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First Cup: Friday

9/30/2011
  • Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: "Here's the true sign that at least part of the NBA season appears in jeopardy. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reportedly reached a verbal agreement to play with the Italian professional basketball team Virtus Bologna. Bryant will earn $3 million, reports the Associated Press, for the first 40 days of the Italian League season beginning Oct. 9. Meanwhile, the NBA has delayed the start of training camp and canceled 43 exhibition games through Oct. 15. 'Deal is done at 95%,' Virtus Bologna owner Claudio Sabatini told Sportando. Considering Bryant sparked unsuccessful courtships from teams in Turkey and China, skepticism remains understandable."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "The official announcement from Florida International University regarding details and ticketing policies for the NBA lockout all-star event planned at the school by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for 7 p.m. Oct. 8 has been delayed until Friday. Tickets for the event are expected to be made available Monday, a source familiar with the game said. The formal announcement had been expected Thursday. Wade has already confirmed the event, as has a source close to James. It is expected that Isiah Thomas, the former NBA star, coach and executive who now is coaching at FIU, will have a role in the announcement of the game."

  • Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: "The two lockouts have differences -- the NHL had no cap system or revenue-sharing plan in place prior to 2005 -- but the rhetoric is eerily familiar. Before each, owners had said they lost about $300 million during the previous season, with some small-market operators claiming they would lose less by not playing.

    Union representatives disputed the severity of the financial woes and dug in against radical economic overhauls. Even some of the names are the same, as five NBA ownership groups -- New York, Philadelphia, Denver, Washington and Toronto -- include NHL franchises in their portfolios. 'Ours was a philosophical divide,' one NHL executive told The Plain Dealer. 'So it was difficult to handicap when the gap [between owners and players] was going to be bridged. Yes, we felt it might take a full season, although we obviously hoped it wouldn't.' Stern is intimating this weekend's proposal will be the league's best, and if regular-season games are canceled, the offers will decrease in value. The loss of the entire season could cost players $2 billion in salaries. The average NBA player salary last season was $4.79 million. Fewer than 60 NBA players have secured overseas deals. By contrast, nearly 400 NHL players went to Europe in 2004."

  • Israel Gutierrez of The Miami Herald: "This weekend could very well decide if the Heat’s chance at redemption will be delayed heavily and doused thoroughly with apathy. This weekend could be a saving grace for South Floridians who’ve spent so much time calling for coaches to be fired and quarterbacks to be replaced that they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be satisfied with one of its teams. It already appears the NBA players are going to have to concede more than they ever expected heading into negotiations. But if they can manage to play the public-relations game, force a little bit of movement from the owners and come out of this weekend with a deal in place that at least allows them to save face, then there will be a full NBA season. And the biggest winners in that scenario will be right here. That’s something to root for. Who says no one cares about the NBA lockout?"

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "Slippage is the scourge of basketball players at every level, and the consequences are greatest for the elite. Dwyane Wade, a seven-time All-Star for the Miami Heat, believes he has found the answer. This week, he helped promote Court Grip, an acetone-based solution that is designed to clean sneaker soles and restore their tackiness. The product was developed by Mission Athletecare, which brought in Wade as a partner. Wade tested Court Grip during practices and games last season and was so pleased that he agreed to join the enterprise. 'I first tried it in Milwaukee, and I felt the difference immediately,' said Wade, who called the product 'something that can change the game.' Wade helped design the applicator, which looks like a cross between roll-on deodorant and shoe polish. The effects are said to last up to 15 minutes (depending on individual activity and playing style), which means the average player will need to apply it three or four times a game. The Court Grip formula is based on the same technology used on racecar tires and sticky notes, said Mark French, the product’s inventor and the president of Mission Basketball. The quick-drying solution does not make the shoe sticky but merely increases adhesion with the floor, allowing for better traction."

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "Baron Davis is owed $28.6 million on the two remaining years of his contract by Cleveland. He’s also reportedly excited about the opportunity to serve as a mentor to No. 1 draft pick Kyrie Irving. But Davis turned 32 in April and had trouble getting into shape heading into last season for the Los Angeles Clippers. And he’s never taken his team deeper in the playoffs than the second round in his 12-season NBA career. But he could be an intriguing transitional piece of the puzzle for the Spurs. It would give them a serviceable backup who could start if they decide to trade Tony Parker for other assets. If not, he would fill in some of the minutes where George Hill played last season and lessen some of the immediate pressure for rookie Cory Joseph to crack the starting rotation. What about it Spurs Nation? If you could get Davis for an affordable contract, is he worth the risk?"

  • Luis Gomez of the Chicago Tribune: "How does a Bull beat a bullfighter? In the case of Derrick Rose's new adidas ad, with speed, a spin move or some dribbling straight out of the And1 Mixtape tour. The 60-second ad, 'The Bull,' is for Rose's new basketball shoe, adiZero Rose 2 (available October 6). Sadly, there's no freaky lady pyramid in this commercial, but it's still probably Rose's best ad yet. The bullfighters trying to take down the NBA MVP are authentic, as is the Madrid setting. Not as authentic? The height of the basketball hoop at the end."

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: "There’s a silver lining of the lockout for Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: He can attend coaching events that the season would ordinarily keep him away from, like the FABC coaches clinic he headlined at Oviedo High School on Tuesday afternoon, and talk shop with high-school and college coaches who are devoted to basketball the same way Van Gundy is. Van Gundy, the son of a lifelong coach, loves exchanging strategies and philosophies with other coaches, even those from lower levels than the NBA. When he spoke at the Coaching U clinic at UCF back in July, he gave insight into the inner-workings of the Magic and shed some light on why the Magic play basketball the way they do. On Tuesday at Oviedo, he spoke about the eight most important aspects of successful basketball coaching — in his opinion, of course — and also added some commentary on the Magic’s strategy."

  • Mike Martindale and Santiago Esparza of The Detroit News: "Detroit Piston Ben Wallace is facing drunken driving and weapons charges after being arrested over the weekend for erratic driving on Telegraph Road at Long Lake, according to township police. ... Wallace told police the handgun belonged to his wife, was registered only to her, and he had placed it in the backpack for protection before driving from Virginia back to Michigan the day before. He said he had 'completely forgot the gun was in his backpack and when he got back to Michigan went out with his buddy and had some drinks …,' according to a police report written by Lt. Mark Paquin, who said Wallace said 'if he had known tonight was going to end up this way, he would have done things differently. Mr. Wallace said he knew he was in the wrong, and he shouldn't have had the gun, he also told me that he was a criminal justice major in college,' Lt. Mark Paquin wrote in his report."