First Cup: Thursday

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Chris Mullin became a Hall of Famer for winning two Olympic gold medals, being selected to five All-Star teams and joining forces with Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond to form the high-scoring, entertaining trio 'Run TMC' in Golden State. He spent some time in Indiana, too. Late in Mullin's career, the Pacers acquired him from the Warriors for his pinpoint long-distance shooting. Mullin was so accurate he tied fellow Hall of Famer Larry Bird in a shooting contest when they were teammates in Barcelona at the 1992 Olympics. Mullin gave the Pacers another outside shooter to go with Reggie Miller, and his work ethic rubbed off on young players such as Jonathan Bender, Al Harrington, Austin Croshere and Jeff Foster. Mullin, who averaged 9.4 points in three seasons with the Pacers, will be enshrined Friday in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. 'He's had a Hall of Fame career and he's a Hall of Fame person,' former Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh said. 'In my mind, I've always thought of Mullie being in the Hall of Fame.' "

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "As Chris Mullin is enshrined into the Naismith Hall of Fame tomorrow in Springfield, Mass., for his spectacular career at Xaverian, St. John's and the NBA, it is a Hall of Shame the pride of Flatbush is not going in while holding a Knicks' front-office title. According to a league source close to Donnie Walsh, his biggest regret as Knicks president was not being able to hire Mullin as the team general manager and then groom him as his successor. In fact, the source said if owner James Dolan had granted Walsh permission to hire Mullin last summer as GM, Walsh likely would still be the president -- and not an Indiana-based club consultant. Sources said Walsh backed out of a verbal agreement on a two-year extension due to contract language partly related to control in hiring his successor."

  • Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "The year was 1995, and Rick Carlisle – then an assistant coach on P.J. Carlesimo’s staff with the Trail Blazers – beckoned me into his office in the Rose Garden. For 15 or 20 minutes, we watched video of Arvydas Sabonis at age 17, helping the Soviet national team to victory over Bobby Knight’s Indiana team atBloomington in 1981. On the screen was a slender Sabonis, incredibly long and sinewy, running the court, scoring in a variety of ways, rebounding and passing with a rare adroitness. For most who saw Sabonis play before he suffered his first Achilles’ tendon injury at the tender age of 21, the question is this: What if? What if the native of Kaunas, Lithuania, had been able to go through his long career injury-free? What if he had not had to play, in his own words, 'on one-and-a-half legs' through the latter stages of his career? ... Even with the Achilles’ tendon, knee and ankle injuries that limited his mobility and shortened his career, Sabonis’ stamp on the international game was indelible. His induction this weekend into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at Springfield, Mass., is proof. On his resume: Eight times the European player of the year, two-time Spanish League most valuable player, gold medalist with the Soviet Union at the 1982 world championships and the 1988 Olympic Games, for seven seasons one of the NBA’s most imposing big men while with Portland."

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "Thomas 'Satch' Sanders is being inducted into the Hall as a contributor because one of his greatest leadership skills didn’t require a coaching shingle. Though one of the finest defensive players of his generation — a 6-foot-6, 220-pounder who guarded every tough scoring forward from Bob Pettit to Elgin Baylor — Hall of Fame voters have chosen to recognize Sanders for what he did beyond his playing days. After helping Richard Lapchick develop the framework and focus at the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern, Sanders went to work for the NBA. The league’s fledgling rookie orientation program had been in existence for a year — and was in danger of being scrapped — when Sanders revamped and developed it, starting in 1987. His eventual rise to vice president of player programs marked the first time the league had made an organized attempt to help its players off the court. Sanders remained in that job for 18 years. Sanders never forgot those who helped him in those early NBA years, though his memory of helpers went back much further. Like any high school basketball player with ambition, Sanders made the trek from his native Brooklyn to Harlem’s Rucker Park during the summer. The Rucker League featured the greatest players he knew from the New York Rens and Harlem Globetrotters."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "If there's one characteristic that binds Tex Winter, Artis Gilmore and Dennis Rodman, other than giving the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame a decidedly Bulls feel starting Thursday, it's their ability to overcome adversity. ... Forget Rodman's sometimes contrived off-the-court antics and Bad Boy personality. Nobody could have predicted he or his fellow inductees with Bulls ties would reach basketball's highest honor from such humble and difficult beginnings. It's the third straight year that Springfield, Mass., the birthplace of basketball, will welcome a large Bulls contingent. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were enshrined in 2009 and 2010, respectively. And Winter, Gilmore and Rodman will draw everyone from former coach Phil Jackson to former general manager Jerry Krause to this year's celebration."

  • Alan Hahn of Newsday: "Chauncey Billups has resumed full basketball workouts, which gives him about seven weeks to prepare for training camp. Or, at least, to prepare for when training camp is tentatively scheduled to open. According to Billups' agent, Andy Miller, the Knicks veteran guard last week had his left knee examined by a private orthopedist -- players aren't permitted to be treated by the team's medical staff during the lockout -- and he was cleared. Billups suffered a bruised knee in the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Chicago Bulls and then crumpled to the floor late in Game 1 of the first round series against the Boston Celtics. He did not play for the rest of the series, which ended in a four game sweep. The Knicks had the option to waive Billups a week after the playoffs ended, which would have saved them $10 million in salary cap space. But Donnie Walsh decided to stick with Billups, who will be 35 next month. He battled through injuries after coming to the Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony trade, but when he was healthy, he was very effective."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Danny Granger's thoughts on a variety of topics: Q: How would you handle the lockout if you were (commissioner) David Stern? Granger: 'I feel like he's playing with fire a little bit. He's taken such a hard stance on things. I read that he finally said he'd take a salary cut. Nobody knows how much he makes, though. That's the craziest thing I've heard. We've got 30 owners putting their faith in him to get the deal done and nobody knows how much he's getting paid. He's probably the most powerful guy of all the professional sports.' Q: There's never a good time for a lockout, but would you agree that this one could hurt the NBA's image? Granger: 'Yes. The NBA is coming off a record season. We've got a lot of momentum going. Everybody hates what happened in Miami, but it brought a lot of attention to the league. Dallas finally gets a championship. We've got a great thing going and we're about to shut the league down.' "

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Suns center Marcin Gortat is a healthy basketball player but he likely won't be playing for Poland in the European Championship because he can't get the injury insurance he desires. Gortat's agent, Guy Zucker, said no insurance company will provide coverage that will protect Gortat against the scenario that he suffers an injury during the European Championship and the Suns would use that the injury occurred while he was not under contract (during a lockout) to void it. Gortat is owed $21.8 million over the next three seasons. Zucker first told sbnation.com of the predicament that he learned of this morning after a month of approaching insurance companies. Barring a surprise insurance resolution in the next week, Gortat won't play for Poland in the tournament that starts Aug. 31 in Lithuania. Gortat made a concession to have only the first two remaining years of his contract covered but efforts by Zucker, FIBA and the Polish basketball federation all have been declined by insurance companies."

  • Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle: "The NBA plans to bring its All-Star Game and weekend-long festivities to Houston for the third time in 2013, two people familiar with the situation said Wednesday. The game will be played Feb. 17 at Toyota Center, which also hosted the 2006 game. 'It’s a done deal,' a person familiar with the bidding process told the Chronicle on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. 'We’re just waiting for the NBA to make the announcement.' There is no timetable as to when the NBA might formally award the game to Houston, although an announcement could be delayed until the end of the labor lockout, the person said. The Rockets, who would host the game, were unavailable for comment Wednesday. The All-Star Game also was held at the Astrodome in 1989."