NBA Essentials: The Google Maps Cup

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NBA Essentials ranks our six favorite stories of the day.

1. Bend It Like Bennett. The Thunder are selling "rivalry packs" of tickets focused on the old war with Portland: "The Portland Trailblazers and Oklahoma City Thunder will continue to duke it out for Northwest* supremacy, but perhaps we need to give this series a new name. We could call it the 'I-84 to I-80 to I-25 to I-70 to I-35' Rivalry."

2. Blog-a-Bull. On the chances Ben Gordon can get paid in '09.

3. The Bratwurst. Milwaukee has some saucy looking alternate jerserys this season.

4. True Hoop. Abbott doesn't understand why people think Stephon Marbury can help anyone.

5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Salim Stoudamire has the 'fro going, and is read to hit Texas.

6. Orange County Register. Good news Lakers fans: "Andrew Bynum lay on the floor, his feet having been knocked out from beneath him on an alley oop pass during a recent pick up game. He got up immediately. No hesitation. No second thoughts. More importantly, no pain."

And one bad story of the day: The Big Lead. TBL writes about the retirement of the "reliable yet oft-injured" Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Reliable. Oft-injured. Reliable. Oft-injured. Something. Doesn't. Add. Up. (It's the "oft-injured" part. And the part where he blames Reef for not getting enough wins, man. Damn you, Shareef! Why didn't you ever want to win?! Can't you for once help your team try to win?!?!) For the record, until last season, Abdur-Rahim played in 94% of all possible regular season games.

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