Tuesday, August 2, 2011
First Cup: Tuesday
- Joseph Staszewski of the New York Post: "Kevin Durant’s performance created an evening for the ages at Rucker Park. 'Some nights are very special,' DC Power guard Randy (White Chocolate) Gill said. 'This is going down as one of those special nights.' The Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star shook off a slow start and poured in an astounding 66 points to lead DC Power to a 99-93 win over the Sean Bell All-Stars in front of a standing-room only crowd at the Entertainers Basketball Classic on Monday night at streetball’s most famous park. Durant, who led the NBA in scoring last season, connected on 9-of-11 3-pointers, including five straight from well beyond NBA range, early in the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-9 forward was mobbed on the court by fans standing along the sidelines after a fifth straight trey. 'I always wanted to play in Rucker Park all my life,' Durant said in a postgame interview with park emcee Hannibal. The performance was one of the best ever at the Rucker. Streetball legend Joe (The Destroyer) Hammond still holds the park record with 74 points and Steve Burtt Jr., set the EBC mark of 68 back in 2007."
- Kevin Durant via Twitter: "No lie, jus had one of the best times of my life at Rucker park..wow! I love NY... Harlem waddup"
- DeMar DeRozan via Twitter: "NBA players: we taking over every gym, summer league, recreation park, YMCA, etc since it's a lockout. Coming to a city near you!"
- Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: "All indications are that yesterday’s first full negotiating session between the NBA owners and the Players Association in a month exemplified nothing more than the two sides are worlds apart with little hope of progress. Commissioner David Stern came away from the session in Manhattan discouraged and questioning whether the players’ association is bargaining in good faith. Meanwhile, the players’ association said it is willing to continue meeting with the owners but its proposals are no different than six weeks ago. When asked whether he thought the players returned to the talks with intentions of negotiating a deal, Stern told reporters, 'I don’t feel optimistic about the players’ willingness to engage in a serious way.’ The sides agreed to schedule a meeting toward the end of the month, but unlike their NFL brethren, the NBA doesn’t have as long a period before the season could be threatened."
- Roger Mason Jr. via Twitter: "I'm praying we don't lose this season, but I'm very worried. Today's meetings resulted in no movement at all. The gap is very very wide."
- Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Sometimes, pro sports owners need to be saved from themselves. And the A.K. contract becomes a relevant example these days. Less guaranteed money is a key component of the owners’ stance regarding a new collective bargaining agreement. That might keep teams from hurting themselves in trying to help themselves, as happened with the Jazz. That’s the lesson going forward, and the reason that Jazz followers need to have the most patience of any fan base involved in this process. As illogical as it sounds, the longer the lockout lasts, the better it will be for Jazz fans. That’s unfair to them, because of the way they were cheated in 2010-11, when Jerry Sloan quit, Deron Williams was traded and the team performed poorly at EnergySolutions Arena with a 21-20 record. Yet if there’s going to be anything to cheer about in the coming years, the Jazz’s ownership and the other NBA governors need to remain strong and secure a deal with the players that will protect and even benefit small-market teams. That starts with shortening guaranteed contracts, a phenomenon that effectively ruined the Jazz’s season and set the franchise back."
- Kate Fagan of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "It's hard to gather information about Joshua Harris because, even though he's done plenty of headline-grabbing deals in the last two decades, he's rarely quoted or publicly involved. He remains in close contact with alumni relations at both Penn and Harvard, but he's never turned his immense wealth into social fame. In a very significant way, that's about to change. 'This is a big stage,' said Bippy Siegal, a good friend who has joined Harris at many Knicks games. 'You screw this up, and you open up the newspaper, and you're an idiot. I think he thrives under pressured environments. I think this is a challenge he's never had before . . . but it was a no-brainer, when he told me I was like, 'What else is new?'‘ Siegal said that he had dinner with Harris last week and that Harris was constantly on his phone: calls, texts, action. ... Siegal said Harris is consistently honest and thoughtful with all of his decisions. In this particular case, Harris and the investment group will have to assess the internal culture of the Sixers; the dynamics among current team president Rod Thorn, general manager Ed Stefanski, and coach Doug Collins; and how the potential addition of Levien to the front office could alter, or taint, those dynamics. One thing is clear: Each decision will be carefully weighed. 'He makes very, very, very good decisions,' Siegal said. 'He understands the capital structure of a business basically like nobody else in the world does: in five minutes. People like working for him. If you continually are a good, honest businessman and what you say is what you do, that's when opportunities continue to come your way.'"
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: "Detroit native Steve Smith said Pistons coach Lawrence Frank's first order of business is to wipe away the bad taste from the past two seasons. 'The best course of action is he has to come in with a clean slate,' said Smith, an analyst for NBA TV who played 14 seasons in the NBA. 'He has to give those guys a clean slate, too.' Whenever the NBA lockout ends, Smith said Frank will have to address the team, collectively and individually, to let them know what happened in the past won't be held against them, but a repeat won't be tolerated. 'Some of the problems you've heard about you do address,' Smith said. 'You listen and you don't interject.' No one knows who will be on the roster when play resumes. Will Ben Wallace retire? Will Richard Hamilton be traded? What will Tayshaun Prince do when he hits unrestricted free agency? Most expect Prince to sign with a contender, but everything will depend on the new collective bargaining agreement. 'Don't judge, but you say how you'll handle things,' Smith said of Frank's approach. 'It's the respect factor, how both will demand it from each other. It's about accountability. It's also about laying down the law.' Smith has no doubt Frank will be prepared on the court."
- Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Gordon Hayward embodies the work ethic that second-year coach Tyrone Corbin preaches, while everything from the young forward’s untouched athletic ceiling to his fresh-eyed approach when dealing with admirers provides an organization that lacks a marketable face with a potential Salt Lake City star in the making. 'He’s just a terrific person,' said agent Mark Bartlestein, who represents Hayward. 'He’s like the kid who grew up next door to you.' Hayward’s humility and kindness are refreshing. But Bartlestein said that Hayward is ultimately separated by his passion for the game that he gets paid to play. Other NBA athletes are faster, stronger and possess more innate basketball talent. But few outwork Hayward, and even fewer share his single-minded devotion to personal improvement. 'He’s very much a perfectionist,' Bartlestein said. Hayward is not a machine, though. He acknowledged that he took about a month off from the game after the Jazz’s disappointing season ended. But 30 days felt like a year, and Hayward struggled to adapt to weeks that had no start and end points. He’d been on the league’s nonstop conveyor belt since predraft workouts in 2010. Hitting the stop button was harder than he imagined. 'It was tough for me to just sit and not do anything because I’ve been doing stuff for such a long time,' Hayward said."
- Layton Shumway of the Deseret News: "The Mailman may be retired, but he's still more than willing to make a special delivery to America's armed forces. The USO has released a few photos of former Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone's tour with comedian Jon Stewart, illusionist David Blaine and Admiral Mike Mullen. The six-day, three-country tour has included stops at five different bases, including Kandahar Airfield, Forward Operating Base (FOB) Geronimo, FOB Delhi and Bagram Airfield. 'I have many friends and family members who have served (or are currently serving) in our nation's Armed Forces,' Malone said in a USO press release, 'and I have such a profound respect for what they do day in and day out. This USO tour is especially meaningful because of the friends I have met and I am honored to be a part of it.' "
- Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "The Indiana Pacers are giving season-ticket holders two options if games are missed during the 2011-12 season because of the NBA's current lockout. The Pacers, like other NBA teams, sent an email to ticket holders last month informing them of the option to accrue interest or get a refund plus interest on season packages purchased. There's a possibility the current work stoppage will cause the league to play a reduced number of games next season. Ticket holders can choose from the 'Pacers loyalty' or 'basic' option plan. The Pacers loyalty option allows ticket holders who pay in full or 'maintain their payment plan' to keep their money in their account and accrue anywhere from five to 10 percent credit in the form of interest for future use for each home game canceled. ... The basic option allows ticket holders to receive purchase price refunds plus an annual rate of 1 percent on the principal for canceled games."
- Mike Tokito of The Oregonian "Brian Grant hopes others afflicted with Parkinson's won't have to suffer in silence as Peterson did. On Sunday and Monday, the former Trail Blazers forward held his second annual Shake It Till We Make It fund-raising event. Organizers announced that this year's version had raised $500,000 to battle Parkinson's, helped by a $100,000 check a donor handed Grant at Sunday's dinner and gala at the Rose Garden. According to event organizers, the donation was made by the family of Vivian Longdon in her memory. Part of the proceeds will help the Brian Grant Foundation run a new website, poweringforward.org, where patients and caregivers can go for inspiration and information about the day-to-day challenges of living with Parkinson's. The disease is a brain disorder that saps a person's ability to control his movements, often resulting in uncontrollable shaking and tremors. 'Until the cure is found, we all have to live and deal with Parkinson's each and every day,' Grant said Monday at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, where celebrities and golfers who paid to play with them participated in the event's golf tournament."