First Cup: Tuesday

  • Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune: "Chris Paul's role for the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team grows with each game. Jason Kidd is the starter at point guard. But Paul is clearly the guard who plays the most minutes and more often than not finishes the game."

  • Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times on a massive Shaquille O'Neal statue in Beijing: "He's tucked away outside a remote gate of a city park, no markers on a tourist map, no signs on the street. He's surrounded not by incense, but public toilets. He's staring not into the future, but at a parking lot. Those who visit offer him gifts not of gold and myrrh, but projectile spit and empty water bottles. But former Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal doesn't seem to mind. Here, nobody can accuse him of not hustling, because he literally is nailed to the ground. Here, nobody can exhort him to work on his wooden hands because, well, the dude actually has wooden hands. And here, finally, nobody can ever dare say that Kobe Bryant is bigger."TrueHoop First Cup

  • Joanne C. Gerstner of The Detroit News: "Chris Kaman, who hails from Wyoming, Mich., was asked by a Chinese reporter if he intended to stick around Beijing and do some sightseeing. 'No, no, I'm going home,' Kaman said, without hesitation. The Chinese reporter looked horrified. Kaman realized the reaction was bad and tried to fix things. 'It's not a knock on your country or Beijing, but I'm just not used to this,' said Kaman, a former Central Michigan star, who had six points. 'I've been gone so long. I actually like China. It's been a great experience, besides the smog. But once the rain came, it was really nice for three or four days. It's different for me. A different culture.' The Chinese reporter probably walked away thinking Kaman was also from a different culture. After all, he's a born-and-raised American who plays in the NBA and now is playing basketball for Germany in China's Olympics. Try that as a mind-scrambling proposition. And yet, Kaman's grand summer adventure has worked out quite nicely."

  • Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond sees what we all have seen in Team USA's play in men's basketball in five games at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. 'I would classify them as a team that is hitting on all cylinders right now,' Hammond said. 'They are playing about as well as they can possibly play. If they continue to play at this level, I think it will be difficult for anyone in Olympic play to beat them.' On Monday, the United States shredded Germany by 49 points to remain unbeaten, and so far unchallenged, in Olympic play. On Wednesday, the U.S. is to play Australia, which features Bucks center Andrew Bogut."

  • John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News: "If the Sixers are overpaying for Iguodala -- and considering he averaged 19.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.09 steals and is only 24 years old, I'm not convinced they are -- it's because they had no other option. If Iguodala had become an unrestricted free agent, it would have negated virtually everything gained from the Brand signing. Inking Brand, a two-time All-Star, shifted the Sixers from rebuilding mode to championship-winning mode. With Iguodala combining with Brand, the Sixers become one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, one capable of challenging for a spot in the NBA Finals and possibly championships over the next 5 years."

  • Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "The Trail Blazers' fate for the upcoming season rests on a pair of knees. Brandon Roy's left one, Greg Oden's right one. Many variables will factor into Portland's success during the 2008-09 campaign, but none are bigger than the health of the franchise's two most important parts."

  • Jamie Samuelsen for the Detroit Free Press: "I don't think any athlete I've ever watched or covered has driven me more nuts than 'Sheed. Maybe it's because he can be so good. Maybe it's because some suggest he's talented enough to be one of the greatest players of all time. And maybe it's because his ardent backers are always telling me that I just don't 'understand' him. He's a great teammate they say. He cares about playing the game the right way so much so that it takes away from his individual game. Whatever. I'm almost as sick of the blather surrounding Rasheed as I am of the player himself."

  • Mike Baldwin of The Oklahoman: "Oklahoma City's NBA team on Monday e-mailed every individual that applied for season tickets if they provided an e-mail address. The e-mail included the date fans will get to pick out their seats in the Ford Center. A few people had difficulty opening a link in the e-mail. A few got only a black page. 'Everyone who received the e-mail also will receive a phone call,' said team spokesman Dan Mahoney. 'There were a few cases where it was slow to load. But most people were getting through.'"

  • Memphis Business Journal: "As part of the MVP loyalty program the team developed in March, the Memphis Grizzlies are giving one-year NBA League Pass subscriptions to original season ticket holders. The MVP loyalty program rewards fans with additional amenities depending on how many years they have held season tickets."