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First Cup: Friday

  • Sam Smith of The Chicago Tribune: "This is an anniversary the Bulls won't be celebrating. But in this disappointing season, it perhaps is indicative of the struggles the franchise is facing. The NBA announced Thursday the completion of its 2008 All-Star team with the naming of reserves for the Feb. 17 game in New Orleans. It will mark the 10th year since the Bulls last had a player in the All-Star Game. It is by far the longest the franchise has gone without a player the coaches and/or fans and media considered an All-Star. Even in the inaugural season of 1966-67, the Bulls had Guy Rodgers and Jerry Sloan as All-Stars."TrueHoop First Cup

  • Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee: "He wants to be traded. He doesn't want to be traded. He loves Sacramento. He loves New York and Indianapolis. He says he can be content and productive anywhere. He envisions a future in a larger market. That was Thursday. This is Friday. Ron Artest? Are you still with us? As the New Orleans Hornets arrive at Arco Arena, Artest appears to be bracing for a trade and intent on ensuring an amicable parting. He may or may not want to be moved. His moods shift like a swing in a windstorm. 'You can't read him,' teammate Brad Miller said the other night. 'You never know what he's going to say.'"

  • Marino Eccher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Bucks rookie Yi Jianlian has inspired a half dozen fan clubs and a burgeoning link between Milwaukee and China. Now, a group of Chinese community leaders have latched onto Yi-mania and launched the state's first Chinese-language newspaper. The Milwaukee Chinese Times, the product of four area professionals and a team of volunteers, published its inaugural issue Dec. 29. The semiweekly paper aims to cover 'the past, present and future of the Chinese in this state,' said editor Ming Tao Jiang."

  • Rob Parker of The Detroit News: "... you can't blame those fans who want to play homage to Kobe Bryant. In no way is it disrespectful to the Pistons in their own building. Great players should be admired, especially when they make only one appearance in your town during the regular season. The NBA, often mistaken for the WWE, has tried to push the players it wants to be the face of the league. A couple of years ago, it was Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat. Now it's LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. But fans, more savvy than the powers-that-be think, never buy into the propaganda. The biggest and brightest star in the league is still Bryant."

  • Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press: "On Thursday night, Tayshaun Prince appeared to one-up Kobe Bryant yet again. He scored 22 points and nailed the game-winning three-pointer with 4.4 seconds left. It was one of Prince's better offensive games, and he was the obvious hero. Prince showed, once again, that he can score within the flow of the offense. But if you watched the whole game, you saw something else -- something more disturbing: At this point in Tayshaun Prince's career, nobody would call him a true defensive stopper."

  • John Hollinger in The New York Sun: " ... one has to wonder if the Nets aren't trying to drive up the price for Jason Kidd by circulating information about a trade that seems preposterous from the vantage point of the other two teams. To review, the trade discussion reported would have Portland give up four prospects and a no. 1 pick to get Dallas guard Devin Harris, including forward Travis Outlaw, who is arguably better than Harris. Dallas would give up Harris to Portland and Jerry Stackhouse and DeSagana Diop, among others, to the Nets; the Nets would then buy Stackhouse his deal so he could go sign with San Antonio and beat the Mavs in the playoffs. For their troubles, Dallas would end up with Kidd, who is having a worse year than Harris and makes four times as much. Sounds likely, huh?"

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "Jameer Nelson will play his first game in the Philadelphia area without his father in attendance with the rest of his family and friends. Pete Nelson died last summer at his dockside job-site near their home in Chester, Pa., his death ruled as an accidental drowning. He was 57. 'It's going to be the first game in Philly without my father being there, but I think I've been doing a good job of handling the tragedy and his passing,' he said. 'I'm quite sure it may get emotional when I go home. ... but I got to continue to do a good job of staying focused and being tough. I have ups and downs. The good thing is, I have more ups than downs. So I have to continue to grow as a person and as a basketball player with this on my shoulders.'"

  • Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: "Phil Jackson handed out a book of individual significance to each player, something he does annually before a long trip. Unlike recent years, though, Jackson was secretive when asked which book he gave to each player. Some of the Lakers willingly volunteered what books they received, although Kwame Brown declined to comment and Kobe Bryant said he couldn't remember. 'What book did he give me? I don't know,' Bryant said. 'That's on the back burner for me. I'm still reading my 'Harry Potter' series from first to seven. It kind of gets pushed to the back. 'Chamber of Secrets' comes first.' Lamar Odom was given 'Cinnamon Kiss,' Derek Fisher got 'The Wedding,' and Walton received 'We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young.' Jordan Farmar was given a book called 'Shortcomings.'"

  • Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: "The list of all-star reserves was announced Thursday. The Nuggets center topped the list of snubs. ''All-Star Games are never going to make or break me -- I'd rather win a championship than be an all-star,' Camby said. 'But if you ask my teammates and coaches here, they'll tell you they think I'm an all-star, and that's all that really matters -- the confidence and the trust I have for these people in this organization.'"

  • Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune:"'I'm a little disappointed D-Will didn't make it,'' Carlos Boozer said. 'I felt like because we moved up so high, to the fourth spot, I thought he'd have a good chance.' Williams seemed resigned to the fact in the past week and greeted the news Thursday by saying, 'That's how it goes.' The interesting thing will be to watch how Williams responds: He followed his All-Star snub last season by scoring a career-high 33 points against Cleveland. 'I think he's going to tear up the league because of this,' Boozer said. 'I think it's going to motivate him and light a fire under him even more than he already has. He's already very motivated, so it's going to be scary to watch, but fun for us.'"