First Cup: Thursday

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Just know that if the NBA door closes this season, Kobe Bryant has always been the type to seek another door that opens. One of his personal logos has long featured the motto 'Carpe Diem.' That's Latin, not Italian, but unlike all of us who know it from watching Robin Williams in 'Dead Poets Society' at the mall movie theater, Bryant learned it from the actual poem by Horace while studying in Europe. And to 'seize the day' is what it will boil down to. For Bryant, it's a matter of personal integrity, which he has always accepted might be a little different in his case. As wrong as some might say it is for him to try out his improved right knee in inconsequential overseas action, Bryant would say it's more wrong not to try at all. That's what he has always believed in, from preps-to-pros to air balls in Utah to championships with Shaq and without: days being seized and daring to try what others can't or won't. Daring to try has gotten him this far. It'll take him skydiving someday. Where it takes him this season, we shall see."

  • Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press: "New Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman was upbeat. He was enthusiastic. He did not look like someone who had been hit over the head with a mallet ... several times. That comes later. 'I just want to say I'm excited to be here,' Adelman said. We've heard that before. The difference here is that Adelman has been around the track a few times. If anyone should have an idea of what's coming, it's Adelman. He's been there and done that. He's had good teams and bad teams. He's built, rebuilt and maintained a status quo. So Adelman must know that he could get every single Timberwolf to play better and still lose a boatload of games. The team could make significant progress in terms of skill development and yet continue to reel off long strings of losses. 'I've thought a lot about that,' Adelman said Wednesday, minutes after being introduced as the Wolves' new coach. 'I guess you have to go into it and feel like you can make a difference. You have to be resilient enough to show them that we're going to get through this. It's going to be hard. I'm the first to admit it.' ... 'I feel I have a lot left in the tank,' he said. He's going to need it. This organization has sucked the life out of some pretty good coaches. But probably never one this good."

  • Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune: "The Minnesota Timberwolves came into existence on April 22, 1987. They have employed hundreds of coaches, players and front office executives in nearly 25 years, and have held dozens of news conferences to celebrate hirings and acquisitions. Wednesday, the Wolves staged the rare news conference in franchise history that did not require the willing suspension of disbelief. In introducing Rick Adelman as their new head coach, for once all the Wolves had to do to impress the audience was mention a man's name, and get out of the way. Adelman's hiring might rank as the most irrefutable move in franchise history. The Wolves have made one decision in nearly 25 years that can be called an unequivocal success: When then-GM Kevin McHale displayed the wisdom and foresight to draft a raw high school kid from Chicago in the first round. But nobody knew that day that Kevin Garnett would become a star, much less one of the greatest players in NBA history. Garnett was a pulltab. Adelman is a cashier's check. Rarely have the Wolves made such a sound yet ambitious decision."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "The sides will go to the neutral corners for a day in respect to the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah with the players to meet on Friday before bargaining sessions resume on the weekend. More top players and owners are expected to participate. The meetings, coming after some softening in the sides’ positions in the previous two sessions, offered some hint of hope. Stern, however, characterized the weekend meetings as High Noon for getting the season started on time, if at all. He practically turned to kids in the backseat and said, 'I’ll stop this car right now!' ... He might have been trying to frighten the players association to take a deal it doesn’t want. That does not mean his point is not valid. This might not be the last breaking point, but it is that for starting the season as scheduled Nov. 1. Both sides agree that they are not close to a deal."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Kevin Durant tweeted this week that the NBA players' exhibition games are starting to get played out. Tell that to the people who packed Philadelphia's Palestra on Sunday, or Hakim Warrick, the man who made it happen for his hometown. The Suns power forward issued a challenged to his former Syracuse teammate Carmelo Anthony and did not let up until he had Anthony, LeBron James and Chris Paul in Philly for a 'Battle of I-95' charity game. Warrick already had pulled off a victory in staging it and raising more than $100,000 for Philadelphia charities by selling out the game, but then did civic pride one better by helping Team Philly beat Team Melo 132-123. ... And Warrick does not figure that will be the last anyone has seen of Team Philly, led by Kyle Lowry, Tyreke Evans and Lou Williams. 'I don't think it's played out,' said Warrick, who says challengers need to come to Philadelphia. 'The longer the lockout goes on, people still want to see basketball. If you can continue to see NBA players go out and play hard like we did at the Palestra, people will want to see us. It was good for the city. A lot of people in the arena had never got to watch a LeBron or a Melo that close.' "

  • Lacy J. Banks of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Bulls guard Derrick Rose raised a few eyebrows when he gave a surprising choice for his third top role model as he spoke to 100 kids ¬≠attending his presentation of a renovated outdoor basketball court this week. Rose’s top three: 'First, there is my mother, Brenda ,' he said. 'She’s definitely tops because she raised me and made so many sacrifices for me. Second, as far as basketball is concerned, it’s Michael Jordan . Third, as for somebody who inspires me every single day, no matter what they do and how hard they work, it’s [actor] Will Smith . Where he came from, like a guy who started off good in 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' and went bankrupt. Then he bounced his way back to where he’s making tons of money again with every movie and still a hard-working man. I take my hat off to him.' "

  • John Rohde of The Oklahoman: "Daequan Cook is the only unsigned player from last year's Thunder roster. The 14 other players are under contract, including late-season signee Robert Vaden. Also unsigned is 2011 first-round draft choice Reggie Jackson of Boston College. Cook is a restricted free agent and can sign with any team that offers him a contract, but no free agent or rookie can sign until the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement is finalized. 'This summer has been real tough for me,' Cook said of being in double limbo with the lockout and free agency. 'The good thing is I got to state my case during my exit meeting (on May 27) with (Thunder general manager) Sam Presti.' ... 'No matter what happens, I'm attached to Oklahoma,' Cook said. 'Oklahoma is great for me.' "

  • Jon Machota special contributor to The Dallas Morning News: "Leading the Mavericks to a world championship and earning Finals MVP just wasn't enough for the makers of the video game 'NBA 2K12.' The NBA game recently released their popular player rankings and Dirk Nowitzki was blatantly disrespected. ... Miami Heat superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade received the top two ratings at 98 and 96, respectively. Lakers scoring machine Kobe Bryant was next with a 94 rating, followed by Orlando center Dwight Howard (93), New Orleans point guard Chris Paul (93), Oklahoma City scoring champ Kevin Durant and league MVP Derrick Rose. Not only did Nowitzki not make that group, he didn't crack the Top 10. ... Obviously, video game rankings don't mean much, however, it's a sign that even with a championship, Nowitzki isn't getting the recognition outside of Dallas that he deserves."

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "The oracle of all basketball information has added another intriguing wrinkle. Basketball-reference.com, the place for all kinds of esoteric data that hoop junkies crave, has developed a new feature where it tracks all trades in the NBA histories of every franchise. The Spurs have consummated 83 trades in the team’s history in the NBA. Some are more notable than others, headed by the swap of legendary Hall of Fame guard George Gervin to the Bulls in 1985 for David Greenwood. That trade is one of nine deals between the Spurs and the Bulls. Also included are the trades with Artis Gilmore coming and going from the Spurs and the most recent one in 2003 where Erick Barkley was swapped from the Spurs to Chicago for cash and future considerations."

  • Staff of the Detroit Free Press: "The advanced stats movement, long a hallmark in Major League Baseball, is gaining steam in the NBA. It picked up steam when many credited the Mavericks' use of numbers for lineup purposes as a major reason they won the 2011 NBA title. According to SI.com's Zach Lowe, there was buzz in Boston over the weekend when the Pistons sent Platinum Equity partner Bob Wentworth to a symposium devoted to advanced stats. Platinum Equity founder Tom Gores purchased the Pistons in June. ... SI.com: 'Some folks were sort of surprised the Pistons had someone at Harvard this weekend. But given your background, isn't it sort of natural to look at how advanced statistics and algorithms might help your team?' Wentworth: 'We're a private equity firm. This is our first move into professional sports, both for the firm and for Tom Gores, and we approach this like any other investment that we make. We will really try to understand best practices and be forward-thinking as opposed to reactionary. Getting heavily into statistical analysis seems quite natural to us.' "

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "The NBA lockout has given Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert time to work on a possible second career. The always-animated Hibbert will make his acting debut Thursday when he has a cameo appearance on the NBC show 'Parks and Recreation,' which stars Amy Poehler. Hibbert put out a Twitter message last week encouraging fans to tune in. It's unknown if Hibbert got the acting bug from watching Area55 audition videos the past two years."