First Cup: Monday

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "It is nearly impossible to overstate the impact David Maurice Robinson had on the sports landscape of South Texas, but it is simple to try. Imagine San Antonio without the Spurs. Robinson is scheduled for enshrinement Friday into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He will be honored in Springfield, Mass., the birthplace of basketball, for his achievements on the court: These include two NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals, one NBA Most Valuable Player award, 20,790 career points, 10,497 career rebounds and 2,954 career blocks. Robinson's most enduring basketball achievement, however, can't be quantified. He was pro basketball's savior in San Antonio. 'Certainly, David saved the NBA for San Antonio,' said B.J. 'Red' McCombs, a member of the Spurs' ownership group that drafted Robinson in 1987. 'I truly believe we would not have been able to continue to operate if we had not had something dramatic happen.' Drafting, and signing, Robinson was the drama McCombs required."

  • Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune: "Those who know Michael Jordan, though, say golf appeals to him for reasons that go beyond gambling. The Merit Club in Libertyville gave him a chance to escape the attention of being the most famous man in Chicago. In the book 'A Place of Merit,' Jordan said the club appealed to him because 'it was low-key, all about golf, didn't have tee times and didn't have a lot of kids. ... It's hard to say no to kids when they want autographs and things.' Head pro Don Pieper said when Jordan plays at the Merit Club, 'he truly is one of the fellas. He knows people's names. It's, 'Hey, Scott' or, 'Hey, Bob. How you doin'?' He has an unbelievable talent for that; he must meet a thousand people a day.' How many holes will Jordan play? 'He usually plays with guys until he beats them,' Pieper joked. Jordan didn't talk smack when he played with Rich. And the two megamillionaires didn't even play for pennies. 'He never asked me for a bet,' Rich said. 'Not even for a $2 Nassau. It was all about the golf.' "

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "Fate obviously has a sick sense of humor. Either that or John Stockton and Jerry Sloan just have peculiar (or is it lousy?) timing when it comes to Michael Jordan. First, he tore their hearts out in back-to-back NBA Finals in the late 1990s. A decade later, His Airness will steal the show in Springfield, Mass., during the 2009 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement festivities. Kinda ironic that the Jazz's old nemesis is there when two of the franchise's most important members are receiving the greatest honors of their hoops lives, isn't it? 'Yeah,' said Sloan when asked about the irony last week. 'It's kind of tough to look at him again. It really is.' Sloan was joking. Mostly. To Jordan's credit, after the official announcement was made that he'd been named to the Hall's Class of 2009 with Sloan and Stockton, he joked that he wouldn't list his wins over the Jazz among his best memories. It might have helped that he was sitting next to Stockton at the time."

  • Frank Dell'Apa of The Boston Globe: "Jerry Krause was among the major factors in the success of the Chicago Bulls, building a team around Michael Jordan that would win six NBA championships. But Krause will not be going to Springfield for Jordan's Basketball Hall of Fame induction this week, and not because of animosity toward Jordan. Krause, the Bulls general manager from 1985-2003, resigned from the Hall of Fame selection committee several years ago over a conflict with the selection process and vowed 'not to go into the building' unless former Chicago assistant coach Tex Winter was inducted. 'I don't have a great desire to be there,' Krause said. Krause said he agreed with Bob Cousy, who objected to the secrecy of the process and absence of those he considered worthy candidates and resigned as chairman of the selection committee in the early '90s. But some friction remains in the Krause-Jordan relationship, in stark contrast with Krause's feelings toward another inductee, Utah coach Jerry Sloan. In fact, Krause said he might be tempted to attend if he were contacted by Sloan, whom Krause scouted in his Baltimore Bullets days in the early '60s. 'If Michael called, no,' Krause said. 'If Jerry called me, that would be a tough one. But the answer is no.' "

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "Hakim Warrick has joined the group of Bucks players working out at the Cousins Center in preparation for training camp, which begins on Sept. 29. The 6-foot-9 power forward signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Bucks earlier this summer, after the Memphis Grizzlies withdrew their qualifying offer to the former Syracuse star. Warrick became expendable when the Grizzlies acquired Zach Randolph in a July trade with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Bucks lost Charlie Villanueva to free agency earlier this summer, as he was quickly snapped up by the Detroit Pistons and signed to a lucrative multiyear contract. Warrick knows he has a true chance to claim the starting power forward spot and increase his playing time. He has averaged 21.4 minutes over the first four years of his NBA career, all in Memphis. 'That's something that motivates me,' Warrick said. 'When I get consistent minutes, I've shown I can go out there and produce. Coming here, I want to show my consistency, be out there on the floor and help this team win.' Warrick's versatility means he could see some action at the small forward position, too."

  • Ailene Voisin of the The Sacramento Bee: "Before injuring his finger in July in the Las Vegas summer league, Tyreke Evans was a physically bruising presence, defending and rebounding, and relentlessly attacking the basket. He penetrated and found teammates underneath, but seemed less comfortable facilitating an offense. A natural scorer, his eyes were on the prize -- the rim. Point guards by comparison crawl out of the womb with a completely different vision. They see the entire floor, anticipate plays before they develop. 'When Dennis Johnson came into the league with us (Seattle), he didn't handle the ball as well as Tyreke,' said former NBA coach Paul Silas, asked about the frequent comparisons between Evans and his late former SuperSonics teammate. 'But I think DJ's decision-making was better. Can you learn that? It's very tough once you're in the pros. The game moves so fast. I would venture to say Tyreke's more of a two (shooting) guard and, man, I haven't seen anybody get to the basket like he does.' But back to the point, to the suspicion that Evans is a lead guard only in an emergency: The Kings should learn what Ricky Rubio eats, when he sleeps, what he reads. They should chart his every pass, his every tendency, his every desire. They should get to know the youngster so well that two years from now, if they haven't already acquired someone to deliver the ball to Evans, Martin
    and Hawes, they should invite Rubio for another visit, another look."

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "Sean May can't imagine why the Charlotte Bobcats have yet to sign ex-teammate Raymond Felton to a long-term contract. 'I don't know what the numbers are – why they're so far apart – but personally I think it's kind of ridiculous that going a month into training camp he doesn't have a deal done,' May said following North Carolina alumni game at the Smith Center. May and Felton were among 19 ex-Tar Heels who played to a sold-out house. May, a former Bobcats power forward, signed with the Sacramento Kings. Felton, the Bobcats' starting point guard, still hopes to work out a multi-year deal by the start of camp at the end of this month. 'You go down the list: He plays every day. He practices every day and a lot of NBA stars take days off. He doesn't get hurt, he's the best teammate,' May described. 'The guy gets it done, and the team has gotten progressively better. You have to reward him for that.' ... Felton generally deflected questions about his contract status. 'It hasn't happened yet, but it's going to happen -- that's all I can say,' Felton said. 'I think we're going to work something out.' "

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "One of Marcin Gortat's dreams soon will come true. The Orlando Magic center will wear a red-and-white jersey with the word 'Polska' on its front. A flag-waving crowd of adoring fans will fill the stands. His country's national anthem will play before tipoff of a crucial game. And it will all happen in Wroclaw, Poland, just 130 miles from his birthplace. Gortat's homeland is hosting Europe's biggest international basketball tournament, EuroBasket, for the first time since 1963, and he is one of the event's main attractions. Gortat is the only current NBA player on Poland's national team, which will play its first tournament game on Monday against Bulgaria. 'The group of people that we have right now is probably the strongest team we've ever had in the basketball history of our country,' Gortat said in a phone interview. 'That's going to be a huge, huge chance for most of us to win something in our life. We had a discussion with our coach, and he told us that there's going to be only one chance -- one life chance -- when we're going to have an opportunity to play in front of our own crowd.' Gortat, 25, already is a celebrity in Poland. Easily recognizable at 6 feet 11, he can't walk on a crowded street without people swarming around him."