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First Cup: Wednesday

  • Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle: "Modern technology and a better understanding of the injury have led to more effective treatment. Only in the most unusual of cases or circumstances do players with Yao's injury find themselves in Toney's or Walton's or Ilgauskas' situation. There are no guarantees in the medical world, but Yao should be jogging in a few weeks. In a few months, he should be back on the basketball court. Clanton says Yao won't even have to be like Mike to represent his home country in the Olympics. He ought to be healthy and ready to go. Step one went well."

  • Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe: "It doesn't look like anything special on the official NBA schedule. March 5 Det @ Bos. Just one out of each team's Big 82, right? No more important than Cha @ Det on Dec. 9 or Ind @ Bos on Apr. 2, right? It's just the regular season, so how important could it be, right? Ha. 'You know what?' inquires Joe Dumars, the president of basketball operations for the Detroit Pistons. 'It would be disingenuous for any player to say that when the two top teams in the conference play each other, it is not a significant game. It is a significant game, because this is a game where you are gauging yourself.'"TrueHoop First Cup

  • Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News: "I don't understand how anyone can watch the Dallas Mavericks play their last eight games and think the team was better off before the Jason Kidd trade. But I know those people are out there. And the original critics of the deal surely feel that Dallas' 4-4 record since it made the move validates their argument. And that is nonsense. Take away the first road loss at New Orleans in which Kidd only knew five or six sets and had had only one practice with the team. In the team's other defeats -- all on the road against Los Angeles, Utah and San Antonio -- the Mavericks held fourth-quarter leads in each game. I'll take my chances with a team that can play like that in the first few games following a roster-changing trade any time."

  • T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times: "Is Colorado ancient history for the folks in Nebraska, Florida and Maine? Does the image of a selfish basketball player, advanced in part by Phil Jackson's book and the split with Shaq, linger? 'He still struggles,' said Matt Delzell, senior client manager for the Davie Brown talent agency, which ranks athletes and celebrities in eight categories to determine their viability as endorsers. 'Kobe has a high awareness number, so people know who he is, but when it comes to trust, appeal, influence and such things, he scores below the average score for everyone else in seven out of seven categories.'"

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "Anderson Varejao is known as a happy-go-lucky guy. That was anything but the case last summer when he was forced to go through a contract negotiation with the Cavaliers that resembled hand-to-hand combat. But he revealed on Tuesday the $17.3 million contract wasn't foremost on his mind. Both of his parents had heart surgery last summer, which weighed heavily on the 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward/center. ... What his family experienced was tugging at his heart strings 'more than anything,' he said. 'And the media killed me every day.' He's still quite bitter about how he was portrayed last summer by many in the media. Time will likely soothe those feelings. His agent, Dan Fegan, said Varejao persevered. 'It was a challenging summer mostly because of the length of the negotiation, but I felt Andy held up great,' he said. 'Andy has great core family values, which helped him maintain an even keel throughout the process.'"

  • Ken Berger of Newsday: "Those hoping the Knicks would have a new coach Tuesday got their wish. Garden chairman James Dolan decided he's seen enough and finally pulled the trigger on a move that has been anticipated for months -- even years. Haven't heard who Isiah Thomas' replacement is yet? Say hello to coach Supranowitz. The PR director has officially taken over. Hey, we kid because we care, but actually it wasn't that far from the truth to say that Jonathan Supranowitz, the Knicks' vice president of public relations, had a more important role than the coach and president of the team at Tuesday's practice. Though he didn't draw up any plays or drive home any teaching points in the grueling, 45-minute session, Supranowitz had a longer Q&A with the media than Thomas did."