Tuesday, October 18, 2011
First Cup: Tuesday
- Richard Sandomir of The New York Times: "To some degree, Derek Fisher’s active role is similar to the path carved by Gene Upshaw, the Oakland Raiders offensive lineman who took over as the executive director of the National Football League Players Association after his retirement. But in the recent N.F.L. lockout, Upshaw’s successor, DeMaurice Smith, a lawyer, was the outspoken leader. In contrast, Fisher is the one out front in these talks, dealing with what the former N.B.A. union president Isiah Thomas describes as a mental and a physical challenge in confronting the experienced Stern. Adam Silver, the deputy commissioner of the N.B.A., praised Fisher’s preparation and ability to stay calm during the talks. 'In the well over 30 bargaining sessions, I cannot remember a single incident where he raised his voice,' Silver said. 'And, just a reminder — David Stern is in the room.' Fisher, in turn, sounds as if he may want to push past the usual tactfulness when he discusses Stern, a forceful personality in every facet of the job he has held since 1984. 'He’s a very smart man, but he and I have chosen to handle this negotiation very differently,' Fisher said. 'He’s trying to be strategic, bold, spin things to favor the owners. While he chooses to do that, I, along with the players, will stay the course.' "
- Alan Hahn of Newsday: "The league is scheduled to hold a Board of Governors meeting Wednesday and Thursday, during which time Stern said a new revenue-sharing plan -- one of the many issues in collective bargaining -- will be presented for approval. But if there remains no progress with the union after Tuesday, these meetings with the owners also may involve a decision to cancel more regular-season games -- perhaps as many as two months."
- Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Seriously, Jerry West's revelations are the most real NBA 'news' we've had in a long time with the NBA on lockout lockdown. It has been BRI this, revenue-sharing that, Kobe flirting with Italians and LeBron trying to make nice with Ohioans. Instead of gearing up for their collision course en route to the 2012 NBA Finals – and we saw how fun it was in 2010 with the Lakers and Celtics to have the two best teams both deeply motivated to take it – the Lakers and Heat don't exist at all yet. This is how ridiculous this alternate NBA universe is: Lakers broadcaster Mychal Thompson technically can't comment about the start of son Klay's career being delayed by the lockout. Mychal is a Lakers employee – and Lakers employees are not allowed by the league to talk about the lockout or current NBA players! Meanwhile, the players' exhibitions being put on are such weak stuff. With the stigma of NBA players not really trying until the fourth quarter or the playoffs, do we really need to see more NBA players out there just for show and not really trying? Playing fake games with fake context makes for a doubly shallow pursuit."
- Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News: "The Kobe Bryant of mediators will attempt to do something Tuesday that NBA owners and players have failed to accomplish in more than two years of negotiating. Get the two sides to strike a deal. Federal mediator George Cohen will meet with the warring parties in Manhattan. It's the first bargaining session in eight days, after talks broke off over major differences in the 'system' issues and commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the season. ... 'What George will do is listen carefully to the parties bitch and moan about their economic lives, but hopefully hear something which may present an opening for compromise,' said Roger Abrams, a mediator and Northeastern University law professor who calls Cohen 'the superstar of our profession.' "
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "Oh, so this is what a game of multimillion dollar chicken looks like. Heading into today’s attempt by a federal mediator to bring the NBA and its players toward a collective bargaining agreement, we have each side essentially tossing rocks through the other’s window with notes that read, 'You don’t want any of this.' And it’s not so much what one will do to the other, it’s what each will cost the other. The league will cost the players millions by keeping the doors locked. The players will cost some franchises millions by refusing a new deal. The poorer franchises will lose less by not playing. And overall, the players are saying the NBA will do itself irreparable harm by shelving its product for weeks, months or the season. ... Away from the posturing and the intellectual strength of their position, the players have to privately know they will take a hit and there’s nothing much they can do about it. At a certain point, they’re going to want to leave the chicken to the Red Sox and go back to their finer dining."
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "Dwight Howard finally said out loud what Orlando Magic fans have feared for a long time: Playing for a big-market franchise could appeal to him if he becomes a free agent next summer. In an Esquire magazine interview released Monday, the All-NBA center said he doesn't know whether he'll choose to leave the Magic. But he did acknowledge that he's 'stuck in a tough position' and that he 'can't live for everybody else.' Howard was asked whether he sees himself playing in a much larger market and whether his decision will be influenced by his drive to become an icon and make the world a better place. 'There's more you can do in a bigger place,' Howard answered, according to Esquire. 'I'm stuck in a tough position because I feel like right now, where I'm at, I've done so much. And I just don't know what else I can do. I can't live for everybody else. I don't know what decision I'm gonna make as of right now. It's been crazy. Everybody wants me to come here, come play here, come to our team, do this. It's a great feeling, though, to be wanted.' "
- Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: "Cavaliers swingman Omri Casspi, according to reports in Israel, has been negotiating with powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv. But as of Monday night no deal was in place, sources told the Plain Dealer, and that the club might not want to tinker with its chemistry. There's little question some Israeli teams would love to sign Casspi during the NBA lockout, but they lack of money to make a deal. He is the only Israeli-born player in the league. ... Maccabi, which has won 49 domestic titles and five European championships, has virtually sold all its tickets and doesn't need the added exposure that Casspi would generate, according to the Ma'ari Sports Newspaper. The newspaper contacted three other Israeli sides that have been mentioned as possible candidates. Two lack the money. Meanwhile, a team source told Ma'avi that Hapoel Gilboa-Galil would 'be happy to see Omri here, but there's no negotiations right now.' "
- Kate Fagan of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "The 76ers will introduce their new ownership group during a news conference on Tuesday at the Palestra, an NBA source confirmed. The Sixers issued a release for a 'major announcement' late on Monday, but the release did not specify the nature of the announcement. At the end of last week, the NBA approved Comcast-Spectacor's sale of the Sixers to a group of investors led by New York billionaire Joshua Harris; at that time, the news conference was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday. Tuesday's news conference will be the first time the new ownership group - which includes Harris, David Blitzer, Art Wrubel, and Jason Levien - will speak publicly about their $280 million purchase of the Sixers. The news conference is scheduled to commence at 11:30 a.m."
- Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "Few have as much to lose as Manu Ginobili in this hissing match between billionaires and millionaires. At age 34, with a reckless style that enables his brilliance but endangers his limbs, the Spurs star sees the rapid approach of retirement. He is under contract to the Spurs this season and next, at long last compensated at value commensurate with his worth. Lose this season — as David Stern hints may happen if there is no breakthrough by the end of today’s intervention by federal mediator George Cohen — and Ginobili will forfeit almost $13 million and perhaps his final chance to be part of the Spurs’ Big Three. After all, Tim Duncan, 36, has only this season remaining on his deal with the Spurs. Even with so much to lose, Ginobili’s solidarity with the union was no surprise. 'Remember this,' said Ginobili’s veteran agent, Herb Rudoy. 'Manu is the ultimate team player. He is remarkable, particularly when you see him with those Argentina guys. They all play for the collective good of their national team; Manu doesn’t care if he gets five points or 25. It’s all about team, and that’s the only way to look at him and not be surprised by his position on union solidarity. It’s part of his mentality; part of the fabric that makes him Manu Ginobili.' "
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "Although the Sixers will retain the right to match offers for Thaddeus Young, the midlevel could be one way for teams to bid for the versatile forward's services. Young finished third in voting for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award after he averaged 12.7 points and shot a career-high 54.1 percent during the regular season. 'I definitely want to go back to Philly,' Young said. 'Coach (Doug) Collins is a great coach. I had my best season under him.' It's fair to say that Young has put optimism above a cash grab. Young said he turned down a $3 million offer to play in China this season. One reason few players have signed in China is because the teams there do not offer an out clause that would allow for a return to the NBA if the lockout ends in time to have a 2011-12 season. 'I weighed it really heavily for the simple fact that it would have been a great level of competition,' Young said. 'But I thought long term instead of short term. It was just a one-year deal. I don't just want to play someplace for one year. I want a long-term deal.' "
- Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "Milwaukee Bucks forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute believes he will be playing basketball again by the end of November. But he is determined not to come back until National Basketball Association players receive what they consider a fair deal from league owners. Mbah a Moute was one of the 30 or so players who attended a meeting Friday in Los Angeles, where union president Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers updated them on the negotiations to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. 'There are still a whole lot of things that need to be worked out in the system,' Mbah a Moute said in an interview Monday. 'It's still very different from what we want.' "
- Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "Tired of reading and hearing about this NBA lockout, which has now mired on for 110 days — or about as long as one of Karl Malone's rambling rants used to last? If so, you're temporarily in luck. This article is about the current lockout's daddy (a.k.a. the 1998-99 labor mess that wiped out 32 games and denied Utah Jazz fans extra opportunities to boo referee Dick Bavetta). Thirteen years later, Jazz faithful only need to take a quick stroll through the archives to learn they'd rather history not repeat itself. Not just because the season was shortened to a brutal 50 games in under three months, which took a heavy toll on aging Jazz legs. It was those infamous rants delivered by the Mailman's mouth the last time the NBA padlocked arenas that fans might not want to relive. But they did make for interesting water-cooler discussions (and just imagine the fun tweeters would've had)."
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "The day before he suited up for yet another Goodman League charity exhibition game, John Wall was back at Big Blue Madness in Lexington, Ky., with several other Kentucky stars, including Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins and Tayshaun Prince. Wall didn’t start another YouTube dancing craze, but he did leave an impression with an enthusiastic welcome from fans and T-shirt that read, 'All Cats Every Thing.' No NBA, so it’s All Class Every Thing. (Nick Wass - AP) “It was great,” Wall said of being back on campus in Lexington, where the Wildcats are expected to be among the favorites to win the national title in the upcoming season. 'They got a talented team and hopefully they can win a championship.' Since the NBA has been taken away from him for the time being, Wall has had to find other ways to occupy his time. He recently left Los Angeles and is alternating between Washington and Lexington, where he has accepted Kentucky Coach John Calipari’s invitation to train during the lockout."
- Staff of the Detroit Free Press: "Pistons forward Austin Daye may be out of the country, but he's still following Detroit sports and weighing in on Twitter. Daye, who is playing for the Russian basketball team BC Khimki, has tweeted that he's 'missin that Detroit Love' and mentioned playoffs for the Tigers, Lions, Red Wings and Pistons. He's also tweeting about his Russian experiences. Here are a few tweets: 'Just got back from seeing Red Square in Moscow Russian what an experience!!!' -- 'Finally got free wifi @ my favorite restaurant in Moscow.' -- 'No ESPN in Russia is #Terrible #fact.' "
- Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "Michael Jordan’s celebrated will to win helped spark his Chicago Bulls teams to six NBA championships during his playing career. His Charlotte Bobcats haven’t been nearly as successful since he took over as a member of the moribund team’s ownership group. It’s a little harder to connect with players from the luxury box or courtside seat than it is the bench. And indication of Jordan’s legendary competitive zeal apparently rubbed off on former President Bill Clinton. During a recent golf game, a challenge from 'His Airness' helped lead Clinton to one of his better recent outings. Jordan coaxed him from the white tees to the championship tees by saying, 'You’re going to play from the little girls’ tee?,' Clinton told the Wall Street Journal. Jordan’s challenge was for Clinton to break 100, which the former president accomplished. With direction like that, imagine what Jordan could do from the bench with young Charlotte players like D.J. Augustin, Tyrus Thomas and Bismack Biyombo. Maybe he should be coaching?"
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Kevin Durant's All-Star exhibition game is approaching a sellout. And it took just five hours to get there after tickets went on sale at noon Monday. According to Brad Lund of Sold Out Strategies, the company organizing the event, 9,215 tickets had been sold for Sunday's US Fleet Tracking Basketball Invitational as of 5 p.m. on Monday. Capacity for the game, which will be held inside the Cox Convention Center, is projected to be 13,400. ... Confirmed players who will join Durant in Oklahoma City will be former Oklahoma standout Blake Griffin, Miami star LeBron James, New Orleans guard Chris Paul, New York forwards Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, Memphis forward Rudy Gay, Washington guard John Wall, former Thunder forward Jeff Green and Thunder guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden."
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Amid the NBA lockout, few things are back and white. There is an exception, though it took the release of a video game to make that apparent. Included in the release of NBA 2K12 is an alternate-jersey option for the Heat, one never before worn in game action by the team, but one that has been confirmed will be part of the rotation should the 2011-12 season eventually get under way. The jersey, a stark black-and-white offering that was utilized on the team's 2010-11 poster, will be used only for a few, select games, with the traditional black and the alternate red uniforms to remain the staples beyond the home whites."