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Ime Udoka calls out Celtics after collapse vs. Knicks: ‘It’s a lack of mental toughness’

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Things haven’t gone super smoothly for Ime Udoka during his first season as coach of the Boston Celtics. Nearly midway through the season, the Celtics are three games below .500 (18-21) and they currently sit outside of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. On Thursday night, the Celtics blew a 25-point lead to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, and lost the game, 108-105, after a RJ Barrett sank a contested triple at the buzzer. 

Boston’s collapse in New York wasn’t an anomaly. The Celtics have blown four separate leads of at least 19 points this season, which is the most in the entire NBA, and after the loss to the Knicks, Udoka called out the team as a whole for handling adversity poorly. 

“I think it’s a lack of mental toughness to fight through those adverse times,” Udoka said, via ESPN. “To your point, it’s across the board. It’s a turnover here, a bad shot here, a missed defensive assignment here, and several missed rebounds tonight. So it’s a lot of different things. And then, like I said, a calming presence to slow it down and get us what we want is really what you need at that point. And sometimes we all get caught up in it.”  

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The Celtics scored just 42 total points in the second half against the Knicks on Thursday night, and they appeared to play tighter as the Knicks started to chip away at Boston’s substantial advantage on the scoreboard. Shots weren’t falling for the Celtics, while the Knicks — and especially Evan Fournier, who exploded for a career-high 41 points  — seemed to hit everything on the other end. 

“It’s guys getting rattled when it’s not the end of the world,” Udoka added of the Celtics’ struggles. “You still have a 12-point, comfortable lead, and you gotta end that run. We have to understand time and score, and we need a solid shot and not just get caught up in the game. You have to play the game different in the first quarter than the fourth quarter. Different when the team is going on the run and when you’re getting stops and getting out running.” 

Some of this obviously falls on Udoka, who is experiencing some legitimate growing pains as a rookie head coach. If a team is consistently having trouble getting good looks down the stretch of games, it’s up to the coach to settle things down and put his players in a position to succeed. Clearly, Udoka hasn’t done that well. Plus, his offensive approach shows a lack of imagination at times, with many possessions built on isolations and 3-point attempts. 

It’s not all on Udoka, though. Boston’s roster is inherently flawed as currently constructed. It lacks floor-spacing and high-level point guard play, and in turn the team is overly reliant on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown — two players that operate in a similar manner on the offensive end. Both players are extremely talented, but they haven’t proven to be ideal complements for each other. Often, it looks like they just take turns playing one-on-one against their defender on the offensive end. 

Boston has been hesitant to trade either player, but it might be time for the team to at least consider shaking things up in a major way. Otherwise, there’s no immediate answer for Boston. It’s never a good sign when a coach is publicly calling out his team. 



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Biggest MLB stars suspended for PEDs: Fernando Tatis Jr. joins Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, more on list

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Friday night, a shockwave was sent through the baseball world when Major League Baseball announced San Diego Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for Clostebol, a performance-enhancing drug. The 80-game suspension begins immediately. Tatis will miss the final 48 games of 2022 and the first 32 games of 2023.

“We were surprised and extremely disappointed to learn today that Fernando Tatis Jr. tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Prevention and Treatment Program and subsequently received an 80-game suspension without pay,” read a statement by the Padres. “We fully support the Program and are hopeful that Fernando will learn from this experience.”

Between the offseason motorcycle accident that broke his wrist and this PED suspension, Tatis will miss the entire season and go roughly 20 months between appearances in an MLB game when he returns next season. The 23-year-old who’s finished in the top four in the NL MVP voting twice already is in the second year of his 14-year, $340 million contract extension.

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Needless to say, this is a shocker, and Tatis is certainly one of the biggest stars to be suspended for PEDs. Here are 10 other big name players who have been suspended for banned substances, listed alphabetically.

Suspended: 65 games in July 2013

In December 2011, Braun was suspended 50 games for PEDs, though he was able to get the suspension overturned through an appeal because the sample’s chain of custody had been broken. Less that two years later, Braun was suspended again, this time for his connections to Biogenesis. Braun was suspended 50 games for PEDs and additional 15 games for his actions during the appeals process of the original suspension. He later admitted to lying and using PEDs during his 2011 NL MVP season.

Suspended: 50 games in August 2012

If nothing else, Cabrera undoubtedly has the most ridiculous PED defense. He created a fake website pushing a fake product that he said led to a positive test inadvertently. It did not fool MLB’s investigators. Cabrera was an All-Star the year he was suspended and would have won the NL batting title, though he withdrew his name from the race. “I have no wish to win an award that would be tainted. I believe it would be far better for someone more deserving to win,” Cabrera said at the time.

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Suspended: 80 games in May 2018 and 162 games in November 2020

Unlike some other players in this post, there is no wild story to Canó’s suspension(s). He was suspended in May 2018, served it, was suspended again in November 2020, and he served that too. There was no nasty appeals process or anything like that. Canó was traded in the offseason immediately following his first suspension, however. Still hard to believe another team wanted a declining 36-year-old player owed big money and coming off a PED suspension.

Suspended: 50 games in August 2012

Colon missed all of 2010 with arm problems, resurfaced with the Yankees in 2011, then joined the Athletics as a free agent in 2012. He took responsibility for the failed test and went on to spend another seven years in the big leagues as a journeyman starter.

Suspended: 50 games in August 2013

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A total of 13 players were suspended in 2013 as part of the Biogenesis scandal, and Cruz — an All-Star that season and a year away from becoming a consistent 40-homer threat — was among them. Cruz did have to settle for a one-year contract as a free agent after the 2013 season, however.

Jenrry Mejia

Suspended: 80 games in April 2015, 162 games in July 2015, and a lifetime ban in February 2016

Mejia was not a big name player, but he deserves a mention here because he was the first — and is still the only — player to be hit with a lifetime ban as a result of a third positive PED test. And the thing is, Mejia was hit with his second suspension while he was serving his first, and he was hit with his third suspension when he was still serving his second. Now, lifetime bans aren’t always lifetime bans. Mejia was quietly granted reinstatement in July 2018, though he has not pitched in an MLB game since 2015. He is still active and is currently pitching in the Mexican League.

Rafael Palmeiro

Suspended: 10 days in August 2005

The first star player to be suspended for PEDs, Palmeiro was hit with his suspension less than five months after sitting in front of a Congressional panel and saying: “I have never used steroids. Period.” The suspension came less than a month after Palmeiro became the fifth player to reach the milestones of 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. Palmeiro’s suspension also shows how far the penalties have come. He was suspended only 10 days. Now, first-time offenders get 80 games.

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Manny Ramirez

Suspended: 50 games in May 2009 and 100 games in April 2011

Ramirez was not the first player to be suspended twice for PEDs — Neifi Pérez was suspended 25 games in July 2017 and then 80 games in August 2007 — but he was certainly the first big star to be suspended for PEDs twice. Manny was with the Rays and voluntarily retired following the second suspension and later agreed to a reduced 50-game ban in December 2011, though it is technically still pending. Should Ramirez, now 50, attempt a comeback, he’ll have to serve the suspension before being activated by an MLB team. Manny played in the minors in 2012, in Taiwan in 2013, and in the minors again in 2014.

Alex Rodriguez

Suspended: 162 games in 2014

A-Rod never actually failed a PED test. He did admit to using PEDs during his time with the Texas Rangers, then he was suspended following MLB’s investigation into Biogenesis in August 2013. A-Rod was originally suspended 214 games (the rest of the 2013 season and all of 2014), though he got it reduced to 162 games through appeal. Rodriguez went scorched earth during the appeals process and threatened to sue MLB, the MLBPA, the Yankees, the commissioner, you name it. He never did follow through on the lawsuits, however. At the time the 162-game PED suspension was the longest in MLB history.

Miguel Tejada

Suspended: 105 games in August 2013

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Tejada, the 2002 AL MVP, tested positive for amphetamines, not testosterone or a hardcore anabolic steroid. Amphetamines were not always banned and were once common in big league clubhouses. Under the policy at the time, the first positive test for an amphetamine effectively came with a warning. The second brought a 25-game suspension and the third an 80-game suspension. Tejada had previously tested positive for an amphetamine, and he tested positive for the second and third time with the Royals in 2013. The 25-game and 80-game bans together equal 105 games. Tejada never played in the big leagues again after being suspended.



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Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado crush home runs to give the Cardinals the win

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Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado blast home runs to give the St. Louis Cardinals the win over the Milwaukee Brewers.



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Zach Wilson to undergo an MRI after suffering knee injury in Jets’ first preseason game

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Jets second-year quarterback Zach Wilson departed New York’s preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles after suffering a knee injury. With over four minutes to play in the first quarter, Wilson took a first-and-10 snap from New York’s 40-yard line and scrambled out right. As he turned upfield, Wilson tried to make a cut towards the middle of the field to shake loose a would-be tackler and went down awkwardly. 

He initially was helped up by a teammate and had a noticeable limp. Wilson was then sent to the locker room for further evaluation and the Jets officially ruled him questionable to return with a knee injury. Wilson did not return to the game, and afterwords, Jets coach Robert Saleh told reporters that Wilson will undergo an MRI on Saturday. 

Given that this is merely an exhibition, it wouldn’t be surprising for the team to keep him sidelined for the rest of the game even if he is healthy enough to go. This injury does have some room for concern, however, because it doesn’t appear like Wilson was touched as he went down to the field. And anytime there’s a non-contact injury, it should leave the team holding its breath. 

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Prior to the injury, Wilson wasn’t off to a hot start. On the Jets’ opening drive of the evening, he threw a poor interception to Eagles linebacker Kyzir White on a pass intended for Corey Davis. Wilson completed three of his five passes for 23 yards and that pick before going down. 

The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft is entering his sophomore season after a rocky rookie campaign. In 13 games, he completed just 55.6% of his passes for 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. 





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