Off The Court

Phil Jackson uses Twitter to respond to critics

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In years past, a frequent criticism of the New York Knicks was that they weren’t transparent enough with fans and the media. New Knicks president Phil Jackson, however, doesn’t seem to be having any problems with that, thanks to his Twitter account. Early in the day on Thursday, after Sheridan Hoops founder and veteran NBA writer Chris Sheridan tweeted a link to a piece criticizing the Knicks’ off-season trade of Tyson Chandler, the Zen Master himself responded with a series of tweets…

Then, during last night’s Knicks/Bulls game on TNT, analyst Charles Barkley was repeatedly critical of the Knicks, saying at one point the best thing they had going for them “is Philadelphia.” So Phil went to Twitter once again…and this time he even broke out the emojis!

The NBA on Christmas Day: Talking with Anna Chlumsky

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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The holidays are not only a time of being with friends and family, they also bring about one of the marquee moments on the NBA calendar: Christmas Day, when the NBA is giving us five big match-ups to keep you glued to your couch all day long.

To celebrate the upcoming day, we’re talking with a few famous NBA fans about what the NBA and the Christmas Day games mean to them. We’ve already talked to John Leguizamo and Mario Batali, and today we check in with one of our favorite actresses, Anna Chlumsky. You know her from all sort of projects, from the big screen (movies like My Girl to, more recently, In The Loop) to her current role on HBO’s hilarious “Veep.” In January she will make her Broadway debut in “You Can’t Take It With You.” What you may not know is the Chicago native-turned-Brooklyn resident loves the NBA, as well, so it was great to exchange emails with her about the upcoming NBA Christmas Day slate…

ME: You grew up in Chicago but live in Brooklyn. Which team gets the bulk of your allegiance right now?

Christmas2014ANNA: The Nets. Once the ’90s Bulls disbanded with Phil Jackson‘s leaving for L.A., I went through a long mourning period. Fast forward to Barclays being built blocks from my old apartment. The Nets fever just came over me.

ME: Your time in Chicago aligns with when the Bulls were in the midst of their dynasty. Other than Michael Jordan, who was your favorite Bulls player?

ANNA: I had a B.J. Armstrong poster on my wall. And you couldn’t be of Croatian descent in Chicago and not adore Toni Kukoč. He was our hero! Three-pointers for days, man!!

ME: You play a character running a presidential campaign on Veep. Which NBA player would be great at running for president?

ANNA: Hmmm…Bleacher Report likes Tim Duncan‘s poker face, and I’m inclined to agree. Good for debates.

ME: All-Star Weekend in New York City is a few months away. Any don’t-miss stops you have for people visiting town?

ANNA: A Broadway show, the Highline… and Rockefeller Center at this time of year can’t be beat. And be sure to get a pastrami from Katz’s.

ME: What Christmas gift would you give to the Nets?

ANNA: Cookies. I’m taking orders, fellas.

ME: What Christmas Day traditions do you and your family share?

ANNA: We usually spend Christmas in Chicago with my side of the family, so someone’s inevitably in full Bears garb. We’ll watch football and basketball, and we’ve been known to pull out our own board games. My mother has a tradition where she gives my Uncle Kenny the seasonal loud, obnoxious, animatronic toy from Walgreens (think singing snowman), but I think he’s ready to move on and just get gloves again. Ha!

ME: How does the NBA fit into those traditions (will you watch games on Christmas Day)?

ANNA: We sure will. Go Bulls.

ME: What’s your go-to snack/food to eat when watching game on Christmas Day?

ANNA: Tortilla chips are never far away during the games. And at my father’s, (he’s a retired chef), we’ve always got a paté or two he’s steamed up for the holidays.

ME: Last thing: Give us your predictions for the Christmas Day lineup. Washington Wizards at New York Knicks?

ANNA: Wizards

ME: San Antonio Spurs at OKC Thunder?

ANNA: Spurs

ME: Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat?

ANNA: Cleveland

ME: Los Angeles Lakers at Chicago Bulls?

ANNA: Bulls

ME: Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors?

ANNA: Warriors

Jonas Valanciunas will ship your packages

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Funny video here from the Toronto Raptors of center Jonas Valanciunas working undercover at a Toronto package shipping company. I mean, about as undercover as you can be with your jersey and photo on display in a huge frame about five feet away from you. Nice touch pretending to have trouble pronouncing his own last name…


VIDEO: Jonas Shipping

The Chicago Bulls present The Gift of the Game

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Every year about this time, we start to see the same movies airing on TV over and over, the holiday classics: Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, etc.

Now the Chicago Bulls have created a new video to add to the holiday classics canon. Their video, The Gift Of The Game, which tells of a Christmas miracle involving Benny the Bull and a Bulls team that understands teamwork is the key to success. Special shoutout to Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott, and Mike Dunleavy for their narrating skills.


VIDEO: Bulls Gift

Drake introduces the Toronto Raptors

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last night in Toronto, the Raptors hosted their second-annual Drake Night. This is a night where the popular hip-hop star, who is officially the team’s “global ambassador,” takes over the game operations for an evening. And last night this meant Drake took over the pregame introductions for the P.A. announcer. Drake is probably the only person who could get away with announcing Amir Johnson by saying, “He recently got a tattoo of a Swiffer Wet Jet.”


VIDEO: Drake Night

The Manimal meets the Minimal

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Denver’s Kenneth Faried, a.k.a. the Manimal, plays basketball kind of like a superhero — all energy and action, with his hair trailing in the wind behind him. So it makes sense that at the Nuggets/Clippers game on Friday night, Denver will give out Kenneth Faried Action Figures to some fans. In this new spot from the Nuggets, they take a page from Li’l Penny and the Manimal meets the Minimal…

VIDEO: Manimal/Minimal

Will you get #gifts or #nogifts for Christmas?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The NBA on Christmas Day quintuple-header is just over a week away, and you can now buy the special Christmas Day jerseys the teams will be wearing on the NBA Store. To commemorate the jerseys — which feature first names instead of last names on the back — the NBA dropped this new commercial. I hope I’m in the #gifts category…


VIDEO: Gifts NoGifts

John Wall is not afraid of Liam Neeson

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The NBA’s Christmas Day marathon of games is just a few days away, and to help spread the word, specifically for the Wizards/Knicks game, ESPN brought in Liam Neeson, star of the Taken series of movies. With Taken 3 set to debut just after the new year, New York Knicks fan Neeson flexed his impressive “angry man talking on the phone skills” by calling Wizards point guard John Wall and letting him know that this year the Knicks are not playing around. And Wall is all like, “Whatever dude…”


VIDEO: Wall Neeson

Jordan Brand unveils new Carmelo Anthony signature shoe

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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last night in New York City, just steps away from Madison Square Garden, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Jordan Brand unveiled his latest signature shoe, the Jordan Brand Melo M11. The new shoe, out Jan. 3, is Jordan’s newest performance model, and will be available in several colorways that reflect Anthony’s life and journey.

The event was held at Terminal 23, the indoor basketball court on West 32nd Street that Jordan Brand opened a year ago inside a former event space. Since being transformed, Terminal 23 has become an epicenter for off-season pick-up basketball among New York-based NBA players, largely thanks to Anthony’s constant presence. For the evening, the entryway to the facility had been transformed into something of a museum, and Anthony patiently walked reporters through the venue, explaining each installation. “I almost handed out headphones to everyone like you get at the Louvre,” Anthony joked.

As for the details on the shoe, from a press release…

The Jordan Melo M11 incorporates the brand’s pinnacle technology created for the basketball court: FlightPlate. Designed to harness and return energy from every step for explosive liftoff, FlightPlate features a moderator plate placed directly over the forefoot Nike Zoom unit to create a larger sweet spot and ample cushioning. On the shoe’s upper, a molded collar optimizes fit and enhances ankle support for Anthony’s versatile game.

Anthony definitely notices a difference in his game when playing in FlightPlate, saying it not only makes him faster and provides jump-shot lift in the first quarter, it actually keeps him fresh through the fourth quarter.

Building on last year’s model, the Jordan Melo M11 echoes Melo’s physical transformation through the offseason. After a summer dedicated to intense workouts — Melo was known for hosting some of the game’s best runs at Jordan Brand’s Terminal 23 in New York — he returned slimmer, fitter and ready to push even harder this season.

Melo said he wanted the Jordan Melo M11 to have a more sophisticated look that is well suited for a high-end, simple color palette, but also uses hues and patterns to tell dynamic stories.

The upper features synthetic leather for support and lightweight durability, while perforated details enhance breathability. A webbed strapping system wraps the foot to provide superior lockdown. The updated foam heel counter integrates into the midsole, bringing strength and support to the collar, as well as a distinctive pattern produced by repetition of the letter M.

INSPIRED BY NEW YORK CITY
Born in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., Melo has always felt a strong connection to the city of New York. Each colorway of the Jordan Melo M11 is inspired by — and a tribute to — different elements of Anthony’s story.

“It was essential that we incorporate how important New York City is to me,” Anthony said. “It’s where my basketball journey started, and there’s no other city where I’d rather play the game.”

CONCRETE ISLAND
Inspired by the concrete jungle, this color way of the Jordan Melo M11 juxtaposes the grit and shine of one of the world’s greatest cities. The gray across the forefoot echoes the concrete streets and the detailing on the tongue is a nod to brightly colored graffiti and street art, while a subtly speckled midsole evokes the bright lights of the city that never sleeps.

RED HOOK SUNSET
Born in the Red Hook projects in Brooklyn, Melo remains inspired by and committed to remembering his roots even as he achieves great personal success in basketball and business. This colorway brings to mind sunsets in Red Hook and early memories of his childhood in the famous New York borough.

JORDAN FAMILY
Melo wanted to include a colorway tribute to the Jordan Brand family, who have been with him and supported him throughout his career. Featuring the traditional colorways worn by Michael Jordan — black, red and white — the shoe calls to mind the great Jordan rivalries with New York throughout the 1990s.

“BLACK/GOLD”
Featuring a simple, premium color scheme, the black/gold colorway features luxury touches, and highlights throughout.

Today, consumers in North America will be able to pre-order the Jordan Melo M11 at Jordan.com. The shoe will be globally available at select retailers and Jordan.com starting January 3. Stay tuned to @Jumpman23 on Twitter and Instagram for more information.

For a closer look at the shoe and the Terminal 23 gym, check the gallery below…

How the Lakers celebrated Kobe passing Jordan

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — During last night’s Lakers/Timberwolves game, Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan to move into third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. And while it was a big moment in NBA history, the Lakers apparently wanted to make sure Kobe had a moment to celebrate the achievement, even if that meant hanging streamers on the team plane and having rookie Jordan Clarkson sing over the PA system. Congrats, Kobe.

(via Deadspin)