First Cup: Friday
August, 31, 2012
By Nick Borges
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: The whirlwind starts next week for Dwyane Wade, with Tuesday appearances on "The View" and Letterman. It continues with a book tour that opens that day in New York with the release of his parenting treatise, "A Father First: How my life became bigger than basketball," and continues with three stops later in the week in South Florida. While the griping, heartfelt first-person account of emerging from a contentious divorce with primary custody of his two young sons is the tome's focus, it also tells the parallel story of Wade's basketball arc, including his championship seasons with the Miami Heat. To a degree, the book is a surprise in that respect, with far more basketball detail than hinted at in the advance publicity, including a final chapter devoted to the collaboration of Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh in defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals.
- Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: There haven’t been many sweet moments between Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers since his trade in 2004, but the big one will come April 2 at halftime of the game against Dallas. O’Neal’s No. 34 jersey will be retired, as Lakers owner Jerry Buss promised it would be, and go up on the Staples Center wall along with the Lakers’ other greats. In eight Lakers seasons, O’Neal posted averages of 27.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.49 blocked shots while winning three NBA championships (2000, 2001 and 2002). On the wall already by then will be Jamaal Wilkes’ No. 52, scheduled to be retired by the Lakers in an earlier ceremony in the coming season. Wilkes’ honor will be at halftime on Dec. 28 against Portland. The first reflective moment of the season will be the unveiling of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s statue at Star Plaza outside Staples Center on Nov. 16.
- Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: Air Alamo’s Quixem Ramirez is in the ballpark when he calls Gregg Popovich the most fascinating coach in the NBA. At the very least he’s unique. Undeniably blue-collar, yet able to appreciate the delights of fine wine and duck fritte. A no-nonsense type who delights in tormenting the media with terse answers and wordless stares, but funny and engaging when he chooses to open up. Popovich did exactly that in this mailbag with Spurs.com. The basketball stuff is fine — thoughts on Patty Mills, the Spurs’ Olympic contingent and Tony Parker’s coachability — but the personal details are way, way more interesting. Such as his preference for summer reading (biographies of Stalin and Putin) and his inspiring advice for aspiring coaches: Buy a coat and a tie, and get a job. Most helpful of all was Popovich’s disclosure that he counts Led Zeppelin among his favorite bands. And now I know, whenever I get the inevitable Death Stares this season, that I can attempt to assuage him with the offering that I, too, love the Hammer of the Gods.
- John Rohde of The Oklahoman: Teammates Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich frequently exchanged laughter Thursday as they shared viewpoints about their latest community project. Their voices could be heard through the static of teleconference call from Johannesburg, South Africa, seven hours and nearly 9,200 miles away from where they routinely make appearances in the greater Oklahoma City area. From Thursday through Sunday, NBA Cares will hold the 10th edition of Basketball Without Border in Africa, an outreach program with a contingent of current NBA and WNBA players, coaches and past players focused on grassroots basketball development, education, health and wellness. One highlight will be the Saturday dedication of the NBA Cares Legacy Project, a refurbished sports complex in Alex Township, one of the largest urban neighborhoods in South Africa. Seven active NBA players are participating in this year's BWB, and four are with the Thunder. The OKC organization has been deeply involved in community service since it arrived in the summer of 2008. Each player does a minimum of 12 community appearances every season, with a team average of 14 per player. With more than 200 appearances annually, the Thunder has ranked in the top 5 among NBA teams in community service the last three seasons.
- Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer: Just since that final game with the Celtics, the Sixers are bringing in veterans Andrew Bynum, Kwame Brown, Jason Richardson, Dorell Wright, Nick Young, and Royal Ivey, and rookie Arnett Moultrie. Pair that with projected rotation players, Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young and Lavoy Allen, and the Sixers appear to be a much deeper team than last year. In Bynum, they have a viable all-star capable of impacting the game at both ends of the court. It’s not unrealistic to consider the Sixers a top-four team in the Eastern Conference. And Collins is raring to go. “My mind is always going and I am a crossword puzzle guy, how to solve a puzzle,” Collins said last week during the 1972 U.S. Olympic team reunion in Lexington, Ky. “We have new pieces and I like our pieces.” ... It appears as if one of Collins' most difficult tasks will be to appropriate playing time. “I like our versatility, I think we can play big, we can play small and I think we have the best low post player in the NBA,” he said obviously referring to Bynum. “The big thing is how quickly we can put it together.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: New Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn has added assistants Laron Profit and Luke Stuckey, completing his coaching staff. The Magic also announced that Gordon Chiesa was named special consultant to the head coach. Profit and Stuckey also will be involved in player development. Chiesa figures to be Vaughn’s guru of sorts on a part-time basis. He has vast experience as an NBA assistant with the Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz. He also has spent time as a college head coach at Providence and at Manhattan. New Orleans Hornets lassistant coach James Borrego, Houston Rockets assistant coach Brett Gunning and Golden State Warriors assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. had been previously hired.
- Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News: Comment From Guest ... Hi, how good do you think O.J. Mayo can be? What's his ceiling? Cowlishaw: His ceiling is pretty high if you've ever seen him play for Memphis. And if you saw the Grizzlies' first-round loss to the Clippers, you know Mayo sometimes doesn't get anywhere near that ceiling. I'd rather have him playing two-guard minutes than Vince Carter. Beyond that, it will be an interesting experiment.
- Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic: Former NBA coach Eric Musselman is a candidate to join Herb Sendek's staff at Arizona State, azcentral sports has confirmed. ESPN's Andy Katz reported Thursday that Sendek has had "serious conversations" with Musselman, who currently coaches the Los Angeles D-Fenders, an NBA development team. In April, he was named the league's coach of the year. Sendek lost two assistants last week when Scott Pera left for Penn and Lamont Smith joined mentor Lorenzo Romar in Washington. Practice starts in October. According to sources, Sendek would like to add at least one coach with NBA ties. If so, Musselman fits the mold. He was head coach of the Golden State Warriors from 2002-2004 and the Sacramento Kings from 2006-07. Musselman also has served as an NBA assistant with Minnesota, Atlanta and Orlando. In the past, Mussleman reportedly expressed interest in college coaching, but it's unclear if that interest stretches to serving as an assistant.