First Cup: Training Camp Tuesday

  • Marc J. Spears of The Boston Globe: "David Stern witnessed the Celtics win an NBA championship during his first year as the league's commissioner in 1984, as well as two years later. While green as a commissioner back then, Stern loved rubbing elbows and learning from Red Auerbach while the Celtics patriarch's team celebrated its titles. After a 22-year hiatus, Stern is looking forward to passing out championship rings to the Celtics before their season opener against the Cavaliers Oct. 28. His one regret, however, is that the late Auerbach won't be there for him to rub elbows with and learn from again. 'It's hard to come up to Boston without thinking about Red smiling and grouching about almost anything,' said Stern in a phone interview. 'It's a very nice sort of re-igniting of hallowed NBA tradition.'"

  • Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News: "Even if it was late in coming -- considering it's been nearly two weeks since reports surfaced about his inflammatory comments on the national anthem, which came on the heels of a street-racing charge, an ill-timed birthday bash and a call into a radio station about smoking pot -- the Mavs' second-best player certainly took a major step toward rehabilitating his image. Now if he can just negotiate some kind of agreement with the point guard. Bottom line: If the Mavs are going to be anything better than another first-round exit, Josh Howard is going to have to prove he can work and play well with Jason Kidd."

  • Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle: "What happens with this season's Rockets -- win it all or lose in the first round -- will be on Tracy McGrady again. That is why, though the season has yet to begin, McGrady's critics ought to be in midseason form. Who could blame them? They love taking shots at McGrady, and he willingly -- often unknowingly and at times uncaringly (good for him) -- supplies the ammunition. ... He was saying all the right things to excite the fans of a team that today begins training camp with grand dreams. First he declared the team should have a championship-or-bust mentality. Then he praised the newcomers to the team, bragged about the versatility of the talent around him, and expressed his admiration for the basketball genius of head coach Rick Adelman."

  • Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: "Twelve consecutive years, the NBA season has ended with Allen Iverson among the top-eight scorers. Twelve consecutive autumns, an NBA season has begun with Iverson talking about winning his first championship. 'This is my 13th year, I would have thought I'd been to the Finals five or six times by now, won a championship,' he said at the Nuggets' media day Monday. For all the highlights and glory provided by Iverson's shooting hand, it remains barren. The future Hall of Famer made the NBA Finals once, in 2001 with Philadelphia, but his team lost to the Lakers, the same team that swept Iverson's Nuggets in the first round last spring. 'Obviously, the commitment is there for me to sacrifice my game to do whatever the team needs me to do,' the all-star shooting guard said. 'If that means doing something differently offensively, then I'm willing to do that.'"

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "Cavaliers forward LeBron James has a message for the Cleveland fans. 'Buckle your seatbelts,' he said on media day Monday at Cleveland Clinic Courts. 'It's going to be a long ride. We're working on the road to a championship.' The Cavs have one collective goal: winning an NBA championship. James said anything short of a title will be a disappointment. 'We came close,” James said. 'I got a little taste of it when we won the Eastern Conference championship (in 2007). I need more and the fans need more. They deserve it.'"

  • Patrick McManamon of The Akron Beacon Journal: "Trust will be a big word for the Cavaliers this season. It was a big concept for the Boston Celtics in last season's championship drive. Not because Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce trusted each other, but because they trusted the others on the team. Doc Rivers said that was the key to the Celtics uniting to win a title. So it is with the Cavs, who have to learn to trust everyone on the team, not only LeBron James. Coach Mike Brown referred to trust in general terms at a news conference last week. He said that this season he wants to 'show our players that I believe in them on both of ends of the floor, that I trust them on both ends of the floor no matter who's out there.' Translation: He does not always want James to feel he has to do everything."

  • Martin Frank of The News Journal: "Now, the 76ers will start finding out what they have, how long it will take for the six new players to mesh with the returning players, and whether they can live up to the lofty expectations. Elton Brand, of course, is the main reason for this optimism. He signed a five-year, $82 million contract as a free agent in July to give the 76ers the inside presence they have craved for years. 'The last time I was this excited was when I came to the Clippers from the Bulls [in 2001],' Brand said Monday at the 76ers' media day. 'I had kind of a chip on my shoulder with something to prove. We have some new parts this year. Me, I'm a big, new part.'"

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "What the No. 1 overall pick is worried about is his first NBA training camp. This stance isn't a surprise to those who know Derrick Rose well, who say his assertiveness only arrives when he feels acclimated. 'I'm worried a little bit,' Rose said. 'But I know with the guys on my team that everybody will help me. They just want to win. I don't know what's going to happen. But all I hear is it's going to be hard. At Memphis, our training camp was hard. If it's harder than that, that would be unbelievable.'"

  • Brian Hendrickson of The Columbian: "After a year of waiting to be healthy enough to participate in regular, live practices, Greg Oden had an unexpected description for his feelings on Monday. Nervousness. 'Every training camp you get nervous for it because you know it's nothing but running and learning a whole lot of new stuff,' Oden said. 'You know, I haven't really had to learn to play in I don't know how long.' Oden said he expects to participate in one full practice session and half of a second each day in training camp."

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Just how far Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby, Josh Smith, Al Horford and Marvin Williams can take this team remains to be seen. They know they can make the playoffs, as they did in April. But can you ride this core group beyond the flash of that first-round series against Boston? For once, and the first time in a long time, the Hawks seem to have more answers than questions at the start of a se

  • Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal: "In the old era, the Grizzlies lost a lot of games. In the new era, the Grizzlies will lose a lot of games. But at least there's hope that this losing will lead to winning. That's the whole point of Michael Heisley's three-year plan. Well, that and the fact that he now has a three-year excuse not to spend money. But media day is not the day to be cynical. There will be plenty of time for that when it becomes apparent that the Grizzlies have managed to chase away all but 17 season-ticket holders. Monday was about hope. Or, at the very least, introductions."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "If the best things in life are unexpected, then having fewer people share their high hopes for this season should bode well for the Suns, who begin training camp today in Tucson. The lower expectations are OK with the Suns, who have felt the weight of an in-house 'Eyes on the Prize' campaign and the title-or-bust mentality many fans harbor after 40 years without an NBA championship. 'We should probably still think of ourselves as the favorites privately,' guard Steve Nash said. 'To not have to feel that every day from now until the playoffs is probably not a bad thing. It's nice for us to maybe go out and prove it to people. Get our name back in the picture and have some goals and chips on our collective shoulders.'"

  • Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun: "Seldom have a team and player been more suited for each other than Jermaine O'Neal and the Toronto Raptors. From his trademark headband (exchanged for Raptors red after years of Indiana Pacers gold) to his slimmed-down frame (thanks to eight weeks without sugar and dairy) to his healed left knee, O'Neal looked quite at ease in his new surroundings yesterday. 'This is a nice group and I've been with some good teams and some good players,' O'Neal said. 'We know what (the media) and the city expects of the Raptors. We have to develop that swagger, to believe we are the better team. I know this is a hockey town, but we'd like to make it a Maple Leafs and Raptors town.'"

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Forward Shawne Williams said he was 'down' about his second run-in with police in July when a passenger in his car was charged with marijuana possession. ... 'Nobody wants to be in the paper with bad media or nothing with what the franchise has been through,' he said. 'I was down about it, but I have to keep my head up and be a man. I don't feel like I have to prove myself on the court, but I have to stay out of trouble and do what's right.'"

  • Rob Parker of The Detroit News: "You shouldn't believe in the Pistons. Not for a second, an iota or one scintilla. At least, not now. The Pistons have to prove that this season won't end the way the past three have -- in disappointment. Yet, when the Pistons held their media day Monday, there still were the usual suspects. Sure, there were a few new players, including center Kwame Brown, guard Will Bynum and forward Walter Sharpe. But none of those players will have anything to do with whether the Pistons make it to the Finals. If the Pistons are able to finally get over the hump after falling two games short in each of the last three Eastern Conference finals, it will be because of what Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace do."

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: "I approached NBA superstar and Olympic gold medalist Dwight Howard at the Magic's annual media day Monday and asked him outright: If you could pick only one, which would you rather win -- an Olympic gold medal or an NBA championship? There was not even a moment's hesitation. 'Gold medal, baby,' Howard blurted out. 'It's the gold medal. It only comes around once every four years and it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It's a different level. You're playing not just for your team; you're playing for your country.' And then he talked about how sometimes he just wears his gold medal around the house. And other times he puts it around his neck and sleeps with it. His reaction was shocking to me. So shocking, in fact, I found myself feeling guilty for wondering if he was being honest or just being politically correct. Which probably says more about me -- the cynical journalist -- than it does about him. Isn't it strange? Dwight gave the answer I really wanted him to give, but there's a little part of me that finds it hard to believe. Shame on me."

  • Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: "Entering the last year of a contract that pays him $14.1 million this season, Lamar Odom didn't like the idea of being a sixth man in favor of Trevor Ariza, a possibility trotted out last week by Phil Jackson. 'He must have woke up and bumped his head. He probably hit his head on something -- boom,' Odom said of Jackson. 'To start off like that, you've got to be out of your . . . mind.' Odom did not think he would lose his starting spot to Ariza, but, if it happened, well, you know ... Everybody knows on my team I'll do whatever for the team," Odom said. "If you want me to be the mascot, whatever you want me to be. I'll be the doormat, the rug, whatever you want me to be.'"

  • Richard Walker of the Gaston Gazette: "Larry Brown has yet to coach even a single regular-season game for the Charlotte Bobcats. But if history means anything, the Bobcats will field its first winning team and make the NBA playoffs this year. An outlandish notion? Maybe. But it's also something the franchise sorely needs. Especially if last week's budget-driven employee lay-offs within the organization are any indication."

  • John Reid of The Times Picayune: "A decision will be made later week whether the two damaged NBA regulation size courts in the new 30,000-square foot expanded portion of Alario Center can be salvageable or will have to be discarded, Alario Center General Manager Greg Guthrie said. The Hornets have exclusive use of the facility, but they have had to conduct training camp in the old gym at the Alario Center because of the damaged courts. The Alario Center expansion project was completed this summer and cost $8.7 million. The two courts cost $260,000. 'We don't know exactly how it happened that some humidity got into the building and got into the hardwood floors and warped them,' Guthrie said. 'Right now, we're still doing some investigation. We're trying to be very proactive with the contractor and the architect to figure what happened and what we need to do rectify the problems with the floors.'"