Tuesday: First Cup

  • Mike McGraw of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald: "Two weeks into the NBA season and already I'm disgusted by a lack of respect shown to fans. I'm talking about a new trend of players on the bench feeling an inexplicable need to stand up for long stretches of games. The Cleveland Cavaliers provided an atrocious example of this on Saturday at the United Center. Their entire bench, which included 7-foot-3 center Zydrunas Ilgasukas at the time, stood for most of the fourth quarter, thoroughly blocking the view of a couple hundred fans who spent a hard-earned $155 for their tickets ... Now, I can understand players jumping up if one of their teammates makes a great play or if it's the final seconds of a close game when everyone in the arena is standing. But there should be an obvious line between supporting your team and being a jerk. The Cavs surely aren't the only team guilty of this practice, but it needs to stop. Maybe it's inappropriate to fine the team unless a warning has been issued. So this would be a good time for Commissioner David Stern to stand up for the fans and make these self-absorbed players sit down."

  • A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers: "Despite helping Denver to 50 regular-season wins a year ago, much of the talk surrounding Allen Iverson and his former team was how they collapsed in the playoffs. In Detroit, making a deep playoff run isn't enough. It's an NBA title or bust. 'I like that,' Iverson said. 'I like that atmosphere. I like the whole idea of that, just for the fact that people saying if we don't win a championship, it's a bust. I haven't been on any teams like that in my career. That's new to me. It's a different challenge, but it's one that I want to take on.'"

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "It has taken the Hawks awhile -- four years, to be exact -- to embrace the defensive principles Mike Woodson preached the moment he became head coach. There's no doubt Woodson's fifth team is living up to his defensive-minded standards. The Hawks are off to a 5-0 start, largely because of a suffocating defense. And, it's easy to pack. ... 'Our defense is the one constant, the one thing we've been able to count on every night so far,' Woodson said. 'It's not always the prettiest thing to the casual eye, but it's what wins in our league.'"

  • Chris Herrington of The Memphis Flyer: "From the day O.J. Mayo was drafted, there have been three primary questions: How good can he be? What position will he ultimately play? Can he and Mike Conley thrive together in the backcourt? I've been agnostic on the question of whether Mayo would ultimately move to point guard and, to a degree, I remain so. But after eight games, I've seen enough to say this: Even if Mayo doesn't become a point guard, he does need to be this team's lead guard. That means that regardless of whether he technically starts at the one or two, he's going to be the team's primary ballhandler and playmaker. If he's not Chauncey Billups, then he's Dwyane Wade or Gilbert Arenas or Brandon Roy or Allen Iverson. He'll control the ball and he'll need a backcourt mate that meshes with him. And I don't think that's going to be Mike Conley."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, and Shane Battier thought that perhaps his son would never feel the sting of childhood labels, would never deal with the awkward uncertainty, never ask the questions that filled his father's childhood. 'I think I share a very similar experience to Obama from the standpoint we both grew up mixed in a black and white world,' Battier, 30, said. 'It's a very different experience, and it's something my white friends don't fully understand and something my black friends don't fully understand. It's about being sort of in between always.' Battier, though usually decidedly non-political, felt proud on Election Day, and again last week when Obama referred to 'mutts like me.'"

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "Dino Radja made his first visit to the Garden in 10 years last night. The former Celtics [team stats] forward, now president of the professional team in his home city of Split, Croatia, played four seasons (1993-97) for the C's. The passion the 6-foot-10 post player has for his former team hasn't died. 'I watched every game,' he said of the C's run to the NBA title last season. 'It wasn't easy to watch sometimes, but this is my team, my city. I'll always be a Celtics fan. All of the playoff games started at 2 a.m. my time, but that was OK. I'd wake up and then stay awake from 2 to 7 for every game. That's not easy. But I do it for all of the Boston teams. I follow the Patriots and the Red Sox -- every one. My old friends here keep me up on it.'"

  • Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: "There is even a belief in some quarters that the Bucks would be better served without Michael Redd, that the Bucks would be a more-balanced scoring team, that other players like Andrew Bogut and Charlie Villanueva and Richard Jefferson would get more touches and be more productive. That belief is simply misguided. And the record shows it. Back in January of 2007, the Bucks were playing quality basketball and positioned to be in the playoffs. But then Redd got hurt. He suffered a strained patellar tendon in his left knee. The injury forced him to miss 20 games. The Bucks lost 17 of them, their playoff hopes shot. Now fast forward to today. Redd is bothered by a right ankle sprain and has missed the last three games. The Bucks lost two of them and, as Bucks coach Scott Skiles frankly admitted, they were lucky not to have lost a third game as well."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Shaquille O'Neal has played in 60 games in only one of the past three seasons -- barely eclipsing the mark with 61 last season. By sitting him out of the second game of back-to-back sets, Porter said the idea is to avoid injuries and get 60-plus games out of O'Neal. But the Suns must learn how to play without him better than they did in Friday's loss at Chicago. 'People talk about the old Suns teams,' Porter said. 'Name one of those teams that had a 7-2, 300-pound guy that played in the middle. It's totally different. Just the whole makeup of this team is different. People like to compare them to up-tempo. It's a different team. Can't even come close to comparing Shaq in the middle as opposed to AmarĂ© (Stoudemire) and having Shawn Marion spaced in the corner.'"

  • Jeff Eisenberg of The Press-Enterprise: "Phil Jackson found an interesting way to describe Trevor Ariza's innate ability to make plays off the ball, whether it's tipping passes in the lane, slipping between defenders for offensive rebounds or cutting to the basket for layups. 'He's like a ghost out there,' Jackson said. 'Like a shadow. Just all of a sudden he shows on a screen and he's gone. He'
    s a blip and he's away. He runs the court like that. He's a stealth player more than you'd say (of) a person that infuses the team with energy. But his presence is certainly felt.'"

  • Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News: "In the NBA, just like any other professional sports league, players come and go through cities like they go through money. Most just float right through. Rarely does a player make an impact in such a relatively short amount of time as Kyle Korver did with the Sixers. In parts of five seasons with the franchise, Korver made a positive impression on his teammates, coaches, training staff, and most important, on our fair city. You could see it in the parade of people who came over to offer well wishes at practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine yesterday. Korver, who is in town with the Utah Jazz for his first matchup in Philadelphia since the trade last December, earned the respect of everyone around him. 'It was very weird,' Korver said. 'I saw the trainer [Kevin Johnson] and he was standing there and I gave him a hug. It's still bizarre to me. I've never been in the visitors' locker room before.'"

  • Mike Dougherty of The Journal News: "Long before Elton Brand's signature basketball shoe landed in stores, Duane Lawrence was charged with capturing the heart and sole of the former NBA All-Star on paper. It's a fairly involved process, mixing science with art to come up with a workable blueprint. Lawrence is a confessed 'sneaker head' who's been designing shoes for Converse since 2004. He is the creative force behind the EB1, which debuted earlier this month at J.C. Penney. It's a fashion statement Brand has always wanted to make. 'Getting my own shoe has always been a dream,' Brand said. 'And being a part of that long tradition at Converse, I think I fit in well.' Brand started this makeover by signing a free-agent contract with the Philadelphia 76ers this summer."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Danny Granger is giving back to New Mexico. Granger, who went to the University of New Mexico, is sponsoring an AAU basketball team, the Granger Hurricanes, in Albuquerque. 'They asked me in the summer time if I would be interested and told them yeah,' said Granger, who donated $40,000 toward the program. 'I had wanted to do it before and now I'm getting a chance to do it. I'll get to coach in the summer some time, and that's right up my alley.'"

  • Don Seeholzer of The Pioneer Press: "As the Wolves' only rookie, Kevin Love was forced to sing happy birthday to forward Craig Smith in front of the entire team after practice Monday. Let's just say his voice never will be confused with that of his famous uncle Mike of the Beach Boys. 'He has no singing voice, no rhythm at all,' Wittman cracked. 'It's hard to believe that he's got a relative that seemed to have that.' Love, in his defense, said happy birthday isn't his song and that he would have nailed the Star-Spangled Banner. Asked if that was his first and last singing gig, he said: 'No, I'm going to have to do it again. They're going to make me dance, too, so I've got to figure out what new flavor I'm going to bring next time.'"

  • Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "There is plenty of good stuff in the film 'Mania,' a reflective on the Trail Blazers that premiers at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Whitsell Auditorium in the Portland Art Museum as part of the 35th Northwest Film and Video Festival. ... Harry Glickman reveals that the Blazers paid Cleveland $250,000 to take Austin Carr with the first pick in the 1971 draft, leaving Sidney Wicks to Portland -- a story I had not heard. ... I most enjoyed, though, the insight provided by long-time trainer Ron Culp, who delivers inside stories that true fans will appreciate, such as the psychology of coaches Lenny Wilkins and Ramsay. Culp was honest when he said of Bill Walton, 'He didn't alienate the city of Portland, but he certainly had people scratching their heads.'"