Dwight Howard, talking to SI's Sam Amick: "What people don't know is that [Kobe Bryant] is one of the guys who I've been talking to for about four years now. And he has been an amazing help to me, just pushing me in ways -- secretly because we played in the Eastern and Western Conference. But it's been him just talking to me, showing me how to do certain things with my team and things like that. ... I told [Bryant] as soon as I got here, 'Hey, I want to be one of the greatest to ever play. I want you to push me every day. And he was like, 'I'm going to push you, because I see something in you, and I want to make sure that I do my part.' And I promised him that I'm going to do whatever I can do."
On his first day managing Royce White, the NBA's most famous and public sufferer of anxiety disorder, coach Kevin McHale shows what a sensitive dude he is by apparently telling the media, essentially, that White should get over it: "If your choice is to have a 10-hour bus ride, or an hour flight, everyone would want to take an hour flight. He's just going to have to work his way through all that stuff." Everyone? UPDATE: Tweet from David: "Henry, I think u misread McHale's comments. He seems 2 b saying that Royce is not choosing bus to be a prima Donna... He is saying that Royce takes bus out of necessity, not whim."
Sports gambler Haralabos Voulgaris calls the Heat the favorites, with an eye on the Lakers: "Erik Spoelstra and the Heat staff deserve a lot of credit for figuring out the right style of play and filling out the roster. Initially i wanted to see a lot of LeBron playing PG, but he’s much much more well suited to playing the 4 and thats precisely what the Heat did last year during their playoff run. Fortunately for Miami there aren’t too many bigs in the league that can really punish Miami for playing small and as long as Miami is willing to surround LBJ with a bunch of 3 point shooters they’ll be absolutely devastating. Now that the Lakers have picked up Dwight things have changed somewhat. People forget just how good Dwight Howard is on both sides of the ball. Do you really think that any one other player (save for LeBron) could have taken Orlando to the finals in 2009? Dwight is scary good and now he is playing on a stacked Lakers starting five. The Lakers Heat matchup presents as good an example of conflicting basketball styles (small vs big) as I can recall. It’ll be interesting to see if either team blinks first or if both teams stay true to their philosophies. In last years finals OKC and coach Scott Brooks didn’t alter their lineups or make many adjustments. They stayed big and their bigs had a lot of trouble defending out to the 3 point line, and I personally think that cost them a chance of winning the series. The difference between the Lakers and OKC is that the Lakers bigs will actually produce on the offensive end whereas neither Ibaka or Perkins have to be guarded in the traditional sense. So if Mike Brown decides to stay big (and I think he should) against the Heat, you won’t hear a peep out of me. both Dwight and Pau are very good offensively.Yes, Dwight is a good offensive player. A lot of people confuse being good offensively as someone who has a polished look to his offensive game, being good offensively in the NBA means that when you are on the floor, your teams offense performs better than it does when you are off the floor. Dwight does a lot of things on offense that makes his team more efficient and because of that, he is a fantastic offensive player."
You have never played in the NBA, but have a real shot at being the eighth man on an NBA team. The skill, work ethic, size ... maybe even a connection or two. Elite teams could really use players like that, but the pipeline is rusty. You can miss out on secure money in Europe by hanging around training camp and hoping. Or you can take a good deal overseas and be out of sight and out of mind, even as teams fail in the playoffs for lack of backups like you. It's a dilemma -- the kind of dilemma that might be nicely addressed by a real minor league.
The artwork here is outstanding. Also, big question underscoring all HoopSpeak Live episodes: Who has better eyebrows -- Zach Harper or Ethan Sherwood Strauss?
John Hollinger (Insider) on the Nuggets: "If I were going to drop a few dollars in Vegas on a long shot to win the title, this would absolutely be my play." By the way, just saw some odds showing the Nuggets as 66-to-1 to win the title. Hollinger projects they'll finished second in the West, then lose before the Finals. But 66-to-1.