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First Cup: Thursday

  • Al Iannazzone of The Record: "The Mavericks probably will end up making the playoffs, even if Dirk Nowitzki misses about two weeks with his ankle and knee injuries. They have too much talent not to and Jason Kidd's reputation is riding on it. But imagine if the Mavericks struggle so badly without Nowitzki and ultimately miss out and the Nets make the postseason. 'It would be comical,' Kidd's replacement and former Dallas point guard Devin Harris said. 'Wouldn't it?' Yes, it would be comical. It also would be karmacal. OK, it's not a word, but if Dallas doesn't make it, the reason is it's Kidd's karma."

  • Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe: "He's not going to be the MVP. The Garden fans can chant, 'M-V-P,' when Kevin Garnett goes to the foul line from now till Memorial Day, but they might as well get it into their heads: That one's going to be a Kobe-LeBron knockdown-dragout. Why don't we just call Kevin Garnett the MVA, as in Most Valuable Acquisition? 'The whole face of Celtics Nation turned around when the trade happened with this guy,' declared Paul Pierce after last night's 117-97 dispatch of the Suns. 'Everyone talks about the MVP and they talk about numbers, but this guy has changed the whole culture around here, and I think that says a lot for everything. The mentality, to a day-to-day aspect, everything is changed from a year ago.'"TrueHoop First Cup

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "Remember when the NBA toughened its rules interpretation, telling officials not to allow players to publicly show them up without drawing a technical foul? Despite all that, Kobe Bryant gets away with far too much. In the second quarter, after he fouled Jason Richardson on a 3-pointer, knocking him to the floor, Bryant pitched a fit at referee David Jones and never heard a whistle for it. You cheapen a sport, and undermine authority, when you allow superstars to rage on with impunity."

  • Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee: "The best player in the history of the Sacramento Kings' franchise retired Wednesday at the age of 35. But in a soft, wistful admission, he suggested that his career ended five years earlier when he stretched for a lob pass in Dallas, came down with the ball and felt someone driving a knife into his leg. 'I remember turning to Vlade (Divac) and saying, 'I'm done,' ' Webber recalled. 'My knees had been bothering me for a long time, and when I hit the ground that night in Dallas, I knew something was really wrong. After that & ' He was 30 years old, and he was never the same. Neither were the Kings. The process of stitching the roster back together resulted, in part, in the firing of two coaches, the acquisition of overpaid role players and a grudging, belated recognition that team chemistry can be as fragile as china and as volatile as the Balkans."

  • Mick McCabe of the Detroit Free Press: "Although he had some terrific seasons, Chris Webber never won an NBA championship, just as he never won a title in college -- not even a Big Ten title. After the Martin fiasco blew up and the NCAA moved in, there's hardly a trace that Webber attended U-M. In truth, he brought the school more shame than glory. And now he has retired from the NBA. Webber made a boatload of money and is wealthy beyond his wildest dreams, but I will always remember him as someone who lived an unfinished life.

  • Nick Meyer for the Detroit Free Press: "At the end of the day, Webber was simply one of the best power forwards of all-time, a guy who made his teammates better and put up stats only a select few ever did. People always say you need a little bit of luck to win a championship, and in the case of Webber, he never seemed to get that break he needed to finish the job. Could he have done a little better? Tried a little harder, perhaps? Sure, but you can say that about the best of them. The other close-but-no-cigar-type players will be remembered fondly, and NBA fans should do the same in regards to Webber. He may not have won the ultimate prize, but he was a winner and one of the best players of his era nonetheless."

  • Tom Enlund of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The Bucks have no general manager, a lingering uncertainty about the future of the coaching staff and 12 games remaining on the schedule. The way coach Larry Krystkowiak looks at it, the latter of the three is the only one that he has any control over and is the one on which he will focus his attention. 'Everybody is speculating (about the coaches' future) but it's not anything that I've given much thought to,' he said. 'In the remaining games that we have, I'm just focusing on what I can control. And that's trying to get our team playing a little bit better. Beyond that, just waking up and seeing if we can't get better today. Then wake up tomorrow and do it again. When the time comes to discuss all of that other stuff, then we'll cross that bridge.'"