- Al Jefferson was very blunt about his shortcomings as a defender and someone who used to be known as a “black hole” on offense, from Zach Lowe of Grantland: “In the meantime, Clifford, a defense-first guy, faces the challenge of repairing a sieve that now features Jefferson at center. Jefferson’s teams have always failed on defense, and the big man knows his issues against the pick-and-roll have often driven those struggles. He’s a bit plodding in space, and has struggled badly to corral opposing point guards. “It ain’t no secret around the league that I struggle with my defense,” Jefferson says. “My pick-and-roll defense is my weakness. And that’s mind over matter. I just gotta suck it up, get my ass out there, and do it.”… He also says he is past the point of wanting to dominate the ball, a maturation he credits to his time with the Jazz. “They used to call me The Black Hole, and that’s really who I was,” Jefferson says. “But going to Utah just matured me in so many ways. I’m past the stage in my career where I feel like I have to take all the shots.”
- Brook Lopez talked about his foot surgery and how he has been progressing, from Tim Bontemps of New York Post: “For the third time in less than two years, he needed surgery on his right foot, this time to replace a screw inserted in an earlier procedure that had bent. “I think I was more disappointed than anything,” Lopez told The Post yesterday. “I wasn’t concerned. I was disappointed, but it was best to do it when we did it, in the week after the season, to give myself the most time to get back in shape and to get ready for the season.”… After having the surgery in May, the 7-footer recently was able to shed his walking boot and resume workouts. He said he’s on track to be ready by the time the Nets reconvene for training camp in late September. “I feel great,” Lopez said. “I have been getting in some weight lifting, getting shots up and everything is going well. “I’m not fully working out. I’m not jumping or running or anything like that, but we have a good month-and-a-half just until training camp starts, so we’ll definitely be all right by then.”
- Hakeem Olajuwon shared his excitement of having the opportunity to teach Dwight Howard, from Jason Friedman of Rockets.com: “…they come equipped with a wealth of knowledge and experience so encyclopedic and expansive that even Olajuwon himself appeared somewhat awestruck by what had just taken place on an otherwise uneventful Monday afternoon. “Standing there with Coach McHale, for me as a big guy, it was incredible to listen to what he was teaching and to see the look in his eyes, realizing his basketball IQ and understanding of the game,” Olajuwon said. “I was just thinking, ‘Wow, how lucky (Howard) is to be with two Hall of Famers, adding true value to his development.’ “As good as he is right now, he’s still very raw. But he has all the tools so I’m like a kid in a candy store. That’s why we give him the fundamentals of these moves. There’s a rhythm. And once he sees it, then it’s easier to emulate and then incorporate with power. He has the power. Now we’re adding finesse to the power. “The best big men in the game – they’re game-changers. That’s what he is. And he’s in the right situation where the coach understands it, he demands it, and Dwight can give it.”
- Howard says he wants to be held accountable by his coach and teammates, from Friedman: “I just feel like having guys like Hakeem and Kevin McHale on my side, I can’t lose,” he says. “They’re going to really stay on me and that’s what I want. I want Coach to hold me accountable. I want my teammates to hold me accountable and to push me which in turn will make everybody better because I’m going to push these guys the same way they’re pushing me. “Everything Hakeem has done has been positive and geared toward helping me grow. He told me, ‘I see something in you.’ He wants me to dominate. So this is it. This is the right place for me. This was about putting myself in the opportunity to win and to make myself the best player I can be.”
- Amare Stoudemire will be a judge for Miss America pageant, according to The AP: “Former ‘N Sync singer Lance Bass and New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire (ah-MAR’-ay STOW’-duh-my-ur) highlight the list of judges for next month’s Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. Joining them will be Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell; comedian and performer Mario Cantone; and Barbara Corcoran, an investor from ABC’s entrepreneurial competition show “Shark Tank.” Also on the panel are Carla Hall, co-host of ABC’s food-and-talk show “The Chew,” and Deidre Downs Gunn, an obstetrician and gynecologist who was the last Miss America to be crowned in Atlantic City. Pageant officials announced the list of judges Tuesday. The pageant will be broadcast live from Boardwalk Hall on Sept. 15. It had been held in Las Vegas the past six years before returning to New Jersey.
- In this Grantland interview with Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose, Kevin Durant and James Harden talked about being separated. Durant also called Harden the best guard in the league:
- Kobe Bryant got competitive with his chopsticks on an Asian talk show:
James Park is the chief blogger of Sheridan Hoops. You can find him on twitter @SheridanBlog.