First Cup: Wednesday

  • Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times: "The cheer came as the Bulls point guard made play after play, shot after shot, and a game that was up for grabs suddenly belonged to the Bulls. But the funny thing was, the frenzied cries seemed to be for fired-up forward Taj Gibson, who had just made a shot and been fouled to make it 91-79 Bulls. And Gibson was finishing a terrific night, to be sure. But what the sold-out house had seen was Rose’s generosity, his vision, his genius. It was he who had just scored 11 of the Bulls’ last 20 points and assisted on four more, taking the game almost single-handedly from a 70-69 deficit to an 89-79 pull-away. And yet when Gibson put his hands up to signal he was open, Rose instantly threw him the pass. No hesitation. No thought such as, I’m the league MVP, and he’s our seventh man. Just, boom, get the ball to the teammate who can best help us win. It’s called Winning Basketball 101. And yet it’s a course many good players never passed. 'I thought he had a good balance,’ coach Tom Thibodeau said of Rose’s ratio of drives to jump shots to passes. The crowd knows this. Chicagoans know basketball. Some critics had come out and said Rose was shooting the ball too much, especially in the Game 4 loss to the Hawks. But Thibodeau had dismissed such simple calculations. 'We need him to shoot like that to win,’ Thibodeau said."

  • Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "For all but one game in this series, the Hawks have played a 62-win team like few imagined they could or would. That counts for something. It means that even with the Hawks returning home with a 3-2 deficit in this playoff series, there is some reason to hope for what comes next. The Hawks lost to Chicago 95-83 on Tuesday night at the United Center, bringing them to within one loss of postseason extinction. But they battled back from an early 15-point deficit and threw a significant scare into the home team, leading early in the fourth quarter before a fade. No losses are swallowed easily. But if the Hawks played with this kind of passion, effort and cohesion all season, they wouldn’t have been a fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Can they win at home Thursday? Yes. Can they win a Game 7 back in Chicago? That would be difficult, but suddenly it doesn’t seem implausible."

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: "Dwight, let me tell you why the Orlando Sentinel writes about you so much. Because we care about you so much. You've got it all wrong, my friend. We're not trying to run you out of Orlando; we desperately want you to stay in Orlando. That's why your Twitter dispatches lateMonday night were so baffling.'Y does it seem like the writers of Orlando sentinel are tryna push me out of Orlando with dumb articles,' you tweeted. 'It's annoying. Can I enjoy my summer and get ready for next season in Orlando. Pls. Same thing u guys did to Shaq. … I'm not blaming the media. I'm saying stop with the dumb articles. They don't make be decision of mine. I jus don't want Orlando fans to believe them. Cuz they don't know. I love my city.' Dwight, we know U luv this city. We luv it 2. And this is why we want you to stay. Because you are the best thing to happen to Central Florida since we gave Walt Disney all that land for $24 and some beaver pelts. A half-century ago, he built his Magic Kingdom and you have a chance to build one, too, Dwight. ... You're a national celebrity right here. You were the leading vote-getter in the All-Star game this year. You finished second in the MVP balloting. You have major sponsors and endorsements. You were on Leno just a few months ago. Everybody wants you to stay, Dwight. That includes the Orlando Magic, the Orlando fans and, yes, the Orlando Sentinel."

  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com: "On Tuesday, Pau Gasol called rumors of a rift between he and Bryant or a breakup with his girlfriend 'absolutely false.' 'My girlfriend and I are fine, we're happy, we're doing well. Kobe and I are fine,' Gasol told ESPNLosAngeles.com in the parking lot outside the Lakers training facility Tuesday, after his exit interview with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and coach Phil Jackson. 'She [Lopez Castro] was suffering because she saw me suffering. And I was suffering because I was seeing her suffering. When you add that to other stuff to what's already happening, it's tough.' Gasol said that he didn't realize the extent to which the internet chatter had spread as an explanation for his subpar play during the Lakers disappointingly short playoff run this year because he doesn't read articles about himself or the team on a regular basis. 'I didn't know to what extent it had become an issue,' Gasol said. 'During the playoffs I'm totally out of the media whether it's great or not so great. 'But you do feel it because your environment feels it, and they make you feel it.' ... Gasol said he planned to spend the unexpected time off analyzing his own play and looking for ways to come back with 'a clean cut' next season. He also said he was 'leaning toward playing' for the Spanish National team this summer as it tries to qualify for the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Gasol has not played for Spain the last two summers because he decided he needed to rest after the Lakers deep playoff runs.' "

  • Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: "Derek Fisher now will go from point guard for the Lakers to point man for about 430 players, hoping that in his role as president of the NBA Players' Assn., he can help negotiate a new collective-bargaining agreement with league owners. Fisher said the union wasn't happy with the last proposal received from owners about week ago. 'Frankly, we're disappointed in the context of it,' Fisher said after his exit interview Tuesday with Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and General Manager Mitch Kupchak. 'We're still full steam ahead in trying to get this thing figured out and get a deal done.' The owners presented the players with their second offer in which they seek significant rollbacks in existing contracts, a hard salary cap and a larger share of the basketball-related income. Under the current agreement, the players are guaranteed 57% of income. The labor agreement expires June 30, and if a new deal isn't in place by then, the players will be locked out July 1. Fisher said he's 'hopeful and optimistic' that an agreement can be reached. But he's not sure when."

  • Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic: "Misery loves company. The Lakers are home, dethroned. Their season was a bust, just like ours. Enjoy the moment while it lasts. For now, their dynasty is crumbling. Their team colors are purple and old. Their four-game meltdown against the Mavericks was a feast for those who have grown to loathe the most glamorous, vacuous franchise in sports. No one feels that way more than Suns fans. 'The Lakers have 16 championships, they play in the Suns' division, they have caused countless playoff heartbreak, and all the glitz and glamour has created a superiority complex among LA fans,' former Suns General Manager Steve Kerr said. 'We haven't climbed the mountain. They've climbed it 16 times. I'm sure there's some jealousy involved.' According to Suns broadcaster Al McCoy, the roots of our LA obsession began in 1969, in the second year of the franchise. The Suns lost a coin flip for Lew Alcindor, a No. 1 pick who became the leading scorer in NBA history. Then they lost a coin flip for playoff seeding, forced into a formidable match against Wilt Chamberlain's Lakers."

  • Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Against the backdrop of researchers trying to decipher exactly what certain symbols found on 5,000-year-old mummies mean, we all have to laugh at the prospects of future researchers discovering the remains of, say, Rodman, and trying to shake loose what in the name of heaven and earth the man was trying to say. It could be profound. It could be nonsense. It could be deep. It could be … hey, stupid, made you look! When it comes to body art, one man’s bold statement is another man’s question: Were you drunk when you got that? Kirilenko’s dark dragon covers the entirety of his back, draping over his shoulder and down his arms. It is massive and dramatic, especially considering this is his first visible tattoo. You’ve got to hand it to Andrei — he went all the way. No pussyfooting around here. He rolled into his local parlor and said: 'Go all out, man.' I’m saying it would be a nice piece of craftsmanship … if it were in a comic book or on the cover of a nerdy video game or on a freeway overpass. You have to wonder if he’ll still like the thing -- I call it, 'Dude On a Dragon' -- in 30 years. Most of the early feedback from the outside seems to have been negative. SI.com’s Andy Gray labeled Kirilenko’s DOAD 'one of the worst tattoos in sports history.' The first thought when I saw it was: 'What the hell?' Put it to your own test. My money says you’ll wonder where the checkpoints were in Kirilenko’s life -- hello, Masha? -- who are supposed to step in and save him from himself when he comes up with such a dumb idea. But -- I know, I know -- it’s personal. A man has to decide for himself. And, sweet mother of mine, Andrei did."

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "Earl Monroe is the best Knicks point guard to ever have been linked to Winston-Salem, N.C. In 2012, Monroe said he thinks that might change with the arrival of Hornets superstar Chris Paul. Monroe, who is friendly with the Paul family and played at tiny Winston-Salem State, told The Post yesterday he believes Paul has eyes on the Knicks if he becomes a free agent in 2012, and thinks he would love playing for the orange and blue. 'I'm quite sure he would relish being in the Big Apple,' said Monroe, who coached the New York City team vs. L.A. in yesterday's inaugural People's Games at Union Square. 'He can handle this pressure. Obviously he's one of the premier point guards in the league. To add that with what you already have, you got the real nucleus to having something special happen closer than in four years.' Earl 'The Pearl' worked with Paul and Paul's family in New Orleans doing promotional work for the documentary, 'Black Magic' -- which explored the roots of the black-college basketball scene. Monroe was a frequent customer of Paul's grandfather's grocery store in Winston-Salem. ... Monroe used Paul's lone showing at the Garden in February as an example of CP3 responding to the scrutiny not found in the Big Easy. Paul played a dog game vs. the Knicks, which continued a mini-slump he was in. Suddenly, reports suggested Paul might have lost his elite status, with rumors about a bad knee circulating. 'Case in point, he had a terrible game here, I was there that night,' Monroe said. 'People started talking about it. The next few games, he put it up again. He knows what the deal is out here. When people started writing he might have lost it, he was like: Let me try to pick this up and let them know I'm still here.' "

  • Rick Snider of the Washington Examiner: "It's back to the 1970s for the Washington Wizards. The old red, white and blue look during the franchise's greatest fortunes returned on Tuesday. Indeed, Elvin Hayes and Bobby Dandridge of the 1978 NBA champions shared the stage for the unveiling of the new uniforms at Verizon Center. The former colors are a welcome return from the recent teal scheme. Teal? Sorry, if it wasn't in my crayon box in kindergarten then I'm not a fan. I'm a primary colors guy whose family will attest has no fashion sense, but returning to the red, white and blue scheme is always a winner. ... Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld called the uniforms a 'sleek, bold look. They can wear them with pride.' But here's the problem -- the team stinks. There has been nothing to be proud about this franchise for several years. Changing uniforms is a bait-and-switch distraction. The Wizards can wear pink for all anyone cares if they'd win 50 games. For now, Washington must worry about marketing over manpower. That's why the team's name should now revert to Bullets once more. It takes several years to gain NBA approval so maybe it's coming. The team has done little as the Wizards so fans aren't emotionally wedded to it as much as Bullets. Now if they'd only play like the old Bullets."

  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: "Joe and Gavin Maloof seemed visibly relieved -- and even surprised -- by their overwhelmingly favorable reception at Monday's rally/celebration at Cesar Chavez Plaza. I listened intently when the Kings co-owners were introduced and interviewed during the 5-8 p.m. downtown event, and heard only the slightest hint at boos. Considering that the family attempted to relocate the franchise to Anaheim only weeks ago, it would be fair to say that the crowd was more than a little kind. Joe was particularly anxious before the event got underway -- and he looks like the stress cost him about 20 pounds -- but appeared to have a great time once everything got started. Gavin noted that he addressed the organization's employees the other day and received a 'standing ovation' at the end. 'I couldn't believe it,' he said. 'I think the thing is, we just want to put the past behind us and more forward. This really is about a city and its love affair with a team. Believe me, there are better days ahead.' "

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "It’s an age-old question that has perplexed and bedeviled pro basketball owners over the years. Namely, does an NBA career and the cache developed from it result in a better trained coach than a potential candidate who never played in the league. The success of Gregg Popovich and the recent transformation of Chicago by former Spurs assistant and current Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau would seem to indicate that an NBA playing career isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for coaching success. Former NBA players traditionally have had an advantage when it comes to attracting head-coaching jobs. The Wall Street Journal reported that since the 1980-81 season, 45 percent of the league’s coaches played in the NBA or in the ABA. The requirement seems to be getting firmer. This past season, 25 of the league’s 33 total head coaches (including coaching changes) were former NBA players. But the Journal reports there’s no correlation in NBA playing experience and coaching success. There’s no evidence that former NBA players actually make better coaches. Since the league’s inception, former NBA players have combined for a .499 regular-season winning percentage. Coaches who never played in the NBA have a .501 all-time winning percentage."

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: "Workers in downtown Detroit got a surprise Tuesday afternoon shortly after lunch hour. Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko was at Campus Martius Park scooping ice cream for charity, and he was quite gracious as the line went pretty smoothly. But it wasn't all about folks wanting a creamy treat -- they had questions about basketball. The main question surrounding Jerebko is his status after he suffered a torn right Achilles tendon in the opening exhibition game in October at Miami. Jerebko declared himself '100%.' But when asked if he is ready for a pickup game, Jerebko smiled and said: 'No. That would be very not smart. I'll just put it that way.' No need to explain. Jerebko is in the market for a raise this summer as a restricted free agent, so why take an unnecessary risk and ruin his payday."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "Bobby Dandridge remembers the nickname pinned on him by Milwaukee Bucks radio announcer Eddie Doucette back in the 1970s. 'The Greyhound.' And it fit perfectly for a young, athletic small forward who helped the Bucks win the NBA championship in just his second season in the league and the franchise's third season. 'I was getting up and down the floor,' Dandridge recalled. 'I was able to come up with a lot of steals; I was constantly moving. That's how that name came.' He was just 23 years old when he helped the Bucks win 66 games in 1970-'71 and sweep the Washington Bullets in four games in the NBA Finals. Now 63 and living in Norfolk, Va., Dandridge has vivid memories of his time with the Bucks. He still actively follows the pro game and keeps close ties with both the Bucks and Washington Wizards franchises (he played four seasons with the Bullets). Dandridge had the good fortune to come to the Bucks in the same season the franchise drafted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) with the No. 1 overall pick. All-star point guard Oscar Robertson arrived the following season and the Bucks won their only league title 40 years ago."