Off The Court

Kevin Durant turns into a giant

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — With the start of the playoffs usually comes a new slew of commercials featuring your favorite NBA players. For instance, this new spot from Sprint featuring Kevin Durant as a giant version of himself who hangs outside of treehouses and takes off into the sky…


VIDEO: KD Joins Framily

(via FTW)

Toronto Raptors release cool playoff promo

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Canada has some of the most intense basketball fans in the world. Unfortunately, the NBA’s lone franchise in Canada, the Toronto Raptors, has had a five-season drought of not qualifying for the postseason. All of that changed last night, however, as the season ended and the upstart Raptors officially won the Atlantic Division. Now, as they ready for the postseason, the Raptors have released a pretty cool video to rally their fans. As the video says, “We are the North side, a territory all our own. If that makes us outsiders, we’re in.”


VIDEO: We The North

Choose the best Trail Blazers opening

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Portland Trail Blazers seem to really appreciate fan involvement. A few weeks back they allowed fans to vote on their favorite court design to help choose the floor they will play on next season. Now they’re opening the polls again to allow fans to vote on their favorite version of the pregame intro. Fans can vote here, and the winning video will be played tonight against the Clippers. As for the choices, you’ve got four to choose from…


VIDEO: Sabotage edition


VIDEO: Rip City edition


VIDEO: “Hands” edition


VIDEO: Comics edition

Driver runs into Chandler Parsons, asks for his autograph

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The first time I visited Houston, Texas, was just after Christmas in 2002. I was there for SLAM magazine to write a profile on Yao Ming and Steve Francis, and I spent about a week hanging around the Rockets. I also saw one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen while driving.

The Toyota Center, their current home, was not yet built; back then they played in the Compaq Center, previously known as The Summit. On a Sunday morning while I was there, the Rockets held a shootaround at their arena. It was relatively early, and because it was a weekend morning, I remember how quiet things were on my drive to the arena. I was in no hurry, so I cruised along, looking out the windows and trying to get a feel for Houston.

And then I came upon a railroad crossing. As I pulled up to it, the light above it turned red and the crossing flags began to lower, blocking the road and signaling that a train was coming. I slipped my rental car into park and settled in to sip my coffee and wait for the train to pass.

In my rear view mirror, I noticed a late-model sedan coming toward me. This car was in the lane next to me, so it wasn’t in danger of hitting me, but it was coming fast, much too fast to stop in time for the train crossing, and it seemed to be accelerating. I looked ahead and saw the train nearing the intersection. I turned my head just in time to follow the car as it hit the wooden crossing flags at full speed, shattering the wood and sending shards flying. The car shot across the train tracks, bouncing as it hit the other side of the road. Maybe two seconds later the train barreled through the intersection, as I sat there, my heart pounding, wondering if I was being Punk’d.

(Initially I wondered if the car was being pursued by authorities, but no other cars ever came along. I just sat there, totally alone, at the intersection until the train passed. I combed the local papers the next few days but never saw any mention of what I’d witnessed.)

I bring all that up because we have another NBA-related driving story out of Houston. Last night on his way to the Toyota Center, Rockets forward Chandler Parsons was involved in a minor car accident. How do we know it really happened? The other driver asked Parsons for an autograph after hitting his car…

A driver outside Toyota Center ran a red light and hit Parsons’ SUV near the entrance to the loading dock. Parsons said he and driver were not hurt, though it made him a few minutes late for treatment before shooting to see if he would be cleared to play.

“She said she ran a red light and it was her fault,” Parsons said. “She had a little car so it kind of messed up the front bumper of my car. She was OK. Asked me to sign her insurance card.”

I think we can say Parsons was fine — he played 40 minutes and scored 21 points.

Damian Lillard wants rings

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In the world of Foot Locker commercials, famous athletes randomly hang out together like it’s an everyday occurrence. In this new spot from Foot Locker, we find Portland’s Damian Lillard sitting around a mod house chatting on his phone, when he offhandedly mentions he would like to win a championship ring at some point in his career. This is a perfectly acceptable feeling to have, unless perhaps you express that feeling aloud within earshot of Barry Sanders, LaDanian Tomlinson, Chris Webber and Karl Malone.


VIDEO: Lillard Foot Locker

Talking wrestling with Jeff Teague

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — On Friday night, I went to Brooklyn and saw the Atlanta Hawks beat the Nets, 93-88, behind 22 points from Hawks point guard Jeff Teague. After the game, reporters gathered around Teague to ask about the game. I waited, because I wanted to ask him about something completely different.

A week earlier, I’d noticed Teague tweet during Wrestlemania following The Undertaker‘s first-ever Wrestlemania loss…

So once Teague finished talking about the game, I put him in the squared circle for a brief chat about something we both enjoy: wrestling…

Me: Jeff, are you still upset about The Undertaker losing and ending his winning streak last week at Wrestlemania?

Jeff Teague: I am! I am mad about that. I can’t believe they did that, man.

Me: Was that your favorite streak in sports?

JT: Yeah! Definitely! I mean, besides Kyle (Korver) when he had the three point streak. After that, it was the Undertaker.

Me: Were you surprised Brock Lesnar was the one who ended it?

JT: Yeah, they could have picked somebody better than that. The could’ve got CM Punk, anybody. But I think it was a mistake. I don’t think it was supposed to happen like that.

Me: Did you watch Wrestlemania?

JT: Yeah, I watched it.

Me: What was your favorite match?

JT: I actually like Bray Wyatt. That’s my guy right there.

Me: Were you excited to see Daniel Bryan win the titles?

JT: I like him, he’s OK. I’m not a big fan.

Me: Did you prefer Randy Orton having the titles?

JT: I like Orton. I guess I like all the bad guys. I guess you could say that.

Me: Who’s your favorite wrestler?

JT: I like the Wyatts. And I’m a fan of John Cena, kinda. My nephew likes him a lot.

Me: Who was your favorite growing up?

JT: Stone Cold, The Rock.

Me: If you were a wrestler, what kind of wrestler would you be? A high flyer? A technical guy?

JT: I’d be like Bray Wyatt. I like how he gets the crowd going with him, singing his song.

Amir Johnson takes fans to Medieval Times

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Toronto Raptors center Amir Johnson is one of my favorite people in the NBA, because he honestly and openly is thankful for his fans. Earlier this season, for instance, Johnson showed up at a Toronto record store and bought all the Drake albums and handed them out to fans.

For a few seasons now, Johnson has put together occasional events he calls “I Roll With Amir,” where he covers the cost for group of Raptors to catch a game and then grab a meal or hang out with him. This year, though, Johnson really went all out, taking 70 of his biggest fans last night to a Toronto-area Medieval Times restaurant, one night after giving them tickets to the Raptors/Sixers game. As Johnson told the Toronto Star

“It’s just a token of appreciation for my fans because we have the greatest fans in the world,” Johnson said before the show began, a black velvet cape trimmed with gold threads and sparkles draped around his hulking frame. “The fans are what makes our team.”

He picked Medieval Times for this year’s party because he has fond memories of coming to the show as a child.

“It looked a lot bigger when I was a kid,” said Johnson, now six-foot-nine.

Here are some images of Amir’s big night/knight out…

Lance Stephenson is The Lion King

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTERLance Stephenson is The Lion King, at least according to Lance Stephenson’s Instagram. Circle of life, you guys…

Jeremy Evans debuts art exhibition

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Utah’s Jeremy Evans has won a Slam Dunk championship and spent some time with the Utah Jazz, but his artistic background might not be as well known. (Even though he referenced it in the Dunk Contest.)

So to help spread the word about his art, Evans put together an exhibition inside the arena before last night’s Jazz game. “I’m excited, just so everybody can see it,” Evans told the Deseret News. “Hopefully from here, I can do some work for other people.”

Jody Genessey from the Deseret News tweeted several photos of Evans and his work…

(via B/R)

Charles Barkley’s TNT Debut

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

This video has been around for a few years, but has only recently started drawing attention. During the 1992 Playoffs, Charles Barkley, who was still an active player, came to Atlanta and sat in the Turner Studio for the night alongside Ernie Johnson. Charles making a career out of this would come later, but for a first time the Chuckster was pretty good. A few things to note:

1. Chuck’s voice sounded a bit higher back then. Yelling Chuck apparently came later.
2. Ernie Johnson seems to have a Trapper Keeper full of information on the desk.
3. That set! That music!


VIDEO: Charles Barkley TNT Debut

(via SI)