<
>

First Cup: Monday

  • Chris Tomasson of the Rocky Mountain News: "John Amaechi is at the Olympics, serving as a basketball analyst for his homeland Great Britain's BBC. His appearance has caught some in the NBA establishment by surprise. 'It's been tense to say the least,' Amaechi said when I ran into him in a lunch line about what it's been like being seeing some Team USA players and coaches. Amaechi said players have turned away from him, and there remains a 'lot of tension.' He mentioned seeing Lakers star Kobe Bryant. 'I ran into Kobe, and he was surprised to see me,' Amaechi said. 'It didn't go well.'"

  • Luciana Chavez of The News & Observer: "In China, Kobe Bryant is a shut-in. Well, at least for the duration of the USA men's basketball team's run at the Beijing Olympics, he is. 'The military won't let me go out,' Bryant said, talking about the crowds that congregate wherever he goes. ... No other USA player attracts more people, more cheers -- 'Kobe-a!' the Chinese call him -- or more love than the Los Angeles Lakers star and 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player. 'It's a little weird when people walk past you and they scream and start crying,' Bryant said. 'That freaks you out.'"TrueHoop First Cup

  • Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times: "The same people who rolled their eyes at the Americans' bad manners for years say this team is different. 'I think they've been outstanding, the way they've conducted themselves, [although] they may be coming from a fairly low base from some of their predecessors in the way they've gone about it,' former Australia star Andrew Gaze says, laughing. 'I think also off the floor, seeing the guys, the way they interact with the public, the reporters -- you look at Kobe Bryant, every photo they want taken, he's been obliging.'"

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: "Here's a prediction: Within 10 years, there will be an NBA franchise in either Beijing or the country's biggest city, Shanghai. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to see the NBA expand and create and international division, with teams in Barcelona, Athens, Istanbul and elsewhere. In January, several top investors began NBA China, which will handle all of the league's growing business in the country. These are mega-heavy hitters, including ESPN. Pacers owner Herb Simon is on the board of directors. The businessmen see business gold here, and they should. It's not just the sheer number of people, but with a growing moneyed class, the Chinese are looking at the NBA product as a way to spend their increasing reserves of disposable income."

  • Scott Taylor of the Deseret News: "Following the United States' 119-82 rout of Spain late Saturday night, Carlos Boozer was extolling the virtues of U.S. basketball teammate Dwyane Wade and his penchant for defensive quickness and transition-game talents. 'He's like Flash,' said Boozer. 'We've got him, we've got Superman (Howard), we've got 'King' James. 'I mean, we've got a comic book over here.'"

  • K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune: "Andres Nocioni hasn't changed. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and his pride on his chest. That's where the hyperactive forward pointed after being asked if he could describe the difference between playing for the Bulls and playing for the Argentine national team, the defending Olympic champion. 'I love to play for the Chicago Bulls because I'm the kind of guy that when I play somewhere for more than two years, it becomes my team to me emotionally,' Nocioni said. 'But with the national team, you are representing your home country. So I feel it in my heart, I feel it in my chest, I feel it in my national colors.'"

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: "Croatia has become one of the surprises of the men's Olympic basketball tournament, returning to the Games for the first time since 1992 and led by a group of young stars ready to get the country back to international prominence. It has qualified for the quarter-finals and could have a shot at playing for a medal -- it'll likely avoid the powerful United States in its quarter-final game -- and the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium is abuzz about the resurgence."

  • Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal: "So, to review: He's big, with a soft touch. Anything else you lads want to say? Yes? Kobe? Go ahead, fire away. 'In hindsight, we probably didn't have to give him up to get Pau,' Bryant said. 'We should have kept Marc, too.' How's that for the ultimate endorsement? Bryant would like to have Marc Gasol back."

  • Marc J. Spears of The Boston Globe: "Tonight, Chris Kaman and the struggling Germans (1-3) will play against the undefeated US (4-0) during the final Group B preliminary game at the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium. And while Kaman has been called a traitor and his own father said he won't root for him tonight, the American has no regrets about suiting up for Deutschland. 'That's how life is. Not everybody can make the Dream Team. Not everybody makes Team USA,' Kaman said. 'Not everybody can play in the [NBA] All-Star Game. You can still get better in basketball, and that's why I wanted to do this. I wanted to get better in basketball.'"

  • Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Starting today and continuing for two weeks, the Timberwolves will have nine of their top players -- including Al Jefferson, Sebastian Telfair, Kevin Love, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Corey Brewer, Chris Richard and Mike Miller -- working out every day at Target Center. They will be around until Labor Day, take 10 days off, then resume workouts out until training camp opens."

  • Patrick McManamon of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "The more you ponder the Cavs' acquisition of point guard Mo Williams, the better it seems. On several levels. The first reaction was to lament losing a pro like Joe Smith. He was a valuable addition, a good guy and a solid contributor in the playoffs last season. But he's also 33, and Williams is 25. Decisions aren't made on sentimentality; they're made on what helps the Cavs win. And when LeBron James weighs in that the addition of Williams was an 'A' ... well ... who are we to refute it?"