Morning sports update: LeBron James sets the record straight on reporter’s question about Erin Popovich

LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James drives against the Indiana Pacers in the first half of Game 2. –AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Rafael Devers’ first career grand slam powered the Red Sox to a 9-0 win over the Angels, Boston’s 15th victory since losing on Opening Day. The Bruins face the Maple Leafs in Game 4 of their first-round series at 7 p.m Thursday.

LeBron James sets the record straight on reporter’s question about Erin Popovich

Erin Popovich, the wife of San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, passed away Wednesday after an extended illness. In a statement, general manager RC Buford said, “She was a strong, wonderful, kind, intelligent woman who provided love, support, and humor to all of us.”

The news broke during the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 100-97 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 2. After the game, Turner Sports sideline reporter Allie LaForce asked LeBron James about Popovich.

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“I love Pop. That’s such a tragedy,” James said. “My best wishes go out to Pop and his family. That’s devastating news.”

His emotional response led many viewers to believe that LaForce had surprised James on air with the news, and social media was swift to criticize her. But LaForce did not blindside him.

“A lot of people think I was blindsided. That is absolutely false,” James said in a video posted later Wednesday night. “Allie LaForce told me she was going to ask me the question and if it was OK. Once I started talking about it on air, actually my emotions kind of took over and that was just my emotions coming straight from the heart.”

Richard Jefferson says Kyrie Irving left the Cavs to escape LeBron James’ shadow

Richard Jefferson, who played with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James in Cleveland last year, believes that Irving’s decision to leave the team was not the result of a feud between the two. Appearing on Fox Sports One’s “Undisputed,” the Denver Nuggets forward said that Irving simply wanted to be “that guy” instead of the sidekick.

“Kyrie, it wasn’t about ‘Bron,” Jefferson said, per NESN. “Kyrie was about Kyrie achieving the most as he could as an individual player. He feels that, ‘Hey, I enjoyed the role of being a [Scottie] Pippen, but now it’s time for me to go be a [Michael] Jordan and lead a team. You saw how great Boston was all year and how dominant they were when he was healthy. You can see he can be that guy, and he was that guy all regular season. It was just a matter of him doing it in the playoffs, which the injury didn’t allow him.” (NESN)

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What Toronto sports radio is saying about the Bruins, Rene Rancourt, and Nazem Kadri’s hit: On the Toronto airwaves this week, hosts and callers for the most part lived up to the unfailingly polite Canadian stereotype as they discussed the Maple Leafs’ first-round series against the Bruins. That is, until the conversation turned to the “tone deaf” Rene Rancourt. (Boston.com)

Rob Gronkowski buys a stake in namesake Kentucky Derby horse: The Patriots tight end is buying a minority stake in Gronkowski, a three-year-old colt who will race in the Run for the Roses on May 5. Gronkowski (the human) said he hopes to get a ride on the horse but knows his 6-foot-5, 260 pound frame is a far cry from the usual jockey.

“I’m not trying to ride it for a full speed ride,” he said. “I just want to get the feel of what it’s like to be on top of one. Maybe I’ll go for a full speed ride once I get comfortable.” (Boston.com)

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