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

Horry Scale: CDR pays dividends

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com


VIDEO: CDR’s game-winner

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s been three weeks since we last fired up the Horry Scale, and in the time since, we’ve been mostly focused on the playoff race. As teams fought for position, somehow we had no game-winning buzzer-beaters that would require the Horry Scale to be utilized. Tonight that all ended, in the inked-out arms of Charlotte’s Chris Douglas-Roberts, as the Bobcats knocked off the Atlanta Hawks, 95-93.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain why we’re here: What is the Horry Scale? For those who are new around these parts, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.

One thing I’d like to clear up: The Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater. So we’re talking about not only the shot, but also the play that creates the shot, the situation and the drama, the celebrations … basically, everything surrounding and including the shot. So when I gave Randy Foye a 3 Horry rating, that wasn’t only a reflection of his shot, which was admittedly remarkable, as I wrote, but also the play, which was awful. Taj Gibson’s lefty layup wasn’t the toughest shot, but that inbounds play was terrific. Basically, everything matters.

We all clear? OK, let’s break tonight’s shot down, our 17th Horry Scale entry of the season…

DIFFICULTY
A runner over two defenders? Tougher than it sounds. We should say here that the Hawks weren’t playing with a full deck, as they gave rotation members DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap the night off. (The Bobcats also limited the minutes of their key players.) With playoff berths secure for both teams, they seemed content to let some of their bench players battle this one out. That said, CDR was well defended, and his shot flew high into the air before splashing through the net.

GAME SITUATION
Gary Neal and Sekou Smith’s favorite player, Luke Ridnour, carried the Bobcats throughout the fourth quarter. But the Hawks rallied late after a 5-0 run from Shelvin Mack brought them within two, and then a jumper from Lou Williams with 2.6 to play knotted the game at 93. With the game tied, the Bobcats inbounded the ball on the side in front of their basket. With Martin Sargent-lookalike Josh McRoberts inbounding, the Bobcats sent Ridnour and Chris Douglas-Roberts running in a wide arc, as Al Jefferson set a pick and Gary Neal flashed to the corner. The Hawks covered all of this very well, and none of the initial options were open. With maybe a second left to inbound the ball, Douglas-Roberts flashed from the basline to the top of the key, and momentarily lost defender Lou Williams on a brush screen from Jefferson. CDR drove left, pulled up from just inside the free-throw line, and knocked down the game-winner over a recovering Williams and help defender Mike Muscala, with no time to play.

CELEBRATION
The celebration was mostly subdued. Gary Neal wrapped Douglas-Roberts in a bear hug in front of the Hawks bench, and even Bobcats sideline reporter Stephanie Ready got in a high five. it felt like both teams were more concerned with the playoffs starting later this week.

GRADE
I’m going to give this one two Horrys. It was a nice shot, sure, but when one team doesn’t care enough to have their best players in the game, it detracts from the fun a bit. Not that this should matter to Charlotte — they wanted to win and ran the best play possible for them to win it. Heckuva shot from CDR, no doubt. But all in all, I’m going two stars …

horry-star horry-star

What say you? How many Horry’s would you give Chris Douglas-Roberts’ GWBB?

POLL: Which Nick Young 360 was the swaggiest of them all?

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Lakers guard Nick Young has been one of the few bright spots this season for Lakers fans. The Lakers may have missed the postseason, but Young, who calls himself Swaggy P, has provided a steady stream of entertainment, both on the court and off the court.

During last night’s game against the Grizzlies, Young drove baseline and completed a 360 layup. It was an awesome shot, the kind of singular, creative, athletic move that we’ve come to expect from Young. But as we look back through Young’s history, we realized the 360 is a staple of Young’s arsenal.

So we put together a Swaggy sampler of some of Nick Young’s greatest spinning hits. Vote for the swaggiest of them all in the poll at the bottom…

1. Last night against the Grizzlies

VIDEO: Nick Young 360 against Grizzlies

2. 360 dunk last season

VIDEO: Nick Young 360 dunk

3. 360 denied by Andris Biedrins

VIDEO: Biedrins blocks 360

4. 360 against the Grizzlies two years ago

VIDEO: Other 360 against the Grizzlies

5. 360 against the Lakers

VIDEO: 360 against the Lakers

6. 360 over the backboard

VIDEO: 360 over the backboard

Your turn. Rate the swag, please…

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…

Andre Iguodala drops season’s best crossover

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We have a leader for the next Crossover Contest. Last night’s Warriors/Nuggets game turned out to be wildly entertaining, as a team well out of the playoff race put together an epic comeback from down 20 to beat the Warriors in Oakland. And while Denver’s Timofey Mozgov put together one of the best stat lines of his life, finishing with 23 points (not 93) and 29 rebounds, the play of the game, and maybe the season, belonged to Golden State’s Andre Iguodala.

It happened in the first quarter, with Denver’s Quincy Miller guarding Iguodala in transition. Andre had the ball in his left hand, and then crossed over to his right hand. At this point Miller seemed ready to make a play for the ball, and at that exact moment, Iguodala crossed it back to his left hand, leaving Miller in a pile on the court…

Andre-Iguodala-shakes-Quincy-Miller

The only way that could have been better would have been if Iguodala just put the ball on the floor and walked away. The best part about all this? Quincy Miller seemed to take it all in stride after the game on Twitter…

(gif via Gifsection.com)

Shaqtin’ A Fool: Vol. 3, Episode 22


VIDEO: Check out this week’s nominees

The regular season is just about in the books, but across the NBA, the foolishness is ramping up. Vote for your favorite Shaqtin’ A Fool moment and tweet your favorite to #Shaqtin!
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Throwback Thursday: UConn Alumni


VIDEO: Huskies in the NBA

Welcome to Throwback Thursday here on the All Ball Blog. Each week, we’ll delve into the NBA’s photo archives and uncover a topic and some great images from way back when. Hit us up here if you have suggestions for a future TBT on All Ball. Suggestions are always welcome!

Today’s Topic: UConn Alumni

The University of Connecticut won their fourth NCAA Tournament Championship (1999, 2004, 2011, 2014) on Monday with a 60-54 win over the University of Kentucky.

Unsurprisingly, this dominant college basketball program has developed a number of NBA players. This Throwback Thursday, we look back at the best NBA players who attended UConn.

(NOTE: Click the “caption” icon below the photo for details about each moment.)


Gallery: Throwback Thursday: NBA UConn alumni

Who do you think is the best former Husky? Leave your comments below!