First Cup: Friday

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: 'Negotiations to end the N.B.A. lockout will resume Saturday amid a new threat to labor peace: a disillusioned faction of players. About 50 players, including some All-Stars, are planning a drive to dissolve their union if talks again falter, or if the talks produce a labor deal that they deem unpalatable, according to a person who has spoken with the group. The threat could throw a wrench into negotiations as league and union officials attempt to broker a deal, knowing that any compromise might trigger a legal battle that could last for months. ... Dissolving the union, also known as decertification, would allow the players to sue the N.B.A. under federal antitrust law, and could force the owners to end the lockout. But there are many potential obstacles, both legal and otherwise, and the decertification process could take two months. By that time, the entire 2011-12 season might be lost."

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "Things will look a little different when the NBA and Players Association resume negotiations tomorrow in New York. According to sources, the session will be much larger than the recent talks in terms of participation. Players beyond the executive committee are expected to attend, and there could be greater participation on the owners’ side, as well, as they try to end the lockout and reach a new collective-bargaining agreement. This may be an effort to make things more transparent in response to inside questions about the directions the two leaderships have been taking. It could also be a show of solidarity from each side amid reports of fractures. One source said he has no idea what to expect from the expanded session. 'It could be that everyone gets together and cooler heads rule the day,' he said. 'Or, it could be one of those battle royales from wrestling. We could see players and owners being thrown over the top rope and out the hotel windows.' "

  • Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press: "It's time for a confession. I had no idea that the Pistons' opener should have been Wednesday night at the Palace. The actual loss of games is one of those benchmarks to gauge the public pulse.You would think any deviation from normality would resonate strongly, but the absence of the Pistons from the local sports dialogue is anything but devastating. Anger is fine. It's apathy that proves fatal. The NBA still doesn't get it. It's a popular product, but it isn't a passionate one. If it's around, fine. But take it away and watch how quickly folks realize how easily they can live without it. It's because the NBA is more about the star than the sport. ... There have been reports of infighting within the highest branches of the players' union. But there also are reports of disagreements among owners. The players will soon crumble and the owners will rub their noises in the rubble. Both sides will trumpet that they saved the season, expecting appreciation from the masses for their efforts. But the reaction the NBA probably will get will be 'Oh, you're back? We didn't even know that you went away.' "

  • Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe: "There are two things we know about every sports labor/management squabble. The first is that the owners are never going to tell the whole truth about their finances. The second is that the players are never going to be satisfied. Oh, yes, there’s another thing we know. We know that countless people on the periphery are hurt, losing money they will never get back, and all for really stupid reasons. May we establish one thing? The players have already lost. So let’s get on with it."

  • Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: "Commissioner David Stern and the NBA owners have already won, and they know they've won. They were heavily favored from the start, they've made few mistakes, they've brutally utilized their advantages, and they've won in all practical ways. The players have lost. End result: Sports fans, there should be an NBA labor deal in a matter of weeks and then the start of the season at some point after Dec. 15, with a schedule that could be 72 games, 60 or 50, depending on the timing. You will have Warriors games. You will see the Lakers play on television. You might witness some understandably angry players for a while, but you will have the NBA, again. And the players will have to get over it. Because the real parts of the NBA labor struggle are, for all intents and purposes, over."

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: "While Jalen Rose doesn't have a crystal ball to project when the NBA will return, he said Christmas Day is big. 'If we wake up and there isn't basketball from sunup to sundown, it will be a huge blow,' said Rose, who played 13 NBA seasons. 'Players and owners will be in a compromising position.' Still, though, Rose believes the owners are driving this. 'If the company is thriving, they're in a position to dictate what happens,' he said. 'They're billionaires. The beat goes on until they come around. If it was a strike, I'd blame the players. It's a lockout; you'd have to say the owners.' "

  • Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: " As NBA owners and locked-out players return to the bargaining table Saturday, there's a heightened urgency born from mounting financial losses. A sold-out opener at The Q generates more than $1 million in revenue. The club's highest-paid player, Antawn Jamison, is losing $183,862 per game. Obscured in the big-money negotiations is the impact on the behind-the-scenes workers who keep the NBA humming and the 800-plus arena employees, many of them part-time, who service, entertain and ply fans on game nights. The Plain Dealer consulted with industry insiders to determine the approximate losses absorbed by those who come in contact with players and league officials on a typical game day."

  • Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News: "I wonder if the NBA's players and owners have given 1 second of thought to what is happening out there in the real world of underprivilege. Maybe David Stern should organize a caravan of tinted window Escalades and Humvees and drive through the Las Vegas suburbs to see the forest of For Sale and Foreclosed signs, then wheel past the banks that will go down because they can't move all that bad paper."

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "As expected, the D-Fenders took former NBA point guard Jamaal Tinsley with the first overall pick in the NBA Development League draft Thursday night. 'Our goal all along with the first overall pick was to take the player who we felt gave the D-Fenders the best chance of winning right now,' D-Fenders coach Eric Musselman said. 'In this case, we were able to do just that with the selection of Jamaal. The guard position was a point of emphasis for us entering the draft, and Jamaal’s extensive experience in the backcourt provides the D-Fenders with a great foundation as we work towards our ultimate goal of winning a D-League championship.' The D-Fenders are owned by Lakers owner Jerry Buss and will again be the Lakers’ D-League affiliate."

  • Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: "To say Tyrell Biggs had a hunch who might select him in the NBA D-League Draft on Thursday is putting it mildly. The former Pitt forward was standing behind a curtain off stage at the Edgewood Community Center when the Cavaliers' minor-league club picked him No. 15 overall, making the 6-foot-8 Biggs the first-ever draft choice of the Canton Charge. 'I had a pretty good idea,' said Biggs, who traveled from his native New York City on Thursday morning. 'They showed a lot of interest in me.' Biggs, who attended the Charge's open tryout on Oct. 15-16, was asked what might have happened had he been drafted by the Bakersfield (Calif.) Jam. 'That would have been a long drive home,' Biggs said."

  • Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: "The legacy for Magic Johnson will go beyond his five NBA championships, how he helped revitalize league interest and spurred society awareness about HIV. It should also include Magic's flair with cheesy commercials. The latest involves an appearance with Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who like Magic is a member of Detroit Venture Partners, a firm that invests seed money in early-stage technology companies. In the commercial spot, Gilbert wonders about the feasibility of offering customers who request a home-loan quote a free Android smartphone. Enter Johnson, who shoots jumpers and skyhooks with the phone off rooftop buildings. Instead of the phones hitting the pavement, customers easily catch them. Hey, Magic was known for his passing abilities for a reason."