Wakeup Call: LeBron set what record??

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Wakeup Call: LeBron set what record??

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, February 13:

BASEBALL
Let's go for another ride down Denial River: Gio Gonzalez says he's never taken PEDs and has no connection with the Miami clinic suspected of dealing them . . . (CSN Washington)

. . . and that goes double for Jesus Montero. (AP)

Joe Girardi insists that stashing A-Rod -- another guy who, I'm sure, never heard of PEDs and the Bosch Clinic -- in New York during his rehab from hip surgery has nothing to do "with trying to get rid of a distraction". In the classic words of Jim Gosger from the brilliant book Ball Four: Yeah, suuurrre. (AP)

Old friend Hideki Okajima thinks that, "with enough preparation and training," he'll be able to beat out some of these young guys for a spot in the A's bullpen. (CSN Bay Area)

And another old friend, Carl Crawford, is just about to face live pitching and says he's "confident" he'll be ready for Opening Day. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Crawford's new team was dissed by the Giants' Brandon Belt -- who, when asked about the Dodgers' profligate spending, replied, "All I can say is, you can't buy team chemistry" -- and Belt says he's "getting killed" for his remarks. (CSN Bay Area)

At last, it's a done deal for King Felix and the Mariners. (AP)

And now Hernandez has a new teammate: Joe Saunders. (Hardball Talk)

It's also a done deal for Mat Latos and the Reds. (AP)

And Brandon Inge and the Pirates. (Hardball Talk)

Rolen-to-English translation: Scott Rolen probably wants to play in 2013. Just not in Cincinnati. (AP)

Not a real good sign for the Mets when closer Frank Francisco -- shut down last September 16 because of elbow inflammation -- rests all winter, and then says the elbow still hurts on the first day of spring training. (AP)

Ryan Madson's going for an MRI to examine the elbow pain Mike Scioscia wasn't worried about yesterday. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
No. 25 Kentucky gets schooled by No. 7 Florida . . . (AP)

. . . but the far bigger concern is the knee injury suffered by the Wildcats' freshman center, Nerlens Noel, which, as you'll see in the video attached to the story, doesn't look good. At all. And without Noel, the defending national champs are going nowhere. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

What the injury does to Noel's career is even more worrisome, especially since Florida's Patric Young called it "gruesome" and Kentucky coach John Calipari said, "I'm physically sick for Noel right now." (Yahoo! Sports)

Another high-profile smackdown: No. 8 Michigan State wallops No. 4 Michigan by 23. (AP)

Makes you think we should reevaluate how we view the Wolverines, doesn't it? (College Basketball Talk)

Rutgers women's coach C. Vivian Stringer is denied her 900th career victory in a last-second loss at DePaul, and says she hopes she reaches the milestone soon because "it's a heck of a lot of burden and stress." (AP)

The center on Penn's 1979 Final Four team is stabbed to death in his sleep by his wife, who said she did it because she caught him looking at what she called child pornography on the Internet and "I had to do it." (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Nice program ya got there, Nick. (AP)

Sources say the reshuffled Big East is about to sign a footballbasketball deal with the NBC Sports Network. (AP)

GOLF
Last weekend's win at Pebble Beach was another sign that Brandt Snedeker is emerging as the next American star. (AP)

The new star, however, won't participate in the Match Play Championship because of sore ribs. (AP)

Michelle Wie was once the rising star of women's golf. But after the worst year of her career in 2012, she's revamping her game and will try to get back on track this weekend in the Women's Australian Open, which kicks off the 2013 LPGA season. (AP)

Wie and Snedeker both made names for themselves as youngsters in the U.S. Amateur Public Links. Now, however, the U.S. Golf Association -- saying it's following a trend that's being set at the local and regional levels -- is getting rid of the Publinx in favor of a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. (AP)

HOCKEY
The Canadiens blow another third-period lead, but Carey Price saves them in the shootout. (AP)

Not sure I would have put much money down last night on the Hurricanes, since they were ending a six-game road trip playing their second game in two nights, and against the scorching Devils to boot. But that's why I don't bet. (AP)

Think Bobby Loo is still available? (AP)

New Blue Jackets head honcho John Davidson said he had "a gut feeling" that he had to fire general manager Scott Howson . . . so he did. (AP)

And it looks like his gut is telling him to hire Jarmo Kekalainen as Howson's replacement. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

OLYMPICS
The IOC tells wrestling "It's not you, it's me" as the reason why it's dropping the sport, which has been contested in every Olympics except one since 1896. (NBC's Olympic Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
So LeBron James has the new record for consecutive games with 30 points and 60 percent shooting? Who figures out this stuff? (AP)

Plain old 100 percent isn't good enough for Derrick Rose. No, no, he's not coming back until he's "110 percent" recovered from his knee injury. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Delonte West was picked up by the Texas Legends of the D-League on Jan. 25, but he still hasn't reported. (AP)

Who would've thought the Lakers could win a game when Kobe Bryant scored only four points? (AP)

James Harden plays through the pain of an injured right ankle and leads the Rockets past the Warriors . . . (AP)

. . . but it doesn't look like he'll be playing through it tonight. (CSN Houston)

Speaking of the Rockets, there may be a happy ending to the Royce White story, after all. (AP)

Temper, temper, Kevin! (AP)

And because we all miss Bob Lobel: Why can't we get players like that?!? (AP)

Lou Amundson is drawing lots of interest on the trade market. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Surprised that the Sixers are still in the playoff race? So are they. (CSN Philly)

PRO FOOTBALL
Well, as long as he needed the money for something important. (AP)

Chip Kelly's first move as Eagles coach: Shift to a two-back system. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

SOCCER
The prestige of the English Premier League may be at stake today when Manchester United goes against Real Madrid. (NBC's Pro Soccer Talk)

TENNIS
Rafael Nadal to the ATP: You don't care about us. (AP)

Andy Roddick's coming out of retirement . . . sort of. (AP)

Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

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Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Pinpointing the exact moment Al Horford made up his mind to become a Boston Celtics isn’t clear, but the seeds of that decision can be traced back to last year’s playoffs – and no we’re not talking about the playoff series between Boston and Atlanta, either.
 
It was the Hawk’s second-round playoff series back in May against Cleveland, a team that swept them out of the Conference finals in 2015 and did so again last about five months ago.
 
Horford had every intention of returning to Atlanta, but as the free agency period wore on two things became quite clear: Winning an NBA title would have to go through Cleveland and it happening with him in Atlanta was becoming more and more unlikely.
 
In came the Celtics with a pitch that was heavy on present-day and down-the-road potential that wouldn’t require him to do anything other than continue to play the way he has for the past nine seasons.
 
“It (becoming a Celtic) became real for me real late and real quick,” Horford told CSNNE.com on Wednesday.
 
After mulling it over for a couple days, Horford said he was ready to become a Celtic.
 
“This could be a great opportunity even though I’m leaving a lot behind,” Horford said.
 
As you listen to Horford speak, it’s clear that the Celtics mystique played a role in his decision to sign with Boston.

 But as much as the Celtics’ lore and its on-the-rise status helped, there were certain events that Boston had no control over that actually helped their cause.
 
First the Hawks got in on a three-team trade in June with Utah and Indiana which sent Hawks All-Star point guard Jeff Teague to the Pacers while Atlanta received Utah’s first-round pick which was 12th overall and was used by Atlanta to select Baylor’s Taurean Prince. The move allowed Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder to slide over into the now-vacant starting point guard position.
 
While it may help Atlanta down the road, it did little to move them closer towards knocking off Cleveland anytime soon.
 
And then there was the Hawks coming to terms on a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Dwight Howard early in the free agency period. That deal coupled with Atlanta’s desire to bring Kent Bazemore back, cast serious doubt as to whether Horford would return.
 
Horford, who inked a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston, told CSNNE.com that at the time of Atlanta’s deal with Howard, he was still open to the idea of returning.
 
But if Horford did, he knew figuring out the best way to play him, Howard and Paul Millsap who by the way has a player option that he’s likely to exercise which would make him a free agent next summer, was not going to be easy.

“It was definitely going to be different,” Horford said, then adding, “For me, the Celtics were becoming more and more a realistic option. After talking with my family, we felt this was the best for me.”
 
And while it’s still very early in his tenure as a Celtic, Horford has no regrets or second thoughts about his decision.
 
“As a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
 
And that alone makes him a good fit with this franchise which from ownership to the front office to the coaching staff and of course the players, are all focused on one thing and that’s bringing home Banner 18.
 
 “Look at the resume. He’s been a winner wherever he’s played,” said Boston’s Amir Johnson. “It’s good to have a guy like that, with his talent and with his winning, playing next to you.”