First Cup: Friday

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: David Stern’s long, storied, occasionally polarizing tenure as N.B.A. commissioner will come to a close on Feb. 1, 2014, exactly 30 years after it began. When the moment arrives, he will hand the reins to Adam Silver, his handpicked heir. …. With 15 months to go, Stern was not in a particularly reflective mood Thursday. He touched only briefly on his legacy. But he singled out the 1992 Olympic basketball team, the first to include N.B.A. players, as a high point. His lowest moments, he said, had to do with ending players’ careers — a broad reference to the drug-related suspensions he handed down early in his tenure. Otherwise, Stern called his time as commissioner “a series of extraordinary experiences.”

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The NBA remained popular in spite of a lockout that forced the league to play a truncated, 66-game schedule in 2011-12. That was the second lockout on Stern’s watch, following a 1998 labor impasse that cost the league 32 games. Other low points during Stern’s tenure have included a referee gambling scandal, a handful of players banned or suspended for drug use and the brawl between players and fans at the Pistons’ arena. But, on balance, there’s been more good news than bad for the NBA during Stern’s time as commissioner. Stern said the new labor agreement, which either side can opt out of after the 2016-17 season, has led to shorter contracts for players and what he eventually believes will be more competitive balance among teams. The league this month played seven exhibition games in six international cities and recently opened offices in Brazil and India.

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: Former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy, who has been critical of NBA Commissioner David Stern, recently said that ABC/ESPN withdrew an offer for him to be a studio analyst and wonders if the NBA told ESPN not to hire him. I asked Stern on Thursday ifhe discussed Van Gundy with ESPN or if he or any NBA executive discouraged ESPN from hiring him. "No," Stern said, adding he is supportive of coaches who want to go into broadcasting. But Stern refrained from saying anything about Stan. Jalen Rose got the ABC studio job instead, replacing Jon Barry, who was moved to games. Bill Simmons is replacing Chris Broussard, who will go back to reporting. We like Rose, but we’re not sure Rose/Simmons is an upgrade over Barry/Broussard, even though Barry was too critical of the Heat. Simmons is an unabashed Celtics fan, which sometimes seems to undermine his objectivity.

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: Count Pistons coach Lawrence Frank among those who saluted Stern as he announced he'll step away on Feb. 1, 2014. Frank called Stern, "the best commissioner of all time." "I have so much admiration for what he's done for the league," Frank said. "His legacy, there's not a better commissioner in all of sports." When Stern replaced Larry O'Brien in 1984, the league wasn't on stable ground, despite the budding rivalry between the Magic Johnson-led Lakers and Larry Bird-led Celtics. Drugs had infiltrated urban cities and the NBA wasn't immune. Stern helped clean up the league, literally and figuratively, promoted Johnson, Bird and Michael Jordan to the masses, taking it to heights unforeseen from a global perspective. "Look at the league, where it's come from," said Frank of Stern, who started as legal counsel in 1966. "Where it's at (today), the TV revenue. He's a great, great leader." Still, he's been called "The Emperor" by some.

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: Conspiracy theorists might be happy with Thursday's news that David Stern will step down from his long-held commissioner role in 2014. But players and brass of the Utah Jazz, a small-market organization that stands to benefit from the most-recent Collective Bargaining Agreement he helped orchestrate, were nothing but complimentary and respectful in their comments about the commish. Jazz CEO Greg Miller released a statement lauding Stern for having "consistently demonstrated a sincere interest in the well-being of our franchise" since 1985 when the late Larry H. Miller bought the franchise outright. … Tyrone Corbin, who's mostly been in the NBA in one capacity or another since 1985, described Stern's eventual departure as being "sad for the league." The Jazz coach insisted the commissioner has been good for his organization and the entire NBA. "He's very, very, very respected throughout the world," Corbin said. "For not only basketball but in business — for how he's built this industry and for how the game has taken tremendous strides for the better since he's been running the league. He will be sorely missed."

  • Eric Koreen of the National Post: Sure, stars existed before Stern but they had trouble capturing America’s collective imagination. In 1984, Larry Bird’s Celtics met Magic Johnson’s Lakers in the first of three NBA Finals. Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley were drafted into the league the same year. Today, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant draw the attention. Stars drive up the value of teams, sponsorship deals and television packages. Stern was in charge as the NBA became truly marketable.

  • Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle: Mark Jackson spoke well of NBA Commissioner David Stern, who announced he will retire Feb. 1, 2014. "He did an incredible job bringing this league to where it is today," Jackson said. "It's a different league than it was before he took over."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: The Mavericks aren’t sure how many roster spots they might have to work with, but they expect to bring in a couple other players besides Eddy Curry for auditions over the next few days. Veteran center Melvin Ely and swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts both will come in for a look-see by the Mavericks. In addition, the team apparently isn’t certain about the timetable to jettison Delonte West. It’s obvious he has played his last game for the organization. But when he is officially waived or bought out or whatever isn’t certain. One thing that is certain is that West’s suspension is without pay. The negotiations with his agent, Dan Fegan, are ongoing about how to settle this divorce. There are three possible resolutions. Either he stays suspended without pay until Dec. 15, the first date the Mavericks can trade him, West decides that he will leave without any of the salary the Mavericks owe him for this season or the two sides reach a buyout.

  • Ethan J. Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post: At this point, there’s not all that much on the agenda prior to the opening of the regular season. In fact, nothing that will take precedence over these two activities: First, cross the fingers. Second, knock the hardwood. Simply, the preseason has gone about as well as anyone in the organization could have hoped, starting with the accelerated timetable of Dwyane Wade and the surprising spryness of Mike Miller, and culminating Wednesday night in Kansas City with the returns of Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem to the lineup and rotation, respectively. While the Heat didn’t beat the Wizards on Wednesday – getting sloppy in the second half – it did demonstrate in the first that the core group is more than ready for the season to start.

  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: The focus on how the Timberwolves will function without Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio has been aimed at forwards Andrei Kirilenko, Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham, and point guards Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea. And yet, a week before the start of the NBA season, Chase Budinger is quietly emerging as someone the Wolves can rely on for the next month and a half while Love and Rubio, the team's franchise players, work their way back from injuries. Budinger has made 13 three-pointers in the Wolves' six exhibition games, including five Wednesday night, Oct. 24, against the Detroit Pistons, reminding the Wolves that he's just as valuable in this transition process as any other player on the roster. "Chase could be our leading scorer off the bench," assistant coach Terry Porter said.

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: Byron Scott said he was a bit surprised, and very happy, that the Cavs picked up the fourth year of his contract. "I think I let you guys know how much I enjoy this organization and the direction we're headed," Scott told reporters on Thursday. "We have an unbelievable owner in Dan Gilbert, who I have a great relationship with, a great general manager, and we're on the same page as far as how this thing needs to develop. Like I've stated before, I'm extremely happy here in Cleveland." Scott said being on the same page as Gilbert and general manager Chris Grant is key.

  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: A day later, DeMar DeRozan was more polite, but remained displeased about what some pundits have been saying about his game and his team’s chances this season. On Wednesday, after an ESPN preview pegged the Raptors as a 33-win outfit and indicated that DeRozan hadn’t proven he was more than a bench player, the swingman angrily tweeted that the author was a “clown.” On Thursday, DeRozan admitted that such talk fires him up. “Some people say they don’t read negative stuff and everything, I use it as motivation,” he said. “It’s frustrating at times, it makes you want to work harder and at the end of the day prove everybody wrong. That’s why I love this job so much, love coming in here to prove people like that wrong.”