First Cup: Friday

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "When the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team arrived in Athens four years ago, the players immediately checked into spacious cabins aboard the Queen Mary 2 -- a colossal cruise ship docked at Piraeus port on the Mediterranean Sea. It provided them ample security, a scenic view of an ancient city and isolation from the Olympic Village where thousands of other athletes from around the world were living. ... When the players arrived in Beijing on Wednesday, they checked into one of the city's plush, modern hotels -- there's no way these superstar millionaires would stay in the little apartments in the village like other athletes. But they quickly decided that seclusion stinks. After a short team meeting, the players boarded a bus and rushed to the Olympic Village, where they toured the facilities, ate at a McDonald's and mingled with other athletes for about four hours. Kobe Bryant described the venue as 'Disney World for athletes.'"TrueHoop First Cup

  • Fran Blinebury of the Houston Chronicle: "Today's unofficial statement on the air quality in Beijing from Denver Nuggets' forward Carmelo Anthony: 'I play in Denver, Colorado and it's hard to breathe up there. So this should be easy for me.'"

  • Tom Fox of The Dallas Morning News: "It didn't take me long to figure out where Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was holding court with the international media. Just look for the scrum. What I didn't figure though was how hard it was going to be making a photograph of the star. With cameramen, photographers, sound techs and reporters vying for position, I dove right in. The scrum was six-deep at one point before people starting tripping on one another."

  • Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News: "With Sunday night's much-anticipated USA-China basketball opener looming, I asked Jason Kidd whether he is allowed to talk to Mavericks president Donnie Nelson this week. Nelson is one of the Chinese assistant coaches. 'This is funny because Donnie in 2000 was with Lithuania, so that scared me. Now he's our first opponent. So, ah, yes, I can talk to him. He's my boss. But in the back of my mind that does scare me.'"

  • Pete Kerasotis of Florida Today: "Basketball in America has absorbed a lot of hits lately. Some jabs, some body blows. No knockout punches, though. Not yet. But the sport has been rocked. Which begs the question. Can USA basketball survive another Olympic letdown? Again, the situation isn't that dire, but basketball in America needs a boost, a buzz, something to feel good about again, something along the lines of, say, an Olympic gold medal. Listening, Dwight Howard? Got your Superman cape on?"

  • Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic: "The globalization of basketball is David Stern's dream, and now that dream is coming true. Except it's starting to look like a nightmare. We're not talking about heightened competition for the U.S. Olympic team. That's been the case for some time. This is about the newest, hottest trend in hoops. It's the reverse commute that's caught the NBA and its commissioner by surprise. It's the sudden wave of players bolting the league to play basketball overseas. 'They throw 30, 40, 50 million a year at me? I can't turn that down,' said Heat star Dwyane Wade, a free agent in 2010."

  • Janis Carr of The Orange County Register: "A mistake led to a … Misdiagnosis, which led to a … Missed opportunity. Yet, through the weeks and months that followed, during stops in Iowa and Germany, Dwayne Mitchell never misplaced his goal. He wanted a shot at the NBA and kept working on his ball-handling, perimeter skills and defense until he got it. ... The Lakers recently signed the 6-foot-5, 220-pound guard out of Louisiana Lafayette to a contract."

  • David Hughes of The Tribune-Star: "The bond between childhood friends Travis Smith and Greg Oden remains strong 18 months after Smith's tragic death. Oden, a former Terre Haute resident and No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 National Basketball Association draft, returned to town Thursday to attend a cookout promoting the second annual 'Travis Smith Memorial Golf Classic Hosted by Greg Oden' today at the Country Club of Terre Haute. ... 'It's just a good thing that Jimmy puts on,' Oden told the Tribune-Star. 'I'm glad I can be a part of it. I'll help any way possible. I always come back here. I just love being around the Smiths and their family. Anything I can do to come back and help, I'm here for them.'"