First Cup: Tuesday

  • Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald: "Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s message was consistent throughout the regular season and Eastern Conference playoffs. It’s not changing for the Finals. His defense roared through the first three rounds of the postseason like a hurricane chugging its way through the Atlantic and building strength along the way. 'We’re going to try to impact the Dallas Mavericks with our defense,' Spoelstra said. 'We feel it’s one of the best defenses in the league.' Before the defense coalesced to make a memorable regular season, and before an Eastern Conference championship that brought the NBA Finals back to Miami, there was a celebration. James, Wade and Bosh stood on a stage outside AmericanAirlines Arena last summer and announced their intentions to the world. Win championships, plural, they said. Miami cheered. All others sneered. Now. The. Finals."

  • Greg Cote of The Miami Herald: "Now, the Dallas Mavericks. And once again the hope of Mavs fans and those picking Dallas is that one team’s deeper bench might overcome the other’s greater star-power. It won’t happen. Miami will have three of the four best players in these Finals, and that will be enough. LeBron is the greatest player, period. You can debate whether Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki or a seemingly less than perfectly healthy Wade is second. Bosh is fourth. These playoffs haven’t been about any of the ancillary noise or psychoanalysis. They weren’t about nemesis Boston’s mental sway over the 'little brother' Heat. They weren’t about 'hatred' or whatever Barkley said. They aren’t, now, about Dallas’ fierce desire to avenge its 2006 NBA Finals collapse against the Heat. This postseason and the NBA’s foreseeable future are about Miami having the best players and being the best team -- and about the rest of the league dealing with that. All that is left is for other teams’ fans all over America to yell 'beat the Heat,' even though we all know those same fans would much rather their team be the Heat."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "For the first time since eliminating the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night in five games in the Eastern Conference finals, the Heat hit. And hit hard. The session turned so rugged that Spoelstra said he deviated from his practice script. 'I actually hadto cut it short again,' Spoelstra said, 'actually, after about however long. Guys were hitting a little too hard, and a little too amped up.' Guard Dwyane Wade said it was refreshing to finally be allowed to get back to speed in anticipation of Tuesday's 9 p.m. Game 1 of the Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. 'It was great energy-wise,' he said of the session. 'It was the Finals. You can tell. Everyone is giddy, excited. Needless to say, this was one of the most anticipated practices for all of us since training camp, probably.' Motivation, Wade said, clearly is not at issue at this point. 'This is the opportunity, this is a time, where probably not a lot of people on our team have been,' he said. Even before he took his first question, Wade tried to put one particular lingering concern aside. 'I'm not hurt,' he said. 'Get that out of the way. Move on.' "

  • Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "If iron sharpens iron, then what does collective misery wrought? Apparently enough joint motivation for a potential magical and redemptive title run. This is the story of the 2011 Dallas Mavericks, a band of tortured current and former superstars who are on the brink of unprecedented success as a group that they were unable to achieve individually. Forward Dirk Nowitzki, guard Jason Terry, guard Peja Stojakovic, guard Jason Kidd, forward Shawn Marion and coach Rick Carlisle, all linked by postseason misery, face the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals starting tonight, looking for deliverance and championship salvation. 'All of us have unique stories,' said Terry, one of just two players, along with Nowitzki, remaining from the Mavericks team that lost to the Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals. 'That is what is driving us. It's why we get this done this year. ' "

  • Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News: "One of the most-surrounded Mavericks players Monday during NBA Finals media day at American Airlines Arena was backup guard J.J. Barea. That was also the case when the Puerto Rico native exited the team bus upon arriving in Miami on Sunday. Puerto Rico is a short plane ride from Miami, and Barea is a popular player around here. That's partly because he spent his senior year of high school at Miami Christian. ... Barea answered question after question, switching from speaking Spanish to English, and had everyone laughing. Asked if he's noticed more these days around Dallas because of his play this postseason, Barea said 'for sure.' 'Dallas is turning into Puerto Rico,' he said. 'I get good service.' He was then asked if he's quick enough to get past LeBron James. 'Oh, no question,' Barea quipped. 'I'm going to try to go by everybody.' And finally, Barea was asked if he's getting more endorsement deals nowadays. He said for the last year he's been endorsing T-Mobile in Puerto Rico. Reporter: 'So, you're the Dwyane Wade of T-Mobile down there?' Barea: 'Yeah. Bigger, though.' "

  • Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times: "No, it's not Godzilla, King Kong, Frankenstein, Dracula or Norman Bates' mother, but the Miami Heat, the most hated, hyped, mocked, given-up-for-dead ratings magnet the NBA ever had the good fortune to see unjustly accused. If NBA fans might root for alternate life forms against the Heat, like the one with all the teeth that pops out of John Hurt's stomach in 'Alien,' one last champion for Our Kind remains standing. ... Mark Cuban? Say it ain't so, Jerry Buss. Jerry? Cuban, whose rage at the NBA machine may have drawn in his own players in their 2006 Finals El Foldo loss to Miami, kept a discreet silence as the Mavericks went 12-3 in the West, flattening the Lakers and everyone else in their way. As a fan in Chicago told the Mavericks' advance scout after the Eastern Conference finals: 'Good luck. You're America's Team now.' The series is being billed as LeBron James versus Dirk Nowitzki ... no small compliment for Dirk, whose career seems to have begun again at 32. Having averaged 32.2 points in the Western finals against Oklahoma City, his high in any playoff series, he's now supposedly a sentimental favorite in more places than Dallas and Deutschland. Actually, if he's perfectly likable, you didn't hear much about the empty place in his heart until he became the latest foil for James. Now he's America's Favorite German Sharpshooter!"

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "There is no denying the impact that one controversial decision -- made nearly 11 months ago by a guy in a plaid shirt sitting uncomfortably on a folding chair inside a Boys and Girls Club -- had on the 2010-11 NBA season. From the scorned city and franchise that LeBron James left behind, to the increased television ratings and jersey sales, and also in the emotional response -- be it unabashed hatred or fawning praise -- the Miami Heat has generated intense reactions. But there was another decision, made with less fanfare by another member of last summer’s heralded free agent class, that has resulted in a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals between the Heat and the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki simply faxed in his signature to a four-year contract that guaranteed his return to the only franchise that he had known since he was drafted in 1998. No celebratory party with 13,000 adoring fans was necessary, as Nowitzki committed with the hope, but certainly not the expectation, that a championship would be waiting for him on the other side."

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "So long, Generation X. See ya later, Generation Y. Generation AAU is taking over the NBA. Corbin believes the club basketball program played a role in last summer's decision to bring James, Bosh and Wade together in Miami. And the ex-Jazz forward and current head coach called it 'different' to see superstars scheme to join forces -- something in contradiction to what he saw during his 16 seasons as a player in the NBA. 'Just thinking back in the day when I was younger in the league, superstar guys wanted to have their own show. It's changed,' Corbin said. 'These kids they grew up in AAU, being on all-star teams, and they're used to playing with superstar guys. And they want that kind of team because ... they have a chance to win big every night. They want to win championships and not have to be the only guy getting it done.' Added Corbin: 'I think it's a change for this new generation of kid who's used to being on these superstar teams from the AAU thing.' That, Corbin admitted, makes it hard on small-market franchises, like Utah, that don't have the drawing power to lure superstars."

  • Jeff Miller of The Orange County Register: "He’ll have a new coach and he’ll be coming off a season that, to use his word, was 'wasted.' It will be interesting -- just like it always is -- to see where Kobe Bryant goes from here. Lord knows he has had plenty of these zigs and zags in his career. So the question today is just how much longer will Kobe be Kobe? How much longer will he remain an elite player in this league and a man capable of leading his team to a championship? He’s only 32, but he just finished his 15th NBA season and has appeared in 1,103 regular season games and 208 playoff games. We’re putting the over/under at three years, which is one more year than we’re putting on Mike Brown‘s over/under as Lakers coach."

  • Darnelll of The Oklahoman: "Sam Presti sat Kendrick Perkins down for his exit interview on Thursday and showed the center clips of his old self before he busted up both of his knees. The footage was incredible. Perkins saw himself running the floor, catching passes on the move and finishing plays with power, patrolling the paint and swatting shots mercilessly. Presti, the team's general manager, was sending a simple message. 'He just told me that we're going to get you back to that point and even better,' Perkins said. That's become the main offseason goal for Perkins, the Thunder's 6-foot-10 center who became a polarizing player in Oklahoma City following the mid-season trade that shipped Jeff Green to Boston. Some fans have called Perkins a bust. During the playoffs, national television analysts even called the deal a mistake by the Thunder."

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "The NBA's current labor agreement includes a provision that, from Feb. 1 to May 31, allows a first-round draft pick playing elsewhere professionally 'to enter into a rookie-scale contract' with his NBA team that begins the next season. By the way, May 31 is Tuesday. What that means: Rubio by Tuesday can agree to terms on with the Wolves on a future contract that would guarantee him the terms for a No. 5 overall pick under the league's current labor agreement. ... The Wolves still can sign him for the 2011-12 season even if they don't reach an agreement by Tuesday. Rubio still could exercise his Barcelona buyout and tell the Wolves he's eligible and willing to sign after July 1, if there's not a lockout. But that lockout probability could keep him in Europe for one more season if he doesn't commit to the Wolves now. There has been so much secrecy and legal mumbo- jumbo in this whole ordeal, but ... it seems most likely the parties will reach a contract agreement now that finally brings Rubio to Minnesota. But don't expect an immediate announcement. That might not come for weeks until Regal Barcelona's season ends, because Rubio and his family don't want it to appear he's already headed out the door."

  • Lindsey Willhite of the Daily Herald: "While the Bulls already have a good idea of whom they’re targeting with the 28th, 30th and 43rd picks in the draft on June 23, they’ll add this week’s results into their monstrous database and wind up with a draft-day list of roughly 70 players. 'I think the common person would be shocked at the amount of detailed research that goes in these picks,' Matt Lloyd said. 'I think the best example of the success of the process is Taj Gibson, who was the 26th pick (in 2009). We had been constantly watching him over three years (at USC). Our psychological exam was unbelievable on him. Our physical testing was unbelievable on him. And everyone just liked him as a person.' Just as Gibson passed every audition to become a Bull, Lloyd had to prove himself in multiple ways in order to become the team’s director of college scouting. His elongated road began while attending UIC, when he spent four years as a video-room intern for the Bulls and the White Sox. While today’s million-dollar systems allow video coordinator Jim Sann to put together cutups in minutes, Lloyd used to run around pressing buttons on 18 VCRs in order to produce the clips Phil Jackson and his players needed."

  • Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: "The Warriors will bring their first group of draft prospects to the Oakland facility today while potential coaching candidates Rick Adelman, Dwane Casey, Lawrence Frank, Mark Jackson and Brian Shaw are being linked to the team with equal amounts of fervor in NBA circles. The team is neither confirming nor denying reports that it has interviewed, in some form or fashion, any or all of those five candidates. The Warriors are taking a similar tack with the draft, which has created all types of conjecture. Read 10 reputable mock drafts, and you're likely to find 10 different players going to the Warriors with the No. 11 overall pick. In fact, the Warriors' website lists 11 different prospects who have been mock selected by the team. General manager Larry Riley says the Warriors need to add a big guard, a small forward and a post player during the offseason. He has toyed with the idea of parting with the 'best-player-available' selection and instead drafting a center because it's the most obvious need. ... The first six prospects who will work out in Oakland include two players who could be slotted at the No. 11 pick. The workout will be closed to the media, but the Warriors probably could sell tickets to watch the matchup between Jordan Hamilton and Chris Singleton."

  • Jeff Rabjohns of The Indianapolis Star: "Jimmer Fredette -- the college basketball player whose popularity soared to the point it was simply referred to as 'Jimmermania' last season -- will work out for the Indiana Pacers. Fredette is among a group of six players schedule to be in Conseco Fieldhouse Tuesday as the Pacers continue to look at a host of players prior to the NBA draft. This is the second group of six to work out for the Pacers. ... The other players working out Tuesday are Tennessee’s Tobias Harris, Florida’s Vernon Macklin, Kansas’ Marcus Morris, Duke’s Nolan Smith and former high school prodigy Jeremy Tyler, recently playing professionally in Tokyo."

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "Two familiar names from the local basketball scene highlight the group of draft hopefuls who will work out for the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. Westminster point guard Michael Stockton, the son of Jazz Hall of Famer John Stockton, and BYU shooting guard Jackson Emery will join Virginia guard Mustapha Farrakhan and Kansas guard Brady Morningstar in a private workout at the team's practice facility. ... Per tradition, however, the Jazz usually invite top local talent to participate in pre-draft workouts, so the inclusion of Emery and Stockton -- both of whom are NBA longshots -- is not surprising."