First Cup: Thursday

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Q: Loved hearing Erik Spoelstra on WQAM talking about the Heat playing even faster. Riley might have started Showtime, but Spoelstra can finish what Pat started? A: I'm as big a fan of the running game as anyone, and there is little as breathtaking in today's NBA as Dwyane Wade-to-LeBron James or LeBron-to-Wade. But as any coach will tell you, talking about running and running are two different things. With this a somewhat aging roster, it will be interesting to see if Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are, so to speak, up to speed with such intentions. Just as the Heat ran into a midseason lull with their running game on the way to last season's championship, I think the running game is something that will work in spurts but also something that could wear down the roster if utilized as an 82-game approach.

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: Former Wizard Andray Blatche is expected to find a new NBA home soon and Yahoo! Sports and ESPN.com are already reporting that he has agreed in principal on a deal with the new-look Brooklyn Nets. But according to two sources close to Blatche, the 6-foot-11 forward has yet to make a decision and is also considering an offer from the Miami Heat. One person close to Blatche said, “Nothing is finalized.” Blatche worked out last Saturday for Nets Coach Avery Johnson in Houston, where he has been training with former NBA coach John Lucas. In an interview on Wednesday with HoopsWorld, Blatche said that his workout with the Nets “went well.” “Hopefully in the next couple of days, I can be on an NBA roster,” Blatche said.

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Thursday night, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will honor the Orlando Magic co-founder in Springfield, Mass. Pat Williams will receive the John W. Bunn Lifetime AchievementAward — an award that previously went to such luminaries as former UCLA coach John Wooden, former Boston Celtics coach and executive Red Auerbach and former University of Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt. Now 72 years old and with his blood disease multiple myeloma in remission, Williams is looking back on his accomplishments. His biggest: Bringing a team to Orlando. "Pat was the driving force behind it," Magic CEO Alex Martins said. "He was the individual that put tireless effort towards it, and clearly from an approval standpoint, from an expansion standpoint, he was the driving force. Jimmy Hewitt obviously had the original vision and the original thought ... but Pat was the one who executed on that dream and made it a reality."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: Now, 25 years after being the No. 11 pick in the 1987 draft, Reggie Miller is headed to the Basketball Hall of the Fame. "Wow," Miller said recently. "I think I'm starting to feel nervous. I know that's surprising for me to say. It's because I can see the train coming at me, the light at the end of the tunnel." Miller, who retired in 2005, will be joined Friday night by another former Pacers star, ABA great Mel Daniels, as the 2012 class is officially inducted during ceremonies in Springfield, Mass. Miller will be escorted by his personal Dream Team of fellow Hall of Famers: Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and Cheryl Miller, his older sister. Miller, 47, missed the cut to make the Hall of Fame in 2011, his first year of eligibility. But going in with Daniels, a mentor and close friend, makes up for that slight, he said.

  • Ethan J. Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post: Even so, LeBron James clearly liked it. He tweeted this last week: “Man I wish we(NBA) did “Hard Knocks” or some version of it. Love that show.” The NBA does have a version. It’s called The Association, and last season it featured the Denver Nuggets. It airs on NBATV, which means it is produced by the league, and that means it is edited differently. There’s access, but many of the potentially controversial occurrences are covered from more of a distance. An HBO-style Hard Knocks — taping training camp — wouldn’t really work in the NBA, because so many contracts are guaranteed and so few spots are up for grabs. Not that the Heat needs anything like this. NBA players tend to let the media into their lives more than athletes of their sports. Access is much, much better. When I was covering the Dolphins, I might get a chance to talk to the backup fullback once or twice per week. Covering the Heat, I get a chance to ask LeBron James questions once or twice per day. Nor is there much mystery about how the Heat operates. There’s a guy named Pat Riley. He sets the tone, and it flows down from there.

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Dwyane Wade grew up idolizing Michael Knight. Wednesday, the two shared some face time on ABC's "Good Afternoon America." Having revealed in his just-released book on parenting that he pushed past the darkest hours of his youth by watching "Knight Rider" alongside his grandmother, Wade was surprised on his visit to the talk show by a video link with David Hasselhoff, who played the role of Michael Knight in the 1980s show about an artificially intelligent car. In his book, "A Father First: How my life became bigger than basketball," Wade wrote, "I actually told David Hasselhoff how he helped me get through the tough times in childhood." Hasselhoff, who has gone on to the casts of "Baywatch," "Dancing with the Stars," and "America's Got Talent," appeared to relished the conversation almost as much as a beaming Wade. Hasselhoff opened the conversation by asking, "Dude, if you send me a copy of your book, I'll send you a copy of my 'Knight Rider' license plate." Wade held out for more. "Can I get the car?"

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: News yesterday that Tom Anselmi becomes the new president and chief operating officer of the monolithic sports-bar-condo-broadcast empire was hardly earth-shaking and, frankly, had been expected for months. ... Look, it doesn’t really matter what Anselmi thinks of Bryan Colangelo and it’s folly to think just because the new guy got the titles full time that some kind of sweeping change is afoot. The season is upon us; it’s not time for any kind of change and none is coming. As far as I know — and this comes from a few months around the building and a couple of calls and e-mails yesterday — their working relationship is just fine; the guy at the top knows to leave Bryan and Ed Stefanski to do their jobs and there’s no reason to think that changes today. And it doesn’t matter who is in that chair — Anselmi, me, you, Some Guy Named Joe — because Bryan has a contract with an option year left and he was always going to be judged on any improvement this year before he got a new deal or the final year of his deal picked up.

  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: The Jazz haven’t wasted time finding a replacement for former assistant coach Scott Layden. Utah is on the verge of agreeing to terms with a coach to round out Tyrone Corbin’s staff, The Salt Lake Tribune learned on Wednesday. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey confirmed the plans, but cautioned the deal is not official and wouldn’t reveal potential candidates. Corbin led the search process, Lindsey said, and drew from a list of personally selected names. "We’re getting close but we’re not going to announce anything prematurely," said Lindsey, who is with Corbin on a trip. Austin Toros coach Brad Jones has been mentioned several times as a favored candidate. The Toros are San Antonio’s Development League affiliate, and Jones — a nephew of former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan — has ties with Corbin. Asked about Jones being added to Utah’s staff, Lindsey declined comment.

  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: Stephen Jackson’s hobbies aren’t limited to just rapping and making love to pressure. In his spare time, the Spurs’ resident badass also amasses additions for his massive collection of sneakers. It’s a stunning assortment, to say the least. But how does it compare to that of Joe Johnson, who not only hoards what is reputed to be the largest collection in the NBA at more than 1,000 pairs but stores them in a special basketball-themed vault that can be unlocked only by his fingerprints on a special entry pad? (Alas, Joe is selling his crib.) Seems like Jack has a bit more work to do if he wants to claim the crown as the NBA’s undisputed sneaker king. (How much does anyone want to bet that Tim Duncan owns less than 10 pairs of shoes in total, half of which he probably kicks off in the garage?)

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: Scott O’Neil, an energetic executive who helped stabilize the Knicks after the controversy and tumult of the Isiah Thomas era, has left his post as president of Madison Square Garden Sports, after only four years on the job. The news was announced Wednesday afternoon in separate statements from O’Neil and the Garden. The reasons for O’Neil’s departure were not immediately clear, but it appears he is not leaving for another job. Neither statement offered any specifics. O’Neil, 42, had a tenuous relationship with James L. Dolan, the Garden chairman — a fact that was well known among people with ties to both men. Young, ambitious and driven, O’Neil was constantly pushing to expand his influence in the daily operations of the Knicks and the Rangers, as well as on the business side, creating some tension with Dolan.

  • Tammy Stables Battaglia of the Detroit Free Press: Many of the approximately 250 fans who stood in line to meet him today remembered Isiah Thomas leading the Bad Boys to NBA titles in 1989 and 1990. Darrell Alston, 55, of Taylor was first in line, arriving at 5:30 a.m. for a face-to-face meeting with the player he watched years ago. “I want to say thank you for the memories,” he said, as Thomas signed an autograph. With just as much sincerity, Thomas thanked Alston right back. “We never could have done all the things that we did without our fans,” Thomas said. He said he’ll always feel like a member of the Pistons, regardless of where he lives, works or plays. I always consider myself a Piston -- that’s what we are; that’s who we are,” he said, mentioning former teammates Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie Johnson, Dennis Rodman, Mark Aguirre, John Salley and current Pistons president Joe Dumars. “You have a good Piston at the head of the organization right now. And Joe will do fine.” When asked how he feels about Pistons owner Tom Gores, Thomas said he hasn’t met him. He said as long as Dumars is there, "I like him."

  • Staff The Oakland Tribune: The Golden State Warriors signed a multi-year contract extension with their flagship radio station, KNBR 680, the team announced Wednesday. The upcoming NBA season will mark the 29th consecutive one the Warriors will be on KNBR, and the 37th year overall on the station. The deal makes KNBR the Warriors flagship station through the 2015-16 NBA season. "We are really excited to continue on our long-standing partnership with KNBR," said Warriors President & COO Rick Welts. "This new agreement will enable the Warriors and KNBR to enter our fourth decade together during a period of time that is very compelling for our fans and our entire organization for a number of reasons, including, most importantly, the product on the floor. "We're eager to venture down this road with The Sports Leader."