ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of the NBA’s pleasant surprises this season has been the Portland Trail Blazers. They’re off to a blazing 16-3 start, and last night’s win over the Thunder gave them the lead in the Western Conference. (We talked about the Blazers a good bit on this week’s Hangtime Podcast.)
Of course, leading in the Western Conference is quite a feat, considering that the West this season has been much more potent than the Eastern Conference, which (other than Indiana and Miami) has been a bit lackluster — the third place team in the conference in Washington, at 9-9).
The Blazers’ official Twitter account joked about the disparity between Conferences yesterday…
Is it too late to join the Eastern Conference? Asking for a friend.— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 04, 2013
The real irony here? If the Blazers were in the East with their current record, instead of leading the Conference they’d be in second place behind Indiana (a team they beat earlier this week).
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Kobe Bryant has been through eight signature shoes as a Nike athlete, but at a media event at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles on Wednesday, the ninth and maybe most dramatic kick yet was unveiled. The KOBE 9, out February 8, 2014, is a mixture of design, fashion and function, and Bryant clearly relished showing it off alongside Nike CEO Mark Parker and Nike Creative Director and VP of Innovation Eric Avar.
After several years of lowtops, the Kobe 9 is huge, reaching high above the ankle — Kobe said the idea came to him while watching Manny Pacquiao train and noticing his boxing shoes. Together with Avar, the idea was honed into the KOBE 9. (Of the design process and going back and forth with Avar, Kobe said he particularly enjoyed it because “I think we’re all geeks at heart.”)
The shoe is largely constructed from Nike Flyknit, the first time the technology has been used in a basketball shoe. According to Nike, Flyknit “defies conventional shoe manufacturing processes by creating a one-piece engineered upper made from single strands of yarns.”
While there are various design hints throughout the shoe to what Kobe referred to as his “muses,” the most obvious key to the shoe is the lines of red embroidered down the back of the shoe, a nod to the stitches Kobe received after his Achilles surgery.
“I draw inspiration from where I am as a player, as a person, and where my career is at this moment,” Kobe said. “I’m trying to do something that the majority of people think is impossible to do. I let my emotions out when I step on the basketball floor, it’s always been my escape, and these shoes will touch a nerve on the court in the same way I do.”
According to some early reviews on my Twitter feed, at least one other NBA player likes the look of the shoe…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Here at All Ball, we’ve been all over the story of Shannon Sailes, the Dancing Usher at Detroit Pistons games. Most recently, we saw him engage a young fan in something of a dance-off at a game a few weeks back. The clip of that dance-off went viral, enough so that it caught the attention of the crew at “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” So last night, Kimmel brought Sailes and the young fan, Antoine Alexander, to Los Angeles, to allow the dance-off to continue … -
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi are two of the most famous athletes in the world, but more than that, they’re two of the greatest athletes in the world. Part of their greatness is their competitiveness, that quest to win that they just can’t turn off. And in this new ad for Turkish Airlines, we see that their desire to finish first extends even as deep as a cell phone selfie contest … -
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — You probably know the actor Will Forte from his time on “Saturday Night Live,” or his roles in movies such as “MacGruber.” But Forte is taking a dramatic turn in his newest film, “Nebraska”, which is out now, and last night he paid a visit to Conan O’Brien to talk about the movie. If you watch the clip below you’ll see the conversation pretty quickly turns to talk about superstitions, which leads to a conversation about the Los Angeles Clippers, which then veers to talk about fingernails … and, well, I don’t know what else to say about this. Just watch … -
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I did not grow up in New York City, so I missed the ’80s and ’90s heyday of the New York Knicks. But that doesn’t mean I totally missed it — even today, when the Knicks are struggling to get on the right side of .500, the names of the most beloved Knicks players are still conjured frequently: Ewing. Starks. Oakley.
And then there was Mason. Anthony Mason was one of those players perfect for New York City — a guy who came out of nowhere, bounced around basketball’s minor leagues, earned a chance with the Knicks and played with so much tenacity and sheer force that he was hard to keep out of the line-up.
Apparently Mason’s unique combination of size and strength also proved useful in other ways. In a recent interview with SLAM Magazine, rapper/actor LL Cool J remembered his time growing up in New York, when Mase came to his aid a few times…
SLAM: You grew up in New York City. Always been a Knicks fan?
LL: I grew up a Knicks fan, but you know what? I was always conflicted because Mike was so inspiring during the time when I was coming up in New York. But Pat Ewing was always a good friend of mine. Oakley [was a good friend], after he came to New York. I knew all the players. Anthony Mason was my man—he used to be in Queens all the time in my neighborhood. He used to throw guys out of barbecues for me. They were talking trash to me and Anthony Mason used to come in and grab them and be like, “Y’all gotta go! Y’all gotta go!” He was my man.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Making it to the NBA is usually not only the culmination of a lifetime of hard work, it can also be something of a financial jackpot. Which then opens the Pandora’s Box of, How do you deal with becoming rich beyond your wildest dreams, overnight?
The problems with professional athletes holding on to their new-found wealth has been well-documented. But one method for dealing with this seems to be adhering to a strict budget, at least early in your career. There’s an interesting profile of 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams in the Philadelphia Inquirer which not only details his family background, but explains how his family has set up his financial arrangements early on…
Nowadays, Carter-Zegarowski and her best friend, Tracie Tracy, are running his management team. They are taking a proactive approach to make sure he doesn’t spend all his money in a couple of years.
His rookie contract guarantees him $4.5 million over his first two seasons. He could make a total of $10 million if the Sixers pick up the final two seasons of his contract.
But his salary is deposited into a trust he can’t touch for three years. Carter-Williams is living off endorsement deals with Nike and Panini trading cards.
That’s just one of the benefits of having caring parents.
This isn’t exactly a novel concept: Shaquille O’Neal has said repeatedly that he never cashed his NBA checks and instead lived off his endorsement deals. When Brandon Jennings was a rookie in Milwaukee, instead of splurging on a luxury car, he went for a more economical Ford. It may not be the most exciting lifestyle, but in the long run, perhaps it’s the wisest way to go.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A few years ago, it was announced that Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade had signed with Li-Ning, one of the largest athletic brands in Asia, but not necessarily a brand that was well known in the United States. Slowly but surely, that seems to be changing.
After wearing a signature shoe last season called the Way of Wade, this season Wade is rocking the Way Of Wade 2.0, and as of tomorrow at 3:00 PM EST, the shoe will be available online for the first time to consumers in the US and Canada on wayofwade.com.
The shoe, which will retail for $150, is called the Way of Wade 2.0 Overtown, named for a specific neighborhood in Miami. In the video below, D-Wade explains the thought process behind the kicks… -
We understand that progression is the key to pretty much anything in life. Trust me, I get it. Sometimes you just have to move on and move forward.
But to completely give up on the Dunk Contest though? Now that’s just down right unacceptable. Not when you’re arguably one of the most exciting dunkers we have in the league today. Not when you’ve been spotlighted more than once on our Dunk HQ countdown and voted by the faithful HQ fanbase as the highest jumper of all in today’s NBA land. And not when you already own a seat amongst the gods of the dunk.
Talk to us, Gerald. We’re here to listen. Vent. Get all of those frustrations out. What’s missing? Are you feeling a tad unappreciated even? I mean, do you honestly not see what we’ve seen in some your previous Dunk Contest jams? What do we need to do to sway you to come back? Hopefully we can find the answers better than Kanye West can.
What do you think? Is Green feeling a little, well, green? Help us out here.
As always, make sure to hit up the new and improved Dunk HQ, your official NBA.com home for slams, where we’ll be rating all of the top dunks of the season and much more.