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First Cup: Thursday

  • Brian Windhorst of The Akron Beacon Journal: "I was inches from giving up at Hopkins airport today and going home after I tried to get to all four New York area airports all day and didn't look like I was going to make it. I landed at 6 p.m. at Newark and took a harrowing cab ride to make it here in time. The lesson is this: you never know when you are going to see LeBron do something special. It may happen in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, it may happen in the Garden, it may happen Saturday night against the Pacers."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Dwyane Wade was asked about his future amid speculation that he would opt out of his Heat contract when eligible in the 2010 offseason. 'Just because we're having a down year doesn't mean I'm ready to jump to another city,' he said. 'That's not the case. I love Miami. This perception of me ready to leave right now because other players are getting mad in their situation is totally false.' But Wade also said it only would be prudent to re-evaluate his position as his opt-out date draws closer."

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Just how long Chris Paul can carry a grudge remains to be seen. But if his actions are any indication, the Hawks will continue to pay dearly for not drafting the former Wake Forest star with the second pick of the 2005 NBA draft. The New Orleans Hornets point guard is 4-0 against the Hawks after Wednesday's 116-101 victory. Paul and the Hornets, who are fighting for playoff position in the stocked Western Conference, ran circles around the Hawks all night, piling up 35 assists to the Hawks' 18. Paul, who finished with 23 points and 18 assists, had a double-double (15 points and 10 assists, and without a turnover) by halftime."

  • Ohm Youngmisuk of the New York Daily News: "'When I asked to be traded (this season), it was more or less (to get) everybody to look at themselves to see if they are doing their job,' [Jason Kidd] added. 'That is from top-to-bottom, including myself. Are we giving the best effort here as a whole? Is everybody living up to what their expectations are of themselves? People sometimes look at it as a crime that you shouldn't try to ask people to be better. Coaches ask players to be better. Why couldn't players ask coaches or management to get better? It is nothing personal.' When asked if he was talking about Thorn, coach Lawrence Frank, Carter or any other teammate, Kidd replied: 'It's everybody. Everybody has to be accountable and do their job. New Jersey has no identity. That was my whole thing. Are we a running team? Are we a halfcourt team? What are we? I don't think they still know.'"

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Kevin Durant has played the most minutes of any rookie in the National Basketball Association, but he's not complaining about overuse. The Seattle SuperSonics guard has yet to hit the proverbial 'wall' that Milwaukee Bucks rookie Yi Jianlian admits has caused a decline in his performance. ... 'Hopefully I hit that wall after the season is over with,' Durant said. 'Right now, I just love the game so much; I don't mind playing at all. I love to be on the floor. I could be on the floor for 48 minutes if I could.'"

  • Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: "Phil Jackson has won nine championships as a coach, tied with Red Auerbach for most in NBA history, but has been selected coach of the year only once in his 17-year career. In the same way that Kobe Bryant gets mentioned as one of the front-runners for league most valuable player, Jackson also faces the possibility of being recognized. 'I think the best interview usually gets coach of the year,' he said wryly. 'Usually it's a team that's a surprise team. Favorites aren't usually given coach of the year.'"

  • Tim Buckley of the Deseret Morning News: "Andrei Kirilenko holds no ill will toward Dirk Nowitzki for the flagrant foul he committed Monday night, one that cost Kirilenko a sprained right hip and Nowitzki a one-game suspension sans pay. 'I don't really think he did it for, like, mean purpose,' said Kirilenko, who was injured in the first quarter of the Jazz's win Monday over the Mavericks. 'Probably because of the situation -- he already lost the position, he was trying to stop somehow. It happens in the game,' added Kirilenko, who thought Nowitzki was off-balance on the play. 'I'm not looking (for) revenge.'"