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|There haven’t been any championship banners hoisted into Boston’s hallowed rafters since 2008.
LeBron James won’t let go of the rope.
Cleveland’s star has bounced the Celtics from the playoffs four times in the past seven years [url=http://www.billsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-taron-johnson-jersey]http://www.billsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-taron-johnson-jersey[/url] , and James carries a six-game postseason winning streak at Boston into this year’s Eastern Conference finals, which open Sunday at TD Garden.
As a member of both the Miami Heat and Cavaliers, James – whose success against Boston did a 180-degree turn with a mesmerizing Game 6 performance in 2012 – has made the Celtics green(er) with envy.
But while the 33-year-old has the utmost respect for the NBA’s most decorated franchise, James’ admiration hasn’t stopped him from standing in the way of Boston stuffing more Larry O’Brien trophies into its crowded case.
And if he beats the Celtics again and advances to his eighth straight NBA Finals, James would join a club currently exclusive to Boston players with legendary status.
Only Bill Russell (10), Sam Jones (9), Tommy Heinsohn (9) and Frank Ramsey ( have played in more consecutive Finals than James, who said he hasn’t reflected on the possibility of admission to their group.
”I do know that this is my eighth straight conference finals and I have an opportunity to play for a championship if I’m able to be successful in this conference finals, so I don’t take that for granted,” James said Friday. ”You dream about being able to play in big games in the NBA. Even when I got to the NBA that was one of my only goals – to be as great as I can be, to play in big games in the NBA and be remembered – and I think I’ve done that in my career.
”Just trying to add onto it while I can.”
Early in his career, James saw the Celtics as a postseason exit ramp.
The ”Big 3” Boston team featuring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen ousted him and the Cavs in 2008 and 2010, the latter series ending with James famously storming off the floor and pulling off his jersey to foreshadow his free-agent departure later that summer for South Beach.
He avenged that loss the following year in the conference semifinals [url=http://www.bengalsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-preston-brown-jersey]http://www.bengalsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-preston-brown-jersey[/url] , and then in 2012, James had one of his most magnificent postseason exhibitions of his career in Boston. With the Heat down 3-2 in the series, James scored 45 points on 19 of 26 shooting and added 15 rebounds as Miami forced a Game 7 and went on to win consecutive titles.
Since then, he’s 8-1 against the Celtics with a four-game sweep in 2015 and a five-game dusting last year in the conference finals.
James has scored 979 points in 34 playoff games against the Celtics, the most by one player against a single team. And in his past six games on Boston’s parquet, he’s averaging 34.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists.
James has eight playoff wins in Boston, more than all but four current Celtics.
One of them, Jaylen Brown, knows what’s coming.
”Physically, he is more superior than any guy that is on the floor,” Brown said. ”He’s 260-plus pounds. Can run like a gazelle. Athletic. He’s physical. He’s just unstoppable. We gotta be mentally locked in and have a mindset to try and do the best we can. LeBron is top 3, top 5 of all-time. He’s going to do what he does. We just gotta take away the other guys and have a great mindset of mentally being locked in every possession.”
Boston’s notorious crowd is known for rattling opposing players. In the first round, Celtics fans taunted Milwaukee guard Eric Bledsoe with chants of ”Who Is Bledsoe?” after he unwisely made a comment about Celtics playoff phenom Terry Rozier.[img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_tennessee_titans/nike_titans_2773.jpg[/img]
James and his teammates know they’ll have their ears rung as well.
”One of the rowdy environments [url=http://www.authenticsnewyorkgiants.com/cheap-saquon-barkley-jersey]Cheap Saquon Barkley Jersey[/url] ,” Cavaliers forward Kyle Korver said. ”Boston is fun. They have a great crowd. They’re ready to get behind their team. There’s been moments where I’ve been on a team where there’s a decent lead and then they make one shot and the place just erupts. You’re like, `Man, they’re going to come back.’ You just feel it. It’s a great place to play, especially in the playoffs.”
Boston’s roar only seems to strengthen James, who appreciates the passion and pride in the Celtics.
”Just the history, you look up in the rafters and you see all the greats that has either played there or the previous arena they played in,” he said. ”It’s a sports town. You look at the Patriots. You look at the Bruins. You look at the Red Sox. You add them, look at all that history. It’s just a sports town. If you’re not green, they don’t mess with you.”
AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower in Boston contributed to this report.
Case Keenum is joining his fifth team in five years and the Denver Broncos are turning to their fifth quarterback since Peyton Manning retired 24 months ago.
General manager John Elway called Keenum ”a great fit for us” after the sixth-year pro parlayed a breakout year in Minnesota into a two-year, $36 million deal with Denver.
”Along with that experience,” Elway said, ”his leadership and competitiveness are what you look for in a quarterback.”
Elway, by the way, isn’t done looking at quarterbacks.
Elway and coach Vance Joseph were in Norman [url=http://www.authenticsmiamidolphins.com/cheap-jason-sanders-jersey]Jason Sanders Color Rush Jersey[/url] , Oklahoma, checking out Baker Mayfield’s pro day when free agency opened Wednesday. Then they were headed for Los Angeles to watch Josh Rosen’s pro day at UCLA on Thursday.
Also, a person with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press the Broncos were in negotiations Wednesday to trade QB Trevor Siemian to Minnesota, where the Vikings are pursuing free agent Kirk Cousins to be their starter.
The Broncos were busy when free agency opened, keeping linebacker Todd Davis (three years, $15 million); adding cornerback Tramaine Brock (one year, $4 million); finalizing Aqib Talib’s trade to the Los Angeles Rams; and trying to move Siemian, who won the starting QB job in Denver each of the last two years.
Keenum is expected to sign his deal Thursday, giving the 30-year-old journeyman the big payday that’s long eluded him and taking the pressure off Elway to use the fifth overall pick in the draft next month on a quarterback.
It’s no guarantee, however, that Elway won’t still use that pick on a QB.
Besides Mayfield and Rosen, other high-profile fixes for franchises with quarterback quandaries such as Denver’s include Wyoming’s Josh Allen, USC’s Sam Darnold, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.
Coming off a career-changing season [url=http://www.newyorkyankeesteamshop.com/authentic-clint-frazier-jersey]Clint Frazier New York Yankees Jersey[/url] , Keenum was widely considered the second-most attractive veteran QB on the market behind Cousins. And he is a player the Broncos know well because Gary Kubiak, now the Broncos’ senior personnel adviser, had him for two seasons while Kubiak was head coach of the Houston Texans.
”Case is perfect for our team, both as a player and as a person,” said Joseph, who also worked for the Texans. ”He’s playing the best football of his career right now and has gotten better with every opportunity he’s had. Being around him in Houston, Case is a tremendous person and teammate with strong leadership skills and a terrific work ethic. He’ll be great in our locker room.”
Keenum, who made $2 million last year, went 11-3 in place of an injured Sam Bradford, leading the Vikings to the NFC championship game.
He threw for more than 3,500 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His signature moment was that last-second 61-yard touchdown toss to Stefon Diggs that stunned the Saints 29-24 in the playoffs.
The Broncos haven’t been back to the playoffs since Manning retired following Denver’s 24-10 triumph over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 two years ago.
They’ve cycled through Mark Sanchez, Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch, while going a combined 14-18.
The Broncos [url=http://www.authenticsbaltimoreravens.com/cheap-mark-andrews-jersey]Mark Andrews Color Rush Jersey[/url] , coming off a 5-11 season, were considered an early front-runner to land Cousins. Minnesota, however, had a sparkling stadium, new state-of-the-art training facility, stacked roster and coaching stability to offer him, while the Broncos’ main magnet was Von Miller.
Even though he issued a public plea for Cousins to join him in Denver, Miller is welcoming Keenum to town .
”Looks/Feels right to me!” Miller said in an Instagram post on Tuesday. ”We got what we were looking for! Franchise QB that’s the perfect fit for DENVER! (at)johnelway with the deep 3 pointer! Like always! Leeettttss Goooo!!! (at)casekeenum7 (at)casekeenum7 Time for me to hold up my end of the deal now!”
Notes: The Broncos placed second-round tenders on two restricted free agents: C Matt Paradis and OLB Shaq Barrett. They declined to offer a tender to WR Bennie Fowler III.