Felger: Who's hot and who's not

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Felger: Who's hot and who's not

By Michael Felger

A six-pack of hotnot for your viewing pleasure.

HOT

Pat Riley

The more that comes out regarding LeBron James' "decision," the more you realize that if there was any one mastermind in the whole affair, it was the Heat president followed closely by Dewayne Wade.

To me, the most telling detail from Brian Windhorst's terrific story over the weekend involved Riley getting James together with Michael Jordan for a face-to-face meeting last November in Miami. It was after this meeting that James announced he was changing his jersey number from Jordan's 23, saying that all players should do the same out of respect for former Bulls' great.

Was it tampering? Not technically. Riley was just arranging a dinner between two people in his circle. Riley reportedly feels that more modern players should pay "homage" to Jordan and that was the deal. Presumably, it had nothing to do with James joining the Heat.

But the fact that James renounced Jordan's number so dramatically THAT NIGHT shows you that Riley had gained entre into James' decision-making process. Riley became a broker of sorts, laying the foundation for what was to come eight months later.

Perhaps Riley got sick of watching Phil Jackson further cement himself in Los Angeles. Maybe Riley got nostalgic watching all the Celtics-Lakers stuff the last few years. But it's clear the former Lakers coach wanted back in the game.

And so he is.

NOT

LeBron James

Duh. I happen to think James is getting more heat than is warranted (he couldn't win, regardless of where he decided to go and how he decided to do it), but there's no question he took a tremendous hit last Thursday night. And it will only get worse until he wins a championship. Just ask A-Rod. Or Kobe (post-Shaq).

The irony is that James is merely fulfilling the destiny David Stern created. Stern's league values the individual over the team. It cares more about the show than the substance. So it was really just a matter of time before a guy like James came along. You think Stern is disgusted by what he saw last Thursday? Au contraire. It's his new model.

HOT

David Ortiz

He was right and we were wrong. Simple as that. We take everything back.

Unless he craps the bed in the second half, of course. Then we were right all along.

NOT

Jacoby Ellsbury

Ok, Jacoby. We got it. The ribs were broken, not bruised. There was a broken rib in back that the team missed. We believe you.

But we also believe you when you say all the broken ribs were suffered in that initial collision with Adrian Beltre on April 11. And that means it's taken you 13 weeks (and counting) to recover from an injury that usually takes around 4-6.

From a PR standpoint, I think you would have been better off saying you suffered that posterior break when you returned May 22 in Philadelphia. Then we'd be able to reset the clock from that time and say you've now missed only seven weeks (and counting) since you cracked another rib.

But, apparently, you're more interested in showing people you got shoddy treatment from the Sox' medical staff. And saying the Sox missed the initial break makes them look worse no doubt about it.

There's only one problem with that: It makes you look worse, too.

Thirteen weeks (and counting), Jacoby.

HOT

Soccer

Television ratings for the World Cup were up across the board this summer, with Sunday's Spain-Netherlands final ending up as the most-watched soccer match in U.S. history. Here in Boston, the game beat the Red Sox in terms of households and crushed the Sox in the unofficial category of eyeballs, since so many people watched the soccer in bars or as part of viewing parties.

To me, the numbers represent, for the first time in decades, legitimate traction for the sport here in the states.

NOT

U.S. Soccer

And the Americans failed to take advantage of it.

Making the knockout round got our attention (the U.S.-Ghana game stands as the second-most watched game in U.S. history), and then came the letdown. American soccer could have used one more win, one more week of build up.

So what if more people were interested in the patriotism than the sport? They had us. And they blew it.

E-mail Felger HERE and read his mailbag on Thursday. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.