First Cup: Friday

  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: "At the Hall of Fame reunion dinner last night, where several of the game’s greatest congregate to celebrate the new class, commissioner David Stern appeared hopeful about a labor agreement despite the fact that the league and the Players Association have had only one negotiating session in five weeks. The owners are trying to address the league’s financial struggles, as they claim 22 teams are losing money. They have offered a 'flex cap,’ which could reduce overall team spending dramatically by setting a median spending limit of $62 million per team. The players said they will not accept any form of a hard salary cap. 'I would say that we have very smart players,’ said Stern, 'who recognize that this system is very good to them. You got 13 players on a roster averaging $5 million apiece, that’s $65 million, and what the owners have said is, ‘We’re going to try very hard as we reset this thing to keep you as close to that number as we can. The NFL, which is usually profitable as opposed to the NBA, which isn’t, got the double-digit [revenue] reductions from their players. Our players will understand that when the rhetoric stops, the owners are trying to do the right thing, and our players always try to do the right thing.’ "

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "Dennis Rodman left the Bulls for the Lakers and played 23 of the shortened 50-game season when the 1998-99 lockout finally ended. The Class of 2011 Hall of Famer expects worse doom this time. 'It's going to be a lot worse. There probably won't be a season,' Rodman said. 'Unless the players do what the NFL did. They've got to really cut a lot of money. Those eight-figure (salaries) gotta go. Paying these players eight figures and they get hurt with a guaranteed contract, you can't take that money back.' Rodman has been called many things, but a voice of reason for management never has been one of them. 'When you're paying $350-$400 million for these teams and expect the city will pay for the stadium, it's not going to work that way,' he said. 'These teams aren't getting enough revenue. The suites aren't selling. The seats aren't selling. Something has to change.' "

  • John Marks of The Oklahoman: "Where once Dennis Rodman virtually disowned his years at Southeastern Oklahoma State, now he embraces it. He says he appreciates the hours then-assistant coach Lonn Reisman put in with him working the boards, teaching him how to become a dominant rebounder.How going to such a small school gave him a chance that might’ve never happened had he gone to a major hoops power. And even how different his life might’ve turned out — as scary a proposition as that is for a man who’s been known to wear a dress and do other outrageous things on a regular basis. Funny how perspective can change when you’re about to be immortalized into the Basketball Hall of Fame, like Rodman and nine others will be Friday night. 'Mind-wise, yes, it helped me. Physically, no,' Rodman said during Thursday’s media session, where he said among other things that he really doesn’t consider himself Hall worthy, though he won’t decline the honor. 'It kept me grinding through college. It kept me grinding in the NBA. “It kept me mentally prepared. I just felt focused and wanted to get better and better and better. That was a big part of it.' "

  • Lacy J. Banks of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Former Bulls forward ­Dennis ­Rodman, with his hair dyed red, multiple piercings and tattoos, said he hasn’t ­prepared a ­written acceptance speech when he is inducted into the Naismith ­Memorial ­Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night. 'I’m just going to wing it,' he said after receiving his Hall of Fame blazer ­Thursday. 'I’m just going to go up there and talk.' Will he cuss? 'Well, I can say ‘damn,’ right? Or you ‘son of a bitch.’ They say that on TV, right? I’m not going to cuss. I’m going to keep it clean. But maybe a couple of words may slip out.' On Michael Jordan. 'MJ is the only player to have his own wing [in the Hall of Fame]. I’ll be lucky to get a 10-by-10.' On being coached by Chuck Daly, Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson and Don Nelson? 'If I could cremate all four guys, you could blend them to get the ­perfect coach.' .. Does he feel he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame? 'No. I never played to be here. I’d rather somebody else be here. I don’t need this. It means nothing to me. I’m getting into the Hall of Fame for averaging five points [actually 7.3]. Plus, I had to pay them $25,000 to bring in family and friends. So I’m paying them to put me in the Hall and say good things about me.' "

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "Gilmore will become the third player with strong Spurs ties to reach the Hall, preceded by Gervin (1996) and David Robinson (2009). His presence there is long overdue, and it took the establishment of a new committee, convened for the express purpose of recognizing the ABA, to finally pay proper homage to a player who scored 24,941 points and grabbed 16,330 rebounds in 17 ABA-NBA seasons. While he enters as the first to be chosen by the new committee, Gilmore’s entire body of work is Hall worthy, including his two seasons at Jacksonville University. There, he averaged 22.7 rebounds, an NCAA record that still stands, and led the Dolphins to the NCAA championship game in 1970. Snubbed by the Hall for nearly two decades, Gilmore never expressed bitterness at his exclusion. At a pre-induction news conference Thursday, however, emotions nearly got the best of him. Acknowledging what an earlier enshrinement would have meant to his mother, who died six years ago, his eyes watered and he had to pause before continuing. 'I’m a very emotional guy,' he said. 'I express my emotions. But for my grandkids I need to try and hold it together.' "

  • Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle: "To truly understand why Chris Mullin will be in Springfield, Mass., today to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, it's crucial to understand how he was revered by the African American basketball community. A man we lost much too soon, Manute Bol, used to call Mullin 'Chalk' because he was so remarkably white. But there was irony in the distinction. 'Chris played the game like he was black, basically,' former Warriors teammate Tim Hardaway said this week from his home in Miami. 'We called him a white black guy (laughter). I'm serious. He almost talked like a brother. Just listening, if you didn't know who Mully was, you'd think you were talking to a black guy.' Let's stop right here to get a clear grip on the context. We're not watching our words or being sensitive to issues of race, because it's basketball, the most racially enlightened sport in this country. It's not just the place where black coaches and executives are so refreshingly commonplace; it's the province of raw, unedited conversation, a place where every topic is fair game (Bird once said he felt 'disrespected' if the opposition 'had a white guy guarding me') and all truths are told on the court. If you're not cutting it there, you're really going to hear about it. But if you can play, you'll get the only thing Mullin ever wanted from the game: respect."

  • Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: "In the days leading up to his induction, Mullin thought about his family, his college career at St. John's and his two Olympic stints. Maybe most vividly of all, he thought about the short happy reign of Run TMC. Thursday, he literally pointed to Richmond, who was hovering nearby, as always. Mullin talked about getting a two-on-two game going in the next few days. And he suggested that, in his heart and mind, when he goes into the Hall, the spirit of Run TMC goes in, too. ... To that point, Mullin has another idea that encapsulates the full sense and camaraderie of Run TMC, a thrill show that was cut short before its third season when Richmond was traded to Sacramento for Billy Owens on opening night in 1991. ... Mullin suggests retiring all three jersey numbers at the same time -- Run TMC lifted into the rafters at Oracle Arena in one unifying, thunderous moment? 'I would like that,' Mullin said this week. 'I think the fans would like it, too. ... To me, it doesn't always have to be about one person. I know I'd feel more comfortable. That would feel natural to me.' Mullin understands the complications. For instance, Richmond (No. 23 with the Warriors) played only 234 regular-season games for the franchise. Hardaway, interestingly, already has seen his No. 10 retired by the Miami Heat, though he played 55 more games with the Warriors."

  • King Ding of The Orange County Register: "Phil Jackson will, at their request, be there for them. Jackson's teacher, Tex Winter, and Jackson's student, Dennis Rodman, both asked, choosing him out of all the great basketball influences previously enshrined, to be the one "presenter" to stand there as their best man while being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. For Jackson, it'll be his first time stepping out after he retired and retreated from the basketball spotlight to the shadow of the Montana cherry trees off Flathead Lake. (The closest anyone will get to Jackson otherwise is Ted Danson on "CSI" this season, with Danson's new crime-scene-investigating and team-building character meant to mirror Jackson.) Friday will be an ironic reminder of Jackson's legacy that to be successful you must stay in the moment as opposed to the future or the past. Making the Hall of Fame is all about the past. The thing is, both Winter and Rodman connected deeply with Jackson on that point about being present in the moment – which is a big reason they had such historic success together in Chicago."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "Tex Winter wasn't supposed to attend Thursday's festivities. The victim of a debilitating stroke in 2009, the longtime Bulls and Lakers assistant had planned to save his strength for Friday night's enshrinement ceremonies at this city's Symphony Hall. And even that, according to his son, Chris, was a 'day-to-day thing.' But when you are credited with perfecting the triangle offense the Bulls and Lakers used in nine NBA championship runs and you wait as long as Winter, 89, did for this honor, things happen. Perseverance prevails. 'He's a strong man,' Rodman said. 'He has lived a life. To go up there even after having a stroke and try to express how much he appreciates this, a lot of people can't do that. A lot of people would stay home and watch it on TV. But this means more to him than anything in the world. It took him a long time to get here. And for Phil Jackson to put him in (Friday night), what better person to do that? They've been through hell and high waters.' ... Winter doesn't speak much. He doesn't always make sense. But upstairs at a small table, his eyes lit up when he saw a basketball play diagrammed on a folder. 'I feel good,' Winter said."

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "Thomas 'Satch' Sanders, with a line of fellow inductees behind him yesterday that included Dennis Rodman and Chris Mullin, looked up at the photographic panorama of legends rimming the ceiling of the Basketball Hall of Fame’s main auditorium, and pretended to shudder. The 72-year-old former Celtics forward, who will be inducted into the Hall tonight as a contributor to the game because of his pivotal role in development of the NBA’s long list of player programs, seemed to be having multiple flashbacks. 'At this time in my life, I know a heck of a lot of these people, and it makes me nervous,' he said. A good number of them, in fact, are Celtics. Former teammate Tom Heinsohn will introduce Sanders tonight during an ornate, heavily-produced ceremony in Springfield’s Symphony Hall, and in at least one way both men think alike. They are convinced that their Celtics — the team that at one stage won eight straight NBA titles, a feat unmatched in North American professional sports — could still compete with today’s glittery teams. That would include the LeBron Heat and Kobe Lakers — even, dare you say, the 2008 Celtics."

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: "Magic star Dwight Howard has pondered the idea of playing overseas during the NBA lockout, calling it a 'huge possibility' last month and mentioning China as his preferred destination. But the Chinese Basketball Association is looking to forbid American players from signing contracts that include an NBA-out clause, meaning anyone who signs in China must stay there even if the lockout ends. Because of that mandate, Howard won't be playing overseas and will instead continue to work on his game privately here in the U.S. ... China, with 1.3 billion people and a growing economy, was Howard's top choice overseas because of its marketing potential. But he doesn't want to miss NBA games to play in the Far East. And he isn't enthusiastic about the idea of playing in Europe, where he would run the risk of injury without the same financial incentive. Instead, Howard plans to work more with Hakeem Olajuwon and continue to develop his expanding offensive game in the states."

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "Chauncey Billups was walking without a limp last night at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, looking chipper as he accepted the Mannie Jackson Human Spirit Award. Billups also received a warm handshake from commissioner David Stern during the pre-dinner cocktail hour. Billups, whose left knee injury in Game 1 of the first-round series vs. the Celtics was a killer blow to the Knicks, might one day make it to Springfield for his basketball exploits. But for now, Billups, still not 100 percent, is just trying to prove he can be a productive, healthy, floor general for the Knicks in 2011-12, if the lockout does not cancel the season. 'I think I got a lot to offer my team when the season starts,' Billups told The Post last night. 'I'm looking forward to showing people I'm still me. I don't have anything to prove. I've proved everything throughout my career. My body of work speaks for itself. However, I really wish I could've been healthy my whole time in New York and things would've been a lot different.' "

  • Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: "Drew League Commissioner Oris 'Dino' Smiley said the NBA work stoppage lured additional players this summer and helped increase attendance to about 800 per game. The Lakers' Ron Artest, Steve Blake, Shannon Brown and Joe Smith and the Minnesota Timberwolves' Michael Beasley all played this summer, he said. The Drew League started in 1973, and it has long featured NBA players, plus overseas pros and local players. The 24-team league plays games with four eight-minute quarters. ... Smiley said some players representing the Drew League will travel to Washington, D.C., to play the Goodman summer league at Trinity University on Aug. 20. Young, DeRozan, the Thunder's James Harden, Wright, Smith, Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings, Wizards forward JaVale McGee and Sacramento Kings guard Pooh Jeter will play for the Drew League. The Goodman league will have Durant, Wizards guard John Wall, Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, San Antonio Spurs guard Gary Neal and Memphis Grizzlies forward Sam Young. The summer leagues plan to offset some of the costs by launching a website, TheBasketballChannel.net, and charging $4.95 pay per view to watch the game online."

  • Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: "Kareem Abdul-JabbarBlack Fives Inc., owners of trademarked logos commemorating vintage African American basketball teams, asked Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in an article published on the company's website if the two parties could reconcile 15 days after withdrawing a federal lawsuit accusing the Laker star's film company of trademark infringement in connection with his recent documentary, 'On the Shoulders of Giants.' Owner Claude Johnson also published an e-mail sent to Abdul-Jabbar and his business manager, Deborah Morales, apologizing for 'overreacting' in articles he wrote detailing the lawsuit, asked for a meeting to discuss future projects and offered to provide both Abdul-Jabbar and Morales a pair of Harlem Rens sneakers from Nike or Converse."