Learning From Uncle Charlie

Maurice Cheeks spent five rain soaked innings watching the Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays Monday night. What he came away with was an appreciation for the camraderie.

''That's what I was really looking for, the electricity that was out there,'' Cheeks said. "I get chills when I look at the camraderie . . . On the screens, they showed the (Phillies) players hugging each other when they clinched to go to the World Series. All of that was about a team.

''Manuel has done such a great job of managing that team. I learned a little bit from him: When (Ryan) Howard started out slow, he stayed with him, stayed with him. In the end, Howard was one of their big guns. Even in this Series, he stayed with him . . . he hit two home runs the other day.

''The electricity of being in an atmosphere like that, I was glad some of my players went (at different times). There's nothing like when Philly fans are inside a World Series, a championship, a playoff. There's nothing like it, to feel that energy.''

Early Tipoff:

Don't forget, tonight's regular-season opener tips off at 6 o'clock, an hour earlier than usual. If, weather permitting, there is the continuation of Game 5 of the World Series across the street, fans can stay and watch on screens in the AT&T Pavilion.

Around The League:

* Could Denver's Carmelo Anthony have his jersey retired at Syracuse, even though he played just one season there? Sure, Orange coach Jim Boeheim told the Rocky Mountain News. "There's a criteria,'' Boeheim said. ''It's if I say so.''

* Baron Davis, who left Golden State to sign with the L.A. Clippers, on the difference between playing for Don Nelson and Mike Dunleavy: ''I mean, with Golden State, you know how it is; the energy there was more relaxed, more free, it's more fun,'' he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I would say (with the Clippers) it's more serious, more attention to detail, long film session, at least 30 minutes, maybe 40 minutes. Then a walk-through. Then practice. So we're in there for almost three hours sometimes. Nellie was like an hour, hour-15.''

* Boston celtics exec Danny Ainge, on trying to win another championship: "The one thing I'm not afraid of is a letdown. I think winning is addictive. Our guys are hungry.''

* Raymond Felton, in the Charlotte Observer, on playing the point for new coach Larry Brown: "It's tough love. He's all for his point guards, but at the same time he's all over his point guards.''