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First Cup: Wednesday

10/20/2009
  • Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press: "Wait a second. When you play the United States next Monday, your own father wants you to lose? 'Yeah, he does,' Chris Kaman said, before adding: 'He's proud of me no matter what I do.' What's the old saying? God, family, country? I hope God is on Kaman's side. Otherwise he's out of luck. At least when the game ends, LeRoy Kaman will be back on Chris' side. Chris knows some people will never forgive him. 'Obviously, being an American playing for Germany, 'traitor' is the first thing that comes to your mind,' Kaman said. 'But I don't care. I'm not here to please everybody else. I'm here to have a good time in my life. I'm happy in my decision. I'm still an American citizen, I still play in the NBA, I still live in Los Angeles and I still am from Michigan. I just chose to go back to my heritage a little farther back.'"TrueHoop First Cup

  • Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune: "The players representing USA Basketball in the Olympics are known as the 'Redeem Team' back home, where they're expected to atone for the 2004 team's failings. No such designation applies in China, where the players are loved unconditionally. The NBA is big worldwide, and especially so in China. If Jazz guard Deron Williams ever worried about being noticed while playing in one of the league's smallest markets, all he had to do was come to China. 'The fans are crazy; they know you everywhere you go,' Williams said Tuesday, after the Americans' 97-76 victory over Angola in pool play. 'There's nowhere you can go in this city without being recognized.'"

  • Steve Kelley of The Seattle Times: "The sense of sadness I've felt watching Team USA through its first two games surprised me. The NBA has gone to Oklahoma City. This is what we're missing: Wade's crossover dribbles, practically breaking the ankles of Angolan guard Armando Costa, then a no-look pass to Howard for a dunk. James volleyball-kills a jump hook from Joaquim Gomes. Those plays are gone to OKC. And watching this team on a Tuesday night in China is a nasty reminder of the games that will be missed in Seattle. 'It's sad to see a franchise that has had so much tradition and success just disappear as if it was some expansion team,' said Nate McMillan. ... McMillan is Team USA's assistant coach. He's also the coach of the Portland Trail Blazers and one of the most recognizable names in Sonics history. His retired No. 10 still hangs from the rafters at KeyArena."

  • Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle: "Just because the Rockets might not trade or release Alston doesn't mean they're fine with his behavior. They're not. They openly acknowledge the risk and embarrassment of acquiring an athlete with a checkered past. But winning is important, too. The Rockets are desperate to win, desperate to be competitive with the Texans and Astros in the market. They need Rafer Alston. No explanation necessary. They're simply following the Dallas Cowboys model. ... Here's hoping Rafer Alston knows driving under the influence is stupid and dangerous. As for the rest of us -- reporters and owners and general managers alike -- we get what we deserve. Just win, baby."

  • Dave Krieger of the Rocky Mountain News: "Marcus Camby was 'the heart and soul' of the Nuggets defense, and his former team has very little chance of winning without him. It's not me saying that. It's a knowledgeable basketball man who also happens to be close to Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony. Whether Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's view of the Nuggets' offseason salary dump reflects Anthony's view or is merely an attempt to watch Anthony's back may be academic. ... So, Coach, shipping Camby to the Clippers and getting no immediate help in exchange didn't make any sense to you? 'I'm sure it didn't make any sense to anybody, from a basketball point of view,' Boeheim said."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "I'll get things going this week by talking who should be the team's new leader now that Jermaine O'Neal is up Toronto. I ran this by Larry Bird and he said he's got an idea who it's going to be because this person is already showing some of the traits it takes to be a leader. I asked him who he's talking about and he said, 'I'm not saying anything yet, but you'll be able to tell after the first couple of days of training camp.' I automatically thought of T.J. Ford since another Pacers official told me Ford has been reaching out to his new teammates about working out at Conseco Fieldhouse. I had to think about that again when Bird said the player may not be a starter this season. I'm assuming Ford will be the starting point guard. I've always liked how Jeff Foster's work ethic. He's not a flashy player. He's not an offensive threat. The thing I like about him, though, is that he's a professional when it comes to the little things like arriving at the Fieldhouse on time for practice and games. He watches film before games, plays hard and doesn't give excuses. Foster probably won't be looked at as the leader of the team, but he's a solid veteran that the young players can learn from."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "If preseason schedules are designed to prepare teams for the regular season, Oklahoma City should be raring to go when the NBA season tips off. The mid-year relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City left the franchise with a hectic 2008 preseason slate that includes four games in five days, three back-to-back sets, two trips to remote locations and one eight-day stretch without a game. 'It's not at all an ideal schedule for the preseason,' said team spokesman Dan Mahoney. 'But it's sort of what we're left with in light of a very quick relocation.' Oklahoma City will make its home debut on Tuesday, Oct. 14, in an exhibition game against the Los Angeles Clippers. It will be the only preseason game played at the Ford Center."

  • Keith Langlois for Pistons.com: "Michael Curry is well aware of the rap on Kwame Brown. His work ethic as a young player wasn't what it should have been and he didn't accept responsibility for his fate. But when he sat down with Brown, the vibe and the reputation didn't mesh. 'What I was hoping for with him and what I got is that he didn't use anything as an excuse,' Curry said of the most significant off-season addition to the Pistons' roster, the 6-foot-11, 270-pound veteran big man signed as a free agent. 'He put it all upon himself. He didn't use the way the coach used him or injuries or being young when he came in the league -- none of that. He took responsibility for himself and, really, once he did that, for me it was easy. That's one of the biggest things -- to get athletes to hold themselves accountable.'"