First Cup: Wednesday

  • Linda Robertson of The Miami Herald: "The announcement was ominous: Dwyane Wade, strained right hamstring. Will not return. That is, the linchpin and soul of the new Miami Heat would not return for Tuesday's preseason opener against the Detroit Pistons. When he will return is unknown. Hamstrings are the recalcitrant divas of the muscle set, and often require extra coddling, stroking and pleading to attain cooperation. Wade could very well be good as new in a couple of weeks, but the sight of him limping off the AmericanAirlines Arena court barely three minutes into the game elicited a murmur from the festive crowd. Panic? No. Concern? Yes. Here, on the first night of the anticipated odyssey to an NBA championship, the Heat and its fans got a glimpse of the dreaded disaster scenario. What if one of the Big Three goes down with an injury? What if Wade, LeBron James or Chris Bosh winds up on the bench wearing a suit and tie? 'Heat fans have seen me play a long time and they will get a lot of time to see the Big Three,' Wade said after the game, explaining that he had a pulled hamstring. 'I'd rather have it now than have it later.' ... What would happen if the Heat's Big Three was reduced to the Terrific Two? What if this amazing coalition of talent and togetherness was derailed by bad luck? What if the sun didn't come up tomorrow or if Santa Claus retired or the Louvre closed its doors? Let's not think about it unless we have to."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "Their chance for a championship might have dimmed, but basketball is not dead at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavaliers kicked off their new era of basketball without LeBron James on Tuesday in an 87-72 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats in the preseason opener for both teams. 'It's home,' Cavs forward Jamario Moon said. 'It's never strange to go home. We were anxious to get in here and show people basketball is still alive in Cleveland.' Three familiar faces stood out for the Cavs: J.J. Hickson, Daniel "Boobie" Gibson and Moon. Held out of the starting lineup by Coach Byron Scott, Hickson more than made up for lost time with 17 points and nine rebounds. There were also positive vibes coming from Gibson, given new life by the coaching change. He fired in a game-high 18 points, was 10 of 10 from the foul line and hauled in four rebounds. But he dished out just one assist in 27 minutes."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "On John Wall's welcome to the NBA, the man formerly known as Agent Zero was welcomed back. Wall had 21 points and nine assists in 37 minutes and Gilbert Arenas added 12 points. Lester Hudson hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 2.5 seconds remaining. Afterward, the enigmatic Arenas offered a puzzling explanation of his new role with the Wizards. 'I'm out there to hit open shots. Teach John the ins-and-outs of the game and eventually go on and move on. And I'm on my way,' he said, hinting that he could be moved before his contract expires in 2014. 'This is the NBA, there are few players that stay in the same city. Right now, the city is John's. I'm not here to fight anybody. I'm here to just play alongside of him. He's Batman and I'm Robin. I'm moving aside so he can become a star.' Arenas hadn't played in an NBA game since January and might have been uncertain about the reception he would receive on the road following his 50-game suspension last season for bringing guns to the team's Verizon Center locker room. ... Asked after the game about what his emotions were, Arenas said, 'I lost all feeling a long time ago.' "

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "The NBA has instituted a new dress code for coaches this year, requiring them to wear collared shirts during games. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy -- perhaps the biggest fan of mock turtlenecks in Central Florida -- abided by the rule Tuesday night. Van Gundy wore a black, short-sleeve polo shirt under a gray blazer and dark pleated pants. He wore the same outfit on occasion last year. 'I've got to have a collar on every shirt,' he said, a smile on his face. 'I don't think that's onerous by any means.' "

  • Woody Paige of The Denver Post: "Before a sparse gathering of 2,904 -- which is typical for a Nets home game -- in Broomfield, which is about as close to downtown Denver as Newark is to midtown Manhattan, off the Boulder Turnpike, somewhat similar to the New Jersey Turnpike, only with more family restaurants and less garbage, Carmelo Anthony's team was touched upon for 123 points and lost. 'Please stay, Melo,' a young man in the arena begged. (Sources couldn't confirm if the young man was Nuggets quasi-owner Josh Kroenke.) 'Say it ain't so, Melo,' I asked, in the manner of a 1919 waif in Chicago. Carmelo answered with a handshake and a smile. He had his game-smile on. We were all having fun on a night when the Nuggets brought their inner-city game to the outer suburb for a real-live, full-court, keep-score intrasquad scrimmage. After a tumultuous offseason in Denver, there was joy in Broomfield on Tuesday as the Nuggets put on their dress blues and played each other. The Nuggets defeated the Nuggets 123-118. ... The Nuggets did a swell thing holding their 'official' intrasquad scrimmage in Broomfield before Friday night's exhibition opener at The Can. The Nuggets brought their actual court, their cheerleaders, their 'Rocky,' their shooting touch, their new brain trust and coach George Karl (who sat quietly off to the side) to the Broomfielders. The Broomfield Center -- The Sweep, as it were -- certainly is better than that arena in Newark -- and closer to the action. And only one person in the place booed when Melo was introduced. He must not have gotten the memo."

  • Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: "Andrew Bynum might be forced to play limited minutes as a career situational player if he suffers one more serious knee injury, Coach Phil Jackson said Tuesday. Bynum has experienced knee problems the last three years, each injury different but nonetheless representing a pattern that has forced Jackson to contemplate the big picture. It wasn't overly rosy. 'We're hopeful that this is the time he's able to start playing consistently through a season,' Jackson said. 'If not, we're going to have to look at Andrew as a short-minute guy, somebody like Yao Ming who's going to be limited in the amount of minutes he plays.' Yao, 30, will be limited to 24 minutes a game this season for the Houston Rockets, and sometimes won't play the second night of back-to-back situations, to prevent further bone-related injuries that have cost him significant parts of the last five seasons."

  • Geoff Calkins of The Commercial-Appeal: "The Grizzlies are going to win 55 games and make the playoffs this season. How do I know this? I heard Harold Collins, the Memphis City Council member, guarantee it Tuesday night. 'We will win 55-plus games,' he said. 'We will be in the playoffs.' So that's settled. Although, I'd have a slight bit more confidence if Collins didn't also say how proud he was this summer watching Marc Gasol play for the Brazilian national team. 'Spain!' someone yelled. Hey, who can possibly tell all those crazy soccer-loving countries apart? And why let a small error like that spoil a shindig that's been 10 years in the making? The Grizzlies had a birthday party at FedExForum on Tuesday night. What, you were expecting it to be at Chuck E. Cheese? ... So here's to 55-plus wins, as promised. Here's to Gasol having a big enough year for two countries. Here's to a season that lives up to the party. Happy Birthday, Grizzlies. Now win."

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "Tim Duncan knows he is getting old. His closet, metaphorically speaking, is full of knee braces. The 34-year-old power forward has three he keeps 'in rotation.' The one he used last season to stabilize his chronically sore left knee is literally in the shop. He's got a new one he's trying out during training camp. If he so desired, Duncan could coordinate knee braces the way Paris Hilton coordinates purses. 'I have a plethora of braces,' Duncan said, 'depending on what my outfit is that day.' It is doubtful Paris would have used the word 'plethora.' Duncan's rotating knee braces -- the equivalent of a businessman's tie rack -- are one way of measuring the fragility of the Spurs' championship window. The Spurs are only a championship contender so long as Duncan remains some semblance of an All-Star. ...T here is a chance this could Duncan's 14th season could be his last. The final year of his contract could get wiped out by a lockout next season. If that happens, would he really want to return for another go-round at age 36? Duncan said recently he aims to keep playing 'till the wheels fall off.' His closet of knee braces aren't just keeping him upright this season. They could be keeping him in the NBA."

  • Hayley Mick of the Globe and Mail: "The shoes on DeMar DeRozan’s feet at the Toronto Raptors’ first preseason game on Wednesday will be as flashy as his dunks. Red, black, yellow? He isn’t naming the colour just yet. But his strut -- not the wild shoes he’s promising to wear -- is what’s really drawing attention to the 22-year-old as he enters his second NBA season. Head coach Jay Triano said DeRozan’s increased confidence is the natural byproduct of hard work. His teammate and buddy, Sonny Weems, says he’s 'come out of his shell' after his rookie year. But DeRozan, for his part, said the swagger he developed growing up in Compton, Calif., never left. “You could always tell a Compton person from an L.A. person. Everybody’s swag was different. How you carried yourself was different. 'It was an adjustment last season but I think a lot of games I really did play well. I think my Compton swag was out there.' "

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "The Thunder ranked 14th in scoring a year ago with a 101.5-point average. The team's 46.4 percent field-goal shooting also ranked 14th. And Oklahoma City ranked in the bottom third of the league in 3-point shooting, assists and turnovers. Scott Brooks, however, said he hasn't revamped his system, which is heavily dependent on players reading and reacting to defenses by using principles such as spacing, screens, cuts and ball movement. Knowing his season-ending nine-man rotation last year still averages only 23.7 years in age, Brooks is optimistic that another year together will lead to natural improvement. 'We are a defensive team and we have to score off our defense,' Brooks said. 'That's what we always talk about and that's how we have to be built. With that being said, offense can improve. It can improve with just the trust factor of each other. We have terrific playmakers and they just have to continue to make plays and make the right plays.' "

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Unaware of the NBA dress code for players while walking from the bus to the locker room -- a trip that in Hidalgo covered about 50 feet -- Rockets rookie Patrick Patterson did some shopping for a nicer shirt before his first preseason game. That is not easy for someone with a 7-1 wingspan. 'I went to two different spots,' Patterson said. 'They didn't have anything that would fit, but said to try the New York Shop. I thought it would be some nice, fancy stuff. I get there and it says, 'New York Western Shop.' We walk in and there's cowboy boots, belts, buckles all over the place. One little section on the wall had nice shirts. 'The shirts that I saw hanging up, cowboy shirts, I know my teammates would have given me so much stuff if I wore a cowboy shirt.' "

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "Tony Parker has a better appreciation for what his wife, actress Eva Longoria, endures during her career. Parker joked that he was still tired after a long practice on Monday, followed up with a long after shooting H-E-B commercials that will be shown during the Spurs' game telecasts. 'I was just trying to make it through today after the long day yesterday with the three-hour practice and the six-hour shoot with the H-E-B stuff,' Parker said. 'I was just trying to make it through today.' Parker joked that he hoped to play only about five minutes in the Spurs' preseason opener Thursday night in Houston, but Gregg Popovich will undoubtedly have him in the lineup longer than that. Bet on it."

  • Rich Thomaselli of Advertising Age: It was just a small blurb in Sports Illustrated magazine's 'By the Numbers' section two weeks ago: '$155 million -- Income generated by the 20 English Premier League soccer teams this season by selling ad space on their jerseys.' But those 21 words are causing the four major American sports leagues, its corporate partners and even fans to rethink the idea of sponsor patches on team uniforms. 'It's definitely on the horizon,' Mark Cuban, owner of the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks, said in an exchange of e-mails with Advertising Age. 'I think it's more an issue of 'how much' rather than 'if' [it happens].' If the English Premier League can generate $155 million, imagine what the National Football League or the NBA can do. Those are the two sports leagues that have already dipped their respective toes into the sponsorship-on-jerseys debate. ... Mr. Cuban agreed, saying 'Find me a multi-year deal at $10 million or more per year and I will make it happen.' "

  • Joshua Brustein of The New York Times: "The game between the Miami Heat and the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 17 will be broadcast on ESPN’s 3-D network, making it the first N.B.A. game broadcast in 3-D, according to N.B.A. and ESPN officials. The network will show eight regular-season games in 3-D during the 2010-2011 season, and another six in the playoffs. The full schedule, which will be announced Wednesday, includes games in Phoenix, Denver, Orlando, Miami and Atlanta. ESPN said the sites were chosen for their ability to accommodate the extra equipment needed to record and broadcast a game in 3-D. ESPN is trying to build a more extensive schedule of programming on its 3-D network, which has been broadcasting since June. ESPN now shows about one live event a week."