ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Kobe Bryant announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season by writing a poem, which was posted on the Player’s Tribune website. Fans in attendance at last night’s Lakers game also got copies of the poem, printed on special stationary and placed inside a black envelope. And as Lakers forward Metta World Peace showed last night, he had Kobe autograph a copy of the poem…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Carolina Panthers have been one of the NFL’s surprise teams, as QB Cam Newton has put up an MVP-type season. He’s also drawn some criticism for his on-field celebrations, criticism he’s laughed off. So when you’re courtside at a Hornets/Cavs game and it’s time for the Dance Cam, who better to feature than Newton? Look at his dab!
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — After hinting about it and talking about it, but always leaving the door open for a return, earlier today Lakers guard Kobe Bryant made it official: He will retire from the NBA at the end of the 2015-16 season.
In response to his announcement, current and former players, as well as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, took to social media to share their feelings on Kobe’s announcement…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Sometimes all it takes is one game, one play, one shot to sum up an entire season. In this case, it told the tale of both the Raptors and Wizards, who are going in vastly different directions.
There was Cory Joseph burying a 3-pointer as the horn sounded to give the Raptors a fourth straight victory and a starring role as the clutch performer in Saturday night’s edition of the Horry Scale.
There was John Wall clanking a pair of free throws with 3.8 seconds left that set up the hero spot for Joseph and ultimately sent the under performing Wizards to their fourth straight defeat. Can we start the Nick Anderson Scale in honor of gagging from the foul line?
For those unfamiliar, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety night in November?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.
One thing to get straight: The Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a game-winning buzzer-beater. So we’re talking about not only the shot, but also the play that creates the shot, the situation and the drama, the celebrations … basically, everything surrounding and including the shot. In short, it’s about the total package.
Joseph may have come into the game shooting just 25 percent (4-for-16) from behind the arc on the season. But he surely has not had a more wide open look at a trey, maybe in his entire career. With the Washington defense looking as confused and ineffective as members of Congress, Joseph practically had time to order out for a pizza before he loaded up, let fly and found the bottom of the net.
Wall was already 6-for-25 from the field when he stepped up to the free throw line for the two shots that could have given the Wizards a three-point lead. But a season in which he’s looked like anything but the franchise player to take Washington to the next level sank to new depths when he missed both free throws. You just knew what was going to happen next. With 3.0 seconds left, DeMarre Carroll shoveled the inbounds pass to DeMar DeRozan, who turned left around the corner and drove the baseline. That’s when Ramon Sessions was sucked in badly, collapsing to the lane and leaving Joseph all alone in the left corner. DeRozan spotted him, made the easy feed and the Raptors won 84-82.
Joseph let fly, knew it was good and ran to midcourt, where he was greeted by DeRozan and a chest-bumping Kyle Lowry, then the rest of the Raptors bench. It was a Toronto happy dance for four in a row.
We give Joseph credit for stepping up with the clock running down and his team trailing by a point. But as mentioned, he couldn’t have a more uncontested shot if he were shooting for stuffed teddy bears on a carnival midway. We’re giving it two Horrys. And giving Wall two Nick the Bricks.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — On their recent four-game road trip, Knicks center Kristaps Porzingis continued to showcase the skills that have made him one of the NBA’s breakout rookies. And while his scoring and rebounding are obviously huge, his ability to block shots has also been important. On that four-game road trip, Porzingis contributed 16 blocked shots. And the Knicks rounded up all those shots into one video…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — With an off day on the schedule yesterday, Warriors forward Draymond Green was able to go see his former college team, Michigan State, playing in a nearby tournament. And not only did Green get to see the Spartans in person, he happened to be there when longtime coach Tom Izzo, who was Green’s coach in college, was going for his 500th win.
They got the win, and Green presented Izzo with a gift for all he’s meant to him through the years: a Rolex, with the inscription, “Great start”…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — For those of us involved with the NBA, one of the great things about Thanksgiving is that besides getting to spend time with family and friends, you also get a day off, something that is few and far between once the NBA season is underway. Like most of us, Steph Curry appeared to spend his down time yesterday watching some football, especially because Curry’s beloved Carolina Panthers were in action against the Dallas Cowboys. And on the way to a Panthers blowout, they got a pick-6 touchdown from linebacker Luke Kuechly, which got Curry fired up enough to take to social media and shout Luke’s praises…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We’ve seen Knicks center Robin Lopezattack mascots around the NBA, so with the Knicks in Orlando, Magic mascot Stuff went on the offensive. He had Lopez read from a series of cards that, at least if you close your eyes, ends with a request for stuff to hit him with a hammer. And so Stuff had no choice, really, other than to hit Lopez with a hammer.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — How do you stop LeBron James? It’s a question that has vexed coaches and players around the NBA since LeBron’s debut back in 2003. But maybe, just maybe, an 8-year-old Hawks fan has figured out how to stop the King.
According to a letter sent to Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, while reading a book about the Cavs and LeBron, an 8-year-old named Eli discovered that LeBron’s eponymous website contained a section that listed LeBron’s strengths and weaknesses. And if you’re looking to stop LeBron, like the Hawks may want to do, perhaps employing strategies to exploit those weaknesses is a valid idea.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last night, the Toronto Raptors celebrated Drake Night, an annual event where the evening is more or less hosted by Drake, the best-selling artist who also serves as the Raptors’ “global ambassador.” Besides wearing Drake-inspired uniforms and having him courtside all night, the Raptors turned over the pregame introductions to Drake…