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First Cup: Wednesday

9/28/2011
  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: "Within a span of four months, Rick Welts quit his front-office job with the Phoenix Suns, packed for a move to Sacramento, where his partner lives, and on Tuesday accepted a job as president of the Golden State Warriors. And by the way, Welts is gay. I want to say that again. And by the way, Welts is gay. So let's see, now. The sky didn't fall. The earth didn't shake. The Warriors weren't damned to NBA lottery eternity for hiring an executive who, earlier this year, became the highest-ranking official in men's team sports to publicly acknowledge that he is gay. Who knows? A few shrewd personnel moves, a season of fewer injuries, an impressive debut by rookie coach Mark Jackson, and the Warriors conceivably could move out of the pits of the Pacific Division for the first time since Golden State chased off Dirk Nowitzki's Dallas Mavericks in 2007."

  • Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: "The Warriors hired a gay man as their chief operating officer, and fans of the team will have some serious questions and concerns, such as: Can Rick Welts help us get a rebounder who is taller than 6-6? Will he recognize and exploit the genius of Jerry West? Can Welts save us from the $10 beer? The part about Welts being an openly gay exec in a manly-man's manly sport is interesting and noteworthy, but is it big news? Only in that it's not big news."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "At this simple hoop, homeless and disadvantaged youngsters of Bahia Blanca sometimes shoot baskets and dream they can be like Manu Ginobili, the most famous athlete in the history of this industrial town of nearly 300,000 in a far southeastern corner of Buenos Aires province.Most of the children know about Manu, but not necessarily because of his fame as the hero of Argentina’s 2004 Olympic champion basketball team or his status as an All-Star guard for the four-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. Nela Agesta, the 70-something matriarch of Mama Margarita House, makes certain the children to whom she ministers understand Ginobili is the one who puts fresh meat, fruits and vegetables on their plates on a daily basis. This, she tells them, is heroism on a plane much higher than athletic achievement. ... Though his heart never will stray far from Bahia Blanca, Ginobili now belongs to all of Argentina. From Patagonia to the far Northwest border with Brazil, possibly only Lionel Messi, the greatest of Argentina’s current crop of soccer stars, can match his popularity. ... At the Mama Margarita House, Agesta prays daily for Manu Ginobili and the work his foundation does, wherever that may be. 'Just one grain of sand on a mountain of troubles,' she says of her work at Mama Margarita House. For Manu Ginobili and his foundation, many mountains await."

  • Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: "Standing before a crowd of smiling kids, on top of a newly resurfaced basketball court in his old South Side neighborhood, Bulls guard Derrick Rose put the NBA’s labor issues into perspective. 'To me, the lockout is unnecessary,' Rose told the crowd at Murray Playground Park in Englewood. 'There’s no reason billionaires and millionaires should be arguing about money.' In a normal year, Rose would be getting ready to open Bulls training camp next Tuesday and build on the 62-win season of 2010-11. Instead, training camp is postponed indefinitely while the players and owners figure out how to divide a hefty pile of revenues. Rose said he’d consider playing overseas if the entire NBA season is canceled, but he made it clear that option is a long way from coming true. He has no offer, team or country in mind. He recently returned from taking his mother, Brenda, on a trip to Bora Bora, which has no professional basketball."

  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: "Portland Trail Blazers legend Arvydas Sabonis suffered a heart attack while playing basketball Tuesday night in his native Lithuania, but his condition is not believed to be life threatening. Sabonis was taken to a hospital for emergency medical care and is expected to remain there for at least one week, according to international web site Sportalas.com. 'Our thoughts are with Arvydas and his family at this time,' the Blazers said in a prepared statement. 'We wish him well in a speedy recovery.' "

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "It has been 21 years since South Florida hosted an NBA All-Star Game. Because of the NBA lockout, that drought soon could change. While the real thing is not on the horizon in the league's long-range planning, a source close to LeBron James confirmed Tuesday to the Sun Sentinel that James and Miami Heat teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have plans to team up to present a lockout pro-am all-star exhibition at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at Florida International University. ... A source involved with the planning of the event confirmed to the Sun Sentinel a participant list that includes the Heat's star trio, plus Paul, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire, Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, Atlanta Hawks free-agent guard Jamal Crawford, Washington Wizards guard John Wall, Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay, Houston Rockets guard Jonny Flynn, Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe, Philadelphia 76ers guard Lou Williams, Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews and free-agent center Eddy Curry, as well as Heat free-agent point guard Mario Chalmers and former Heat players Dorell Wright and Caron Butler."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: During a break in filming, Kevin Durant sat down for a one-on-one interview with The Oklahoman, touching on topics such as the NBA lockout, his offseason workouts, potential plans for a charity game in Oklahoma and, of course, his new tattoos. ... Q: What was your reaction to people discovering you had tattoos? A: It was just like so what? I was wondering why people were so worried about me getting a tattoo. It doesn't change the type of person I am. It doesn't change how I look at things. It's just ink. And I like ink. It's something I always wanted to get. I was a little nervous of getting them because of needles. But I was going to get them sooner or later."

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "The more time it takes to solve the current NBA lockout, the less time Magic and their fans have left until Dwight Howard can shop his services. Is this the season of Dwight Lite? Or — if the entire season is canceled — are the lights turned out on Dwight’s career in Orlando? I’m not predicting Howard is flying away on the wings of free agency, not at all. Only Howard and a few in his inner circle know of his plans. It’s just that the longer the lockout goes on, the less we’ll see of the franchise center, especially if a work stoppage shrinks the NBA season to, say, 50 games like in 1998-99. ... The lockout is bad news for NBA fans, but the game eventually will be back. The Magic and their fans can’t say the same about Dwight Howard, especially if he is out of uniform for an entire season."

  • Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "I’m still not convinced we’re going to have NBA games before January, but after speaking with a source close to the collective-bargaining negotiations last week, I’m a little more optimistic. In fact, the source feels there is a chance the league might be able to come to an agreement that would allow it to open the regular season as scheduled on Nov. 1. 'We’re a lot closer than we were,' the source says. 'I’m hopeful we don’t lose any of the season.' "

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "If the driving force behind Rudy Fernandez's goals is to pile up as much Euros as he can, then the Mavericks have no chance of keeping the Spaniard beyond this season. But this stuff about Fernandez using this season as a gauge to see whether he wants to be in the NBA with the Mavericks or in Spain with Real Madrid is a bunch of ... uh, stuff. If Fernandez begins playing with the Spanish team, which it appears he will, he theoretically will rejoin the Mavericks whenever the lockout is lifted. And smart people are still betting it will be sometime in January before games are played. That means Fernandez will have a 50-game season, or something like that, to show that the Mavericks should desperately want him for the future. But if this guy already has a multiyear contract in hand with Real Madrid, what is the Mavericks' motivation to play him? ... These are delicate situations. But you can bet that the Mavericks, and all NBA teams, do things based on what they think is best for them. And with a reserve player like this, it makes no sense to give him an important role if Fernandez isn't going to be around down the line."

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "Players who left college early to enter this year's draft did so knowing there was a good chance their rookie seasons could be affected by the lockout. The NBA last week postponed the start of training camps that were set to open Oct. 3 and canceled 43 preseason games. While talks between the league and the National Basketball Players Association continue, there's no sign the end of the lockout is imminent. Still, Isiah Thomas has no regrets. 'I made the decision knowing the possibility that there was going to be a lockout and all the pluses and minuses about it,' Thomas said. That means Thomas and Tyler Honeycutt, the Kings' other second-round pick, are among the many underclassmen who have found life after college basketball not too different from how they lived while in school. 'You're playing the waiting game,' Thomas said."

  • Staff of the Detroit Free Press: "There has been another Austin Daye sighting. This time the third-year Pistons forward could be seen working out on the court with Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant in Alexandria, Va. The two players were shown running through drills, working on their shots and making passes around 6 a.m. one day at Bryant Alternative High School. The practice footage is part of the second episode of Durant's '35th Hour' YouTube series. The second installment is called 'Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Fails to Work Hard.' "