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First Cup: Wednesday

8/6/2014
  • Des Bieler of The Washington Post: On Monday, Paul George posted a photo of a Ferrari 458 on Instagram, along with this caption: "Shoutout my guy @roadstarrmotorsports for gettin me right again.. He hooked this one up! Although I can’t drive for a while I can still look at it!!! #FerrariBoyz #458 #OneofOne #CantWaitToGetBetter #AlwaysWantedOne #Italia #DreamCar #NowIGotIt #Blessed." Further proof that sports stars are not Just Like Us! When we get laid up in the hospital, we get maybe some cards, flowers and visits from concerned relatives. George gets visits from Floyd Mayweather Jr. and a $250,000 roadster that Car and Driver ranks No. 1 in its class. Of course, we don’t usually suffer compound fractures on national TV, so there’s that.

  • Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune: To recap recent developments in the Kevin Love saga: The owner of the Minneapolis Star Tribune leaked to the paper’s prime competitor the news that the star player for the NBA team he owns indeed will be traded, even though the NBA, which has punished the owner before for breaking rules, forbids confirmation of this deal at this point. Now the Star Tribune and the Timberwolves can commiserate, and agree: It’s good to be in competition with Glen Taylor. That the Wolves would trade Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers has seemed likely for weeks. Now that we know how the mystery is going to end, we can better guess who the winners and losers will be. Winner: Kevin Love. In Minnesota, he was asked to elevate a horrid franchise, and was tainted by its failures. Loser: Kevin Love. Playing with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, he no longer will be allowed to act like the put-upon, lonely star. He will be treated like Earnest Byner if he fails to hustle back on defense, or if his bleating to the refs costs his team a basket. If the Cavs fail, it will be Love’s fault.

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: Becky Hammon and the Spurs tried hard Tuesday to circumnavigate the historic significance of her appointment as a Spurs assistant. The reigning NBA champions didn't mention her gender once in a news release that announced her hiring. Hammon mostly stressed the knowledge of the game and interpersonal skills she has shown the Spurs over the course of eight seasons with the Stars and a stint during the 2013-14 championship season when she served as an ex-officio assistant coach while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in her left knee. “They've been observing me for the past eight years,” she said. “How I play, how I communicate with my teammates, fans and the community. They've been watching me from afar and then these last few years, knowing I'm coming to the end of my career. “To be perfectly honest, it's never been about the woman thing. It's been about, 'Hey, she's got a great basketball mind, and we'd love to have her and think she'd be a great addition to our program.'” Popovich said Hammon's hiring was based on her filling the criteria he always seeks in assistant coaches. “Having observed her working with our team this past season, I'm confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs,” he said.

  • Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: After Blake Griffin's second extended morning workout, the Clippers forward climbed aboard a training table and had his back stretched and contorted every which way by his trainer, Robbie Davis. Griffin then hit the court for another session. Griffin had pulled out of Team USA's basketball training camp for the FIBA World Cup because of back concerns, though the All-Star said they haven't "restricted" him. "It's less than a hairline and my back is not fractured. Everything is still intact," Griffin said. "I can still come out here and I can do my workouts and I can do everything I used to do. I just shouldn't be playing and practicing everyday this early." Griffin had to weigh playing for USA Basketball until the tournament is over on Sept. 14 against not strengthening or resting his back for another long run with the Clippers. "My whole thing is that I didn't want to go into [Clippers training] camp and put myself in a worse position," he said. "It's not that my back is broken and I'm walking around with a broken back, or I'm in so much pain. "But if I start playing basically two months earlier than everybody else and then go through all of next season and the playoffs, then I'm probably going to put myself in a bad position. I couldn't do that."

  • Harvey Araton of The New York Times: Is the current Olympic formula a forever proposition? Two years before his retirement, Stern floated an under-23 Olympic tournament with the long-term goal of making the World Cup more important, like soccer’s. “Those were discussions we had with FIBA, and they’re not dead,” Adam Silver said. He acknowledged that most countries will need serious arm-twisting because basketball, unlike soccer, at this time cannot make its stand-alone event “significant enough,” much less a global phenomenon. No matter what one thinks of the I.O.C., Silver said, “they have the franchise.” That is the reality and that is why the N.H.L. shuts down its season every four years and Major League Baseball wishes it could devise a formula to make its players available so the sport could be reinstated. That is why the N.B.A., with new growth frontiers in Africa and India, still needs the Olympics and why Mark Cuban, when stretching the context of George’s misery to stand on his soapbox, sounded more like a manipulator than he did a maverick, a self-promoting television shark with a ravenous ego to feed.

  • Sasha Kalra of Sportsnet.ca: Even when he’s performing to a sold-out crowd, Drake is thinking about basketball. The Toronto Raptors’ global ambassador took a moment during his fifth-annual OVO Fest concert Sunday night to show some love to Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, imploring him to consider playing in Toronto. “My brother Kevin Durant was kind enough to come to the show tonight and watch us,” said Drake. “I just want him to see what would happen if he were to come play in Toronto.” A “KD” chant promptly erupted in the Molson Amphitheatre. Durant, the NBA’s reigning MVP, will be a free agent in 2016 and grew up cheering for the Raptors. “Believe it or not, I wanted to play for the Toronto Raptors,” said Durant on the Dan Patrick Show in January 2013. “That was my favourite team.”

  • Andy Ayars of CSN Washington: On Monday, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that Kevin Durant could make $30 million a year...yes, a year...if he signs with Under Armor. ... Here's a look at how the potential Under Armor deal stacks up against other NBA stars' annual shoe earnings: LeBron James, Nike: $20 million a year; Kobe Bryant, Nike: $15 million a year; Derrick Rose, Adidas: $14 million a year; And just for fun...Michael Jordan, Jordan: $80 million a year. If KD drops the Swoosh and signs with Under Armor, he'll join the likes of fellow UA ballers Steph Curry, Kemba Walker and Corey Brewer. What does a switch by Durant to Team Under Armor mean for the Wizards? Well, Durant joining the Baltimore-based company run by founder and former Terrapin Kevin Plank certainly doesn't hurt Washington's chances, as every connection to the area could increase the likelihood he "comes home." [See: LeBron James]

  • Tim Bontemps of the New York Post: When the subject of his Twitter romance came up, Embiid couldn’t help but laugh. He said his quest for Rihanna’s affection had gone pretty well so far. “She followed me back and she favorited one of my tweets, so that was pretty good,” he said. But while Embiid has been entertaining the rest of us, he’s been struggling with not being able to play. During the Orlando and Las Vegas summer leagues, Embiid was stuck at home. He’s going to have to get used to it — he’s expected to sit out the entire season. “It’s going to be hard watching,” he said. “Just watching the summer league … I couldn’t even watch it. I was like, ‘That should be me playing.’ But I have to get through this, and I’m sure when I get back I’ll be better.”

  • Daniel Scofield of Newsday: Some NBA rookies are looking forward to playing against former teammates at the next level. Some are looking forward to facing up against their basketball idols. And then there's Knicks rookie Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who wants to play against his younger brother. Antetokounmpo, the 51st overall pick by the Knicks, doesn't know when, or if, he will see playing time on an NBA court. But when that time comes, he wants to implement his defensive skillset by guarding the opponent's best offensive weapon. Even if that means locking down Giannis Antetokounmpo, his younger brother, who earned the nickname "Greek Freak" during a breakout rookie season for the Milwaukee Bucks last year. "I'll probably tell Coach that I want to guard the best player on the other team. If that happens to be my brother, I'll have to guard my brother," Thanasis Antetokounmpo said at the NBA rookie photo shoot on Sunday.

  • Roy Burton of the Deseret News: One day while covering the Weber State basketball team, I asked Damian Lillard what he was majoring in at Weber State. He said, "It's technical sales." Then he paused and said with a smile, "I hope I don't have to use that for awhile." I'm not sure if this counts as using his degree or not, but Lillard's skills on the basketball court have also afforded him an opportunity to develop his talents as a salesman, thanks to a contract signed with Adidas in May that will pay him "well over $100 million," according to USA Today. In his latest pitch for Adidas, titled "BOOST or Bust," Lillard is working in a popcorn stand at the theater and gives a buttery smooth shoutout to the three O's he honors with his Portland Trail Blazers jersey No. 0 — Ogden, Oregon and Oakland.

  • Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle: Mitch Richmond was rugged and reliable, and not entirely in conventional ways. "A lot of times we would post up Mitch or Tim (Hardaway) to get points and draw fouls," former Warriors teammate Chris Mullin said. "Points in the paint are points in the paint, no matter who's getting them. And Mitch definitely played big." He also played superbly throughout a 14-year career, including three seasons in Oakland and seven in Sacramento. Richmond didn't average fewer than 21.9 points per game during those 10 seasons (or more than 25.9), a decade of relentless productivity leading him to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. Richmond, 49, will be enshrined Friday, the culmination of a meandering path that began on youth football fields in South Florida. His dad was in the military and his mom worked for a bank. Young Mitch eagerly donned his helmet and shoulder pads, but frequent moves made it difficult to stick with the sport.

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "The doubts were there," Alonzo Mourning admits. You never would have known. Not through the gesticulations, the ferocity, the relentlessness he showed every night on the court for the Miami Heat. But then you push past the veneer, in the quiet of an otherwise-empty lounge at AmericanAirlines Arena, and this shot-blocking, rim-rattling impending Hall of Fame center comes off as something far different. Vulnerable. On Friday, he will also be emotional, as the first Miami Heat star to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. It’s almost too much. "To tell you the truth," Mourning, 44, says quietly, sincerely, almost bemused, "I'm not supposed to have been [in the Hall of Fame]. I'm not, when you think about the obstacles I had to overcome, and when you think about how all the stars truly had to be in line for me to have the right people in my life at the right time. It was all storybook, truly. It was storybook for me to land on my feet after all the different challenges, and to now experience this moment."

  • Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: David Vance and Serge Ibaka share more than an area code. Both are preeminent figures in the story of basketball shot blocking. Ibaka, you know all about. Darts across the lane like a thief in the night to swat away an opponent’s shot. The NBA’s top shot blocker, having led the league in blocks four straight years. Compared to Bill Russell by no less than NBA guru Hubie Brown. But Vance? He’s a horseman. Mister Remington Park. Still a consultant in the sport of kings. But before Vance joined the racing industry, he was into basketball. Vance was Kentucky bred. Kentuckians like horse racing and they like hoops. In the 1970s, Vance worked for the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association. And in 1971, as the Colonels’ assistant general manager, Vance told his stat crew to make a change in its official box score. His idea? List blocked shots in the totals of each player. Yep, seems like a no-brainer, especially since Russell had patrolled NBA hardwoods throughout the 1960s, blocking shots with a frequency that historians say never had been done before or since. It’s just that no one ever bothered to count them all up. Until David Vance watched a Colonels rookie in an exhibition game in 1971. ... In an exhibition game against the Virginia Squires, Artis Gilmore blocked 10 shots. In the first half. “I said, ‘This is special,’” Vance said. The Colonels started counting Gilmore’s blocks. About a third of the way through the season, the Utah Stars also added blocked shots to the box score. The entire league did the same, voting during the ABA all-star break.