Tuesday, July 19, 2011
First Cup: Tuesday
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Good to see the NBA gave its blessing for the Rockets to attend Kevin Martin’s wedding and Yao Ming’s retirement announcement. Martin was married to his longtime girlfriend Jill Adler last weekend and with the league’s permission, Daryl Morey and Gersson Rosas were permitted to attend. They did, however, have to be careful not to make too much small talk with the athletically gifted members of the guest list. Rockets teammates Courtney Lee, Kyle Lowry, Chuck Hayes and Hasheem Thabeet attended along with former teammates Brad Miller, Jared Jeffries, Aaron Brooks, Ish Smith and Sean May. Former agent turned former Kings assistant general manager Jason Levien officiated. Daryl Morey was further permitted to build his impressive pile of frequent flier miles by leaving the Martin nuptials in Florida to attend the Yao Ming retirement announcement in Shanghai. Unless Yao has filed his official retirement paperwork with the league, however, Morey cannot comment in any way. Of course, the league could send permission for that, too. Isn’t the lockout fun?"
- Sudipto Ganguly and Ken Wills of Reuters: "Several reports in the media have said that injury-plagued Yao will officially announce his retirement from the game at a news conference on Wednesday. China's state television CCTV would run a four-hour program on the player, including a live broadcast of the news conference at a hotel in Yao's hometown Shanghai, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Yao became arguably Asia's biggest sports figure when he was selected first overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2002 NBA draft. 'In terms of opening up doors for Chinese basketball players to come to the NBA, or for the youth here in China to believe that it's possible to achieve the dream of being an NBA player, all that started from Yao,' Los Angeles Lakers guard Bryant said. 'The movement that started in the NBA of the influx of European players coming to the NBA was started by Vlade Divac, Dino Radja and those guys. Even that movement didn't have the impact and magnitude that Yao Ming has had. And on top of that, he's just a heck of a basketball player to boot," Bryant, who is in China on a promotional tour, added."
- Dan Levin of The New York Times: "For nearly a decade, China has been enthralled by the cult of Yao spun by Communist Party propagandists and corporate sponsors: the winner, the gentle giant, the favorite son. His image was ubiquitous here, and the public basked in his glow even as other Chinese players in the N.B.A. sputtered. Yet his retirement is forcing many Chinese to acknowledge that their country has relied on Yao alone for victory and national pride, ignoring shortcomings in the state sports system that leave China facing a future bereft of N.B.A. and Olympic basketball glory. 'We can either choose to blame the gods and whine about our misfortune or we can step up to the plate and train the next generation of basketball talent,' Zhang Weiping, a basketball commentator and former national team member, wrote in an editorial last week. ... No matter how Chinese sports officials address the dearth of basketball talent, resting on Yao’s laurels is no longer an option. His departure, some fans said, has stirred a surprising emotion: relief. 'Yao’s presence was like a massive shadow that no one could escape,' said Li Nan, the amateur player in Beijing. 'Everybody thought if they wanted to make it to the N.B.A., they would have to be like Yao — a 7-6 Chinese ambassador.' According to a recent report in the Chinese news media, Yao no longer wants to carry the national team on the court or the country’s pride on his shoulders. 'Chinese basketball,' he said, 'should no longer hope for anything from me.' "
- Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: "They have had different roles and histories with the Lakers organization, but there's a common thread that's tied Kobe Bryant, Brian Shaw and Ronnie Lester together. The commonality goes beyond the 13 combined NBA championships they won with the Lakers. It points recently to their frustration over the front office's apparent lack of communication over important issues. The examples prove to be wide-ranging. Bryant reportedly has been upset that management apparently didn't consult him and give him a heads-up about the hiring of Mike Brown as coach. Shaw, formerly the top assistant on Phil Jackson's staff, wishes he'd been told directly by the team that he wasn't getting the head coaching job, instead of learning of it through media outlets. And Lester, a former assistant general manager for the Lakers, feels offended that they provided little information on the 20 or so Lakers staffers, including himself, who were let go after their contracts expired June 30 and the NBA imposed a lockout. The circumstances are different, but these examples involving Bryant, Shaw and Lester reveal that some of their misgivings could've been minimized with a simple phone call and more respect."
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "Former North Carolina basketball star Ty Lawson tweeted an interesting question concerning the NBA lockout: 'I wonder if I can file for unemployment.' So we asked. Can an NBA or NFL player currently apply for unemployment due to the lockouts in each sport? The short answer is no, not yet anyway. Larry Parker, a spokesman for the N.C. Employment Security Commission, sent the following explanation in an email to the Observer: 'The answer right now is no, NBA players would not be eligible for benefits, mainly due to fact the NBA season is not in session. There is a reasonable expectation on the players part that they may play once the season begins.' Certainly the league will reinforce that impression Tuesday when all 30 teams release regular-season schedules."
- Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: "Lakers guard and National Basketball Players Assn. President Derek Fisher plans to play in a pair of exhibition games in the Philippines this weekend, his manager, Jamie Wior, confirmed Monday. Fisher will join the likes of Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Derrick Williams, Tyreke Evans and Javelle McGee representing the MVP Sports Foundation, according to a person who was familiar with the roster but wasn't authorized to speak about it publicly. The team is expected to play in a pair of exhibition games July 23 and 24 against the Philippine Basketball Assn.'s All-Star team and the Smart Gilas national team at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City."
- Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "In a column last week, a source told me the Blazers had been threatened with a $1 million fine after acting General Manager Chad Buchanan answered 'yeah' to a media question to the effect of, 'It’s too bad there is no summer league this year.' The next day, an NBA exec emailed me a link to an Oregonlive.com story that he says is the one I was referencing. 'It’s not ideal because that would have given us a chance to see Elliot (Williams),' Buchanan was quoted as saying. 'Elliot was healthy and ready to participate in summer league. It’s disappointing (Williams and other young Blazers) won’t have that opportunity, and whoever we would draft (in the would have been there as well.' Also: 'You would like to have that summer league opportunity because it’s a chance for your coaches to get their hands on them and evaluate them against other players they’re going to be competing against going forward.' When I suggested to the league rep that those were pretty innocuous quotes, and that they were issued on June 18 – two weeks before the lockout began – he responded, 'Nothing involving bargaining could be discussed.' "
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: "The Pistons' coaching search seems to have hit a standstill and one of their top candidates is exploring his options. Mike Woodson, who is a finalist to replace John Kuester, will interview with the Minnesota Timberwolves for their vacant coaching position Tuesday. Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank is considered the other top candidate for the Pistons job. Woodson confirmed his scheduled meeting with the Timberwolves but declined to comment further when reached late Monday night. Woodson has met with the Pistons twice to this point, first with Pistons President of basketball operations Joe Dumars and vice-president Scott Perry. He hasn't yet met with new owner Tom Gores, but has met with Gores' Platinum Equity partners, Phil Norment and Bob Wentworth."
- Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "St. Edward basketball coach Eric Flannery loved the Cavaliers' selection of Tristan Thompson with the No. 4 pick in the recent NBA draft. 'I think they hit a home run,' Flannery said. 'I really do.' Flannery coached Thompson in the 2010 McDonald's All-American game in Columbus. Thompson, a 6-8, 225-pound forward who went on to play one season at Texas, had eight points and five rebounds in the West's 107-104 victory, but Flannery was as impressed with his personality as he was with his basketball skills. 'The greatest thing about Tristan -- when people get to know him they will realize this -- is that he is going to be a fantastic locker-room guy,' Flannery said. 'He is a wonderful human being. I enjoyed coaching him as much, if not more, than anybody I've coached in a situation like we had. "He's just a great, great kid, great personality, very upbeat, a 'yes sir, no sir' kind of kid. First and foremost, the Cavs are getting a great human being, which obviously is a big plus.' ... Though most observers had the Cavs taking Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas with the No. 4 pick, Flannery didn't think the Cavs could pass on Thompson. 'You take in the whole picture, how can you take somebody else?' he said. 'If you're taking a chance on somebody else, either character or skill set, I thought he was right there and definitely worth it ... I thought he'd be a perfect fit. My personal opinion is, and I mean this sincerely, I think he's the steal of the draft.' "
- Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "Anybody who needs to get into Columbia, S.C., should seek out Tyrone Corbin. The Utah Jazz coach and South Carolina sports hero will receive a key to his hometown city this afternoon when he is honored by Columbia. 'We are proud to have this opportunity to celebrate Tyrone Corbin and all he has accomplished both on and off the court,' Columbia mayor Steve Benjamin said in a release put out by the Jazz. 'He is one of Columbia's brightest stars and an example to our children of what is possible if you work hard and dream big.' 'Congratulations to Ty,' Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said. 'This is a well-deserved honor for someone who has excelled in life as well as his chosen profession of basketball.' Corbin, who replaced Jerry Sloan as the Jazz's head coach in February, rose to local celebrity status while playing prep hoops alongside eventual NBA player Xavier McDaniel at Columbia's A.C. Flora High School."
- Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel announced Monday that Jim Boylen will join Brian Shaw and Dan Burke as his assistant coaches next season. Boylen spent the past four years as head coach at the University of Utah. He's got NBA coaching experience with Houston, where he was part of two championship teams, Milwaukee and Golden State. Shaw, Vogel's associate head coach, spent the past seven years with the Los Angeles Lakers. Burke has been with the Pacers for the past 14 years."
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "Worrying about Manu Ginobili playing for Argentina in international competition has become a summertime tradition among Spurs fans. Tony Parker is a regular with Les Bleus, the French national team, and Tiago Splitter remains the centerpiece for Brazil. The hypochondriacs among Spurs Nation now have another international player to anguish over: According to the Canadian website Basketball Buzz, newly drafted point guard Cory Joseph — a Toronto native — is expected in training camp with that country’s national team, if and when insurance issues are cleared up. If he makes the team — almost a foregone conclusion, judging from the above article — Joseph would play for Canada in this summer’s Olympic qualifier. At 19 years old, and without any NBA wear-and-tear on his body, Joseph isn’t quite the injury risk his older international counterparts are. In fact, with the lockout threatening to cut into training camp and perhaps the start of the season, the former University of Texas standout could use the experience that playing on the international stage might bring."
- Chad Finn of The Boston Globe: "Sports Business Daily reported yesterday that the Celtics are close to completing a media rights package with Comcast SportsNet New England that will extend the relationship with the regional sports network until 2038, 20 years beyond the end of the current agreement. The Celtics also will become the latest professional sports team to branch into media ownership, according to the report, with the deal including an equity stake in the network that could be as high as 20 percent. The annual rights fee is also expected to grow significantly from its current estimated $15 million-$20 million. The Celtics and Comcast SportsNet New England did not respond to requests for comment. An industry source said the deal is not finalized but that the reported parameters are correct. While the deal could be completed in weeks, a formal announcement is not expected until the end of the lockout, which began July 1 as the league and players union haggle over a new collective bargaining agreement. Once the deal is agreed upon, it must be formally approved by the NBA."
- Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "There won't be many NBA players, but the 15th annual Zo's Summer Groove still has plenty star power. The event, which begins Wednesday and runs through Sunday, will continue despite the NBA being in the middle of the lockout. Under lockout rules, active players are banned from contacting anyone associated with a team front office or coaching staff. Former Heat center Alonzo Mourning is now the team's vice president of player programs. So instead of the likes of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the events will consist mostly of coaches, former NBA players and even NFL stars. The lineup includes Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, former Heat guard Eddie Jones, NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith and New York Jets defensive end Jason Taylor. This will mark the first year an all-star basketball game will not accompany the festivities. Event spokesman Natalie Davis said the event will be geared more toward community functions. The action kicks off Wednesday with a basketball clinic for 300 local children ages 8-14 at the Overtown Youth Center in Miami."
- Terry Foster of The Detroit News: "From 1988-91, the state of Michigan was a player in the NBA, having 13 players selected in the first round of the draft. But over the past seven seasons, Michigan has become a non-factor. Only two players have gone in the first round. The Michigan pipeline nearly has run dry. But why? Some factors: Lower enrollment in Detroit and Flint schools. Flint Central, which won Class A state titles in 1981, '82 and '83, is closed. Detroit Mackenzie is closed, and former power Detroit Southwestern is having problems. A number of recreation centers have closed, limiting opportunities for year-round games. Some contend the rise of AAU basketball has diluted the talent and created a system where players quit and move on to other teams, stunting consistency. Coaches lack proper training and many no longer teach in the schools they coach in. The demise of the annual summer pro league at St. Cecilia. 'It's a shame what is going on here,' said Jalen Rose, who played at Detroit Southwestern and the University of Michigan before embarking on a 13-season NBA career that ended in 2007."