First Cup: Tuesday

  • John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News: "Here's hoping that, by revealing he is gay, Phoenix Suns president and chief executive officer Rick Welts has brought more happiness to his life. But if he thinks he's made some culture-changing announcement, he hasn't. ... Despite his position of authority with the Suns, unless you are a fan of the franchise, you probably had little idea of who he was until the story came out that he is gay. This is not to diminish Welts' bravery, but a chief executive officer or a team president is not a player or coach. And in the grand scheme of things in the sports world, his coming out will have about as much impact as if I were gay and came out. We're just periphery players. We don't matter. Nothing will move this conversation substantially forward until an active player on one of our popular professional sports teams has the courage to step forward. And it can't just be any level of player. ... Maybe I'm just being na├»ve, but I think the desire for a championship would ultimately trump the ignorance of intolerance. But we won't know for sure until a top player in one of our favorite sports comes out and the issue of gay athletes can be discussed realistically."

  • Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post: "The game Dr. James Naismith created in 1891 came with a set of rules that are the blurriest of any sport. You know what a foul is, and yet there are so many variations of it the calls become inconsistent. Modifications over the years haven't done much to clear it up. ESPN analyst Jalen Rose, a former Nuggets guard, sighed during a highlight package on a recent 'SportsCenter' and said: 'The NBA has judgment calls -- block-charge, travel, three seconds, over the back, reach in -- you get the point.' But coaches and players aren't allowed to express those concerns publicly, lest they be fined by the league. Fines come swiftly for those who dare to publicly criticize NBA referees. But the consensus is this year's playoffs have been officiated well."

  • Thom Loverro of the Washington Examiner: "There perhaps has never been an NBA Eastern Conference finals with two teams as drastically different as the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. The contrast is simple -- one represents the game and the other represents the player. In other words, the Heat-Bulls series is a referendum on the pop phrase, 'Don't hate the player. Hate the game.' Why would you hate this game?This game is beautiful when it is played right. When it is not -- when basketball simply serves the purpose of glorifying the player -- it becomes more like a circus act. ... This series -- which continues with Game 2 on Wednesday -- has come down to the glory of team basketball vs. the glory of the individual. It is old-school NBA against the generation of me. Those of you who have grown up in the generation of me may resent the notion that your idols are false and are parasites on the game. Consider this your wake-up call. ... If none of this can convince you the Heat are worthy of your animosity, then just consider this -- it's Miami. 'Miami is one of these great places that is a really sensual, physically beautiful place,' said Michael Mann, executive producer of the TV show 'Miami Vice.' Look around you. Is the place where you are really sensual and physically beautiful? I didn't think so. Hate the player. Hate the place."

  • Al Iannazzone of The Record: "The NBA Draft Lottery has become a made-for-television event in which teams and fans pin their hopes for getting a franchise-changing player on a combination of numbers. ESPN will have to get pretty creative to hype this year’s lottery, though. The right to draft Greg Oden (or Kevin Durant), Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin and John Wall, respectively, were at stake the past four NBA Draft lotteries. This year, Duke freshman Kyrie Irving, a West Orange product, and Arizona forward Derrick Williams are expected to be the first two picks in a draft that’s not nearly as top-heavy as some recent ones. 'It’s an interesting draft because of all the players that would have gone lottery or near-lottery who have dropped out,' an NBA executive said. 'We haven’t had this for a while, where as many players as would have been really high draft picks have dropped out of the draft.' ... It’s taken the usual buzz out of tonight’s lottery, which ESPN will air before the Thunder and Mavericks play Game 1 of the Western Conference finals."

  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: "This is the year the Timberwolves need to get some satisfaction out of the NBA draft lottery. After Duke point guard Kyrie Irving and Arizona forward Derrick Williams, there is a significant drop-off in star power and potential, putting more stress on the Wolves to come away with the No. 1 or No. 2 pick - something its club has never done in previous 13 lottery appearances. ... Though the Wolves' record gives them the best odds of winning the No. 1 pick, an ominous trend will confront the club tonight. In the past seven lotteries, the team with the worst record has failed to win the No. 1 pick. Orlando, which finished 21-61 in 2003-04, was the last team with the worst record to have ultimate lottery luck. The Magic used the No. 1 pick that year to select center Dwight Howard. David Kahn and media relations assistant Mark Rosenberg made the trip to Secaucus, N.J., to represent the club at tonight's proceedings. Kahn allowed KFAN sports-talk host Paul Allen to accompany him to last year's lottery as a good-luck charm, but there are no plans this time to stir up any extra karma."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "The 2011 draft doesn't appear to have star quality, but it might have some depth. Players picked in the middle of the first round might prove to be as good as some players picked in the lottery. The Cavs also have two second-round selections (Nos. 32 and 54). They have a 22.7 percent chance of winning the lottery (19.9 percent with their own first-round pick and 2.8 percent with the Los Angeles Clippers' selection, which they acquired in the Mo Williams-Baron Davis trade). Only the Minnesota Timberwolves at 25 percent have better odds. Nick Gilbert, the 14-year-old son of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, will represent the team on stage at the draft lottery in Secaucus, N.J."

  • Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press: "Bryan Colangelo beat big odds at the 2006 NBA draft lottery to win the No. 1 pick. Toronto's chances of landing the top spot are significantly better this time around, and the Raptors are hoping their general manager is their lucky charm once again Tuesday, when the league holds it annual ping-pong ball affair in Secaucus, N.J. ... Colangelo, the Raptors' GM, represented Toronto at the lottery in 2006, when the team had an 8.8 per cent shot at winning. But they did just that, and Colangelo selected Italian centre Andrea Bargnani with the top pick that year. Colangelo's actually not a big believer in good luck charms. 'I think I was the only one at the lottery in 2006 that didn't have a ‘lucky charm,' and there were quite a few distinct items among the challengers that I recall vividly,' Colangelo said in an email. 'I have always found it ironic those teams holding said items that do not move up or even drop a spot or two end up going home with a ‘not-so-lucky charm.' "

  • Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner: "The burden of history no longer weighs down the Wizards as they prepare for Tuesday's NBA Draft Lottery. That doesn't mean they can afford to return to their days of misfortune. Failing to get the top pick -- as it did last year -- could hardly be called unfair for Washington, but dropping in the draft order could hurt even more than usual this year with the current NBA draft class weakened by the threat of a work stoppage this summer. After failing to move up in 12 of the previous 13 lotteries in which they had participated, the Wizards defied the odds to get their franchise cornerstone last year. Washington won the No. 1 pick and the right to choose John Wall, who would have been rookie of the year if not for Blake Griffin's second chance at a first NBA season. ... 'We're just going to go there and enjoy the night,' said Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld, who will have Wall represent the team at the draft this year. 'Hopefully the pingpong balls are in our favor. But we'll be prepared for any scenario.' "

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "Not being lucky has worked out just fine for the Kings in recent years -- at least when it comes to the NBA draft lottery. The disappointment in 2009 when the Kings had the league's worst record but ended up with the worst possible pick -- No. 4 -- was soothed when they turned the choice into 2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans. Last year, the Kings picked fifth and landed DeMarcus Cousins, a player they will build around. The Kings would love to land a top-three pick in today's lottery, but if that doesn't happen, it just means a little more work for the front office. 'If you're picking one, you're probably looking at a very few players,' coach Paul Westphal said. 'If you're picking eight, you're probably looking at 20 to 25 players. There's a lot of different scenarios the deeper you pick.' "

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: "The Pistons are hoping today's their lucky day. Last year's first-round pick Greg Monroe will represent the Pistons at tonight's NBA draft lottery, hoping to snag the No. 1 pick in next month's draft. By virtue of their 30-52 mark, the Pistons will have 43 of the 1,000 combinations, giving them a 4.3 percent chance of obtaining the first pick. Monroe isn't bringing any good luck charms, though. 'I'll probably visit my pastor,' Monroe said last week. "I'm excited for that. I'm happy the organization chose me.' "

  • Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer: "The Charlotte Bobcats have a 1.7 percent chance to win the top pick in tonight's NBA draft lottery. To put the number in perspective, you have a 1.7 percent chance of driving interstates 485, 85 or 77 to work today without slowing to accommodate a driver clogging the left lane. ... If you go to ESPN.com, you can simulate the lottery. Hit PLAY LOTTERY and you get a potentially different result every time. To offer statistical heft, I hit PLAY LOTTERY 100 times Monday. It was like playing the North Carolina Education Lottery, except my wallet didn't shrink. The third time I hit PLAY LOTTERY, the Bobcats won the second pick. That pick could be Kyrie Irving, the fine Duke point guard. If not, it will be Arizona forward Derrick Williams, who scored 32 to Irving's 28 when the Wildcats pounded Duke in the NCAA tournament, or Enes Kantner, one of the top 10 big men in all of Turkey. I also like Brandon Knight, who played point for Kentucky. In my 100 rolls, the Bobcats drafted ninth 87 times. They drafted second five times. They drafted 10th five times. They drafted third three times. But sports still can be the place long shots go to prevail."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "The Milwaukee Bucks will be seeking a first in Tuesday's NBA draft lottery. They are hoping to become the first team to jump from the No. 10 spot to the No. 1 overall pick since the weighted draft lottery system began in 1990. The Bucks did move from the No. 6 slot to No. 1 in 2005, when they selected 7-foot center Andrew Bogut. They had a 6.3% chance to grab the top spot that year. Bucks general manager John Hammond will represent the Bucks during the lottery ceremony Tuesday, which will be held in Secaucus, N.J., around 7:30 p.m. (Milwaukee time) and televised on ESPN."

  • Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Golden State is slotted 11th and has been assigned eight of the 1,000 possible four-pingpong-ball combinations. That's an 0.8 percent chance to move up to No. 1 and a 2.9 percent chance to move up to one of the top three spots. Co-owner Joe Lacob, fresh off a vacation in Africa with his fiancee, will represent the team today in Secaucus, N.J. If Lacob doesn't get lucky and the Warriors stay at No. 11, then they will try to get an 'athletic big man,' in the words of executive vice president Larry Riley. If none of those is left, than maybe a good defensive player to come off the bench. 'We're probably not going to get a guy who makes a big impact, particularly early in the season,' Riley said. Power forwards Tristan Thompson, of Texas, or Bismack Biyombo, of the Congo, would seem to be good fits at No. 11."

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "This time around, Kevin O'Connor isn't going to the formal lottery event at the NBA Entertainment Studios without a couple of luck-improving tokens. O'Connor's wife picked out a green tie for him to wear at the ping-pong-ball fest in Secaucus, N.J., where the Jazz hope to improve their picking and pecking order from their current positions at No. 6 (from New Jersey) and No. 12 (from their own rough season). The Jazz GM will also sport sentimental cufflinks that display the badge number of his father, who was a New York police officer. 'We'll see if we can use a little New York luck,' O'Connor said. Lady Luck has already snubbed the Jazz once in this particular draft process. The Nets lost a tiebreaker coin toss with Sacramento last month to determine the fifth and sixth positions in this lottery and potentially in the draft. Utah acquired that slightly devalued N.J. pick from February's D-Will deal, but the Jazz now have worse odds (7.5 percent compared to the Kings' 7.6 percent) of winning the lottery."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "There is a far better chance of Steve Nash missing a free throw than the Suns getting a top-three draft pick in Tuesday night's NBA draft lottery. But when it comes to the lottery, the Suns are due a turn of good fate. The Suns are an infrequent visitor to the draft lottery - only five teams (not including Charlotte) having gone fewer times than the Suns' seven visits, including a 2004 participation that was part of a pre-arranged trade of the pick to Chicago. ... This time, the Suns are sending Vice President of Player Programs Mark West as their representative in a lottery field that will include ex-Suns representing Sacramento (Mayor Kevin Johnson), Charlotte (coach Paul Silas) and Toronto (General Manager Bryan Colangelo)."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "As slim as the Rockets' lottery chances might be, there has been an inescapable reminder through the playoffs of what is possible. With every Derrick Rose flight to the rim or free throw with the chant of 'MVP' echoing through United Center, teams with the smallest lottery chances know another long shot has come through with spectacular results. It would be the biggest upset in the history of the lottery if the Rockets jump tonight from their slot as the 14th team to pick all the way to the first pick. But the chances of moving to the top three are slightly better than the Bulls' chance to move to first to grab Rose, when they jumped from the ninth pick to No. 1 in the 2008 draft. The Rockets have a 98.18 percent chance of staying at No. 14 for a second consecutive year. There is just a .5 percent chance of moving up to the top pick, a .59 percent chance of moving to the second pick and a .73 percent chance of winning the third pick of the June 23 draft. 'I don't have to watch very long,' Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said. 'We're either at 14 or not. If we're not 14, we'll have a party no matter where we end up in the top three.' "