Charter school student inspires Garnett


Charter school student inspires Garnett

BOSTON -- Kevin Garnett is one of the most emotional athletes in professional sports. But on
Friday night, he displayed a side of him far removed from the chest pumps and yelling that have become characteristic for nearly 20 years.

Prior to the Boston Celtics game against the Houston Rockets, Worcester Telegram reporter Bill Doyle presented Garnett with an article he had written on a teen born without two legs and one arm who not only idolized Garnett, but has also learned how to play basketball with his disabilities.

"Amazing, amazing," said Garnett as he gazed down at the newspaper. "He has more three's
than I have. That's amazing. Things like that are just simply amazing. Other than the reaction and what you see now, I have no words for that. That's truly amazing to me."

Roman Sweeney, a senior at North Central Charter Essential School, in Fitchburg, MA, was
adopted from Russia when he was six years old. In spite of the fact that his left arm extends only down to where his elbow would be and his both of his legs end above his knee, Sweeney has learned to play hoops, tennis, baseball, and participates in other physical activities.

"Wow, that's true determination," said Garnett. "That's someone who really loves basketball and loves the game and living life. That's true inspiration right there."

Garnett was moved that the 19 year old named him his favorite NBA player. He began playing in the league when Sweeney was less than two years old.

"Out of all the players in this league, that's a true compliment. I'm more than honored. For what reason, I have no idea (laughs). But it's flattering, it's flattering," he said.

Garnett continued, "I've been in this game long enough, I hope that I've contributed something to this game other than the negative parts of it. Hopefully I've brought some good and some type of influence to the game. Hopefully somewhere in the world, some people find any type of positive or any type something that gets them through their day. I've always been grateful and more than appreciative to be able to be someone's strength if not a source of confidence. Out of all the things in the world to be able to look at and say, this is what I use for confidence, I'm one of them. So that's a true compliment."

Backes doesn't back down from criticism of those who ripped Team USA


Backes doesn't back down from criticism of those who ripped Team USA

BRIGHTON -- He may not get the chance, since he's now 32 and has thrown (and taken) plenty of hits during his 11-year NHL career, but new Bruin David Backes said he hopes to play for Team USA again to “have a nice taste in my mouth”.

Clearly, his last experience left a bad taste: The Americans finished dead last in the World Cup of Hockey, which is winding down now with Team Europe and Team Canada playing for the championship.

What also left a bad taste for Backes were the passive-aggressive Tweets sent out by U.S.-born players like Phil Kessel and Bobby Ryan after the Americans lost all three games they played in the World Cup. And he isn't about to back down from the pointed criticism he directed at them.

“I was one of the guys called upon to go to the rink on a day off after we were eliminated . . . . one of four to stand up and answer the questions,” said Backes, who certainly showed his personal accountability by showing up to answer questions after Team USA had flopped on the world stage. “Rather than defer and plead the Fifth, I thought it was something we needed to address. I think it’s easy to sit back and sling mud . . . when you’re not a part of it.

“[You can] kind of make yourself feel good about it (by criticizing Team USA) for a second, but if I wasn’t selected for the team, or if I’m not selected to the Olympic team in two years, I’m still American, I’ve still worn that jersey, and I’m going to root for those guys and hope everything goes well. If it doesn’t, I’m going to be crushed like I was on the team. That’s how I think as a team guy and as a guy that’s worn that jersey proudly and how much it means to me.

"I just hope and wish the other guys had those same feelings. If you’ve got some vindication not being on the team, and the team failing or not accomplishing the goal, then you should internalize that and use it as motivation going forward. You don’t need to join in with the chatter that’s negative and keeps piling on. Those are my visceral thoughts on the subject.”

Backes was a healthy scratch for Team USA’s final game against the Czech Republic, a listless defeat that dropped the U.S. to the bottom of the World Cup standings. That’s a bitter pill to swallow for a competitor who clearly understands the importance of representing one’s country.

So it’s no surprise the Bruins center hopes he gets a chance to redeem himself by making the 2018 Winter Olympics team. Backes has skated for the U.S. in each of the last two Olympics.

“I hope (the World Cup isn't the last time I play for my country), but that’s out of my control,” said Backes. “If my services seem like I can help a team be successful, I’d love to put that jersey on and have a nice taste in my mouth for the last time I use it, or the next time I use it. But there are a lot of great players that are Americans, and the next GM, or whoever it is constructing the team, will have decisions to make. Whoever they pick, I hope [the team] goes and puts us back on top of the pedestal for whatever competition it is.”

Clearly the Bruins hope that as well, since it would be a clear indicator Backes is performing at an elite level a couple of seasons into his five-year, big-money contract with Boston.

Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes


Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes

The Patriots opened a roster spot by waiving defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, but they won't be adding a quarterback to take his place. 

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the team has swapped one defensive tackle for another by adding former Browns big man John Hughes, a 6-foot-2, 320-pounder who played under former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi when Lombardi was Cleveland's general manager in 2013. 

Hughes was released last week after spending just over four years with the team that drafted him in the third round in 2012. He signed a four-year extension with the Browns last season that was worth $12.8 million. 

With the Patriots, Hughes figures to work in as part of the rotation on the interior of the defensive line along with Malcom Brown, Alan Branch and rookie third-round pick Vincent Valentine. Unlike Johnson, who was more of a penetrating pass-rusher, Hughes should factor in as more of a space-eating type. He has 5.5 career sacks in 53 games. 

Johnson is the latest in a long line of Browns who played under Lombardi to end up in New England. The two most notable Patriots who spent 2013 in Cleveland are defensive end Jabaal Sheard and running back Dion Lewis. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo, who arrived in New England in a trade this summer, was drafted by Lombardi's front office as the No. 6 overall pick in 2013.