Buy a pack of NBA cards, get a piece of a game-worn shoe?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Basketball cards have long been more than just photos and text. Years ago companies started inserting cards with little authentic game-worn keepsakes built-in to the card — swatches of jerseys, a piece of a court, etc. But this season cards are going where they’ve never gone before.

In Panini America’s 2013-14 Immaculate Basketball collection, releasing on Friday, they’ve managed to incorporate cards that have pieces of game-worn shoes from everyone from Kobe Bryant to Kevin Durant to Larry Johnson inside the cards. Panini wrote about the genesis of the idea on their official blog

“The idea to create the Sneak Peek memorabilia cards came while we were looking at a pair of Kobe Bryant game-worn sneakers in the Panini Authentic memorabilia room,” said Jim Stefano, Panini America’s Senior Director of Product Development. “NBA players, more so than any other athletes, wear sneakers that reflect their personalities. Their sneakers are an extension of who they are. It’s all about the swag.”

That swag, of course, takes various forms. Shaquille O’Neal’s Reebok Pumps. Blake Griffin’s Jordans. Kobe’s Kobes. Larry Johnson’s Converse Reacts. LeBron’s Nike Lebron Xs. It was one thing to create a wishlist of game-worn sneakers to target for Sneak Peek; it was another thing altogether more complex to actually acquire them and then figure out how best to incorporate them into a trading card.

But Panini America acquisitions officials worked their relationships with exclusive and non-exclusives athletes alike to turn a wishlist into a checklist; from there, the game-worn sneakers made their way through Panini America HQ, with each department — Product Development, Production, Design — helping shape the masterful finished product.

“This was truly a great experience to develop and execute with the various departments within Panini America,” Stefano said. “It was a true team effort that resulted in one of the most singularly spectacular sets of trading cards ever created. The sheer amount of different swatch colors, materials and patterns is a unique and exciting development for the entire trading card category. We believe these cards will not only be sought after by basketball collectors but by sneaker heads as well.”

To see some examples of the cards, check below…

panini-america-2013-14-immaculate-basketball-sneak-peek-kobe-bryant-2panini-america-2013-14-immaculate-basketball-sneak-peek-larry-johnson-1  panini-america-2013-14-immaculate-basketball-sneak-peek-kevin-durant-4 panini-america-2013-14-immaculate-basketball-sneak-peek-derrick-rose-1

James Harden watches New Zealand do the Haka

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Today in Spain at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, Team USA faced off against New Zealand. Like they do before many international sports matches, the New Zealand players first performed a traditional dance called the Haka. According to Wikipedia, the Haka is “a traditional ancestral war cry, dance or challenge from the Māori people of New Zealand. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment.”

Here’s an animated GIF of the New Zealand team performing the Haka, with James Harden looking on…

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(via Ben Golliver)

Manny Pacquiao works out with the Warriors

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ALL BALL NERVE CENTERManny Pacquiao is one of the greatest boxers of his generation, sure, but he’s also a huge basketball fan. He’s attended NBA games in the past, and he recently was drafted by the Kia Sorrentos, the team he owns, in the Philippine Basketball Association. So we should be surprised that Pac Man turned up this weekend in the Bay Area to get a few shots up with the Golden State Warriors. At just under 5-7, Pacquiao may be short for the NBA, but who would question his fight? Here’s a ton more pictures at Warriors.com

Doc Rivers has an awesome home office

ALL BALL NERVE CENTERDoc Rivers has spent most of his adult life around the NBA, either as a player, announcer or, currently, as a coach in Orlando, Boston and Los Angeles. So it would stand to reason that during those decades, Rivers has probably accumulated some pretty cool stuff. And thanks to this photo from CNN’s Rachel Nichols, who visited Rivers’ home for an interview, his home office is jammed with a ton of awesome memorabilia…

(via NIS)

Nik Stauskas is an incredible shooter

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Kings rookie Nik Stauskas has yet to play in an actual NBA game yet, but he hasn’t stopped getting ready for the big leagues. Known as one of the best shooters in college while at Michigan, now he’s working on his NBA three-point range, and judging from this video, when he goes 15-for-15 in just 46 seconds, Stauskas seems to have found the range.


VIDEO: Stauskas shooting

(via SLAM)

Manu Ginobili statue unveiled in Argentina

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili may have missed out on playing with his native Argentina in the FIBA Basketball World Cup while he recovers from injury, but from the looks of his Twitter account, he’s still having a pretty nice summer. Ginobili posted a photo over the weekend of a statue of himself that was unveiled in Buenos Aires. His caption, loosely translated, reads, “Mom: I didn’t become a doctor, but I got a statue in Argentina!”

Joel Embiid is The Ladies Man


VIDEO: Embiid on Rihanna

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Sixers aren’t sure how long it will be before first-round pick Joel Embiid is able to return to action this season, but even without playing a minute in the NBA, as far as I’m concerned the Embiid era has been a rousing success, if only judging by social media standards. The young big man has a terrific sense of humor, consistently using Twitter and Instagram for good. WE saw his public recruitment of LeBron James as well as his fake relationship with Rihanna (check the video above for more on that).

And now Embiid has apparently moved past Rihanna and is celebrating his prowess with all women, with a photoshopped wink and nod to Tim Meadows‘ movie from a few years back…

(via TNLP)

Iggy Azalea and Nick Young work on trick shots

ALL BALL NERVE CENTERNick Young is a longtime All Ball favorite, for his on court bravado and his off-court swag. (There’s a reason he goes by Swaggy P, after all.) He’s been dating pop star Iggy Azalea for a while now, and apparently Swaggy’s having an effect on her, because from the looks of this video Nick posted on Instagram of Azalea getting up shots in the Lakers’ practice facility, she’s got a few trick shots up her sleeve. She’s so fancy…

Iman Shumpert, secret agent

By Jeff Case

The big victory of the offseason for the New York Knicks was the team successfully managing to keep free-agent All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony in the fold for a few more years. His return, coupled with new coach Derek Fisher and a new-look offense (the triangle) have New Yorkers hoping the team can rebound from a putrid season.

One player sure to be key to any hopes of a Big Apple revival is combo guard Iman Shumpert. After a solid first two seasons in the NBA, Shumpert’s stats were more or less down across the board in 2013-14 as he worked his way back from an ACL tear suffered early in the 2012 playoffs.

That being said, it’s still the offseason in New York and Shumpert is having some fun. In a new video released to help hype the movie “November Man”, Shumpert pretends to be a secret agent as unsuspecting people interview for a fake job.

 

Klay Thompson is really dedicated to his fantasy football draft

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last night a friend invited me to go with him to the Braves/Mets game at Citi Field. I’m a Braves fan, but because I live in New York, I don’t all that many chances to see them play in person. Normally, I would have jumped at the chance…but I hesitated because I remembered last night was also the night of my fantasy football draft. And as anyone who has ever played any fantasy sport — basketball, football, baseball, doesn’t matter — there really isn’t much worse than letting the computer auto-draft your team and winding up with a bunch of players you don’t want, or a bunch of guys who play the same position.

Lucky for me, I was wrong about my draft date — it is tonight — so I was able to get out and enjoy a baseball game on a nice evening. But being present for your fantasy draft sometimes takes extreme measures.

Take, for instance, Golden State guard Klay Thompson, who is currently in Bilbao, Spain, prepping for the FIBA Basketball World Cup as a member of Team USA. Despite being half a world and about a dozen time zones from home, Thompson woke up at 5:30 AM in order to take part in his fantasy football draft. As he wrote in the caption, he doesn’t trust the auto draft. Smart man.

(via HP)