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Thursday Bullets

  • Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic on Shawn Marion's chances to be an All-Star, and how brutal the selection process will be for coaches. (Updating fan voting returns, by the way.) He goes through the locks, and then boils it down: "Marion will have to be in the top two of a consideration group that includes Josh Howard, David West, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Brandon Roy, Baron Davis, Allen Iverson, and Deron Williams. Now that's tough."

  • Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold is loving life as a Laker fan: "There are just too few times as a sports fan when you can feel like you are seeing something special come together before your eyes. When the present looks good and the future even better. When young players are developing like you hoped and the veterans are both leading them and energized by them. We Lakers fans can be a spoiled bunch at times. We can look at this current roster and only think, "they aren't going to win a championship this season with this group, what do we have to do to get a title? We start to obsess over trades or envy players other teams have. But while the title is the goal, the journey is the fun part. This team (as constructed) will not win a title this season, and that's okay. You can see a team that can challenge for one in the near future, and the rush to make it one right now is more likely to lead to mistakes and failure than success. Be patient. And enjoy what we get to see nightly." And Kobe Bryant has to be happy not to be a Bull, I'm thinking.

  • Greg Oden shows how he works out in the pool. He points out that the physical part is manageable, but the mental challenge is tough. It's plain to see. Just running in a small therapy pool in a darkened room -- it's not inspiring.

  • Malcolm Gladwell is apparently pointing out the hypocrisy of banning performance enhancing drugs while allowing all kinds of other science experiments on players.

  • The Blazers' Mike Barrett on the lead up to Golden State's game in Portland last night: "The Warriors were coming off a win over San Antonio on Monday, and had every reason to be fired up coming into this game. They fell at the Rose Garden on December 12th, and had revenge on their minds entering this game. I talked to several Golden State people before the game, and they were telling me the Warriors had this date circled on the calendar for some time, and that they were absolutely ready to play this game." Golden State of Mind on what actually happened: "Right from the get go you could see this one getting ugly. The Warriors came out flat and had absolutely no energy tonight. The starters couldn't score or defend. Their heads were clearly not in the game and they just weren't ready. I can't explain this one. They just beat the Spurs, had a day off, and should have been pumped to play the hottest team in basketball. Instead we got, a whole whole lot of nothing."

  • ESPN's John Hollinger: "Talk to almost anyone in the NBA, and they'll tell you the same story -- that centers are a dying breed, that once Shaq retires there will hardly be any left, and that the rare battle between two true low-post players makes them misty-eyed for the days of yore. It's a consensus you'll rarely hear anyone contest. It's also totally false."

  • Sofoklis "Baby Shaq" Schortsanitis, a Clipper pick a couple of years ago, is reportedly on his way to Switzerland to lose weight.

  • A nice little collection of Dahntay Jones video.

  • Basketbawful has some smelling salts for anyone already staring dreamily to ahead to predict various playoff seedings: "The two hottest teams in the league this time last year (the Mavericks and Suns) got knocked out in the first and second rounds, respectively. And the Lakers started out pretty strong last season, before injuries and ennui led them straight into the snapping jaws of a first-round beatdown. So please, remember that it's only January, and don't talk to me about playoffs."

  • TrueHoop reader Luke emails from Beijing about troubles with the Chinese Basketball Association -- the basketball home of Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian, as well as the apparently forerunner of an NBA-sponsored league in China: "You may have read a few weeks ago about how several teams may be forced out of the league because they are unable to secure TV broadcast contracts. Another recent story is about the unruly fans that come to CBA games, fighting, cursing at players, and generally causing havoc. Several teams have been fined because they are unable to control their fans. There have also been lots of cases of cheating refs, but I don't know much about that. In the most recent chapter of this unraveling league is the surprising rise of the team from Xinjiang, a team that has historically mopped the basement of the league. This year they signed former NBA center Mengke Bateer. He brought them to second in the standings and the club was favored to win the championship this year, which would have been a serious upset since only like three, maybe four, teams have ever won the championship in the CBA (Yi's team, usually). But in this rather unprecedented season, scandal lurks ... sure enough, turns out Xinjiang had stacked the deck with more foreigners than are allowed. Some Vietnamese-American guy (named Guan) was playing with a fake ID (not a small offense in China), and being a foreigner, violated league rules. Xinjiang was stripped of all the games Guan, a back-up PG, had played in, dropping them to 11th place and effectively removing them from the playoffs. Scandalous, indeed."

  • Newsday columnist Ken Berger: "A few weeks before last season's deadline, Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com stopped Isiah Thomas in his tracks during one of his pregame media sessions with the following question: 'Who on the Knicks is untouchable?' Thomas blew off the question with a non-answer: 'Everybody.' 'Kelvin Cato,' Sheridan shot back. 'He's untouchable,' Thomas said. 'In my mind, they're all untouchable right now. What do you expect me to say?' So last night, before the Knicks attempted to win their second game in a row for the first time all season, I asked Thomas to characterize his level of activity in exploring what other teams are shopping. 'It's safe to say we have our ear to the ground and we're pretty much aware of players that are available and players that are not available,' Thomas said. When I asked him if it's safe to say that there are players available who interest him, Thomas said, 'I have no interest in anyone but my team.' And then I couldn't help myself, reminding Thomas of his absurd 'untouchable' comment last February and posing the question again. A free week as a guest blogger to a
    nyone who can guess what he said. Cue Jeopardy music ... 'They're all untouchable,' Thomas replied. Which ain't true, of course."

  • Oh really, you've been hearing that Tracy McGrady might end up in New York? Anybody check with Houston on that? Read this.

  • Tracy McGrady talking about Darfur, and his goal of building twelve schools there. I feel like my grandma when I say "shouldn't he take his sunglassess off?"