA’s best

BOSTON –  The NBA has seen its share of early-season injuries, some resulting in guys out for the season (Gordon Hayward) while others missing just a couple games (Al Horford out two games with a concussion).

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And then there’s Kyrie Irving, who suffered a facial fracture that kept him for one game. He was supposed to wear a plastic protective mask for a couple weeks. Instead, it lasted one game and part of another before Irving decided to ditch it.
 
Kyrie’s mask got me to thinking … who are the best masked men in the NBA?
 
Today's Starting Five will include the top 5 masked men in the annals of NBA history, in addition to the top 5 teams, MVP candidates, rookies and defenders:
 
TOP 5 MASKED MEN


1. Rip Hamilton, Detroit – Worn initially for protection, his mask became an iconic look for the three-time All-star.

2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers – Mask worn in 2012, the last year Bryant appeared in the playoffs.

3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City – He looked and played like a superhero in his first game with a mask in 2015, tallying 49 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over Philly.

4. LeBron James – Ever the fashion-forward one, James wore a black, carbon-fiber mask to protect his broken nose in 2014.

5. Kyrie Irving - He played with a mask for 19 games in 2013, averaging 24.5 points and 47.5 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from 3-point range.
 
TOP 5 MVP CANDIDATES


1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee – The addition of Eric Bledsoe has helped rack up some wins, strengthen Antetokounmpo’s chances atop the MVP leaderboard.

2. Kevin Durant, Golden State – Shooting better than 50 percent from the field, Durant has stepped his passing game (career-high 5.0 assists now) up this season while continuing to pile up the wins.

3. James Harden, Houston – Not having Chris Paul around most of this season and still winning, is a reminder of how Harden has played at a consistently high level against all comers.

4. LeBron James, Cleveland – Three straight wins and the Cavs are well on their way to getting back into the thick of things, with LeBron leading the way.

5. Al Horford, Boston – In his last three games, he’s shooting 76.6 percent and has been a central figure in Boston’s rise to the top of the NBA standings.
 
TOP 5 ROOKIES


1. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia - He has eight double-doubles and a pair of triple-doubles to his credit this season. He’s the rookie everyone is chasing now.

2. Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas - You have to watch this guy play. Would be getting a lot more pub if the Mavs had a better record.

3. Jayson Tatum, Boston - Had a rough start against the Warriors, but bounced back and made key plays down the stretch helping Boston get the win.

4. Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers - The late first-round pick has been an absolute Godsend to the Lakers, able to contribute in a multiple of ways.

5. Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers - He has been up and down like most rookies. But his court vision alone will keep him on the floor for many years to come.
 
TOP 5 DEFENDERS


1. Al Horford, Boston - He’s the best defender on the NBA’s best team defensively. It makes sense for Horford to be the pace-setter in this category.

2. Rudy Gobert, Utah - A towering presence, this 7-foot-2 big man will once again be a top-3 finisher when it comes to the league’s highest defensive honor.

3. Draymond Green, Golden State - The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Green is the rare player who can defend all five positions at a fairly high level.
 
4.  Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City - His ability to defend guards as well as switch out defensively is a huge plus to the Thunder.
 
5. Aron Baynes, Boston - You will be hard-pressed to find anyone who utilizes the NBA’s rule of verticality  better than Baynes.
 
TOP 5 TEAMS


1. Boston – Winning 14 games, that’s one thing. But to beat Golden State along the journey? That’s special.

2. Golden State – Loss to Boston be damned, the Warriors are still the team everyone emulates … even now.

3. Houston – Can score with the best of them, but until they defend at a high level their success will remain limited primarily to the regular season.

4. Minnesota – It’s still early, but it’s hard to imagine the Timberwolves going anywhere but up the Western Conference standings.

5. Detroit – Outside of Boston, there may not be a bigger surprise in the NBA thus far than Detroit.