First Cup: Wednesday

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "With the door to the NBA that swung open nine years ago closed to him, Yao Ming on Wednesday chose 'a new life.' Yao announced his retirement in a ceremony and news conference in Shanghai, citing the repeated injuries to his left foot and ankle. 'At the end of the last year, my left foot had a third fracture,' Yao said. 'Today, I need to make a personal decision. I will stop my basketball career and I will formally retire. Today, thinking back and thinking of the future, I have been very grateful. First of all, I need to be grateful to basketball. It has brought happiness to many people including myself. Life is my guide. Just follow it and it will open doors. Out of each door, there will be beautiful world outside. Since I am retired, one door is closed. But a new life is waiting for me. I have left the basketball (court), but I will not leave basketball.' He also will not leave Houston, and sent a message to his 'second hometown.' 'I’d like to thank you for giving me a great nine years in my career,' Yao said. 'Nine years ago, I came to Houston as a young, tall, skinny player. An entire city and team changed me to a grown man, not only as a basketball player. I gained my first daughter over there. I feel I’m a Houstonian and I will always be with you.' "

  • Gene Wang of The Washington Post: "Yao has influenced countless Chinese to take an interest in basketball, either picking one up and playing or following his games on television. The NBA averages 30 million Chinese viewers every week, and in 2007, 100 million watched Yao play against Yi Jianlian, at the time a rookie with the Milwaukee Bucks. Last season Yi played for the Wizards. Yao’s popularity was such that despite missing essentially all of last season, he was voted as the starting center in the NBA All-Star Game thanks primarily to fan balloting in China. In 2005, Yao received 2,558,278 all-star votes, breaking the record Michael Jordan had established. Yao’s drawing power has made his financial imprint far-reaching and considerable as well. The NBA has become the most popular American sports league in China thanks largely to Yao, and that devotion has generated rapid economic growth for NBA China. Goldman Sachs valued NBA China at $2.3 billion when it launched in 2008, and its revenues are estimated between $150 and $170 million, according to a Sports Business Daily report last year. It remains unclear how Yao’s departure will affect the NBA’s marketability in China, although a recent poll on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter with more than 21 / 2 times the subscribers, indicated that 57 percent surveyed would stop watching if Yao retired."

  • Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun: "Canadian hoops star Steve Nash recently told the Arizona Republic he’d 'love to play overseas' if NBA players are locked out this fall. Sadly, that doesn’t include playing for Team Canada. And I don’t get that. Nash has turned his backon the national team, yet the media and Canadian basketball fans seem to be okay with it. Yes, he’s put in his time with the Team Canada in years past — at the 2000 Sydney Olympics he led Canada to a solid seventh-place finish. And, yes, he was miffed when Jay Triano was let go as the national team coach in 2005. But if there was ever a perfect time for Captain Canada, as he’s ironically still called, to rejoin the program, it’s now. Think about it. Both his parents are British, and once lived in London, England. Nash adores soccer and his favourite team is Tottenham Hotspur, the English Premier side located in North London. And ... his NBA team, the Phoenix Suns, aren’t going to challenge for an NBA title anytime soon. So wouldn’t competing at the 2012 London Olympics be the perfect swan song for the 37-year-old hoopster?"

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "Derrick Rose indeed is scheduled to join NBA stars for an exhibition in the Philippines this weekend, a source close to the reigning most valuable player confirmed. Though not all players are confirmed, reports out of the Philippines listed Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant as joining Rose. The Los Angeles Times reported players association President Derek Fisher also will play against the Philippine Basketball Association's all-star team and the Smart Gilas national team at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. The agreement calls for a return trip in August, a source said."

  • Janis Carr of The Orange County Register: "With the help of a little photo-doctoring, Tracy McGrady put himself in a Lakers uniform and then asked his Twitter followers 'Yes or No'. What would the Lakers say? For all his talent, McGrady never has achieved the success he seemed destined. Injuries have robbed him of his explosiveness in getting to the rim and after 14 seasons, he no longer can muscle past younger, stronger opponents. T-Mac has averaged 20.4 points per game, 4.6 assists and 5.8 rebounds over the course of his career but the seven-time All-Star hasn’t averaged double figures since the 2008 season. Plus, McGrady needs to dominate the ball in order to shine and that’s not going to happen on the Lakers. He would have to get in line behind Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. But maybe coming off the bench is something he also pictures himself doing in the future. And for the Lakers, a team desperate for bench scoring, maybe they should say yes."

  • Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: "We pored over the minutiae. The Thunder was scheduled to play 15 games across major networks ABC, ESPN and TNT and nine games on NBA TV, an astronomical jump for a team that had been scheduled for only three games when the schedules were released the previous two seasons combined. It was playing the Heat and the Lakers in Sunday home games. It was playing early in the day and late in the evening. Dissecting the whole thing was grand fun. But now? It feels like torture. I mean, I'd love to get excited about the opening weeks of the Thunder's season. It's a gauntlet of games against the likes of the Lakers, the Mavs, the Knicks and the Bulls, and only one of the team's first six games is at home. It should be a fun run of games. But will it be? ... Pore over the schedule if you must. Analyze the matchups. Imagine the possibilities. Just remember that this schedule has an asterisk."

  • Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun: "Leo Rautins, the head coach of the Canadian men’s basketball team, gets so frustrated talking about Matt Bonner that he’s almost at a loss for words. And that’s saying quite a bit. Rautins is, after all, a professional commentator. The fact Bonner, a former member of the Toronto Raptors and current forward with the San Antonio Spurs, has been unsuccessful in procuring his Canadian citizenship, despite getting the ball rolling back in 2008, upsets Rautins to no end. ... The main stumbling block seems to be the fact that Bonner, a native of Concord, N.H., spends most of the year in the United States. But he has no choice. He plays for San Antonio. Rautins said Canada Basketball has tried to make that point to the federal immigration ministry, but to no avail. ... Still, Rautins is optimistic that Bonner’s citizenship will come through in time for the Red Rocket to help Canada qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. There are two qualifying tournaments left for Canada, later this summer in Argentina, and next year at a still unnamed location."

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "With the NBA in the midst of a lockout that has no end in sight, the Drew could be the best chance to see NBA players for some time. ... Oklahoma City All-Star Kevin Durant was the latest NBA player to show up and bring attention to the Drew. Durant's highlights quickly made the rounds on the Internet, as did a video of a player dunking on Pooh Jeter, who played for the Kings last season. ... Jeter's Drew team, which he runs with friend Brandon Heath, includes Tyreke Evans. Omri Casspi played when he was in Los Angeles, and Jeter said Donté Greene will be on his team – known as Da Fam – when he's in town. Jeter said it was a collective effort by NBA players from the greater Los Angeles area to play in the Drew this summer, as well as telling more players to come to Southern California for competitive games. That led to Oklahoma City's James Harden, Washington's Nick Young and Golden State's Dorell Wright being among the regulars. Besides Durant, Ron Artest, Michael Beasley and Evans are among the NBA players who have found good games in South Central."

  • Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: "Andrew Bynum has spent much of his six-year NBA career either in a wheelchair or on crutches because of his numerous knee injuries. But these aren't one of these times, with Bynum finally finishing a season without needing extended off-season treatment on his knees and feeling healthy enough to take some boxing lessons. So there's absolutely no excuse for Bynum, as shown in these photos obtained by NBC4, to double park his black BMW recently across two handicap spots. It wouldn't be surprising if he made some type of forced apology much like the way he did two days after delivering a forearm shove to Dallas guard J.J. Barea, marking the third player to whom he has delivered a cheap shot as they drove into the lane. But Bynum didn't even do that, as he reportedly slammed his car door and drove off when NBC4 questioned him about the allegations. To make matters worse, this isn't the first time Bynum's been caught showing disrespect toward the handicapped spaces that help the physically disabled. The Times' T.J. Simers received an e-mailed photo in May from a reader catching Bynum in the act of parking across a white-and-blue painted handicapped space directly in front of a blue handicapped sign outside a Bank of America in Playa del Rey."

  • Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News: "'My middle name is redundant,' Herb Magee said yesterday as he prepared to take the court that bears his name. 'My other middle name is tedious.' Magee met Evan Turner for the first time last week. They spent most of their time talking, getting to know each other, an introduction to what would happen next. Magee watched Turner shoot - straightaway shots close to the basket, then a step back, a step back, a step back. Watched him do some three-spot shooting - right elbow, foul line, left elbow. Turner never got near the three-point line. ... The Philadelphia University coach hosted Turner for a more serious shooting session yesterday. Turner, who just completed his rookie season, had called him to set up the tutorials. Magee first wanted to see how serious Turner was about it. Once he got his answer, the legendary shooting guru, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame next month, was all in. ... Magee had Turner shoot all those one-handed shots because he wanted to show him he had good form. Wanted him to see the ball go in the basket. The problem is when Turner puts his left hand (or guide hand) on the ball. His left hand flies out the side. It looks as if he is waving to an imaginary crowd in the stands with that hand. The guide hand is just that. It is not supposed to help shoot the ball. Shawn Werdt, a Philly U. assistant, was the rebounder/passer. 'He's essentially shooting with two hands,' Werdt explained. Which is why Turner is spending time with Magee. He can shoot midrange jumpers. He is a terrific free-throw shooter. He just does not have NBA shooting range."

  • Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Lance Allred has a piece of advice for Deron Williams and other NBA players who think they’re going to weather the lockout by signing with and playing for teams overseas: Watch out. Since college, Allred, who played at East High School, the University of Utah and Weber State, has made a living for himself playing basketball on every continent except Antarctica. He’s played in France, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Greece, Ukraine, Croatia, Serbia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Australia, New Zealand, China, Morocco and in Cleveland for the Cavs. When he heard that Williams was headed for Turkey and that he was going to get paid $200,000 a month, Allred’s reaction was … 'I saw that number, and I laughed,' he said. 'Deron could be above the fray with that sort of high-profile signing. That team might not want to have the reputation of not paying him, but that increases the chances that the other players will leave. If Deron gets his money, a lot of other people on that team aren’t going to get theirs.' Allred said he’s taken a poll of his peers playing overseas for the past two years: 'They’re averaging about half of what they were guaranteed to make. … The finances are going to be risky. Always.' A few years ago, Allred signed a deal to play in Italy for $160,000. 'I didn’t receive a dime of it, even though it was FIBA-guaranteed. The team folded two months later. It’s such a crapshoot.' "

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "Nearly three weeks into the NBA's labor lockout, the Timberwolves have laid off between 10 and 12 employees on the operation's business side, a league source said.Those decisions follow the NBA's move last week that reduced 114 employees to save $50 million long term as well as layoffs made by other NBA teams."