First Cup: Monday

  • Do the Cavaliers have to win 50 games for LeBron James to win the Most Valuable Player award? Brian Windhorst of The Akron Beacon Journal thinks so: "The Cavaliers are barely keeping their heads above water, heading toward the midpoint of the season at just a game above .500 at 19-18. Based on that trend, it would be a hard sell for James to win the league's Most Valuable Player award because voters usually weigh the team's record heavily. No player on a team with less than 50 wins has received the MVP since Moses Malone of the Houston Rockets in 1982. The Cavs would have to finish the season 31-14 to get to 50 wins and match their record of the previous two seasons."

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution doesn't understand why it is necessary to replay the final 51.9 seconds from the December 19 Hawks-Heat game: "I'd sure love another shot at the 11th grade, too, now that I think of it. There were two or three girls I'd love a second shot with that year, now that I've seen what I missed out on after all these years. Truth be told, I'd just as soon do every year over leading up to 1997, since the Lil' Boss Man is handing out do-over passes. But the final 51.9 seconds from the Dec. 19 Hawks-Heat game … what's the point? If there was some grand conspiracy to ruin the Heat's season (I'd say they've done a decent job of that on their own) instigated by the Hawks' official scorer, we are all in trouble. The facts just don't justify us all having to relive those final, fateful moments of a game that should be in the rearview for both teams."

  • Accoring to John Schmid of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Bucks are cashing in with rookie Yi Jianlian: "In the topsy-turvy world of global economics, Rockwell Automation Inc. has found an ingenious new inroad into China: It put up an ad in downtown Milwaukee. The Fortune 500 engineering company is advertising at courtside during Milwaukee Bucks' games, which this year are being broadcast in China because of the arrival of Yi Jianlian, the Buck's top choice in last year's NBA draft. In Yi's native China, where basketball ranks as the national pastime, Yi stirs nothing short of Brett Favre-like fan fervor. ... The Bucks charge sums into six figures for what amounts to at least one cumulative minute of exposure to some 150 million Chinese per game."

  • Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star: "The Indiana Pacers did not know center David Harrison failed two previous drug tests until they learned he was suspended five games for violating the league's drug program last Friday while they were preparing for practice in Phoenix. As part of the collective bargaining agreement, teams are not notified about a failed drug test until a player is suspended. 'What it means is that we're not in the position to know that part of a player because we're not involved in it,' Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh said. 'So it's all guesswork on the part of the franchise if a player has an issue with alcohol or drugs or something like that until you get to the third level.'"

  • Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times describes the moment when Andrew Bynum went down: "As soon as Andrew Bynum went down in a heap and didn't spring up, as soon as a grimace spread across the Lakers center's face and he reflexively clutched his left knee, what should have been an easy night against the Memphis Grizzlies became anything but routine. The fans knew it right away. They stood in front of their seats, the pricey courtside vantage points and the distant ones, craning to get a look at him. ... Bynum had sprained his left knee, a team spokesman said later. Although X-rays were negative, Bynum will undergo an MRI exam today and won't accompany the Lakers to their game at Seattle."

  • Gavin Maloof tells Melody Gutierrez of the Sacramento Bee that the team will be accessible in new ways: "Co-owner Gavin Maloof said fans can expect more innovative events aimed at 'bringing the players and the fans closer together.' Following a recent six-hour brainstorming session, Gavin Maloof said there are plenty of ideas being bandied about. 'We might check into showing the game on the side of the building like an old-fashioned drive-in,' Gavin Maloof said. 'You'd pay the parking fee and watch the game on the side of the building. It's just something we are exploring.'"