First Cup: Wednesday

  • Greg Cote of The Miami Herald: "Previously, Dwyane Wade’s response to the ongoing and perhaps lengthy NBA lockout was to say he was 'open' to the idea of maybe playing elsewhere if his Miami season did not begin as scheduled. Now that possibility seems to have segued toward certainty. It still could be posturing. After all, the last thing NBA commissioner David Stern and club owners want to see is their most valuable commodities — franchise, marquee players — scattered across globe, risking injury in foreign leagues. Heat fans should hope it is all smoke, especially in Wade’s case. Wade approaches his ninth season and 30th birthday. He has missed 107 NBA games because of injuries. Shoulder, knee, ribs, hip, wrist — it is harsh to call him injury-prone, but fair to say his driving, aerial game lends itself to hard falls and injuries. The recent NBA Finals against Dallas marked the first time in Wade’s career he heard media questions about his age, his aging. Those questions will only increase. He is at a point where rest and keeping his mileage down should be paramount."

  • Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle: "As I’ve have gone into before, I believe Yao deserves Hall consideration. The Naismith Hall of Fame has a contributors category and if you pay attention to the people who have been inducted in the past, Yao Ming is certainly worthy of induction. John Doleva, the president and CEO of the Hall, told the Chronicle’s Joseph Duarte today that Yao has been nominated for induction, which means he could be on the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot. ... I would be surprised if Yao doesn’t one day become a member of the Hall. His groundbreaking career, short-lived though it was, is significant to basketball history. I wouldn’t say that he needs to be fast-tracked to the Hall, but I’m of the belief if a person is deserving of induction, he deserves to be inducted. The first-ballot designation that people often discuss, especially in baseball, is silly. Either a person is a Hall of Famer or not. To me there is no such thing as a person who doesn’t deserve to get into the Hall on the first ballot."

  • Lacy J. Banks of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Greatness isn’t measured by how high you reach, but by how far you’ve come. On Friday night, former Bulls center Artis Gilmore will be introduced by Julius Erving and inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. That rare distinction will mark the endof his long, often tough, climb from sandlot basketball to the sport’s pinnacle. 'Make sure you tell everybody that this is the full-circle stamp; this is not my final destination,' Gilmore, 61, said with a laugh. 'I don’t want the Man upstairs to call me just yet because I still have a lot to do, and I’m working hard every day as a special assistant to the president of Jacksonville University, and I work for a mechanical-engineering company in project development.' ... Gilmore, the NBA’s all-time field-goal percentage leader and the Bulls’ career leader in blocked shots, said he never played basketball with the aim of making the Hall of Fame. 'I played for the joy and, of course, for the salary to support my wife of 39 years, Enola Gay, and our five kids and twin grandkids,' he said. 'I never thought of any additional accolades. Until now, my happiest achievement was winning the 1975 ABA championship with the old Kentucky Colonels. I took as much pride and joy in that championship as I would’ve taken winning an NBA championship. Otherwise, I found great pleasure in playing for the Colonels [five seasons], the Bulls [61/2 seasons], the Spurs [five seasons] and the Celtics [half a season].' Friday night’s honor will make all his struggles worth the effort."

  • Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: "In combined NBA/ABA statistics, Gilmore ranks fifth all time in rebounds with 16,330, trailing Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Moses Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Gilmore owns the highest career field-goal percentage in NBA history at .599. During the 1980-81 season, he shot an amazing .670 from the field, the third-highest single-season performance ever. As a college junior, he led Jacksonville into the NCAA title game before losing to UCLA. Talk about Cinderella stories: Jacksonville knocked off Iowa and Kentucky to reach the Final Four. It took more than 20 years after retirement for Gilmore to get the call from the Hall of Fame. Looking back at what he did on the court, it’s difficult to understand why he waited so long."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "On Friday, the 'A-Train' will take his place alongside Erving, Issel, Gervin, Thompson, Hawkins and Barry after being ignored by voters for nearly 20 years, along with every other person from the renegade league. Thankfully, the Hall finally is making amends. Erstwhile Suns owner Jerry Colangelo, Hall of Fame chairman of the board, deserves much credit for convening a new committee to screen and recommend players, coaches and contributors from the ABA for induction. Naturally, the announcement of Gilmore’s election both astonished and gratified the ABA-ers who preceded him in the Hall of Fame. 'When I read that Artis was being inducted, I was shocked to realize he wasn’t already in,' Issel said. 'I’m really excited to hear about this (ABA) committee. I admit I am terribly biased because I love the ABA and we had some phenomenal players that came into that league, Artis being one of them. You can’t convince me that the last four or five years of the ABA we weren’t playing as good a brand of basketball as the NBA.' ... Issel hopes one of his old Colonels teammates, Louie Dampier, will be the next player put forward for enshrinement. Pacers fans hope it is Mel Daniels, the big man who twice was the league’s MVP and the leader of three ABA championship teams. They pull, too, for Bob 'Slick' Leonard, the ABA’s all-time winningest coach. These are great debates, 30 years too late in the arguing."

  • Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News: "When Chris Mullin is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, he can reflect on a career that saw him play in five All-Star Games and two Olympiads and stake a claim as one of the greatest shooters ever. But what he thinks about most is how close he came to squandering it all. 'Life is so fragile,' said Mullin, 48. 'Now I wonder, 'How did this happen to me?' ' Mullin's game always had a 1950s feel -- and he eventually completed the look with his trademark crew cut. He compensated for a lack of athleticism with exceptional passing and a knack for getting open for that deadly jumper. By his senior season at St. John's, he was packing Madison Square Garden and leading the team to the Final Four as the college player of the year. But it all unraveled with the Warriors, who made Mullin the No. 7 pick in the 1985 draft. After two unexceptional seasons, in which the pudgy Mullin was overmatched by quicker guards, hints of trouble emerged in his third year. As he missed practices, Mullin no longer could hide an alcohol problem. His last drink was on Dec. 13, 1987. He doesn't recall whether it was a beer or a shot. 'I bet it was both,' said Mullin, the son of a recovering alcoholic. 'At that point I wasn't discriminating. It probably didn't even have to be cold.' The oft-told story is how Don Nelson, then the Warriors general manager, challenged Mullin to give up drinking for a short period of time. When he couldn't, Nelson staged an intervention along with Mullin's parents and agent. That led to his 47-day stay at Centinela Hospital in Inglewood."

  • Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "It would seem virtually impossible to upstage LeBron James. But Dru Joyce III, the smallest of James’ St. Vincent-St. Mary High School teammates, did just that Tuesday night. As the induction of James, Joyce, Romeo Travis, Sian Cotton and Willie McGee into St. V-M’s athletic hall of fame wound down, Joyce grabbed the microphone and said, 'I've got this from here.' He carried out his ruse a little longer, saying he wanted to talk about somebody he believed in and addressed the 'fellas.' Then he left the stage and walked down the center aisle of chairs toward the audience on the gym floor. 'There's a young lady that I believe in,' Joyce said. 'I believe in her, I believe in her dreams and I believe in our future, hopefully. I believe that she's an awesome mother and I believe in us against the world.' Joyce got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend from the University of Akron, Lanae Patton, the mother of their 1-year-old daughter Alivia. The crowd of about 200 burst into loud applause, some catching on to what was happening before Joyce finished. James and the other three came down to surround the couple."

  • Kevin Ding of the The Orange County Register: "Ron Artest appears determined to finalize a contract to play for the Cheshire Jets when he visits England — although you never know with him — and here’s what he offered Tuesday night via Twitter about his immediate schedule: 'First I have to do my tv show first Then Finland for a week Then right to Uk But when lakers call You already know !!!' Artest had previously tweeted: 'Go Jets!!!!! Uk , here we come!!! Jets are the best!!! Jets are the best!!! New chant!!!!!!!!!' with a photo of a No. 15 jersey. Artest is working with 44 Blue Productions on a reality TV show called 'Last Second Shot,' in which he helps parolees improve their lives via coaching and mental-health treatment."

  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: "Apparently, Raptors' draft pick Jonas Valanciunas’ 26 point performance in a 94-73 victory over the Czech Republic on Saturday was a Lithuanian national team record for points scored in a senior team debut. Valanciunas was MVP as Lithuania took the gold at the recent FIBA Under-19 world championship, but continued his fine play against more seasoned competition, scoring with a variety of dunks and hook shots. Valanciunas added 11 rebounds and hit all eight of his free throws. 'I was more nervous than usually … (but) there wasn’t a moment that I thought of the statistics, I just went on the court and showed what I can do,' Valanciunas told reporters afterwards. Valanciunas did not play in Lithuania’s first exhibition and there has been some question whether he would see significant minutes at Eurobasket, but it’s hard to see his coach benching Valanciunas both because of how effective he has been this summer and because he has become the most popular player in his country. The EuroBasket will be in Lithuania starting at the end of August."

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: "Although the NBA is locking out its players in a dispute over the next collective bargaining agreement and no personnel actions will happen until it's over, there's always time for analysis. Pistons free agents Tracy McGrady and Tayshaun Prince are among the biggest names on the market. The Miami Herald reported last weekend that the Heat would be interested in either Prince or McGrady. The report says Prince, 31, is among a group of preferred small forwards that includes former Piston Grant Hill and former Birmingham Detroit Country Day standout Shane Battier. Prince has been a Piston since he was drafted out of Kentucky in 2002, but he isn't expected to return to Detroit. The Herald report says McGrady, 32, is among a second tier of wingmen the Heat would consider. He also isn't expected to return to Detroit."

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "Observant NBA fans have noticed that Chris Bosh’s back tattoo was pretty involved during the playoffs last season. The Miami forward is taking advantage of the respite provided by the NBA lockout to add a few more elements to the storyboard that is his torso. Now, Bosh’s tattoo incorporates a tree, an eagle, an animal that appears to be either a tiger or cougar, musical notes, a Zeus-like figure, a woman holding a skull and the Roman Colosseum. The blogs The Basketball Jones and Lost in the Wilderness report it took about 40 hours to finish this amalgamation. The work apparently was so involved and time consuming that Bosh brought 10 videos from home to watch while the work was taking place. And apparently, there will be additional elements added to Bosh’s work over the next few weeks. We can only imagine what will be next."