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First Cup: Monday

  • Percy Allen of The Seattle Times: "If this truly is the end for these Sonics in Seattle, then Gary Payton had to see it for himself. He couldn't miss this game. Not when all signs indicate that KeyArena -- the house that GP built -- will sit dark and silent next season while Kevin Durant and Co. will be playing in Oklahoma City. Had he planned things a little better, Payton would have filed retirement papers before the season and the Sonics would have retired his number and raised his No. 20 jersey into the rafters on Sunday, which would have made the Sonics' 99-95 thrilling victory against the Dallas Mavericks exceptionally memorable for the 16,272 fans inside the building. 'I sure don't want to get my jersey retired in Oklahoma City,' he said. 'I don't think that would work for me. That ain't where I played. Oklahoma City fans didn't get to really, really see me. They saw me on TV, but that was it. My fans are here in Seattle. It would be nice for me to come back and raise my jersey in Seattle here and let everybody appreciate it and my family can appreciate it.'"

  • Rick Noland of The Medina County Gazette: "Always colorful Gilbert Arenas will get his wish: His Washington Wizards will play the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight season. Home-court advantage is still up in the air, but the Cavaliers and Wizards locked up the fourth and fifth spots in the Eastern Conference when Toronto lost to Detroit on Sunday. 'I think everybody wants Cleveland in the first round,' Arenas wrote in a recent blog. 'They've been a .500 team ever since they made that trade (for Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, Joe Smith and Delonte West) and everybody wants a chance at that matchup.'"

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "Donnie Walsh kept up the charade yesterday, saying he hasn't decided to bounce Isiah Thomas as coach but indicated the announcement could come Thursday or Friday. But make no mistake: Tonight is last call for Thomas at the Garden. And tonight is your last chance, for old time sake, to chant 'Fire Isiah' at the sold-out Garden when the Knicks (23-57) host the juggernaut Celtics in Thomas' home farewell. Let's hope the fans aren't too full from the free hot dogs the Garden is distributing on Fan Appeciation Night."TrueHoop First Cup

  • Broderick Turner of The Press-Enterprise: "There has been so much talk about the rebirth of the Lakers and Celtics, two of the NBA's most storied franchises. Many believe the NBA would love to have those teams in the Finals, for ratings and for historical purposes. 'Well, maybe some people would roll over in their grave and reappear,' Phil Jackson said laughing, referring to late Celtics coach Red Auerbach. 'But it is a nostalgia thing, of course,' he said. 'People always weigh that in, and I think people might speculate about it. But I don't think the league gets involved in any of that kind of thought process. I think they just say, 'Weigh it out. Let's see who comes out on top.'"

  • Paul White of The Virginian-Pilot: "Mark Tyndale said he was thrilled to accept the Allen Iverson Inspirational Award for his performance in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. He just had one question. 'What do they give this for?' the Temple forward asked. Told it was to recognize the event's most determined, intense player, Tyndale smiled. 'That's just part of my nature,' Tyndale said after he helped Tidewater Sealants to a 103-80 victory against Portsmouth Sports Club in Saturday's title game." All Tournament Team Tournament Boxscores Tournament Statistics

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "The Celtics still aren't quite sure what to make of Sam Cassell. 'Oh, Sam's crazy,' coach Doc Rivers said. 'No,' Paul Pierce said through a wide smile, 'he's only borderline crazy.' Watching the 38-year-old point guard strut and gesture -- and score 15 of his 20 points -- in the fourth quarter of Saturday's win in Atlanta, the rest of the C's were laughing with Cassell, not at him. The regulars were howling on the bench when he drilled a pair of late 3-pointers to humble the Hawks. They doubled over when he signaled toward his lower region to emphasize his massive ... uh, courage."

  • Mark Janssen of the Manhattan Mercury: "Dear Michael Beasley: First off, thank you for selecting Kansas State University and giving yours truly the honor of covering your 33 games as a Wildcat. You're an amazing talent. Unbelievable! Every attempt to pen glowing words that might match your performance failed miserably in doing justice. You'll be announcing your future Monday afternoon at 5, and I'm certain that word will be that you love the Wildcat Nation, but that you'll be entering the June 26 NBA Draft. And you should. Opportunities to sign a package of contracts and endorsements in excess of $60, $70 million, if not beyond ... well ... you simply don't pass it up. Can't. Shouldn't. In your own words, 'Money is a powerful thing. It can be a cruel master, but a great server.' Remember that phrase."