First Cup: Thursday

  • Bill Livingston of The Plain Dealer: "The old veteran sees other teams leaping together before the tipoff, as if pogo sticks had been smuggled into their midst, and he shakes his head. The Detroit Pistons do this, led by Rasheed Wallace, the prince, behaviorally, if not in the box score, of pointlessness. 'We don't jump around,' said Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the 33-year-old Cavaliers center. 'We meet in the hallway before we go out for warmups. We have a prayer.' Apparently, jumping around is not needed to get the Cavs' blood roaring. 'We go out and try not to curse after the prayer,' said Z. 'I would say it lasts for at least 30 seconds.' ... Pre-game hoopla is in the news this week because Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards, before he went out and had a huge game in the Monday night upset of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, came onto the field with what appeared to be elements of a floor exercise in gymnastics at the Olympics. He did a cartwheel, then a back flip. 'I would never do that,' said James. 'But [Edwards] showed a lot of athleticism. It would be hard to do a cartwheel wearing a football uniform.' 'Football players only play once a week. They get a lot more excited,' said Z. 'When it's five games in seven nights, you're just happy to still be moving.'"

  • Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News: "With the billionaire owner of the Greek team Olympiacos on record as saying he intends to open an office in New York next summer in order to pursue NBA stars, Kobe Bryant and Cleveland's LeBron James would seem like natural targets. 'Next question,' Bryant said when asked about it. 'Next question,' he said when pressed. 'Next question,' he said when a reporter tried a third time."TrueHoop First Cup

  • Alan Hahn of Newsday: "Many around the NBA are monitoring the curious situation brewing with the Lakers between Lamar Odom and Phil Jackson. Potential suitors for the versatile though enigmatic Odom already are being handicapped, with the Knicks high on that list. But several team executives around the league believe the Lakers have little interest in moving Odom and Odom has little interest in leaving Los Angeles. The New York native's skills would be a perfect match in the D'Antoni system, but it is an unlikely scenario."

  • Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer: "If I were the Bobcats, I'd trade Adam Morrison if at all possible. ... if you can recoup a first-round draft pick for Morrison -- and I mean anywhere in the first round, not just a lottery pick -- I'd take it. If you can get a good big man to help the Bobcats with their rebounding problems, I'd take it. But if you're just giving him away, I wouldn't take that. He's not that bad. He's just not that good, either. I was a great admirer of Morrison in college and remain an admirer of the way he balances his diabetes and his basketball career. But I don't think he's a great fit here anymore."

  • Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star: "There has been talk -- talk based on an unsubstantiated Internet rumour, keep in mind -- that Olympiacos will attempt to lure Kobe Bryant with no end of luxury perks, including a yacht and a villa and a staff and tax-free millions. But excuse Chris Bosh if he's not texting his agent to make an overseas call. 'It sounds good,' Bosh, the Raptors all-star, said yesterday. '(But) I'll go for what I know right now.' ... The prospect of being a billionaire's whim -- which is what a LeBron James or a Bryant would be -- doesn't seem especially tantalizing to Bosh. 'I'm comfortable playing at home right now,' Bosh. 'It does sound lucrative, but you have to make the best business decision for yourself. And that includes being happy. ... I still want to prove myself here.'"

  • Paola Boivin of The Arizona Republic: "Who says you can't teach an old Shaq new tricks? Every time the Suns center questions opponents' Hack-a-Shaq tactics, he sounds like someone making excuses for not hitting his free throws. Forgive me, Mr. Supersized Saguaro, but please don't turn into a purveyor of fine whines and flambĂ©ed excuses. Your history as one of the NBA's more dominating and entertaining players doesn't mean it's OK to shoot from the hip but not from the line."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "JaJuan Smith is a rookie free agent trying to make the team, but he's already made an impact. With some latitude from the veterans, the point guard from Tennessee has become the voice of the Mavericks' pregame chant before games. It was the 6-2 Smith who borrowed some choice lines from rapper Lil Wayne's A Millie and modified them to fit the team's needs for its pregame group hug and adrenaline boost. 'The song really says: 'What's a goon to a goblin?' ' Smith said after Wednesday's game. 'So we changed it to whatever team we play, 'What's a Pacer to a Mav? Nothin. Nothin.' It's just something we came up with.'"

  • Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: "Is the 2008-09 NBA Western Conference the strongest conference in the history of professional sports conferences? No offense, 1909 National League, but this is a valid argument for the simple reason that last season, the Nuggets had to win 50 games to claim the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, the first time that ever happened in NBA history. And now, some say the West is even stronger."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "When Michael Beasley strode across the draft stage at Madison Square Garden to shake the hand of NBA Commissioner David Stern, he seemingly was walking into a starting job with the Heat. While that likely will be the eventual case with the No. 2 overall pick out of Kansas State, the signals from training camp are that it might not happen by the Oct. 29 opener in New York. 'We'll have to wait and see how he progresses,' coach Erik Spoelstra said Wednesday. 'Right now, he's in a good rhythm offensively. And defensively, there are some things he needs to be more aware of.'"

  • John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: "When coach Vinny Del Negro said the Bulls had a lot of work to do after their 96-86 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night, few realized he was being literal. After about an hour in the film room watching video of Tuesday's game, the Bulls were on the court for an additional three hours Wednesday, pushing the official practice session over the four-hour mark. 'It was an extended practice, but we have to work,' forward/center Drew Gooden said. 'We're 0-3 in the exhibition season, and we have to work. No excuses.'"

  • John Denton of Florida Today: "Things most all NBA players despise: Slow, conservative automobiles, twangy country music in the locker room and early-morning
    wake-up calls. But the latter of those three will become a harsh reality today for the Orlando Magic when they face the Charlotte Bobcats at 10:30 a.m. That's a.m., as in before noon. The Magic's team meal at the hotel in Charlotte will be served just after 6 a.m. Buses will depart for the arena at 8 and 8:30 a.m., the first one for the eager beavers and rookies and the second one for the groggy veterans still trying to wipe the sleep from their bleary eyes. 'I'm a night owl, so it's going to be absolutely painful for me,' Magic veteran center Adonal Foyle said. 'Needless to say there is going to be a lot of coffee gulped down to get me going. There could be some jittery basketball out there with the amount of coffee that we're all going to be drinking.'"

  • Jeff Rabjohns of The Indianapolis Star: "Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley Jr., who played on three state championship basketball teams at Lawrence North High School, is donating $15,000 today to the Lawrence Township School Foundation. The funds will be used to support the township's "My Community Gets Healthy" program. Conley's gift will team with a contribution from the John Stewart Memorial Fund toward heart rate monitors and other equipment for students to track fitness progress."