Tuesday, October 15, 2013
First Cup: Tuesday
By Nick Borges
- Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: Roughly a year ago, Derrick Rose's television ad titled "The Return" made its debut. The Adidas spot began with Rose's knee injury, then showed a disappointed city of Chicago coming back to life as he went through rehab. The commercial ended with Rose running out of the tunnel at the United Center, foreshadowing a triumphant return. Watching a year ago, most Bulls fans probably didn't imagine Rose's actual return happening at a preseason game against Detroit on Oct. 16, 2013. But that appears to be the reality. Considering the ad surely heightened expectations that he would return last season and probably increased the disappointment when he didn't, any regrets? "Not at all. I think it was a great commercial," Rose said Monday at the Berto Center. "I wouldn't take it back for anything. I tried my hardest to get back on the court. Every practice, I was really trying to push myself to get back on the floor as quick as possible. It just didn't happen last year. I have to worry about my health. That was the No. 1 issue. This year I hope that commercial comes true where I brighten everybody's day and everybody will be tuned in."
- Walter Villa special to The Miami Herald: Greg Oden, a talented yet oft-injured center who has not played an NBA game since Dec. 9, 2009, was acquired by the Heat as a free agent on Aug. 7, signing a one-year contract. He has yet to play an exhibition game this preseason, but he did scrimmage with Miami on Monday, going up against the MVP, LeBron James. … James said it would have been “very tough” for him to go four years without being healthy enough to play basketball, which is what Oden, 25, has endured since 2009. … James talked about competing with Oden in Monday’s practice and also had some detailed memories of when they used to match up on rival teams. … For now, Oden said blocked shots or other stats don’t matter. “The main goal is to wake up [Tuesday] and make sure the swelling’s down,” he said. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Oden is “making progress” health-wise and added that all 20 of his players will travel to Tuesday’s game at the Washington Wizards. Don’t count on seeing Oden in the game, however. “I would love to,” he said. “But we’re taking it slow, so probably not.”
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: Maybe it’s because it’s the preseason. Maybe it’s because players of consequence will be seeing limited playing time. Or maybe they’re just holding back a little. But Jeff Green and Brandon Bass said yesterday there will be no special feeling when they take on the Nets tonight for the first time since the offseason rebuilding trade that sent away Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. “I’m just looking forward to this game,” said Green of the exhibition affair in Brooklyn. “I haven’t really thought about individuals, playing against them two. I mean, they’ve got a great team. We’ve just got to come ready to play.” … New coach Brad Stevens has even less to bind him to Pierce and Garnett. “I don’t know those guys other than that I’m a fan from afar — and certainly, being around this organization, thankful for what they did and what they brought to Boston,” he said following yesterday’s practice. … On the other side of the coin, Gerald Wallace won’t have any additional incentive when he plays the team that dealt him away. “Nah,” he said. “I got like four former teams, so it ain’t no motivation for me.”
- Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: In a nation of 1.3 billion people, it's easy to find Kobe Bryant. Just look for the big group of security guards. Bryant is almost too popular here to leave the Lakers' five-star hotel in the Chinese capital. "It's harder for me to walk around here than it is in the [United] States," he said. "In the States, you get a lot of recognition — 'hi,' and they want autographs and pictures and so forth and so on. Out here, it's uncontrollable. They really rush you and surround you and then it becomes something where you can't go out." Even local media types get aggressive. Several times at Monday's Lakers practice, ever-encroaching broadcasters and reporters were told to get off a stage where Bryant was doing a handful of one-on-one interviews. Security guards eventually had to hold hands and form a ring around him. The scrum easily surpassed what he'd face on a day of practice during the NBA Finals.
- Brian Lewis of the New York Post: Iman Shumpert is generating some buzz at Knicks camp. Shumpert’s trademark flattop was conspicuously missing Monday after he had his hair cut short, back to the style he wore during his rookie season. Asked why, he smiled and said, “Check my Twitter, check my Instagram. … I’m gonna release a video. I had a video getting the whole haircut and everything. I’ll release it soon.”
- Ben Standig of CSN Washington: The Wizards aren't sneaking up on teams this season seeing as projections from Vegas and across the league have them squarely in the postseason hunt. Perhaps John Wall knows there is no point in running away from the playoff chatter. At least that's one explanation for the point guard's plans on scribbling "playoffs" on his shoes for all 82 games this season. “You will see it on all my shoes,” Wall said last week to Bleacher Report's Howard Beck. “Every game pair is going to have `playoffs’ on it. That’s my main determination.” Now the intrigue comes in how will "playoffs" appear on the shoes. Marker? Embroidered? If written, basic block format or fancy lettering. Happy faces inside the "o" perhaps? Questions will be asked.
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: Having Rasheed Wallace’s voice in your head while taking free throws doesn’t seem like the type of anecdote that yields positive results, but Andre Drummond’s improvement can be traced to Wallace’s “three points” of emphasis. Drummond is guarding those tips given by the Pistons’ new assistant coach as a precious commodity. “It’s a little thing me and him came up with to help me focus when I get to the line,” Drummond said. “I can’t tell you that. That’s between he and I.” Whatever it is, it’s working, considering the player who shot 39 percent during his rookie year is shooting 75 percent through three preseason games. “It shows I’ve been in here day in and day out, working hard on different mechanics, taking time on my shot and getting it over the rim,” said Drummond, who’s averaging 17.6 points and 8.6 rebounds. Considering his free-throw attempts often went wide left or wide right last season, “getting it over the rim” is probably his biggest focus. Instead of swishing it, it usually nicks the front rim and bounces in softly, showing the amount of touch a 280-pound center possesses.
- Mike Tokito of The Oregonian: With a slew of injuries in training camp, the Trail Blazers are still trying to incorporate all the pieces they have added to their altered lineup. This week could see the introduction of a key one: Dorell Wright. Wright has been missing in action since dislocating his right middle finger in practice Oct. 4. It was the second time in about a week he popped the finger out of its socket, having also done so in a workout just before training camp. Wright played in the Blazers’ Fan Fest scrimmage on Oct. 6, but after shooting 1 for 7 and struggling with the finger, was kept out of practice for much of last week, and he did not play in any of the first three preseason games. “It’s getting better,” Wright said after practice Monday. “This is a process. When you’re dealing with something like this, you just have to stay on top of it, get the right treatment.” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said that if Wright is cleared to play, he intends get the forward into Wednesday’s preseason game at Utah.
- Neil Best of Newsday: There are 10 days to get the final touches in place before the Knicks host the Bobcats in a preseason game Oct. 25, followed by the Rangers' home opener against the Canadiens on Oct. 28. And though there are plenty of touches to complete -- more on that later -- the one that has generated the most interest by far is the "Chase Bridges," pictures of which the Garden made public for the first time yesterday. They reveal a pair of gleaming glass-walled structures suspended from the ceiling on the north and south ends of the arena, each 233 feet long and 22 feet wide, seating a combined 430 fans plus media, including TV announcers for hockey. The Garden is not yet offering the seats as full-season ticket plans. They are being sold as partial-season plans for $130 to $150 per game and $110 for individual games, most of which sold quickly sight unseen. The most common misconception about the bridges is that they overhang the playing surface. In fact, they are over other seating areas but are designed not to interfere with the views of fans in the upper bowl.
- Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: Rather than rely on snail mail or fax machines to do their business, they dispatched an intern to Argentina this summer to personally deliver Manu Ginobili’s contract for signing. (They did the same with his previous deal, even though Ginobili was on his honeymoon.) But even the best-laid plans can go awry, as the New York Times explained in the latest story on the Spurs’ success with foreign players. While that topic might not be new, the details of how Manu’s contract went missing certainly are. Hours before the Spurs’ intern was to fly home from Buenos Aires, team officials said that he was strafed by a bird in a park. As he tidied up at a fountain, his backpack disappeared. Inside were Ginobili’s signed contract, along with the intern’s passport, cellphone and laptop.Luckily, an international sports crisis was averted. An assistant traveling to Buenos Aires soon after brought a fresh contract and returned it to Texas without incident.“No birds got to him,” Sean Marks, the Spurs’ director of basketball operations, said with a laugh. “We were all waiting for Manu’s contract to show up on eBay. It hasn’t yet.”Not a whole lot else new for veteran Spurs watchers, who already know how far ahead of the curve the Spurs have been in terms of scouting and developing talent from overseas. (Fun fact: CSKA Moscow had as many U.S.-born players on their roster — four — as the Spurs in last week’s exhibition matchup.)
- Gardner Harris of The New York Times: Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck’s final basket was just one of 17 she made in a friendly game of basketball last month with nine other women. Basketball may be a street game in the United States, but it is the game of kings and queens in Bhutan. Indeed, the 23-year-old queen, who plays almost every day, is surprisingly good. The royal set shot is as sweet as honeyed ghee, and the royal dribble as poised as a monk in meditation. Her statistics in that game were like those of an N.B.A. star: 34 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists. (Perhaps it helped that the Bhutanese custom forbidding citizens from touching a royal without an invitation seems to extend to the basketball court.) “If I had known you’d be counting, I would have played harder,” she said with a laugh. The queen’s husband, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, his brother and two half-brothers also play regularly. But after decades of being a largely royal preserve, basketball here is about to have its breakout moment. A South Korean coach has been hired to cobble together a national team that many hope will someday be able to challenge its neighbors for bragging rights in South Asia and beyond. Bhutan has tried many times to win an international game but, except for a single victory in a three-on-three tournament, has never succeeded.
- Iliana Limon Romero of the Orlando Sentinel: Former Magic guard Chris Duhon was injured during a hit-and-run incident Saturday at a downtown Orlando parking garage, according to an Orlando police report. Duhon and his brother-in-law, Julio Hernandez, were walking through the Plaza parking garage when an unidentified man driving a black Lexus honked at them to get out of the way of his vehicle. Hernandez told police Duhon and the driver shouted at each other, then the driver pointed his Lexus toward the men. Hernandez told officers he jumped out of the way, but Duhon was hit and slammed his head against the windshield. The driver of the Lexus left the scene. Duhon was taken to an Orlando hospital for treatment and told officers he could not recall the incident. When he was informed about the cause of his injuries, Duhon told officers he wanted to press charges. Police are searching for the driver of the vehicle. Duhon was waived by the Lakers in June and is not currently on a NBA roster.