First Cup: Monday

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "Michael H. Goldberg, executive director of the NBA Coaches Association since 1978, isn't holding his tongue or pen. Goldberg wrote an open letter addressed to the NBA and the players, urging both sides to return to the bargaining table. 'The upcoming NBA season must be saved,' Goldberg said in an open letter that was released Sunday. 'To do otherwise will cause a self-inflicted economic blow to an enterprise that over the years, through the hard work of players, team owners and the league office, has become a great global brand. But, like every business operating in today's fragile economic landscape, one that is more susceptible to decline and fall. Everyone involved must now think beyond their interests, check out the daily financial headlines, and work towards a negotiated solution now.' There are no talks scheduled before Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, the players filed two antitrust lawsuits and the owners held a conference call late last week to discuss their next move."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "Charles Grantham worked for the players’ union from 1978 to ’95, serving as its executive director for the last seven years, and doubts the current course for the players — with the first six weeks of the regular season already wiped out — will yield the desired result. 'Quite frankly, I’ve always taken a position that I thought the job of the union was to keep the players working, and that the amount of loss that would be represented here would be astronomical for those that play and the people who work in the system,' said Grantham, an adjunct professor on professional sports negotiations at Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business. 'I think at a certain point, it became emotional and it kind of got off the track, while they were close to a deal. They should’ve made one.' ... Grantham believes the players will be fortunate to receive a shortened season and likely won’t get a better deal than the one they rejected. With half of nearly $4 billion in revenues at stake, Grantham questioned whether 'it’s even worth losing that kind of money. I look at it from a kind of cost-benefit analysis. It looks like there is nothing there, or certainly not enough, that it’s worth losing the whole season for.' "

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "The ongoing NBA lockout situation presents a dilemma for the Utah Jazz and their fans. Everybody wants basketball to be played, not delayed by a labor mess. But even if it brings pro hoops back sooner than later, an unfavorable collective bargaining resolution for Utah could adversely affect the organization as it tries to maintain a tradition of winning despite market-size challenges.In fact, one source with intimate knowledge of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies' inner workings speculated that small-market-related economic hardships could force Jazz ownership to place a 'For Sale' sign on the franchise. The source told the Deseret News that the Jazz were expected to report losses in the $17 million range for the 2010-11 season. 'If I was a betting man,' the source said, 'my guess is that the Millers will sell the team within the next five years, unless this CBA changes the formula so that the team can make some money.' Others say the Millers will never sell the Jazz. The late Larry H. Miller viewed the Jazz as a 'community gift' to Utah. The self-made entrepreneur once put it like this, 'Selling the Jazz would be like selling Canyonlands.' From his vantage point, RSL owner and pro sports mogul Dave Checketts can't envision the Miller family selling the Jazz. He doesn't view their commitment as conditional. 'I think the Jazz have a tremendous, tremendous fan following. I think teams like that will always exist in the markets they're in,' said Checketts, whose resume includes time spent as the Jazz's president and general manager. 'I don't think the Jazz are an endangered species.' "

  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: "Obviously, the missed NHL season damaged the sport’s reputation and left a black mark on the legacy of Bettman. But the league also attempted to reengage fans with rule changes that opened up the game and encouraged more scoring. The NBA still has an opportunity to reach a settlement and avoid such devastation. And the consensus among the Bruins is that although the NHL has recovered, the sport would have been better off if tensions weren’t so high and emotions so raw during those critical negotiations that could have saved the season. 'It just seemed from the last lockout that there was a bit of miscommunication,’ Paille said. 'Players were just getting frustrated and we needed to solve the problem by coming together as a group and understanding the consequences. It’s one thing for us to pay attention to everything and not take it for granted.’ NBA players and owners, you have been warned."

  • Staff of The Denver Post: "Guard J.R. Smith suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury while playing for his Chinese team Sunday. Smith, who played the last five seasons with the Nuggets, signed to play for Zhejiang, a Chinese Basketball Association team, during the NBA lockout. Sunday's game was the CBA regular-season opener for Smith and Zhejiang. Video and photos that surfaced from the game show Smith going for a pass while cutting through the lane, then seemingly jamming his leg on the court. He limped off the court. Photos from the game show Smith grimacing in pain. He had scored 20 points, with five rebounds and four assists, before leaving the game. Because of the lockout, the Nuggets cannot comment about any player."

  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Former Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko broke his nose and injured his left shoulder Saturday during a CSKA Moscow game. CSKA's website said a postgame medical examination by doctors 'did not reveal a concussion.' However, Kirilenko will undergo additional tests during the next few days, with 'special attention' paid to his shoulder. Kirilenko has excelled while playing overseas during the NBA lockout and was recently named weekly MVP of the Euroleague. The longtime Jazz player will be an unrestricted free agent when the NBA's work stoppage ends."

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "Paul Pierce clearly is being pulled in different directions as the NBA lockout drags on into its 143rd day. He is committed to doing what he believes is the right thing for the players, but as his side takes the owners to court, he knows a lost season could mean the end of the Celtics line for his team’s veteran core. 'That’s a great possibility, because we’re not getting any younger,' Pierce said after taking part in a pickup game for charity at Harvard Saturday night. 'KG (Kevin Garnett) and Ray (Allen) are on the last year of their deals, so we really don’t know the future after this year, especially with those two guys. Me and (Rajon) Rondo are locked in for a couple more years after that, but who knows the direction the team is going to want to go in after that. So that’s a huge concern.' Still, though he denies leading the decertification movement, he supports the decision to break up the union through notice of disclaimer (which essentially accomplished the same thing more quickly). 'If I had a vote, would I take the deal now?' Pierce said, repeating the question and pondering it for a second. 'You know what? I don’t think the deal that’s on the table is a deal that I would take.' So how is this going to play out? 'It’s really hard to say,' Pierce said."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "Ricky Rubio played Sunday night in a charity game organized by Bucks forward Drew Gooden, marking the first time the Spanish guard had tested some NBA competition during the lockout. The former Barcelona guard hit the first three-pointer he attempted in the Make-a-Wish Charity Game held at the Cow Palace in Daly City, Calif. Rubio signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves but his NBA debut has been on hold due to the lockout which has canceled league games through Dec. 15. 'I'm going to stay here for a while to see if we'll play,' Rubio said in an Associated Press report on the game. 'I can always go back to Spain. So I know I will be playing basketball somewhere this season.' Among the NBA players participating in Gooden's game were Amare Stoudemire, Joakim Noah, DeMar DeRozan, James Harden, Dorell Wright and Al Harrington."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "DeAndre Jordan and Kenneth Faried punished rims with every variety of alley oop and windmill dunk. But no collection of spectacular moments could make up for all that had been lost. Kyle Lowry launched 3-pointers from 30 and 35 feet out. But as the numbers piled up he shouted to a courtside press table, 'I'd rather be playing a game.' Even the pregame invocation could not escape the reason NBA players were available to put on a show Sunday in John Lucas' NBA Lockout Celebrity Charity game. Former Rockets guard Mike James offered the sort of prayer typical before such events - then added one amendment. 'And I pray You will unlock the lockout, in Jesus' name,' James said, raising heads and breaking the silence with laughter. 'Amen.' Until a higher power steps in, however, NBA players have been limited to playing for fun and charity, as a few dozen did on Sunday before about 5,000 filling Delmar Fieldhouse."

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: 'It wouldn't be a stretch to say Donté Greene played out of his shoes because he did. The sneakers worn by the Kings forward became keepsakes at various points during the Goon Squad Classic, the charity game he hosted Sunday night at the UC Davis Pavilion. Greene autographed shoes he wore during the game and tossed them into the stands. 'I think I went through three or four pair,' Greene said. 'Just all for the fans.' Greene and many other NBA players have been staging contests like this during the lockout, which already has led to the cancellation of more than a month's worth of games. There were plenty of dunks and three-pointers and little defense as Greene's team won 167-164 in overtime."

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "Five months after being traded to the Indiana Pacers, George Hill was back on a San Antonio basketball court on Sunday afternoon, back in a black No. 3 jersey. Except it wasn’t a Spurs jersey. And it wasn’t the AT&T Center. With the NBA lockout still in full bloom, Hill was in town to play point guard for the Texas Fuel. 'I know San Antonio misses some basketball,' said Hill, one of the Spurs’ most popular players in his three seasons with the team. 'I wanted to give the fans something to do during the lockout.' Haven’t heard of the Texas Fuel? You’re likely not alone. The Fuel is the name given to the American Basketball Association team that plays at the Alamo Convocation Center. They are a professional team, to be sure, but about as far a leap from the NBA as the Alamo Convocation Center is from the currently unoccupied basketball gym the Spurs call home. ... Instead of spending Sunday facing the Pistons in Detroit, Hill found himself running point guard in a half-empty gym that houses SAISD’s high school teams. He might be back soon. He wouldn’t rule out a return engagement with the Fuel. 'It depends on how much Icy Hot I have to use after this game,' he said."

  • Staff of the Detroit Free Press: "The Pistons would have played the Pacers at the Palace on Sunday night. That game, like all NBA games through Dec. 15, was canceled because of the lockout and the never-ending blood feud between owners and players. The cancelation avoided an oddity by the NBA schedule-makers: The weekend marked the seventh anniversary of the famous Pistons-Pacers brawl at the Palace. No one can forget how on Nov. 19, 2004, Indiana's Ron Artest, after a shove from Ben Wallace and getting doused by a beverage, went berserk and, with his Pacers teammates, charged the stands. Artest, of course, has long since left the Pacers, won an NBA championship with the Lakers and received the league's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award. And changed his name to Metta World Peace."

  • Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: "In the past nine days, Chris Grant has witnessed college basketball history made from his seat in Madison Square Garden and from the deck of an aircraft carrier best known for burying the remains of Osama bin Laden at sea. The Cavaliers general manager watched Duke's Mike Krzyzewski become the winningest Division I coach on Tuesday, four days after attending the first college game (North Carolina-Michigan State) to be played aboard a ship in the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic. 'The sheer size of the aircraft carrier was indescribable,' said Grant of the USS Carl Vinson, nearly as long (1,092 feet) as the Empire State Building is tall. 'To be there on Veterans Day and in the presence of the Armed Forces made for a perfect day.' Getting a chance to scout about 10 of the top draft-eligible prospects during his trips to San Diego and New York wasn't a bad perk, either. With the NBA lockout ongoing, general managers such as Grant have the unique opportunity to analyze talent unburdened by the day-to-day duties of running a franchise. It could make for the most well-scouted draft class in recent memory."

  • Tom Mahon of the Philadelphia Daily News: "As auctions go, it was a slam dunk. Former Sixers star Julius Erving pulled in a record $3.5 million for 144 items from his personal collection of memorabilia. Doctor J's treasure trove was part of SCP Auctions' November auction, which concluded yesterday. According to SCP, Erving's 1974 New York Nets ABA championship ring netted $460,471, a record for a sports ring. ... The 61-year-old Erving told the Associated Press last month he planned to donate a portion of the auction proceeds to the Salvation Army."

  • Allan Brettman of The Oregonian: "Nike is the dominant basketball sneaker brand, controlling about 95 percent of sales in the U.S. through Nike Basketball, Brand Jordan and Converse. 'Will that energy continue if the NBA lockout continues?' Nike Brand president Charlie Denson said to stock analysts and others in September. 'I believe it will. Basketball never stops. It's truly becoming a global game. Between international leagues, national team play, the upcoming Olympics, the college game here in the U.S., we see basketball continuing to grow.' Basketball sneaker buyers so far are proving Denson correct. In October, sales were higher than the same month last year, said Matt Powell, an analyst for the SportsOneSource Group, who predicted several weeks ago that the lockout would have little to no effect on shoe sales. 'Television is much less important to selling sneakers today than it was in 1999,' during the last extended NBA work stoppage, Powell said. 'Sneaker sales are much more influenced by the web today. Brands get more exposure for products on YouTube than they do on (ESPN) SportsCenter.' ... Adidas, which is about midway through an 11-year partnership as the league's official uniform and apparel supplier, had about $350 million in NBA-related clothing sales last year. Analysts say, however, that the biggest benefit for Adidas in its apparel deal is having its three-stripes logo on NBA uniforms and, as a result, visible to stadium and television audiences. In that regard, the season has been a total loss of the company, which keeps its North American headquarters in North Portland which is also where NBA uniforms are designed. An Adidas spokeswoman noted only that the Germany-based company's latest quarterly earnings statement included growing sales of basketball footwear."