The Mike Conley Show

ALL BALL NERVE CENTERMike Conley has established himself as one of the best point guards in the NBA. And with videos like the one below, he is also establishing himself as one of the worst interviewers in the NBA. Unless it turns out Conley is just a huge Chris Farley fan, in which case, you know, yeah, that was awesome.


VIDEO: Conley Show

Charlotte Hornets introduce biggest burger ever


VIDEO: Lang at Barclays

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — This summer the Charlotte Hornets went out and, building on last season’s success, signed Lance Stephenson and Marvin Williams, setting themselves up as contenders on the court. And they’re also stepping up their game in the…kitchen?

Food options at NBA games is a big deal, as you can see in the video above from Barclays Center in New York. And the Hornets may have jumped into the lead among people seeking calorie explosions with their new option, Hugo’s Boss Burger, which features 8(!!!) pounds of meat and costs $70…

The Hornets’ main competition for NBA food supremacy may come, ironically enough, from the defending champs Spurs, who late last season introduced a sandwich covered in onion rings.

Your move, Cleveland…

Ben McLemore is Sacto’s new pizza guy

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of the joys of watching games via League Pass is seeing local commercials you might not otherwise come across. As such, it was fun last season watching Kings guard Isaiah Thomas star as the Pizza Guy.

But alas, Thomas left this summer and found a new home in Phoenix, meaning the coveted Pizza Guy slot in Sacramento was vacated. To fill it, the Pizza people looked no further than Ben McLemore, who apparently used to actually order the pizza.

And now he’s not just a customer, McLemore is the new pizza guy…


VIDEO: McLemore Pizza

(via HP)

The Los Angeles Clippers are relentless

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — When a new owner takes over a franchise, he usually changes a few things. Maybe they get new uniforms or some in-arena upgrades, but whatever it is, it’s a way for the new ownership to subtly remind fans that things are going to be different from here on out.

In Los Angeles, when Steve Ballmer purchased the Clippers, they were already a team with title aspirations, with not many adjustments needed on the court. Off the court, though, there was plenty of work to be done.

One way Ballmer’s influence is already showing is in the way the team is being marketed. Not only did the Clippers introduce a cool new ad campaign, they did it in a big way: They bought ad space during each of last night’s TNT games. So you may have tuned in to watch the Mavs, Spurs, Lakers or Rockets, but you got an eyeful of the new Los Angeles Clippers’ ad campaign, “Be Relentless”…


VIDEO: Clips Relentless

The New Orleans Pelicans would like to prepare your dinner

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The New Orleans Pelicans convincingly won their season opener at home last night, beating the Orlando Magic, 101-84. And to commemorate the start of a new season, the Pelicans created a video where the players and coach Monty Williams messed around in a kitchen and, um, basically showed why they’re basketball players, not actors.


VIDEO: N.O. Dinner

(via EOB)

John Wall’s alternate future in fast-forward

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In a new ad for adidas and Foot Locker, Washington point guard John Wall sees what lies ahead for him, as his entire future occurs in about 30 seconds. There’s the possibility of great moments (a title, a family) and not so great moments (selling cars, gaining weight), but one redeeming feature of the whole thing: Having a shoe retro’ed. Which is hard to complain about either way.


VIDEO: Wall Future

Sixers, Kings debut cool court projection systems

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last season during the retirement ceremony of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cleveland Cavaliers showed off a nifty court projection that appeared to make the static hardwood come alive. This year a couple of other teams have run with the same idea, using a court projection system to give their floor a 3-D look.

• The Atlanta Hawks have announced they will have one, though they’ve yet to release any footage.

• Here’s the projection the Sacramento Kings plan to introduce…


VIDEO: Kings Court

• And here’s the one the Sixers will use (no, not during games)…


VIDEO: Sixers Court

(via Deadspin)

Shaqtin’ A Fool: Worst of the Preseason (Vol 4. Episode 1)


VIDEO: Shaq returns with the best (or worst) from the preseason

The NBA is back! But before we move on to the 2014-15 regular season, Shaq still has some foolishness to call out from preseason.

Vote for your favorite Shaqtin’ A Fool moment and tweet your favorite to #Shaqtin!
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Michael Jordan takes over Hornets twitter account

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan may be basketball’s GOAT, but thus far MJ’s social media game has been a bit behind the times. Which is to say, he hasn’t had a social media presence. Thena gain, why should he? When everybody knows your name, you don’t need to forecast your every move to the world. But today, to celebrate the start of the NBA season and the re-branding of the Bobcats to the Hornets, Jordan took over the Hornets’ twitter account and did everything from photobombing an employee to taking a selfie. Here are some highlights…

 

Talk Show: Ernie Johnson

Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat - Game Two

NEW YORK CITY — Tonight’s tip-off of the NBA on TNT marks not only the 31st year that Turner Sports has been involved with the NBA, but also the 25th year that Ernie Johnson has been the man in the middle of it all. As the host of “Inside the NBA,” TNT’s award-winning studio show, Johnson maintains a semblance of control over a panel featuring Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal, during what usually turns into a free-wheeling free-for-all at the end of a long night of games. With the TNT crew in New York City for their season tip-off show tonight live from Times Square, I sat down with EJ yesterday to talk about Inside’s wild ride.

ME: I saw a clip the other day of Charles and you together in the studio, maybe for the first time, back in the early ’90s.

JOHNSON: Yeah, when he was still playing.

ME: Right. And his voice was completely different …

JOHNSON: Oh, I know! “These two teams have some hostility …” He wasn’t The Chuckster.

ME: When he started regularly on “Inside” 15 years ago now, was he closer to what we see now than what we saw in that old clip?

JOHNSON: Yeah, I thought so. Back then, when he was a player, and I think you see this a lot, players aren’t going to say anything while they’re still playing that might get to somebody. If we’re showing video of somebody in a fight and he says, “Those are two guys who couldn’t break a pane of glass,” then he’s going to hear it next he’s playing against them. I think by the time he got to us — that was probably ’92 or ’93 that first time — he had become the most quotable guy in the league, all-interview team. So all of that built up to when he’s done playing, he had to be on TV and hopefully he would be with us. He’s closer to this than he was to that at the start, if that makes any sense.

ME: Whenever I come by the studios in Atlanta, you’re there in your office hours ahead of being on the air. What is a day like for you? How do you prepare?

JOHNSON: I try to be there 6-7 hours before we go on the air. And I think it’s all because after this many years you get a repetition and you know what a game day is like. It’s not unlike a player’s game day ritual. A player’s going to eat at this time and get to the arena by this time. Like Alex Gordon of the Royals, he’s got this game day regimen where he’s at the ballpark by noon, and he’s working out until this time, he’s got a stopwatch, he’s doing this, doing this, doing this. And I kind of have that same deal, where I use this time to recap last night for my files, I need this time to read the articles from around the country about the teams that are playing tonight, then we have the production meeting, so … it all falls out from that. To me it’s always been about the preparation, and if the day comes when you don’t want to do all the prep work, it’s time for me to say, later. But that hasn’t happened. I still love that. That’s the work. The show is fun, the prep is all the work, and if that prep ever gets to the point where I don’t feel like doing it, I need to check out.


VIDEO: NBA Rookies: Inside Inside

ME: I read an interview with you recently where you said your role on the show is basically being a rogue traffic cop.

JOHNSON: That was that Rolling Stone interview.

ME: Right. You’re usually the one asking the questions of the analysts and the players, but you have opinions yourself and you’ve been doing this 25 years, so, let me ask you, who do you think wins the West and the East this season?

JOHNSON: I think Chicago would be the favorite right now, and I think San Antonio would be the team to beat in the West right now, but again, so many things happen. You know, Kawhi Leonard has played one preseason game and now he’s got this eye thing, so, you don’t know. And Kevin Durant, does he come back 100-percent, or is that something that nags him? So that’s why it’s hard to do that. And you know what? I will share my opinions on that show when I feel like I need to. I got three guys here who have been in every conceivable NBA situation. They’re the ones who fans want to hear from. Sometimes you can tell how I feel because I’m going to throw a question out there that reflects where I’m coming from. But then like in a league-wide situation, I wasn’t hesitant at all to speak out on the Donald Sterling thing last year. That first day I said, “Look, if those are his words, the league has no place for him.” I think knowing your role is a big part of that, and knowing how to get these guys where they want to be, and knowing that if I ask Shaq this, Charles is going to broadside him, that’s where the rogue traffic cop comes in.

ME: How has it changed through the years about working with these three guys?

JOHNSON: I don’t think it’s changed very much. The first night that we ever did a show, Kenny and Charles walked out, and Charles asked Kenny what he was going to say about something, and Kenny said, “You’ll find out.” And that hasn’t changed. That’s been the way we do business. We’ve never said, like, “Hey this year why don’t we have everybody in the production meeting and rehearse each segment twice so we know exactly how long it’s going to last.” That would kill the show. It’s continued in what it does well, and that’s spontaneous, off-the-cuff, unrehearsed, unpredictable. And so no, I don’t think we’ve changed a whole lot.

ME: I guess the most obvious change was when you added Shaq a few years ago.

JOHNSON: You bring Shaq into that dynamic, and he’s the world’s biggest kid. I think what got his attention about the show is all the fun that we have, all the laughs, and that’s what he likes to do. As soon as got a grip on the fact that he had to do some homework. And I told him that the first couple months we all worked together. I said, “As much funny stuff as Chuck says and as outrageous as some of the stuff might be, he comes to the studio every night with at least five things he wants to unload before the night’s over. So do the same thing. Have a take on this team or that team.” And he’s done that. The three guys are so different and come at it from different perspectives, and it’s up to me to move it around.

ME: Charles said he doesn’t know how much longer he’ll do this. How long do you think you guys can keep this up?

JOHNSON: I didn’t think we’d be here today. Because what was it, 2000 when we started? I thought, you know what, when the novelty wears off for Charles, whatever time we can get and have the chance to work together, it’ll be fun. I never thought that coming into the 2014-15 season, we’d be talking about, “Here comes another year with all of us.” And then adding Shaq the last few. In this business you never have the next show guaranteed. And so, I always think whatever we’ve done has been a blessing to do it. Believe me, when we sit out there to get ready to do a show, there’s not a time you don’t look around at these guys and say, “Do you know how many people would like to be sitting in my chair?”