First Cup: Thursday

  • Jeff Barker of The Baltimore Sun: "NBA Players Association executive director Billy Hunter said Wednesday that if he 'had to bet on it,' he would wager that the entire 2011-12 season would be wiped out by the lockout. ... The union chief said NBA commissioner David Stern was being limited in negotiations by hard-line owners. 'The circumstances have changed among his constituency,' said Hunter, the executive director since 1996. 'In the last six or seven years, there is a new group of owners to come in who paid a premium for their franchises, and what they're doing is kind of holding his feet to the fire.' Because negotiators are dug in, Hunter said 'something has to happen that both of us can use as leverage to save face.' Asked by a conference attendee whether there would be a 2011-12 season, he replied: 'If I had to bet on it at this moment, I would probably say no.' "

  • Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press: "For his part Wednesday, Lawrence Frank used a lot of buzz phrases -- 'core values,' 'scrapbooks don't matter' -- and Dumars spoke glowingly of his new man, saying he liked his energy, spunk and even his 'swagger.' 'I think someone put something is Joe's water,' Frank said about that last word. It's true, a guy who was once fired from the Nets after losing the first 16 games of the season isn't someone you'd expect to be strutting down the street. But Frank was a good coach before that. He's a confident guy. He was an assistant with a pretty darn good Boston team last year, and there is something to coming back again and again to get it right -- whether it's trying to make the high school team or trying to hire a coach who can win it all. In that way, Frank and the Pistons are a good fit. They're both doggedly determined to find the answer. ... Now he moves to a new neighborhood. One day, Lord willing, he'll have an actual team to coach."

  • Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: "Blake Griffin 2.0 is on the way. Perhaps this will be the motivation that the owners and the players need to end this lockout. A longer break means more time for Big Blake to work on his skills and improve his game.That can't be good news for anyone who has to face this guy. After all, he took the league by storm last season as a newbie. I mean, people knew he was going to be good — he was the national college player of the year in his final season at Oklahoma and the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft — but could anyone have foreseen he'd be this good? What he did this past season was stunning. He transitioned to the NBA with such ease, and yet, he played with such force. The way he got to the basket. The way he blocked shots. The way he dunked. He just destroyed opponents. And he did it relying largely on instinct. ... 'Right now, I'm working on being more of an offensive player,' he said, 'adding more and more skill to my game and also getting smarter, being a better defender and ... being a better leader. Those are all the things you have to bring together to be one of the best.' And here everyone in the league thought Griffin already was one of the best. Be afraid, NBA. Be very afraid."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "It might’ve gotten more hype if the video was readily available, or if Kevin Durant hadn’t decided to drop 66 points at the legendary Rucker Park in Harlem, but Nick Young had his own moment on Sunday when he scored 60 points in a Drew League game in Los Angeles. The video finally surfaced on Tuesday, and the footage is quite impressive, considering the shots that Young got to drop. Young, wearing the No. 0, had 60, and it would have been much more if he was given bonus points for degree of difficuty -- which I sometimes think is his objective. He hit a flurry of fallaway jumpers but his most impressive shot was a leaning, fading bank shot with two defenders contesting. Young’s team, Young Grangers, lost and missed out on the playoffs though. It’s easy to dismiss the performance since it game in a pickup game, where defense is optional, but you have to give a guy some credit when he scores that many points."

  • Patrick M. O'Connell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Former professional basketball player and East St. Louis native Darius Miles was arrested Wednesday at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for allegedly trying to bring a loaded firearm through security, authorities said. Miles, 29, was arrested about 3:30 p.m. after Transportation Security Administration personnel discovered the weapon during an X-ray screening at the airport, according to information from a TSA spokeswoman and a jail official. Miles was arrested by St. Louis airport police, then booked into the St. Louis County jail in Clayton. It was unclear whether the gun was found in luggage or whether Miles was carrying it. The weapon was discovered at the Concourse A checkpoint. Authorities did not say what type of gun was seized. Miles was booked about 8:30 p.m. on suspicion of unlawful use of a weapon, authorities said. He was to be released pending application of a warrant on a formal criminal charge. He was not required to post bail."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Miami's most maligned has offered his support to Florida football's favorite son. Amid criticism from ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge regarding Tim Tebow's potential to emerge as the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Miami Heat forward LeBron James went on the defensive Wednesday night on his Twitter account. 'Tim Tebow will succeed in the NFL,' James posted. 'He's a hard worker, a student of the game, a natural born leader and most of all a WINNER! It takes time and he'll be nice.' James followed up by offering. 'Listened to Merril Hoge today on SC and he was just blasting Tebow. The man hasn't even play a full season and it's only his 2nd year in.' In another post, James said, 'Guys get on that TV and act like they was all WORLD when they played. How 'bout encouraging him and wishing him the best instead of hating!!' "

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: "But working with the children, the real Stan Van Gundy – a down-to-Earth, funny, family-oriented man – showed. He smiled, joked around and gave confidence to the children still learning the fundamentals of the game. Van Gundy has made attempts to bring a jollier attitude to the Magic over the last couple years, but this was Van Gundy at his absolute jolliest. Could he bring some of this extra jolliness to the Magic in one of their most crucial seasons ever? After all, several players – including Howard and Gilbert Arenas – have insinuated that Van Gundy's overbearing attention to detail wore thin at times this season. Don't count on it. 'I never worry about that,' Van Gundy said Wednesday after the camp. 'I understand that whole theory, but I think you need to be repetitive in your teaching, and they need to hear it all the time.' In fact, screaming at players while they're going through drills is part of Van Gundy's coaching style. He doesn't want them to stop moving while he's instructing them because 'it gets boring,' he says. 'Nobody wants to just stand around,' Van Gundy said. 'If you can coach a guy while he's on the fly, or if you can coach a guy while he's stepping off the court, or during the action, it's better.' "

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: "Like most Americans, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was fed up with the government’s protracted fight over the national debt ceiling. Unlike most Americans, Van Gundy wants to do something about it. Van Gundy, who enjoys watching political shows and reading magazines such as Time and Newsweek in his free time, said he’s thought about pursuing a career in politics once he’s done coaching. He isn’t sure what level of politics, but he has seriously considered the possibility. 'I don’t like what’s going on,' Van Gundy said of the recent happenings in Washington, D.C. 'I think sometimes you can sit around and complain. Look, I want to coach for as long as I can. But when that’s done — depending on where my family situation is — yeah, I’d think about it. I certainly would think about it. I’m fed up with the people in our government. Because I’m fed up, instead of complaining about it, I plan to do something about it.' "

  • Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News: "David Stern's decision to refuse a paycheck sounds like a very nice gesture, but I'll write what I wrote last February, after finding out that the commissioner pulled down $23 million in 2009-10: If you make as much as Kobe Bryant does in a season, you can afford to go a year without a paycheck. Probably two. This is not to say that Stern doesn't deserve his eight-figure salary, despite some players taking umbrage with it over the last few days. If his 30 owners think he's worth that much, it's their call. And as Stern was only too happy to point out during an ESPN interview on Tuesday, 'I've made a lot of money for our players over the years.' "

  • Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Here is one thing that both sides should know. Nobody is going to feel sorry for either. And with the NFL back, the NBA faces the prospect of becoming a true afterthought if there is no basketball this year, which more than a few people are forecasting. One NBA agent we talked to says he told his players to prepare for not having basketball the entire year. ... It is strange that so many teams lost money in one of the NBA’s best seasons. Although as the sale of the Golden State Warriors and the impending sale of the Sixers shows, the franchise values continue to skyrocket. Even though the system needs an overhaul, the owners were the ones who gave out the bad contracts. ... Again, nobody forced the owners to make those mistakes. And the fans don’t want to hear about players making an average of more than $5 million a year who don’t want to take a pay cut. Not in this economy or in any economy. So right now, things are awfully grim. And the public at this point has more distaste for both sides, with each increasing lawsuit."

  • Kyle Veazey of The Commercial-Appeal: "A yearlong NBA lockout could send the fund used to pay off FedExForum bonds into the red by 2022, forcing the city and county to make up the difference. The shortfall could reach $10.6 million by 2029, or about $600,000 annually for each government. The lockout was one of three scenarios presented to the Memphis and Shelby County Sports Authority at its Wednesday meeting by Lisa Daniel, managing director at Public Financial Management, the group that advises the authority. The other two scenarios each envisioned an uninterrupted NBA season but a prolonged weak economy -- with projections ranging from a small surplus to a shortfall starting in 2025. ... In all three models, the subordinate bond fund goes into a shortfall in 2015. Subordinate bondholders are paid only after payments are made on senior bonds."

  • Kery Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "Through his 34-year career as an NBA referee, Joey Crawford has developed a reputation among fans, players and the media. Tough guy. Hard-ass. As quick to whistle a technical as Clint Eastwood was to draw the six-shooter in 'High Plains Drifter.' So I’m glad the NBA office is relaxing its grip on the league’s officiating crew and allowing the refs to do more interviews. Underneath Crawford’s gruff exterior is a warm, funny guy with a heart of gold. I’ve known Joey for more than 20 years. By that time, he was firmly established as one of the premier referees in the league. It didn’t take me long to become in awe of how he controlled a game, how much respect he commanded from coaches and players. And, most importantly, how often he got the call right. ... Crawford turns 60 on Aug. 30. He knows the end of his career is coming. ... Crawford says he enjoys doing interviews, if for nothing else than to humanize the position of an NBA referee. 'I wish we could do them every day,' he says. 'People would find out we admit we make mistakes, and that we don’t make them on purpose. And that we’re not bad guys.' Bad guy? The man with the perpetual scowl and the whistle in his mouth is a teddy bear."

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "Dennis Rodman was one of the most interesting players in Spurs history during his tempestuous career with the team. Rodman led the league in rebounding in both seasons with the Sliver and Blac, but also helped account for a loss in the 1995 Western Conference Finals to Houston after a bizarre temper tantrum. He was finished with the franchise after that. Bidders who want to remember 'The Worm' and some of his outlandish wardrobe have a chance to own a piece of history in an auction of some of Rodman’s personal effects set for Monday in Santa Ana, Calif. There are some high-end appliances and electronics, some outlandish pieces of clothing and even some basketball-related memorabalia. One notable piece is his 'Good Hands Award' from November 1995 that was won shortly after his trade to the Chicago Bulls. The slideshow has an interesting montage of connections to Rodman’s unique and unusual life. I’d like to bid on the Dennis Rodman action figure, myself."

  • David Barron of the Houston Chronicle: "Ray Patterson, the longtime Rockets president and general manager who came to Houston in 1972 to spread the audacious idea that professional basketball could succeed in a football state, died Wednesday at his home in Sugar Land. He was 89. Patterson was the Rockets’ chief executive from 1972 through 1990, a period that included trips to the NBA Finals in 1981 and 1986, and watched as they won NBA titles in 1994 and 1995 with a team built in large part by his son, Steve Patterson, who succeeded him as GM. 'Ray Patterson is the Rockets’ franchise,' said Jim Foley, who accompanied Patterson to Houston from Milwaukee in the early 1970s. 'There would not be a Houston Rockets franchise today had not Ray Patterson come to Houston.' Patterson persevered through six sets of Rockets owners and in the early days of the team’s tenure in Houston sent the Rockets barnstorming to Waco, El Paso and San Antonio in an effort to sell tickets, keep the team afloat and drum up support for the NBA in Texas."