Bud Shaw of The Plain Dealer: "Kobe Bryant might enjoy rock-star status in China, but LeBron James is the face and voice of this basketball redemption as evidenced by his 18 points, six rebounds, four assists, three blocks and zero turnovers in a rout of China."
Patrick McManamon of The Akron Beacon-Journal: "The story of Olympiakos making plans to land LeBron became the subject of much chatter last week. On Friday, the members of the 'Redeem Team' discussed the possibility in China. ... Dan Gilbert also said he felt Cleveland and James were being focused on unnecessarily. 'The undertone to the whole thing that I wonder is, why him?' Gilbert said. 'Why not Dwyane Wade? Why not Chris Bosh? Why not whoever else is coming due? The only thing you can come up with is there are certain writers, or people who live on the East or West Coast, who think that Cleveland, Ohio, is not a good enough place for a superstar of LeBron's caliber to spend his career. Despite the quality of the franchise, the quality of life in the Midwest, the fans -- it's a complete slap in the face from people who do not live in Cleveland, Ohio, to Cleveland, Ohio. That's probably my biggest problem with the whole thing.'"
Harvey Araton of The New York Times: "For this special night, Yao Ming dragged his giant's body back on a broken foot not fully healed. He risked the rest of his professional life for the opportunity to play a definitively competitive quarter and a half before losing to the United States, 101-70, in the most heralded game a Chinese basketball team has ever played. But a 31-point differential was not the point, merely the exclamation point to a tsunami of American fast-break dunks. 'This game was a treasure, and it will be for the rest of my life,' Yao would say, without explaining why."
Linda Robertson of The Miami Herald: "China is madly in love with basketball. With one-fifth of the world's population, that's a lot of love. Yao Ming knows how it feels. He is treated like a 7-6 god whenever he comes home. Soon his likeness may replace Mao's on the Gate of Heavenly Peace."
Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal: "They love their basketball over here. In 1891, Dr. James Naismith invented basketball in an American YMCA. Four years later, Dr. Willard Lyon -- a missionary -- brought it to a Chinese YMCA. 'China is a sleeping giant, but when she awakes the world will tremble,' said Napoleon. Few people realize that Napoleon -- Europe's Mike Fratello -- was actually talking about hoops. Sure enough, China is wakening, in large part because of Yao. The NBA opened a one-man office in China in 2002, the year Yao was drafted. Now the league has 110 employees in Beijing."
Peter Finney of The Times-Picayune: "While there's not a doubt in my mind Mike Krzyzewski always has been wedded to a team concept, I'm also sure of one thing: Team USA would be better off with Chris Paul in the starting lineup, better off with Paul, who was on the court for 20 minutes, at least doubling the minutes logged by 35-year-old Jason Kidd, who played 13. Quite simply, Paul is a much better basketball player than Kidd, less experienced, yes, but many miles quicker, packing the kind of in-the-paint reflexes that would better serve for creating daylight for the likes of James, Bryant and Wade."
Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Even before the game, President Bush approached Wade at his locker and alluded to the injuries. They first met 18 months ago when Wade's Heat team visited to celebrate its 2006 championship. 'Good to see you again,' Bush said before the U.S. Olympic team's opening win against China, 101-70. 'Last time I saw you, your arm was in a sling.' When the leader of the free world is marking time by your injuries, you know you've been laid up for awhile. So half a world away, nearly halfway into a spectacle of a game, Wade finally was Wade again. And this snapshot that defined it most came in a one-point game. Wade had the ball out top with the left side open. He hit the accelerator and blew by his defender. 'I've got the first step back,' he said."
Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: "The ankle looks better. The magic doesn't. Four years ago, Manu Ginobili started his Olympic run with a buzzer-beater that defined his charmed basketball prime. Sunday, in another opener, he put up a last-minute shot that looked like May against the Lakers. One loss shouldn't matter in an Olympic pool where everyone but Iran seems to advance to the medal round. But Ginobili has always been at his best when he feels things are going his way, and now he has reason to wonder. He says as much, too. 'Losing was not that important,' he said. 'But it was emotionally important.'"
Janny Hu of the San Francisco Chronicle: "From the pre-game lay-up lines to the final horn, the only time the Americans were jeered was when they were at the free-throw line. For one night -- and likely for the rest of these Olympic Games -- they were the adopted heroes in China rather than the villains from Athens. 'It was totally different,' Carmelo Anthony said after a 101-70 victory. 'Four years ago, we weren't getting no cheers from nobody. This year, we had Chinese fans with us. We had U.S. fans with us. And I'm pretty sure we had a couple of other little countries out there, too.' Leave it to the world's most populous country to provide such a vibrant backdrop for Sunday's much-anticipated game."
Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post: "One image from this game will continue to be worrisome until the gold medal work is done here. In pregame warmups, James, who has sworn to be the team's unselfish, fundamentally sound leader, spent all his time practicing 'jump shots' from a few feet inside mid-court to excite the crowd or attempting over-the-backboard shots from 10 feet out of bounds. This game was for laughs. What happens when things get serious?"
Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Lots of money is at stake for David Stern's league and the dozen mini-corporations, particularly James and Bryant, and it only helps if the Americans win back the gold are rule the ho
ops world for the first time since 2000. Why do you think Kobe and LeBron have spent Olympic time saying they'd consider playing in Europe for the right price -- a cool $50 million for one year -- even though the Games are no place for free-agency talk? They're trying to create an international marketplace for themselves."
Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: "For a night, call it Linas-uania. In a breathtaking moment of Lithuania Olympic lore, Nuggets forward Linas Kleiza hit a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left, a game-winner against Argentina, the 2004 gold-medal winners, here Sunday. 'It definitely felt good when it came out,' Kleiza said Sunday. 'It's a good feeling, I'm not going to lie.'"
Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Perhaps it is a bit dramatic to call him the godfather of German basketball, but Detlef Schrempf was the first major German NBA star and a member of the 1992 team from Germany that finished seventh in the 'Dream Team' Olympics. Not surprisingly, he's one of Dirk Nowitzki's biggest fans. The Nowitzki-led German team made the Olympics for the first time in 16 years. 'Dirk has done amazing things for German basketball,' Schrempf said. 'To play every summer is extremely hard and tough on the body. I did it for a few years. You're away all summer, traveling, and it's tough. This is the last chance for Germany for a while because they're losing a lot of players and there are not a lot coming up. So it would be nice if they could medal.'"
Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: "Jorge Garbajosa played 13 minutes, with two points and three rebounds in Spain's easy victory in preliminary-round action. But it was more than that for the 6-foot-9 Garbajosa. It was the end of a gruelling period that included thousands of hours of rehabilitation, two surgeries and the end of his NBA career. 'One year ago somebody says I can't play any more and I'm back playing again,' he said at the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium. 'This is the good news for me. I'm practicing as hard as I ever did before in my life. I'm playing some minutes, I think I have been useful for the team and this is a great feeling for me.'"