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First Cup: Thursday

  • Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post: "It was perhaps the worst possible photo for Gilbert Arenas -- and it disappeared for much of Wednesday, courtesy of the National Basketball Association. The photo -- published on the front of The Washington Post's sports section Wednesday and prominently displayed on ESPN's home page -- was transmitted by Getty Images under a contract with the NBA. But it was mysteriously excised from the Getty archive later in the day. 'The image was pulled from our site because of the NBA,' Getty official Cynthia Edorh said. 'Legally, the NBA has the right to pull any of their images as part of the contract with Getty.' The incident points to a glaring weakness in the arrangement between one of the world's top photo agencies and the basketball league: In exchange for the NBA's business, Getty exercises no editorial control over the pictures it transmits to the media. That allows league officials to shape, and sometimes protect, the sport's image, given Getty's global reach and the media's considerable appetite for photos. NBA officials, who apparently found the image embarrassing as the Arenas case has drawn growing national attention, were able to spike it."

  • Michael Wilbon of The Washington Post: "The saddest part of this story appears to be that Arenas might have mitigated the circumstances had he immediately realized the magnitude of his offense and come forward with a series of sincere apologies. Both lawmakers and NBA officials might have looked at this as an incredibly dumb mistake but one that shouldn't cost a young man his career. But Arenas seemingly followed every apology with a joke ... or some action that flatly stated he didn't get it. One person close to the situation told me Wednesday night that Arenas appeared so completely disconnected from the reality of his situation that he couldn't possibly be seen fit to be in the workplace. "

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: "Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas hasgone from Agent Zero to Public Enemy No. 1, suspended indefinitely by commissioner David Stern on Wednesday for bringing four unloaded guns to the Verizon Center in December. ... Stern's decision seems to be based on what could have happened if those guns were loaded. If the what if factor is now in play, then Stern should have suspended Jason Richardson for more than two games for a DUI because he could have killed someone. Ditto for Lakers owner Jerry Buss, also busted for DUI."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "Roger Mason Jr., a former teammate of suspended Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas, said he agreed with commissioner David Stern's decision to suspend Arenas indefinitely for recent actions around an incident involving guns in the Wizards' locker room. Stern's announcement included a statement that the player 'is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game.' 'I think those words from commissioner Stern speak for themselves,' Mason said. 'That's not something that you make light of. It's unfortunate. Nobody wants to see anybody suspended. You don't want to see anybody lose money. At the same time, I think that was obviously poor judgment on his part. It's serious.' "

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "Magic players didn't sound surprised by Stern's decision. 'There's no place for firearms in the locker room, in NBA arenas or on any type of NBA business, and we all know that,' Orlando point guard Anthony Johnson said. 'They drill that into our heads time and time again. With him being a veteran player, he knows that. 'It's just an unfortunate incident, because he's such a good player, a great guy, a great ambassador for the NBA,' Johnson added. 'But he put himself in a position where David Stern had to come down on him.' "

  • John Reid of The Times Picayune: "A majority of players for the New Orleans Hornets said they were not surprised by the punishment issued by Stern, who wants to uphold the integrity of the league. Arenas was photographed before a game in Philadelphia pointing his index fingers as if they were guns. 'I'm not surprised at all, but knowing Gilbert and how silly he is, I guarantee whatever happened, I know its not as serious as everyone makes it sound,' said Hornets forward Darius Songaila, who was a teammate of Arenas for three seasons, from 2006-09. 'But rules are rules, and maybe Gilbert need to take things a lot more serious, because it's not a joke.' ... Hornets forward David West said they have a different code of conduct involving gun laws, and he thought Stern's decision was a pre-emptive move to try to save face. 'I'm not going to say I agree with it, because you just don't know what is going to happen,' West said. Shooting guard Devin Brown said he thinks the league wants all players to be more responsible for their actions, but said he hopes Arenas can come back soon."

  • Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News: "Judging from the tone and wording of Stern's statement Wednesday, Arenas might have played his last game in the NBA. Stern has already decided on a 'substantial suspension,' because Arenas broke league rules by bringing several guns to the Wizards' locker room late last month. But then he attached what could be a key phrase: 'And perhaps worse,' Stern said. Stern doesn't just throw words or phrases around. Here, he could be laying the groundwork to drop the hammer on Arenas. Let's hope Stern is referring to a lifetime ban. By the way, not one of those 'lifetime bans' where a player can return in two years. That used to make the league's drug policy a joke. Stern has an opportunity to try to end the problems his league has had with players and guns before someone gets killed."

  • Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer: "The Wizards now owe it Antawn Jamison to trade him and give him a chance with another team. They have been grasping on to this group for years hoping for health, luck and the right playoff seed. But for various reasons, much of it plain bad luck and a rising superstar in Cleveland, they haven't gotten there. Now with the Arenas suspension and the Pollin death and the impending doom (DeShawn Stevenson called it a 'black cloud' over the team), there are no more illusions. The dam has broken, it is over in Washington. There's going to be a new owner and new faces. ... Could Jamison end up in Cleveland in the type of power-shifting midseason All-Star trade like the one that sent Rasheed Wallace to Detroit in 2004 and Pau Gasol to the Lakers two years ago? It looks like a stronger possibility now than ever. But even if it doesn't happen, Jamison deserves a chance to play for a title and the Wizards owe it to him because he's a champion."

  • John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: "When he's healthy, it would be in the best interest of everyone with the Bulls to get some playing time for Jannero Pargo. That's the only way to find out if the first six weeks of the season were the result of the back problem or a true indicator of the level he's capable of performing at right now. Whether it's Pargo or someone else, the Bulls desperately need a fourth guard capable of providing an offensive spark when they collectively go into one of those funks where they can't seem to hit a shot. Personally, I would have inserted Pargo into the lineup late in the third quarter against the Thunder when the game started slipping away. I also might have used him down the stretch against the Bobcats -- using offensive and defensive substitutions -- because it was apparent by then that Kirk Hinrich was having an off night shooting the ball. Regardless, the Bulls have to find out if Pargo is capable of filling that role, because if he isn't, they need to find someone who is."

  • Ken Sugiura of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "A day after a players-only meeting to address the team's recent shortcomings, the Hawks showed the form that allowed them to win seven and six games in a row in November and December, respectively, and nothing at all like the team that sleepwalked through its Tuesday loss at Miami. 'I think that guys just really needed to talk a little bit,' said guard Jamal Crawford, who led all scorers and tied his season-high with 29 points. 'You know what you need to do, but it's sometimes good to put it on the table, and that's what we did.' As they have done when they've been at their best, the Hawks challenged shots, won loose balls and rebounded, leading to repeated fast breaks."

  • Dave D'Alessandro of The Star-Ledger: "Asked whether he believes that his opinion might be the most pertinent as they climb out of this train wreck of a season, and whether he might have one of the most important voices in where the organization is going, Brook Lopez replied, 'I know that. I just don’t know if it’s my place yet.' Which is why he’s still dodging what is becoming obvious lately: The Nets are starting to neglect his development for the purpose of getting Yi Jianlian going. 'Yeah, I think it’s just been a tough adjustment having another post guy out there -- reading when and where he is, and where I need to be, I guess,' Lopez said. But he had six shots in 34 minutes against the Bucks. In most cases, that should necessitate a conference with your coach and point guard. 'I talked to Roy Rogers,' the assistant coach, Lopez said after a laugh. 'He just said stay aggressive and post earlier. I don’t know what else to say about it.' "

  • Phil Miller of the Star Tribune: "With the victory, Golden State's Don Nelson is now 13 victories short of Lenny Wilkens' NBA record of 1,332, a mark that reflects the coach's 31 years on an NBA sideline. But Nelson was a Hall of Fame player before moving to the bench, a trait he shares with each of the six winningest coaches in league history. So do most NBA players have the potential to run a team, too? 'No, not at all,' Nelson said. 'Maybe 10 percent.' The typical player, Nelson said, masters his own position. 'That's the way most guys play. But a guy [who can develop into a coach] has to understand all five positions, all the defensive schemes,' he said. 'It's a very complicated game we have here. It looks simple, but it's very complicated at this level.' "

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: 'Drew Gooden is a career starter. Being a reserve is foreign territory for him, and nobody was sure how he would take to it. But, factoring in the fewer minutes he plays off the bench, the numbers are relatively similar. 'I love the way he's taken the challenge of coming off the bench,' Rick Carlisle said. 'He and I have talked about the challenge of being an energizer, a rebounder, a defender off the bench. It's a different type of challenge for him. He's worked at it hard and he's had some real impact games for us.' Against Denver last week, Gooden came off the bench to hit all eight of his shots and finish with 19 points and 10 rebounds. But Gooden's real worth is this: Imagine where the Mavericks would be without him, considering starter Erick Dampier has missed 10 games with various aches and illnesses."

  • Mike Baldwin of The Oklahoman: "Reality is the Thunder’s home and road records are nearly identical. Oklahoma City is 10-8 on the road, 9-8 at home. They can still surpass their road record if they beat sub -500 teams Indiana (Saturday) and New York (Monday). But a quick glance at the standings reveals it’s unusual. Most teams usually fare much better at home. ... It was the Hornets’ 10th consecutive win over the Sonics/Thunder. It’s been more than three years since the organization has beaten the Hornets, the Sonics winning Dec. 26, 2006, in Seattle. Kevin Durant and Jeff Green have never beaten Chris Paul and the Hornets, going 0-9 since they were drafted in 2007. Why has the Thunder seemed to play better against elite teams on the road than home? 'If I knew I would tell you,' Durant said."

  • Jim Peltz of the Los Angeles Times: "Before the Clippers played the Lakers on Wednesday night, Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy summed up the reigning NBA champions this way: 'You're always aspiring to get where they are.' Then for one night, at least, the Clippers got there -- and ended their nine-game losing streak against their Staples Center roommates. It was evident even before the game ended when, after a timeout was called with just under three minutes left, Clippers center Chris Kaman smiled broadly as he walked to the Clippers bench. The Clippers were led by the aggressive play of veteran guard Baron Davis, who scored 25 points and especially helped the Clippers beat the Lakers near the basket. The Clippers scored 54 points in the paint compared with 34 for the Lakers."

  • Phillip Reese of The Sacramento Bee: "In return for building a new $300 million arena for the Kings, Sacramento would gain 1,300 temporary jobs and 229 permanent jobs, according to a new report commissioned by Mayor Kevin Johnson's arena task force. Left unsaid in the report, scheduled to be released today, is who would pay for the arena or whether enough new jobs would be created to justify what could be a large public investment. ... Stanford University economist Roger Noll called the report 'remarkably honest' but said it doesn't bolster the case for a new arena. 'Two hundred jobs is nothing,' said Noll, referring to the permanent jobs the report estimates would be created. 'You induce Macy's to open another store and you get that.' A critical issue, Noll said, is how the arena is financed. If taxpayers pay the bulk, that takes dollars out of their pockets, blunting at least some of the economic benefit. 'How much are you willing to pay to get 200 jobs?' he asked."