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First Cup: Wednesday

10/19/2011
  • Rich Hofmann of the Philadelphia Daily News: "Considering that they began their stewardship on a day when the NBA continued to lock out its players during a labor dispute, a day when they could not even mention the names of their players in public, Harris and Aron and the rest did the next best thing: they cut ticket prices on nearly 9,000 seats, some by as much as 50 percent. 'Slashing' was the word Aron used, more than once. It is absolutely the right way to go - and especially if the lockout lasts for any significant period of time. Harris, a billionaire, is obviously not in the habit of setting money on fire - but trying to get started on any kind of a turnaround in this environment is beyond difficult. 'Clearly, we need to do a better job of getting the town excited about the Sixers,' Harris said. Later, he added this dose of reality: 'One of the reasons we didn't put any time frame on our goal is because we can't.' It should not be impossible, even if smart people before him have been unable to figure it out. We all have seen the other teams develop this lasting brand loyalty. Last year, the Sixers were young and exciting and made the playoffs. Their coach, Doug Collins, is widely liked and respected. If they can continue to progress, there should be something here to build upon. Of course, Harold Katz probably said the same thing at some point when he owned the team in the '80s."

  • Tom Moore of phillyBurbs.com: "One name stood out on the release listing the 'other investors' with the 76ers’ new ownership group. That would be Philadelphia native Will Smith, the well-known actor and singer, who is joined by his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. 'We were aware that he might be interested and we reached out to him,' said Sixers managing owner Joshua Harris after Tuesday’s formal news conference at The Palestra. 'He’s a local Philly guy and a basketball fan. Who wouldn’t want Will Smith and his wife in your group?' Harris said he doesn’t expect Smith to take a hands-on role with the team."

  • Tim Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Lockout notwithstanding, the NBA announced Tuesday that its Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve the sale of the Philadelphia 76ers. Meanwhile, the

    league remains quiet on the proposed sale of the Hawks, which appears stalled in the approval process. 'Nothing new at this point,' NBA senior vice president of communications Tim Frank said by email Tuesday. The Atlanta Spirit Group’s agreement to sell a majority stake in the Hawks, as well as the Philips Arena operating rights, to Los Angeles businessman Alex Meruelo was announced Aug. 7, contingent on approval by the NBA. Ten weeks later, a decision on approval does not seem close at hand. A vote is not on the agenda for the league’s Board of Governors meetings Wednesday and Thursday in New York, Frank confirmed. The Hawks will be represented at the meetings by Bruce Levenson, a member of the group attempting to sell controlling interest in the franchise to Meruelo."

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: "You've got it all wrong, Dwight. That's why there was such an overwhelming sense of civic sadness when your comments to Esquire magazine began to leak out earlier this week. For the first time, it sounded to many of us that you want to leave Orlando more than you want to stay. ... You have a communal bond here and an entire city that loves you. If you go to L.A., you'll be going to Kobe's team. If you go to New York, you'll be going to Jeter's town. The fans and media in those cities will rip you apart if you miss a free throw that cost their team a championship. In Orlando, we'd just blame it all on Gilbert. See what I mean, Dwight? See why your Esquire comments made fans here so sad? You told the magazine, 'There's a lot more you can do in a bigger city.' Not true. There is a lot more you can do in Orlando. Much more than you can ever achieve elsewhere. In a bigger city, you will be known, but you'll never be loved."

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "The session was easily the longest of the 110-day lockout, and the two sides were being helped along by the presence of a federal mediator. According to sources, the reason things were dragging out longer has to do with the preferred strategy of George Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Cohen favors speaking to each side individually, then taking small proposals back and forth. If he can achieve some agreements, it was said, he can then moves the sides toward a larger resolution. For the first several hours at the midtown Manhattan hotel, sources were saying the league’s committee and the union spent very little time in the same room. But, while nothing was certain at the late hour, no news was taken as a positive sign in that the lengthy session comes after much contentiousness. 'They’re still talking, so that has to be better than not talking,' said a source."

  • Amos Maki of The Commercial-Appeal: "The Memphis City Council approved a resolution Tuesday asking the council's attorney to 'explore all options' -- including a lawsuit against the NBA -- to recover revenue that may be lost due to the lockout. "Everything is on the table to recover the funds, if any are lost," said council chairman Myron Lowery, who sponsored the item. A yearlong lockout could send the fund used to pay off FedExForum bonds into the red by 2022, forcing the city and county to make up the difference. The shortfall could reach $10.6 million by 2029, or about $600,000 annually for each government."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "JaVale McGee’s early exit from the NBA players’ union meeting in Los Angeles on Friday drew the ire of National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher when Fisher was asked to respond to McGee’s claim that some players were “ready to fold.” Other players have chimed in, but there is a reason why the Wizards center was at the Beverly Hilton valet counter waiting for his car while the union was going over its strategy to about 25 players. McGee was on his way to the airport to catch a flight to Manila, where he was scheduled to go on a promotional tour through the Philippines for Smart Communications, the country’s leading wireless provider. He will film commercials and make some appearances as part of a newly-signed endorsement deal with the talk and text company, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. And from there, McGee will continue his journey through the South Pacific by stopping Hawaii to participate in the USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour called Hoops for Troops."

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "Ricky Rubio has arrived. Well, sort of. He left Spain for Los Angeles last week and is there seeing the sights -- Malibu and Santa Monica last weekend -- while working out daily with NBA players. Yesterday, he played pickup ball on a team with Pacers star Danny Granger, Chicago's Joakim Noah, Utah rookie Enes Kanter and Cavs forward Omri Casspi. Michael Beasley made a call on Twitter the other day, asking Rubio to play in his All-Star Classic game on Friday at Osseo High. No indication that's gonna happen, though."

  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Jazz rookie center Enes Kanter has hit the West Coast. Kanter arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday and played in a pickup game Monday with Minnesota's Ricky Rubio, Indiana's Danny Granger, Chicago's Joakim Noah and Cleveland's Omri Casspi. Boston's Paul Pierce also participated in the session, which featured about 15 NBA players. Kanter will likely stay in Los Angeles for the remainder of the week, and plans to bounce around the country playing in pickup games as long as the NBA lockout continues. 'I want him to be around NBA players,' said Max Ergul, Kanter's agent. Ergul said that Kanter's recent workouts with Tim Grover in Chicago went well. However, Ergul believes it's important for Kanter to begin competing against and blending in with NBA talent, since the league canceled the preseason and training camp has been postponed."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "Jerry West was lured to Memphis to be a savior and give the Grizzlies much-needed credibility in 2002. ... Although West enjoyed Elvis-like status during his stay -- police once stopped traffic to allow him to cross Union Avenue -- he says 'unsettling things happened too.' West became the object of at least two stalkers, which forced him to hire a security guard. 'One woman even went so far as to buy a wedding dress for the happy life she envisioned we would have together,' West wrote. West also details his rocky relationship with former Griz coach Mike Fratello, who took over after Hubie Brown unexpectedly retired in 2004. West fired Fratello soon after the 2006-07 season began because of philosophical differences."

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Jerry West has complained in the past about Phil Jackson not embracing him and is doing so again. One point that should be made about that time is that Jackson came in and needed both Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal — who were separately close with West — to accept that it was Jackson’s voice they needed to hear first and foremost. In that regard, it’s not surprising at all that Jackson, who isn’t that much of a warm fuzzy anyway when it comes to being social (and we sure know West isn’t the easiest guy to warm up to), tried to keep Bryant, O’Neal and the team in as tight a new circle as possible. The result was an immediate NBA championship in 2000 after the Lakers were swept out of the second round by San Antonio in 1999. For sure West was uncomfortable with the idea that Jackson would date the owner’s daughter, Jeanie Buss. But that venture has stood up, too, with Buss and Jackson even now still together after Jackson’s second departure from the Lakers."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "The United Service Organization officially announced Tuesday the 'Hoops for Troops' tour that Derrick Rose confirmed he would participate in during his shoe promotion last Saturday. Rose and fellow NBA players Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Mike Miller, D.J. Augustin, Tyreke Evans, JaVale McGee and Brook and Robin Lopez will be in Hawaii from Oct. 23-28 to put on clinics designed to boost morale for military families. 'I am honored to take part in a USO tour and greatly appreciate the USO’s efforts in organizing this trip,' Rose said in a statement. 'I am so thankful for the great sacrifices the service members and their families make for our country and it is a truly special opportunity to give back by sharing our love of basketball with them.' "

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Danny Granger, along with every other NBA player, isn’t getting paid during the lockout. That’s not stopping Granger from sharing some of the near $11 million he made last season with some of the unfortunate Conseco Fieldhouse workers who aren’t getting paid because of the lockout. Granger is the process of trying to arrange a dinner with the fieldhouse employees who are impacted financially because of the lockout. He also wants to put together a charity game where the proceeds can go to the workers. Paul George, Brandon Rush, James Posey and Dahntay Jones want to help their teammate with the event, too. People like the concession workers, stat people and ushers get paid by the game. There have already been three preseason and three home games cancelled because of the lockout. You’ve got to commend those players for trying to put something together because the perception around the country is that the billionaire owners and millionaire players are nothing but greedy."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "Alex Jensen was introduced to the media on Tuesday at the Edgewood Community Center. There's no question he's a coaching disciple of Majerus. 'I used to tell our guys in college, he's going to ruin the game for you,' Jensen said. 'You're going to learn it so well, when you watch an NBA or college game, you're going to point out what they are doing wrong. He's one of the best basketball minds around. I was lucky to learn from him as long as I did.' When Charge general manager Wes Wilcox first approached Jensen about the job, the latter was skeptical. He remembered how things were in 2002-03 with the Yakima Sun Kings, who won the CBA title that year. 'I thought about my experience in the minor leagues,' he said. 'It's totally different now. I played in the CBA for a season and had a great experience. I was in the spot a lot of these players will be in. The opportunity to be a head coach with this organization with the same beliefs as I do was too much to pass up. Their philosophy is the same as to what I've been taught. It was an opportunity that came along that I couldn't pass up.' Wilcox said Jensen was the obvious choice."