*The sad news of the moment is that Wayman Tisdale, the popular former King, had a portion of his right leg amputated Monday in a continuing battle with cancer. The good news is that he's apparently still Tisdale, an indomitable spirit seemingly surrounded in joy and deep faith. The warming personality was impossible to miss when I sat down with him for an April feature on pressing forward in the face of adversity. The humorous part of the very serious topic was Tisdale saying that if he could survive Bob Knight in the 1984 Olympics, he could survive this fight: "That's what I think about a lot. I didn't think I could push through that. Had I quit then, I probably would have quit now. But I remember the punishment I put myself through then. C'mon, man. If I can handle that, I can do this." Tisdale has a guest book at his site.
*If USA Basketball had its desired outcome with the Redeem Team in the just completed Olympics, reclaiming its traditional spot atop the medal platform while avoiding the Ugly American rap that had become too common, the journey was particularly valuable for the image of Kobe Bryant. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times chronicles the off-court achievement on the road to victory in Beijing. Notes Plaschke: "The Beijing Olympics may initially be known for Michael Phelps' strength and Usain Bolt's speed, but, among American sports fans, no memory will prove as indelible as Kobe Bryant's redemption."
*Jonathan Feigen, the veteran Rockets beat writer for the Houston Chronicle, puts the Ron Artest trade in perspective against the other major deals in recent franchise history. He ranks that move sixth, with good reason. Most transactions he puts higher either led to a championship or included a future Hall of Famer. The history of blockbusters there is amazing. If Artest has a key role in a deep playoff run, the order can be revised.
*The rest of the world really is catching up to the NBA. A writer for a European web site just determined one of the factors of the Team USA win in the Olympics: the referees. Naturally.
*Good reminder from Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated on the major offseason story everyone forgets: Jermaine O'Neal to the Raptors. If O'Neal returns to his old form, Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon continue at their current one, and role players like Jason Kapono, Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker contribute, Toronto will have a vote in the Eastern Conference outcome. If O'Neal remains a frustration of injuries, the Raptors will merely be stuck with a bad contract. As Thomsen writes, O'Neal was working hard in the United States while most NBA eyes were focused on Beijing.