<
>

First Cup: Tuesday

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "Rajon Rondo has been a Brett Favre fan since childhood. Thus, he also is that most silent of pariahs -- a Jets fan in Boston. But however distasteful the task may be, Celtics fans have to give props to the aging quarterback. It apparently was Favre, more than any point guard over the last 15 years, who had an impact on the rugged way Rondo plays his position. 'I grew up watching football and baseball,' said Rondo, a former high school quarterback. 'I didn't know I had hoop dreams. I watched Brett Favre. When I was in third grade they asked us to do a drawing of our favorite team, and I drew the Green Bay Packers -- green and yellow. But my main thing was Brett Favre. So now I'm a Jets fan.' More to the point, Rondo is an NBA point guard who fearlessly throws his body into the paint as if it were a goal line pileup."

  • Ivan Carter of The Washington Post: "Caron Butler said his sideline rant at the end of Sunday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks wasn't directed at any particular teammate or issue. The two-time all-star said he simply lost his cool after watching the Wizards (4-21) squander yet another winnable game with yet another poor fourth quarter performance. 'There are no Cleos around here,' said Butler in reference to the fortune teller whose ads used to run all over late-night television. 'Even [Miss] Cleo couldn't dictate this. It's just one of those situations where it's 'Man, this is not okay.' Somebody has to say something. This is not okay. It's not okay to continue to lose games like this. And I know that everyone feels that way on the inside. I just expressed it, and I expressed all the way out from deep in my tummy. I just put it out there.'"

  • Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: "Chauncey Billups' legacy in Denver might extend past his final pass. The Nuggets point guard said he would like to someday be general manager of his hometown team -- 'A dream job, bro. A dream job.' How cool is that? In November, the Denver born-and-bred basketball star returned home to try to win a championship. And now, win or lose, he wants to attempt to do the same as a team executive. ... George Karl pointed out that sometimes an exec who was too talented might have a skewed mind-set, thinking 'the game is easier and more perfect than it is. And the guy who wasn't any good is a lot better at looking at the game with a correct reality.' So, is Billups in trouble because he's too good of a player? Karl smiled and joked, 'Probably.'"

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy said Dwight Howard was picking up 'a lot of pretty ticky-tack fouls' and suggested that big guys such as Howard are being officiated differently than perimeter players. 'I think [Howard] is very frustrated the way the game is being called right now,' Van Gundy said. 'It's different in this league. The real good perimeter players seemed to really get the benefit of every call, any touch. The real good big guys, it seems it's just the opposite. They let people do more in there. I think it's part of an ongoing thing -- they won't say that -- but I think the league is trying to do everything it can to make it a perimeter league and not a post-up league.' Van Gundy agreed that the 6-foot-11, 270 Howard takes more punishment because of his size. 'I think they [officials], subconsciously, even it up. But what's interesting is that they don't do that on the perimeter guys,' Van Gundy said."

  • Chris Lau of the Detroit Free Press: "The Pistons have an active streak of nine games with at least one individual technical. 'Them dudes, they off the chain,' Tayshaun Prince said. 'I can't help them. I talk to them as much as I can. I can't do nothing. You know what? There's been plenty of times where we've been aggressive going to the rim, couple things don't go our way, then a couple ticky-tack calls and the next thing you know, we start to yell at the refs.' Prince hasn't received a technical this season. 'This is what happens when you get a technical foul: Teams make a run, referees start to give them a couple calls here and there, and the next thing you know, we put ourselves in a bad position,' Prince said. 'So, Rasheed and Rip will have to realize when is a good time to make that happen and when is a good time not to make that happen.'"

  • Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Somewhere on the way to reaching the Western Conference finals, earning second-team all-NBA honors, signing a max contract extension and being selected to the U.S. Olympic team, Jazz guard Deron Williams skipped a step. The hole in Williams' résumé his first three seasons as a pro came with never having been chosen to play in the All-Star Game. The expectation coming into this season was that Williams wouldn't have to wait long for his overdue coronation. That all changed, however, as soon as Williams went down with a sprained left ankle in the preseason. Nearly a month after returning, Williams still isn't the same player and his ascent to becoming an All-Star is anything but guaranteed. 'I didn't start the season healthy, so I'm not really worried about it,' Williams said. 'After not making it the last two seasons, I'm even more not worried about it.'"

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "You know that TV commercial where your problem gets fixed by pushing a big, red Easy Button? Boris Diaw is becoming the Charlotte Bobcats' Easy Button. The problem all season has been scoring; they're last in the NBA in that category by a wide margin. But in the five games Diaw has played here, the Bobcats average about eight more points and shoot 3.5 percentage points better. It's not just what Diaw does (post scoring, 3-point shooting and creative passing), it's what he represents: His willingness to pass seems infectious, and addressed the Bobcats' greatest need."

  • David Gladow of NOLA.com: "Let's be frank: Julian Wright is an amazing talent. His athleticism is on display with every high-flying dunk and diving steal he delivers as a pro, and it was certainly significant enough for the Hornets to draft him in the first round last year. The problem with Wright's game this year does not appear to be a physical one, however. Instead, the second-year New Orleans Hornets forward is reportedly struggling with the mental side of the game, and unfortunately for Hornets fans everywhere, that does not appear to be a battle he will win anytime soon. ... Byron Scott is no dummy. I'm sure he can see what we can. Wright's exceptional talent can help this team ... and even assuming Scott decides that it can't, Wright will be sent to another team. So don't expect Wright to be sitting on the inactive list come May, whether he's on the Hornets or not. But if Wright doesn't begin to grasp the offense (and more importantly, understand that he has plenty of improving to do), we won't be seeing him anytime soon. Mr. Scott will make certain of that."

  • Michael Cunningham of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Watch Michael Beasley and it doesn't take long to realize the Heat's rookie forward has a special talent for finding a way to put the ball in the basket. It also becomes quickly apparent that when the ball goes in to Beasley, there's a good chance it's not coming back out. Among the 17 NBA rookies playing at least 20 minutes per game, Beasley, with 308 shots in 647 minutes, shoots at the highest rate (one attempt for every 2.1 minutes played). Only Dwyane Wade, the league's leading scorer, shoots more often for the Heat (one attempt every 1.8 minutes) and no one else is close to Beasley. Meanwhile Beasley is tied for 15th in assists among rookies averaging 20 minutes or more. The rookies in that group who are equal or worse than Beasley in assists are all post-dwelling centers: Milwaukee's Luc Mbah a Moute, Portland's Greg Oden and New Jersey's Brook Lopez."

  • Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer: "Last summer, TNT, NBA TV and NBA.com were all brought under the same umbrella with Turner Sports in Atlanta. Part of the reason was so the entities could cover stories on multiple platforms. The first such project will be launched next week to honor James' 24th birthday. There will be 24 hours of continuous coverage on NBATV, starting at 1 p.m. on Dec. 29. It will feature James' first professional game against the Kings in 2003, his first national television game when St. Vincent-St. Mary played Oak Hill Academy at the Wolstein Center in 2002, his first playoff game in 2006 when he put up a triple-double against the Washington Wizards, and his immortal 2007 Game 5 against the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals. It will also include several never before seen feature programs and culminate in the Cavs' game against the Heat on Dec. 30, James' birthday. NBA.com will also have special series of stories and features."

  • John Denton of Florida Today: "Mickael Pietrus was angry Monday and it had nothing to do with him losing his starting shooting guard spot with the Magic for the time being. Instead, Pietrus wasn't happy with how ESPN overlooked his incredible alley-oop dunk Saturday night against the Lakers. Pietrus caught Rashard Lewis' pass several feet away from the rim and because he was so high in the air he was still able to finish off the dunk. 'I'm going to have to call ESPN because they aren't showing me any love,' Pietrus said with a laugh. 'That should have been No. 1 (on the top plays of the night).'"

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Another Rocket has received the 'Yao Ming bonus.' Forward Ron Artest became the fifth Rockets player to endorse Chinese basketball shoes. Shane Battier also wears Peak. Luis Scola and Steve Francis wear Anta. Chuck Hayes had endorsed a Chinese shoe but recently switched to Nike. Artest wore the Peak shoes for the first time Monday, with plans to move to his own signature shoe next month. 'These are not mine, but they're cool,' Artest said."