Monday, August 15, 2011
First Cup: Monday
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "Kendrick Perkins was arrested early Saturday morning. The sight of the Thunder center's name splattered throughout a police report is all the evidence we need to know there is a problem. Still, the more troubling tidbit that came out of Southeast Texas was Perkins reportedly collapsing Thursday night. According to reports, Perkins was at a house party and suffered a seizure. He collapsed and fell on the concrete. Local authorities were called. Perkins was taken to the hospital where he was treated and released. A spokesman for Oklahoma City's scowling enforcer said he was dehydrated. Who knows if that's the real story? It all seems sketchy. The whole ordeal, however, has dealt Oklahoma City a harsh reminder of one thing. This NBA lockout isn't good for anybody. Not the fans. Not the arena employees. Not the league, its owners or their television partners. But above all, this lockout, which is now in Day 46, is increasingly endangering the players and leaving the teams for which they play powerless to help. That's quickly becoming the most worrisome side effect to this labor dispute."
- Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: "Clearly, Perkins' altar boy status was gone long ago, but that's because of his on-court persona. He has never been a guy who's had run-ins with the law or gotten his name on the police blotter. His bad-boy image has been all about his style of play, and frankly, the Thunder is OK with that. This is a team that needs the grittiness and the nasty that Perkins brings to the court. He can be a hothead. But a knucklehead? There has never been a time when Perk seemed like a goober. Truth be told, he's one of the more thoughtful, intelligent interviews on the team. He sees situations for what they are, then he tells it like it is. I'm going to follow his lead. Perk acted like a bonehead this weekend. The Thunder expect better from him. Ditto for Oklahoma City."
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "Kevin Durant signed every autograph, posed for every picture, and smiled at every kid that approached him after he finished scoring 44 points and handed out the game-winning assist in a Goodman League victory at Spingarn High School, where NBA Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor and Dave Bing once starred. Most in attendance probably couldn’t afford the hundreds of dollars that it would cost to sit this closely to watch Durant play at Verizon Center, but this is the way the 22-year-old District native can give the people what they want, and can rarely get, for free, at least. 'I just want to hoop,' Durant said Saturday. 'I do it for everybody back here that really don’t get a chance to see me that much. I just want to break the barrier. A lot of NBA players don’t do it as often as I do it now, before. Guys may come, play one or two games, but I play all summer, so I just want to break the barrier, show them that I’m regular.' .. Durant was feeling good about the show he provided for the fans, but when he heard that Sacramento Kings forward Donte Greene had scored 51 points in three quarters shortly before he stepped into the gym, he said, 'I’ve got to step my game up.' As he walked out of the gym, backpack again strapped to his shoulders, Durant was stripped down and shirtless, revealing the tattoos that adorn his torso and are never spotted underneath his Thunder uniform. He was in his element, at home, hooping."
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: "If you ever read Dwight Howard's interactions with fans on Twitter, you'll notice he will answer almost anything — even hateful messages from anonymous posters trying to upset or offend him. ... Howard has defended himself when someone questioned his skills or place among the best players in the NBA. Whenever a follower asks him where he's going next summer, Howard will publicly reprimand the message. One Twitter follower recently asked Howard to take a pay cut and to stop being selfish regarding the lockout. Howard politely responded, 'I put in too much work to settle for anything.' In this age, in which athletes are more guarded than ever, it's refreshing when an athlete isn't afraid to express his or her opinions. 'I'm not going to stop,' Howard said. 'I'm going to keep being me.' "
- Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times: "Recently, The Times caught up with Andrew Bynum, who was dripping with sweat at 9 a.m. after an extended workout in Hollywood with Alex Ariza, the conditioning coach for boxing champions Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan and some celebrities. Bynum discussed the Lakers 2010-11 season, his effort to return stronger, the NBA lockout and rumors about his being traded. ... Q: How have you endured speculation you'll be traded, or replaced next year by free agent Dwight Howard? A: It's good to know everybody wants me; that means I'll be in this game for some time. I like L.A., and don't want to go anywhere else. It'd be good to stay in one place your whole career, and the Lakers are the most storied franchise in the league, everyone knows who the Lakers are, and I appreciate the Lakers' love. Q: It sounds as if you've resolved to make fans forget how this last season ended? A: I want to be the best player I can be. Having some successes, but not having them talked about, or having them overshadowed by other things … I'm past that. It's all about winning championships. Working hard is the most important thing. People remember you only if you win. Period."
- Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "Maccabi Tel Aviv co-cowner David Federman said in an interview on Israeli radio on Sunday that Cavaliers forward Omri Casspi has entered into discussions to play with Maccabi Tel Aviv during the NBA lockout, although Casspi would be able to return to the Cavs immediately if the NBA and its players association reach an agreement. A source close to Casspi, who suffered a minor knee injury last week in training with the Israeli national team that could keep him out of the upcoming European championships, said the discussions were preliminary at this point and that nothing had been finalized."
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Marcin Gortat said 'a little hope' remains that he will get his insurance issue resolved but it is doubtful. Gortat wanted an insurance policy that covered two of his three remaining contract years should he suffer an injury, during international play and the lockout, that would cause the Suns to void his contract. The European Championship starts Aug. 31. ... The lockout could not be worse career timing for Gortat after his breakthrough half-season with Phoenix. He was about to have his first season as an every-day starting center but now has the lockout slowing his momentum. 'This is a big step in my career,' Gortat said. Gortat said he will return to his home in Orlando soon and will call Steve Nash and Grant Hill to see if the Suns will organize any workouts for September, when they usually would have been gathering for informal workouts at US Airways Center in Phoenix."
- Jake Appleman of the The New York Times: "James L. Dolan, the owner of the Knicks and the lead singer of the blues band the Straight Shot, took the stage at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Bowl on Sunday night. Unlike most events there, this concert was free — interesting, because revenue sharing will affect the N.B.A.’s next collective bargaining agreement. The sight of a league owner strutting on a stage during what could be a long labor struggle was one to behold. The correlation between the current financial squabbling between players and owners and much of Dolan’s spending over the past decade rendered the reality of a free concert all the more fascinating. The low-key atmosphere before the show was hardly befitting of Madison Square Garden’s executive chairman. Children played tag on the dance floor while adults relaxed around a bar that offered six varieties of beer from Brooklyn Brewery as Dolan, wearing a black shirt and blue jeans, strummed his guitar in relative anonymity."
- Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: "Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob confirmed today that his promised total reconstruction of the franchise’s business side has begun. In recent days, Lacob has, in his words, 'relieved' most of the team’s existing VP- and senior-VP-level business-side executives. (He already re-did his basketball side with Jerry West, Bob Myers, Kirk Lacob & Mark Jackson.) Basically, including team president Robert Rowell, most of the senior business side executives Lacob and Peter Guber inherited in November are now out. The only exceptions: The top staffers in the sales department."
- Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "I cringed earlier this month when Billy Hunter, in an interview, said if he 'had to bet on it,' he would wager that the entire 2011-12 season will be lost. Thanks, Billy. Guess he figures he is putting pressure on the owners with the comment and the threat that the players will decertify the union. I don’t think so. Many of the owners seem resolved to cancel the season and lose less money, unless the players will recede considerably from the offer that is on the table. This is all a shame, since the NBA enjoyed one of its best seasons ever in 2010-11 in terms of popularity and fan involvement. ... I do know this. The average salary for an NBA player last year was $5.15 million. That’s obscene – even considering that an average career in less than four years. And that the majority of players are in the $1 million to $4 million range. And while it’s hard to have much sympathy for owners, they hold all the cards in this standoff. The players can’t win."
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "The timing of this past week's inductions in the wake of Yao Ming's recent retirement has raised question about the center's credentials to enter the Hall as a player, in addition to the 'contributor' designation that seems impending. It is a worthwhile debate, considering Yao's NBA career ultimately spanned only eight seasons and 486 regular-season games. And yet, if such a sample size is enough to at least be entertained for enshrinement in the player wing, then it opens a concurrent debate, namely the potential candidacy of former Heat center Alonzo Mourning, who has been considered a borderline candidate since his forced retirement midway through 2007-08 due to a knee injury. In his 15-season NBA career that included 838 regular-season games, Mourning averaged 17.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots, compared to Yao's averages of 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots. ... The metrics utilized by the website BaskeballReference.com have Mourning coming up slightly short of Hall selection, with Yao not included in the rankings because of his lack of sufficient NBA appearances. It, ultimately, is a debate that shouldn't be a debate at all. Yes, their NBA time was brief, but their contributions transcend hardwood and leather."
- Kirkland Crawford of the Detroit Free Press: "Dennis Rodman's induction over the weekend into the Basketball Hall of Fame brings the championship Bad Boys total in Springfield, Mass., to five. Rodman joined coach Chuck Daly (Class of 1994), guard Isiah Thomas (2000), guard Joe Dumars ('06) and owner Bill Davidson ('08). One final Bad Boy could be enshrined: Mark Aguirre. Plenty of basketball pundits like to tout his hall credentials. Aguirre joined the Bad Boys in the famed Adrian Dantley trade midway through the Pistons' first championship season (1988-89). He started 32 of his 36 games and averaged 15.5 points and 4.2 rebounds. In the playoffs, he shot 48.9%, played 27.2 minutes and contributed 12.6 points and 4.4 rebounds."
- Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: "Vlade Divac has been retired for six years. That's long enough. Frankly, the former Kings center should have been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame when he became eligible a year ago. The reasons? Take a seat. This could take awhile. His contributions to the international game. His influence on the Kings. His peacemaking attempts in the Balkans. His immense personality. His tireless charitable and humanitarian efforts, particularly those in Africa and on behalf of children affected by the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. And let's not forget his marvelous basketball skills. ... Watching the 2011 ceremonies Friday honoring, among others, Dennis Rodman, Chris Mullin, Tex Winter, Teresa Edwards, Tara VanDerveer and Arvydas Sabonis, the massive, magnificent Lithuanian center who was 31 years old and crippled by Achilles' tendon injuries by the time he joined the Portland Trail Blazers, reinforced the notion that, in terms of significance to his chosen sport, Divac deserves his place at the podium."
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "John Starks went from bagging groceries to a 13-year NBA career. ... On Tuesday, the Tulsa native will be enshrined into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. It's a somewhat fitting conclusion to a career that began as unpredictable as can be before quickly becoming ultrasuccessful. Known for his toughness and perimeter shooting, Starks clawed his way into the NBA as an undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma State in 1988. He played for Golden State, New York, Chicago and Utah, scoring 10,829 points and being named an All-Star in 1994. It was with the Knicks that Starks made a name for himself. The 6-foot-3 guard, who turned 46 last Wednesday, scored 8,489 points in over eight seasons as a Knick and established himself as one of the game's most tenacious and emotional players. His teammates said his fiery attitude stemmed from a strong desire to win."