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First Cup: Friday

  • John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Over the next few days, the tributes to Michael Jordan will be glowing and abundant. And that's precisely as it should be. He is one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, arguably the best, and his enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame tonight provides a perfect opportunity to celebrate his illustrious career -- especially in Chicago, where he quenched the city's thirst for a winner with a flood of championships. But in spite of his accomplishments and iconic status in the late 1980s and 1990s, I sense a growing disconnect between Jordan and his adopted hometown these days. Of course, he remains immensely popular and people still revel in the Bulls' remarkable run of six titles in eight years. Those exploits, though, seem so long ago. Sure, time is a factor. It's been more than 11 years since Jordan famously made his exit as a Bull, hitting that clutch jumper from the top of the key to wrap up the franchise's sixth title in June 1998. Another significant reason for the divide is he hasn't been apart of the Bulls organization since his playing days. His career ended and then -- poof! -- he was gone."

  • Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune: "It's not as if there has been a lot of suspense leading up to this moment. Michael Jordan hasn't chewed his fingernails down to the cuticles wondering whether this, at long last, might be the year he gets into the Hall of Fame. But to act as if it's no big deal that he's being inducted into the Hall -- duh, of course MJ is a Hall of Famer! -- is wrong too. The man deserves his due. The best way to describe Jordan's place here is to say that the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has been living a diminished life without him. By definition, there can't be a basketball hall of fame -- lower case, upper case, generic, whatever -- without Michael Jordan. And thus it follows that, even though it's a slam dunk he's a Hall of Famer, he needs to be honored for it, and honored in a big way. And if you're of the mind that the attention surrounding this inevitability is excessive, allow me to get morbid for a brief moment. The next time everyone will be getting together to reminisce about Jordan like this will be in eulogy form. So Michael will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, amid much pomp, circumstance and Nike product placements. And he deserves it."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Speaking on WQAM from Springfield, Mass., where he is attending the Basketball Hall of Fame inductions, Pat Riley said he not only has no regrets about retiring Michael Jordan's No. 23 at AmericanAirlines Arena, but believes it is something other teams should emulate. 'His jersey hangs in AmericanAirlines Arena out of respect to him and what he's meant to this game,' Riley said, with Jordan to be inducted tonight, 'and we feel great about doing that.' "

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "Michael Jordan is responsible for one number that bothers some about the 2009 enshrinement proceedings: The $1,000 price tag for each ticket to attend Friday's ceremony at Springfield Symphony Hall is more than double the cost to attend last year's ceremonies, when Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Adrian Dantley and Pat Riley were inducted. Jerry Colangelo regrets that some fans were priced out of Friday's enshrinement ceremony, but defended the decision to leverage Jordan's remarkable popularity. 'The Hall has had a difficult time making ends meet,' he said. 'The location is a difficult issue. Springfield is where the game was born, it's true, but it's a difficult place to get in and out of. So there are a lot of handicaps. Is ($1,000 per ticket) unusual? Yeah. But I think you take advantage of opportunity when it's there. We knew we were going to have a big crowd, for sure, and this is to support the Hall of Fame. If some people are turned off by it, I feel badly about that, but as part of the decision-making process, I don't.' Count Anilee Pollard among those a tad miffed. 'I think it's awful,' she said. 'When Jim was inducted, I think tickets were $50.' "

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "With neatly trimmed hair and an age-defying, almost-cherubic face that made him appear to not be too much older than the number 12 on his jersey, there's no doubt John Stockton had a squeaky, clean-cut image. Knowing he came from a Catholic background and attended a private Jesuit college, some jokingly called him an alter boy or a choir boy. He was adored and admired, did amazing things, was more generous than anybody in his profession, and spread happiness to many during 19 years under the spotlight. The word 'perfect' was even used by a couple of different, significant people in describing him recently. With that kind of praise, you might think the special ceremony being held tonight on his behalf -- and for four other elites -- could be moved from Springfield, Mass., to the Vatican. Though he seemed to pull off a few miracles on the court, the legendary Utah Jazz point guard will not be granted sainthood anytime soon -- even if Saint Stockton has a certain ring to it. The man considered by many to be the greatest pure point guard in NBA history will instead receive well-deserved and everlasting glory in the hoops world, not necessarily in the heavens, as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame."

  • The Globe and Mail: "It says a lot about Steve Nash that, one sunny evening this summer, there was no place he wanted to be more than a cemetery in Port Coquitlam, B.C. The sun was setting, the beer and wine were flowing and the mood was light yet poignant. Nash was gathered with a small crew of filmmakers at the grave of Terry Fox on June 28, the 28th anniversary of Fox's death, a current Canadian hero paying tribute to his own hero. 'He was a big influence,' Nash said of Fox, who in 1980 started a run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. When Fox's cancer metastasized, he had to end his run near Thunder Bay, and he died a year later. His effort inspired a six-year-old Nash to rise each morning in the summer of 1980 in Victoria to trace Fox's progress in his Marathon of Hope. 'I feel really lucky,' Nash said. 'I'm not sure there are many stories like that around the world. Who grew up and had someone enter their lives like that, who came from nowhere to become a national hero all for the right reasons and motives?' Nash did, and now the Phoenix Suns' star has married his fascination with Fox and his new interest in filmmaking for a one-hour documentary about his childhood hero that will be shown on U.S. cable giant ESPN next spring. Nash's commitment to the project was evident to Terry's older brother Fred when Nash spent a couple of days in Port Coquitlam gathering footage for the film, interviewing Fox's parents and even driving the white support van used for Fox's run."

  • Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun: "The Red Rocket will be wearing red and white at the world basketball championships next summer. Canadian men's coach Leo Rautins said former Raptors forward Matt Bonner almost certainly will have his paperwork completed in time to play for Canada at the 2010 worlds in Turkey. Bonner, who started 67 games for the San Antonio Spurs last season, has taken the necessary steps to acquire Canadian citizenship. He married a Toronto girl and spends much off the off-season in Canada. Rautins said that almost immediately after the Canadian team qualified for the 2010 worlds last week in Puerto Rico, team officials began receiving text messages from Bonner. 'He's jacked. He's completely pumped and waiting to play,' Rautins said. 'It's going to happen, and we're anxious to have Matt. He's a high-character guy, who's committed to the game. And for the international game, he is multi-faceted. He can play at the three, four and five spots.' "

  • Sekou Smith of the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "First impressions amongst your peers in the NBA can go a long way. For Hawks rookie point guard Jeff Teague, the buzz traveled from an impressive mini-camp in late July all the way through Labor Day and until now. And it's not just his Hawks teammates that have noticed. His point guard peers around the league, at least the veterans that have been on the floor with him this summer (and mainly in the past week or so at the Hawks' practice facility), have noticed. And they see plenty that they like about the former Wake Forest star. 'The one thing that sticks out to me is that he makes shots,' said former Hawks point guard Anthony Johnson, who plays in Orlando these days but still calls Atlanta home in the offseason. 'That's going to go a long way here in the system he'll be in and really in his career. If you're a guy that can get shots, that can make shots and create shots, you've got the package you'll need to be successful. And he's got all that.' "

  • Robbi Pickeral of the News & Observer: "As a starter on North Carolina's 2005 national championship team, swingman Rashad McCants earned the reputation as an athletic scorer, a determined winner and a moody player. The latter is a stigma that followed him to the NBA, and that he thinks has helped keep him unsigned this offseason, despite the fact that he has averaged 10 points, 2 rebounds and 1.3 assists over four pro seasons. 'I was always tough-skinned and hardworking, and I didn't really care what people said about me, because I knew my ability,' said McCants, who was drafted 14th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves after his junior year, was traded to Sacramento last season, and is now a free agent. 'But now, after five years, [that reputation] is still around, and it's still haunting me from getting a job and being successful.' After having a heart-to-heart with former Tar Heels Makhtar Ndiaye, Shammond Williams, Vince Carter and Terrence Newby in Chapel Hill last week, the Asheville native decided he wanted to try to open up to both Tar Heel fans – and potential NBA bosses. In a wide-ranging interview with The News & Observer on Thursday, he explains why he thinks he gets a bad rap, how he feels about former coaches Matt Doherty and Roy Williams, the genesis of the ailment that caused him to miss four games his junior season, and why he didn't need a psychologist his freshman season."

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: "With a roster that includes rookie guards Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton, New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul already is embracing his role as a mentor. In his four seasons, Paul always had a more experienced point guard playing behind him. But earlier this week, the Hornets traded 12-year veteran Antonio Daniels to the Minnesota Timberwolves, making Paul the most experienced point guard on the roster. 'Actually it's a funny feeling, and all summer I've been thinking and talking about it,' Paul said. 'It's crazy that I'm going into my fifth year and actually have a young group of guys to play that position with me.' Paul, 24, resumed workouts in New Orleans this week and has taken the initiative to mentor Thornton, whom the Hornets obtained on draft night after the Miami Heat selected him in the second round. 'I wake up and work out at 6 a.m., and Marcus said he had been working out at 8 a.m.,' Paul said. 'I told Marcus we're going at 6. I think that's part of being older now, and that I can sort of tell him that he's going to work out with me.' "

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Jason Richardson joined the Suns' voluntary workouts Thursday but he doesn't necessarily share his teammates' eagerness for the Oct. 28 regular-season opener. The NBA suspended Richardson for the first two games because he pleaded guilty this summer to a December driving under the influence charge, which came in his second week with the Suns. 'That's what comes with the consequences of what I've done,' he said of the suspension. 'After these two games, I put this behind me, learn from my mistakes and move on with my life and career.' Two in-season driving arrests ultimately will cost Richardson $353,535 in salary, including the one-game suspension the Suns gave him in February after an arrest for criminal speeding and endangerment. His DUI sentence included three years' probation and a day in jail. 'It's tough,' he said of jail. 'Never want to do that again.' "

  • The Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Ramon Sessions could be headed to the Timberwolves today, if the Milwaukee Bucks do not match a four-year, $16.4 million offer sheet to the restricted free-agent guard. The Bucks are facing a deadline today on the 23-year-old Sessions, a two-year pro who played in 79 games and led the team in assists last season. Barring a last-minute deal to clear some salary space, the Bucks are not in position to sign Sessions and remain below the league's luxury tax level of $69.92 million. 'We want to keep our options open until the last possible minute,' Bucks General Manager John Hammond said Thursday. He indicated he was continuing talks with other teams about potential trades."