In Case You Missed It …

USA Basketball unveils Men’s Olympic team

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The term “unveiled” is often employed to describe the introduction of something new, and at its definition, “unveiled” suggests literally taking the lid off of whatever it is that is being displayed. Yesterday in New York City, the U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Team was, quite literally, unveiled at a community center in Harlem. A group of kids were gathered for an announcement, when suddenly a door was raised, revealing all the members of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball team…

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After the announcement, a few kids were asked for their reactions. Clearly, and understandably, they were still pretty fired up about it…

James Harden is unstoppable

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Houston Rockets guard James Harden has shown himself to be one of the NBA’s most creative players, with an ability to get to the basket almost no matter the defender. And at a recent basketball camp, Harden broke out a move that probably wouldn’t work in an NBA game, but still left his defender, a kid camper, with his head spinning. Literally.

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Tyronn Lue talks to President Obama

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — For an NBA team that wins a championship, you usually get a quick phone call from the president congratulating you on the achievement. For the Cleveland Cavaliers, after beating the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, that call came a few days later, and lucky for us, there were cameras present. Here’s a great video of President Barack Obama calling Cavs coach Tyronn Lue to congratulate him on a job well done. It’s a brief call, but President Obama is on long enough to make it clear that while he’s retired from playing, he not only watched the games but he kept up with the parade as well…

Outgoing rookies have some advice for Ben Simmons

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In just a couple of days, the NBA Draft will be held in Brooklyn, and Ben Simmons will be one of the first players selected. With that in mind, this new spot from Foot Locker features Simmons receiving advice from a few guys who just finished their rookie seasons — Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker and D’Angelo Russell. And the outgoing rookies are able to share some of the wisdom they picked up from their rookie years to help smooth the way for Simmons…

Also, in this spot, Simmons makes his own Foot Locker ad, with special guest “Karl-Anthony Towns”…

Cleveland Indians pay tribute to LeBron

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — By winning the 2016 NBA Finals, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have finally broken the city of Cleveland’s 52-year dry spell without a title. And while the people of Ohio and certainly excited, other teams around Cleveland are also showing their gratitude. During last night’s Indians game, the Indians slipped an image of LeBron and the Larry O’Brien trophy into their Kiss Cam segment.

You can buy Steph Curry’s game-used mouthguard

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Two-time MVP Steph Curry is one of the most popular athletes in the world, and now fans have the opportunity to own a piece of Curry memorabilia that is…well, it’s kind of gross. Sure, anyone can get an autograph, but how many people can say they own one of Curry’s game-used mouthguards that he constantly chews on? Soon, that could be you!

According to ESPN, an online sports auction will soon include one of Curry’s game-used mouthguards…

SCP Auctions, which is based in California, said it obtained the mouthguard from a fan who picked it up off the floor near the Golden State Warriors bench after a game this season.

“Steph Curry has given more life to mouthguards than any player in history,” said Dan Imler, vice president of the auction house. “The way he flips it in and out of his mouth has become part of watching him during a game.”

Imler expects the mouthguard to sell for at least $5,000.

The mouthguard is marked with the Warriors logo and Curry’s name and number. It was consigned to the auction company with a case labeled “CURRY.”

A Warriors spokesperson wouldn’t comment on the auction.

LeBron James plays volleyball during the NBA Finals

ALL BALL NERVE CENTERLeBron James turned in a dominant performance in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, contributing 41 points, 16 rebounds and 7 assists along the way to Cleveland’s 112-97 win. He also had 3 blocked shots, including one against Golden State’s Stephen Curry where James soared through the air and spiked the basketball. If it reminded you of someone spiking a basketball, you aren’t alone: Here’s a version of Bron’s block that’s been photoshopped to make it a volleyball highlight…

Story of a photo: Capturing LeBron’s Game 3 dunk

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 8: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes up for a dunk against the Golden State Warriors against the Golden State Warriors in Game Three of the 2016 NBA Finals on June 8, 2016 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

CLEVELAND — The frozen moment happened with just under 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter of Game 3 of The 2016 NBA Finals. After knocking loose a pass from Golden State’s Stephen Curry to Festus Ezeli, Cleveland’s LeBron James grabbed the basketball and raced the other way to start a fast break.

Just past halfcourt, James collided with Curry and stumbled, his right knee and hand going to the floor to help him retain his balance, while James used his left hand to slap at the ball and keep his dribble alive. One second later, his bearing renewed, James resumed his dash to the hoop.

Curry was the lone defender between James and the basket, and as James neared the rim, Curry slid one step to his left, to truncate James’s angle of attack. LeBron quickly fired the ball to his left, where his teammate Kyrie Irving was streaking toward the rim. Curry and the basketball reached Irving at nearly the same time, and just as quickly as Irving caught the ball, he sprang off his right foot and immediately flipped the ball back up and over Curry, in the general vicinity of the hoop, where it figured that James would be arriving shortly.

“I knew he was going to throw it up there,” James said later. “And I had to go get it. He threw it, I had to go get it.”

It was not a perfect pass, but it was good enough. It was up to James, then, to do his part. And did he ever.

During the ball’s brief dalliance with Irving, James took five steps in the direction of the basket and then, leveraging his left foot against the court, James launched himself skyward, soaring up and at least equal to the rim.

As he flew, James twisted his torso and reached back with his right hand past the edge of the backboard, corralling the ball, and then he fired it though the hoop with a breathtaking combination of equal parts improbability, power, force and grace.

It was the play of The 2016 Finals thus far, a moment tailor-made to immediately go viral and embed itself in our brains for posterity as one of the signature plays of the 2016 postseason, if not James’ career.

***

But James and Irving weren’t the only one who did great work on the possession. As LeBron stole the ball and turned toward his basket, sitting a few hundred feet away and a couple of rows up in an arena seat in Quicken Loans Arena’s Section 106, Jesse Garrabrant was also preparing to try and create a different type of NBA Finals history.

A photographer for NBA Photos since 1994, Garrabrant lives on the New Jersey shore and shoots every Philadelphia 76ers home game. As the playoffs build toward an ultimate finish, NBA Photos brings all hands on deck to cover every game from every angle. In Cleveland for Game 3, Garrabrant rigged multiple remote controlled cameras around Quicken Loans Arena, which he could control from a button in his seat in Section 106. While Garrabrant could make the cameras click, he wasn’t actually looking down the viewfinders as the shutter snapped. So Garrabrant was, quite literally, firing blind.

“You want to take chances and if it works, there’s a big bonus,” said Garrabrant a day later. “You get a guy like LeBron who can create an incredible play, and if he’s in the exact right spot, it can totally work. At the same time, it could have also completely struck out, especially when you’re doing directional lighting like that.”

The lighting Garrabrant referred to is a special technique known as “spotlighting.” Garrabrant’s remote cameras for Game 3 were geared to take advantage of this method, which can give action photos a dramatic flair, adding depth and richness. But again, with the reward came a risk. “The lighting covers the paint,” Garrabrant explained, “because that’s where the majority of the action happens. LeBron is going to go to the hole sometime, and you just hope the lighting is going to cover it.”

For Game 3, Garrabrant had a camera clamped to the edge of the set ESPN uses for their live pre-and postgame broadcasts, which is assembled on a platform in a corner of The Q, near Section 113. Unless you looked closely, you wouldn’t notice Garrabrant’s camera. Luckily for the rest of us, this camera saw everything. As it turned out, this was the ultimate angle, from which Garrabrant captured the photo you see at the top of this post.

Within seconds of James’ dunk, Garrabrant’s picture was made available for download via NBA Photos on Getty Images, and it quickly started popping up all over social media. It was tweeted and re-tweeted and shared tens of thousands of times, as fans and other media members expressed their amazement. ESPN’s Don Van Natta tweeted that it was the picture of the year. It “belongs in the damn Louvre,” noted Mashable’s Sam Laird.

***

While the rest of us marveled over Garrabrant’s image of James’ Game 3 dunk, Garrabrant’s mind drifted back to 2008. As it turned out, Garrabrant may have been the perfect person to capture this dunk from this player from this angle, particularly when you consider he’d done almost exactly the same thing before.

“[James] had almost the same dunk in the ’08 Conference semifinals against Kevin Garnett, in the same spot on the court,” recalled Garrabrant. “Same angle, he threw it the same way, everything, except this was an alley-oop and that one was just him driving to the basket. I shot that game and I got the same angle on that particular dunk.”

CLEVELAND - MAY 12: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dunks over Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the 2008 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 12, 2008 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright: 2008 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

We may live in an age where video is increasingly available, streaming at us almost inexorably every time we open a browser window. But there’s still something magical about the perfect photo, which freezes a moment in time in a way that we never want to forget.

Following Game 3, Kyrie Irving was asked about his pass to James on the play. “I wanted to see something great,” Irving said. “I threw it very, very… you know, some people may say it’s a bad pass, but I wanted to see something great.”

At least on this night, we all got to see something great.

Stephen Curry plays a video game on the bench

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There are times when the Golden State Warriors offense starts really humming, when the ball is flying around from player to player in search of an open shot, that the Warriors’ offense can look like something out of a video game. Last night against the Cavaliers, for instance, as the Warriors were on their way to a 33-point win, there were a few moments when the Golden State offense looked like someone was controlling them from the sideline. And actually, upon a closer examination of Steph Curry on the bench, perhaps that’s exactly what was happening…

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Carmelo Anthony partakes in Running Man challenge

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last night on the “Tonight Show,” someone asked host Jimmy Fallon if he could get a basketball player to partake in the Running Man Challenge. Who better for Fallon to find behind the hidden door than Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony?