Posts Tagged ‘Adam Silver’

Steph Curry and Adam Silver finally get their handshake

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Before last night’s playoff game in Oakland between the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers, NBA commissioner Adam Silver was in attendance to present Stephen Curry with his second consecutive NBA award. But with all the noise and excitement, Commissioner Silver accidentally left Curry hanging when Curry tried to get a handshake.

But following the game, Silver and Curry were able to laugh about it and finally connect on that handshake…

David Letterman sure loved the NBA

NEW YORK - APRIL 11: Basketball legends Magic Johnson (left) and Larry Bird (center) talk with Dave (right) about their friendship and their rivalry on the court when they visit the Late Show with David Letterman Wednesday, April 11, 2012 on the CBS Television Network. This photo is provided by CBS from the Late Show with David Letterman photo archive. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)

Magic Johnson (left) and Larry Bird (center) are interviewed on the Late Show with David Letterman on April 11, 2012 (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)

By Jeff Case

In case you’ve been living under a rock or something the last week or so, here’s an update: The “Late Show with David Letterman” is nearing the finish line and, tonight, David Letterman will host his final show. For 33 years and across two networks, the “Late Show” forever changed the face of late-night TV talk shows behind Letterman’s unique sense of humor and style. Amazingly, when he walks off the stage tonight, he will have hosted 6,028 broadcasts.

(The Indianapolis Star has a great look at the life and times of the TV icon here.)

Letterman, an Indiana native, is also a well-known sports fan and, in particular, a basketball fan and Indiana Pacers fan (he even did a Pacers-themed Top 10 once). Everyone from Reggie Miller to Shaquille O’Neal to Michael Jordan (who gave Letterman some guff over wearing adidas shoes) appeared on the show, as did former NBA commissioner David Stern and current commissioner Adam Silver.

With that in mind, here’s a look back at some of Letterman’s best NBA-related interviews …

VIDEO: David Letterman interviews Michael Jordan in 1986
David Letterman interviews Patrick Ewing in 1989 (FF to the 30 minute mark)

VIDEO: David Letterman interviews Isiah Thomas in the late 1980s

VIDEO: David Letterman interviews Reggie Miller and Spike Lee in 1994

VIDEO: David Letterman interviews Grant Hill in 1994

VIDEO: David Letterman interviews Dennis Rodman in 1997

VIDEO: David Letterman interviews Charles Barkley in 2006

VIDEO: David Letterman interviews Dwyane Wade in 2006

VIDEO: David Letterman interviews Magic Johnson and Larry Bird


CJ sits down with the deputy commish

There have been a lot of personnel changes at NBA headquarters, most notably Adam Silver being promoted to NBA Commissioner. So who filled in his spot as NBA deputy commissioner, and what exactly does that job entail?

Meet Mark Tatum.

Portland Trail Blazer guard CJ McCollum spent a few minutes with Tatum backstage at the NBA Draft last month at Barclays Center in Brooklyn as the deputy commissioner was preparing to announce the Second Round for the first time.

Mark Tatum (left) and CJ McCollum

Mark Tatum (left) and CJ McCollum

CJ McCollum: As NBA deputy commissioner, a lot of people are not familiar with the responsibilities of that position. What are some of those?

Mark Tatum: In my position as deputy commissioner I’m largely responsible for the business of the NBA. It includes the sponsorship group, the global merchandise group, international business, events and marketing of the NBA, the communications department, as well as the WNBA and NBA D-League. The last area is our team marketing and business operations. So, it’s all the business operations of the league.

CJ: So you’re the guy to talk to for my endorsement opportunities?

MT: Absolutely. In my previous role as the head of global sponsorship, I spent a lot of time working with players and facilitating discussions between them and corporate sponsors. The Kia/Blake Griffin deal was a result of discussions I had with Blake’s representatives.

Prior to the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk contest in L.A., they called me and said, “Blake wants to jump over a car,” and I said, “That’s great. You know he has to jump over a Kia car, right?” That led to a longer term relationship with Blake. So, yes, we can talk. I can help facilitate the right introductions.

CJ: OK, great, that’s something we’ll save for later. A lot of people may not know you played a little bit of baseball back in the day, and you also worked for Major League Baseball, as well.

MT: That’s right I did. I see you did your research. I love it.

CJ: Tell me a little bit about your baseball experience and what you did for MLB.

MT: I grew up right here in Brooklyn, New York, not too far from here, in East Flatbush. I went to high school around the corner from the Barclays Center, Brooklyn Tech, and we won a New York City Public High School Championship. I played in the parade grounds, played my whole life and played in college as well at Cornell.

I ended up going to work for Major League Baseball after I graduated from business school and worked in their Corporate Sponsorship group. I thought that was going to be the dream job for me because I played baseball growing up. When the NBA was coming out of the lockout in 1998-99, I received a call. I had always been fascinated by the branding and marketing of the NBA, the globality of the NBA, and when they called me and said that they were interested in talking about positions, I decided to have that conversation.

I just loved the proposition that the NBA had. I loved the idea that the NBA was going to continue to grow on a global basis and they were going to continue to do great marketing. Joining the NBA was one of the best decisions I ever made.

CJ: Well, I’m glad you made that transition. For selfish reasons, I appreciate it! Just two more questions before I let you go. Obviously technology is big in the NBA now. What do you think the status is with technology integrating into the game, and where do you see it fitting in and advancing?

MT: It will be a big part of the game, technology, and particularly with the NBA, because our players and fans are early adapters of technology. We as a league have to be on the cutting edge of that technology and we are looking at all kinds of ways to continue to incorporate technology into our game.

Whether it’s tablets courtside or more sophisticated instant replay capability, technology can be used to speed up decisions on the court and provide data and analysis to help our players improve their game, to help our coaches and general managers and the entire NBA family improve. We view technology as an enabler to the game. It will continue to be a big part of it.

CJ: Lastly, I asked Adam how he felt about announcing the first round of the Draft and maybe not hearing as many boos. However, you may be the one on the receiving end of the those boos, so he told me to give you advice. You know he supports you no matter what, whether you get booed or not, and if you need a shoulder to lean on he’ll be there for you.

What advice do you have for the rookies?

MT: Well, my advice for the rookies is to, one, enjoy this night. All of our players who are here tonight have dreamed of this moment. They had a dream of growing up and making it to the NBA, and to have that dream fully realized is an amazing thing so appreciate that, put that in perspective, and then work hard. This is a league that values hard work, and if you work hard and invest time in your game and in getting better and improving, you will reap the rewards on the court and off the court.

CJ: I appreciate you taking the time to do this, I have to leave you with this last question. What is your favorite book? You know I was a guy who was into magazines growing up. My mom told me, “You need to expand your knowledge a little bit, you need to step outside your realm.”

What is your favorite book to read or do you have one that you can recommend?

MT: I like business books. I also like books that just kind of take you out of the realm of reality. I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s work, I think he’s an amazing writer. He wrote Outliers and Tipping Point. Those are some of the more recent books that I’ve enjoyed because he frames things in a very interesting way and I think that it’s a very provocative way of thinking about things. Gladwell makes you think about a different perspective, and so that would be one of the writers I would recommend.

CJ sits down with the commish

A year ago, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum was not only nervously waiting to be drafted into the NBA, but also prepping for the first big interview  of his career as a journalist with NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. Now with McCollum one season in and Silver as the new NBA Commissioner, the two sat down again, this time at Barclays Center in Brooklyn just hours prior to last month’s NBA Draft. Topics ranged from the expected — draft age, the state of the game — to the unexpected, such as secret societies and hip-hop. 

Adam Silver, CJ McCollum

Adam Silver, CJ McCollum

CJ McCollum: Describe your first year thus far as NBA Commissioner in one word.

Adam Silver: Eventful.  As you know, it hasn’t even been a full season. I would say in addition to being eventful, it’s been exhilarating. It has been fun, stressful at moments, but the good news is the league is in great shape.

One of the things I’ve learned is that there are so many people that care about the game that advice comes from everywhere and people are so willing to give their time and their wisdom to me, even in cases where they otherwise are competitors, whether it be [National Football League commissioner] Roger Goodell or [Major League Baseball commissioner] Bud Selig or [National Hockey League commissioner] Gary Bettman. There is a real fraternity out there of commissioners, which I didn’t realize. I think it must be a secret society.

Once I became NBA commissioner, they gave me the secret handshake, and everybody is all in it together. So, that’s been really positive.

CJ: You said there is help from the outsiders. Let’s talk a little bit about how former NBA Commissioner David Stern has helped you in making the transition to  being the commissioner.

AS: I worked directly for David for 22 years in five different jobs. So, being commissioner is my sixth job with the NBA.

I began at the NBA as David’s Special Assistant in August, 1992. So, a lot of it was through osmosis, just spending time and traveling with him, being around him and seeing how he handled various situations. So when the whole Clippers matter came up, he didn’t need to tell me what to do because I had worked under him for so long. I had been trained directly by him on how to respond to crisis situations.

CJ: Speaking of the Clippers situation … talk to me a little bit about what you went through the first 48 hours and how you went from hearing about the news to making the statement. What was that process?

AS: It was a whirlwind at the time the recording came out, and I was fortunate that I was traveling, because that allowed me to talk directly to a lot of players, coaches and owners. Certainly there were several other people, business partners of the NBA, friends, former commissioners, who I was able to talk to and all of whom were very forthcoming with their advice.

CJ: That’s interesting. I always wondered how crisis situations were handled, especially how it involves an owner/player situation. Let’s talk about the playoffs a little bit. As you said before, you got to see some of it live this year. It was very competitive. Touch on where you think the state of the game is right now? .

AS: The state of the game is excellent. I think we saw it through an incredibly engaging playoffs resulting in some of the best basketball I’ve seen in my career by the San Antonio Spurs. I think it gave a lot of teams and their fans hope that they could put together a championship team because what of we saw with the Spurs.

It wasn’t just about the aggregation of superstars — not that there’s anything wrong with that.  In the case of San Antonio, they had a different approach, one that was built through the Draft. You have a No. 1 overall pick in Tim Duncan, who is now 38 years old and playing at a remarkably high level; Kawhi Leonard, No. 15 overall, Tony Parker, No. 28 and Manu Ginobili, the last pick — 57th overall — of the second round.

Not to take anything away from the Miami Heat because it’s been an historic run: Four straight Finals appearances and two NBA championships.

On the court, the play has been terrific and off the court,  we’re seeing fans in all markets increasingly engage with their teams.  In certain cases, we are seeing the result of a new collective bargaining agreement and a new revenue sharing plan where teams in every market, if well managed, have the ability to compete for championships.

CJ: I was going to ask you about big markets versus small markets. Earlier in the season I  visited New York and you were talking about a small market like Portland and San Antonio versus an L.A. or New York. Do you think the league in five or 10 years will trend toward building a team the way the Spurs do opposed to a mega team up of superstar players?

AS: I support a player’s right to go where he wants and I think that is part of what free agency is.  It has been something bargained for by your union, and hopefully players are in the position to make decisions to play in cities they want to be in or to play with other players they want to be with.  I have also learned that players want to win and that they are going to be attracted to winning situations. I think that is regardless of market sizes.

Players have told me over the years they want to be in the smaller markets. If you are in a market  such as Portland and you are the only major league team in the city, there is a real ability and opportunity to impact everything that happens there and change the  entire culture.  It’s a lot more difficult  in a city where there are multiple major league teams and it’s just a much bigger market.

If you look at the conference finals from this  season, all four teams were in the bottom half of the league in terms of market size. A lot of people think of Miami now as a big market but they rank 17th  among the 30 teams by market size. Before LeBron went to Miami, I’d never heard players around the league saying, “I can’t wait until I’m a free agent so I can get to Miami.” You don’t hear that in the case of the NFL with the Dolphins, or frankly with Major League Baseball with the Marlins. It’s because he went there and created something special, and they are winning.

CJ: Chemistry is huge.

AS: Exactly.

CJ: So, we’re going to change the pace a little bit and talk about the Draft. Tell me a little bit about how you’re feeling about going out there for the first round for the first time. Are you expecting cheers? Boos? What is it going to be like to switch roles a little bit here?

Commissioner Silver greets No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins last month in Brooklyn.

Commissioner Silver greets No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins last month in Brooklyn. (Joe Murphy /NBAE)

AS: I’m excited. I’m not sure exactly what to expect. I realize it’s a little bit of a tradition, booing the commissioner. I’ll tell you a funny story from last year. I did my usual second-round selections, and afterwards, I came offstage and a few of my colleagues said to me, “What did it feel like to be booed?” I said “Oh, I didn’t realize I was booed. I thought they were cheering.”

CJ: I’m going to talk to Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum later on tonight. Any advice for him?

AS: My advice to Mark is to keep going. It’s probably the same thing that players do when they’re on the road and they hear fans booing. You just have to stay on your game. 

C.J.: Draft age. You see Andrew Wiggins, you see all these guys — 19, 20 years old. I’m a guy who took the four-year route.What’s your take on the Draft age, and do you think maybe it will be changed or will you guys kind of keep it the way it is?

AS: It’s not a simple issue.  There are very good arguments on both sides. I understand young men saying to me, “If I feel that I’m ready whether that’s coming out of high school or coming out after one year of college, I should have the right.”

There is a balance of factors that you need to look at. I think ultimately it is in the best interest of the league to raise the age minimum from 19 to 20. Of course that’s something that cannot be done unilaterally. That can only happen through a negotiation with the Players Association.

From an economic standpoint we pay 50 percent of revenue to the players.  That’s how the salary cap is determined. That’s how ultimately players’ salaries are determined.  Just so it’s clear, there’s no economic savings to us by raising the minimum age from age 19 to 20.We pay the 50 percent no matter what.

Ultimately, we believe we would have a better league if our teams were able to see these young men play one more year. They would be more equipped for the rigors of coming into the league both physically and mentally.  As you know, playing at this level is a tough transition., There are a lot of injuries and distractions coming from all directions as a player.  To me, there is a big difference in your life between 18 and 19, and between 19 and 20.  So my preference would be to raise the age.  It would need to be discussed with the Union and the NCAA needs to come to the table as well.

Recently, there’s been a lot more focus on student athletes at colleges and whether or not their scholarships are covering all of their needs.  Things like whether or not there should be supplemental payments to insure that they can have the appropriate meal plan and be able to get a laptop if they need one or if there is adequate insurance, especially for a career-ending injury in college.  So what I’d like to see is for college athletes to be covered and raise the minimum age.

C.J.: Some people are going to be happy and unhappy whatever you decide. Let’s talk a little bit about technology. I know the NBA is using technology, trying to reach other countries and globally trying to expand the game. What type of influence do you think technology is having in the NBA and where do you see it going?

AS: I can’t think of anything that’s had a greater influence than technology on the NBA, on the game itself.

First of all, the various replay triggers that we have put in place over the last several years has had a big, positive impact. Because of the high definition feeds and the increasing number of cameras that are covering the game and the clarity of those pictures, we are able to do a better job of officiating the game.

There needs to be a balance between getting the call right and additional stops in games.  This is a game of flow and momentum so we are very focused on that.

I think there is a very thorough replay system for us to do a better job officiating the games. One of the new additions we’re talking about for next year is a having a centralized replay room to assist the referees.  Those plays could be cued up faster with a group of officials sitting in a room. For example, when the crew chief goes to look at the replay at the courtside monitor, he would be assured that he’s looking at the right feed.

In terms of broadband internet technology, the world of blogs and apps has also had a significant impact on the game.  It makes it that much easier to follow the game. When I visit, I can look up anything about your statistics, and I can run all kinds of different permutations through our stats section. We have these SportVu cameras in all the arenas now.  Probably your coaches have shown you some of that breakdown.  We have cameras in the rafters in all the arenas, and so we can track players on the court and I think it really helps the coaches do a better job diagramming plays, understanding defenses. There are so many ways that technology leads to a better league.

C.J.: You bring some interesting points. The TV one is something that sticks out to me because I like to watch it on a very large TV. Let’s talk a little bit about your favorite technology.  I think last year you may have said it was your laptop or something of that sort.  What’s your favorite technology?

AS: The official technology partner of the NBA is Samsung. Of course, there’s the Samsung Galaxy which is my favorite technology.

C.J.: I have to put that as my favorite, too. I picked up a Samsung today. What type of music do you listen to?

AS: I listen to a lot of old-school music.  I still buy through all these various music services.  A lot of music of the ’70s from when I was growing up.  But I have very eclectic music taste.  I’ll listen to classical occasionally.  I listen to a lot of R&B, you know sort of more associated with my childhood.  I listen to hip-hop music.  I’ve gotten to know some of the artists through my time at the league. I’m sort of more curious.

C.J.: Do you have a list of favorite rappers?

AS: I’ll begin with Jay-Z.  I’m a fan of Jay-Z.  I got to know him through his ownership of the Nets, and now of course as he’s representing players in the league. I’ve been to several of his concerts. I’ve become a big fan of his, and not just because of his music, but because of his impact on society.  I found him to be an amazing person.

C.J.: So would Jay-Z be the last concert you attended?

AS: I haven’t been to many concerts lately. I go to a lot of games. The last concert I attended was Jay-Z at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

C.J.: Did you body surf?

AS: For the record, I did not. And just to show I’m getting a little old, and Jay if you’re reading this … it was kind of loud.

C.J.: Yeah it’s loud for me, too!  You talked a little about the importance of apps and how you can use fantasy apps, there’s apps for weather.  You know, there are apps for anything and everything.  What’s your favorite app and which one do you use the most?

AS: You’re going to think I’m a shameless shill for the NBA, but my favorite app is NBA GameTime. It’s the app where you can not only get all the statistics about games, but you can get the live feed of our home and away broadcasts for every game, and the quality is just off the charts. It’s the way I watch probably the majority of games these days. And of course, for this summer, I’ll watch Summer League action — Orlando and Las Vegas — on the NBA Summer League Live app.

I’m also a big fan of  the New York Post app,  it’s terrific. Unlike most newspaper apps, the paper displays in tabloid form. It’s as if you’re turning the pages rather than looking at the way the articles are filed digitally.

CJ: You gave me great advice last year. You said take advantage of your opportunities.  I just want to thank you for that. I appreciate that. I have a radio show now largely in part to Excel and your team. You know, if you ever want my autograph, I’ll be happy to give it to you.

AS: All those years I spent working for David [Stern], for the first 20 I worked for him, everyone wanted his autograph. Toward the end of his commissionership, people wanted selfies. And now everyone has gone completely with selfies.

CJ: We’ll take a selfie before I leave. That is a great point. I can get the NBA to retweet, so I can get my followers up. It will be perfect. This upcoming Draft has a lot of very good players in it.  Would you have any advice for them? And my last question,  if you had the No. 1 overall pick in the Draft, who would you take?

AS: If I had the No. 1 overall pick in the Draft, I’d pick … I can’t tell you. I’m glad it’s not my decision to make. I get to read the names.

In terms of advice for the Draft guys, I hear this on the radio all the time — don’t text and drive. It’s one of the most dangerous things out there. Everybody knows, and hopefully you would never take a drink and drive. I think we all think we can multitask and there’s a temptation for all of us when we’re driving cars to just take a quick look at that text or that email. I think that’s something I want to make sure that these young men never do and for all of your listeners and followers as well.

For the young men entering the Draft, stay focused on your game.

Congratulations to you on the Sirius XM show, and all your continued work on the journalism front.  It’s great to see you taking advantage of these opportunities.

For these other young men, it’s important to focus on your health and nutrition and your sleep.  It’s a challenge because there are so many distractions.  You have to have the discipline to say that this is a job, playing in the NBA. I’m going to work at it, in essence, all the time, to maximize my potential. I’m thrilled to hear you’re working hard this summer.

CJ: I appreciate it. I appreciate the advice, and I’ll pass it along. Thank you for taking the time and we’ll get the selfie done.

McCollum: Fandom On Your Sleeve

By CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers, for

It is nearly impossible to walk down the street in any town in the United States and not run into someone sporting the logo of a professional sports team. Hats, gloves, socks, shoelaces, jackets, shirts, shorts – you name it, you can probably get it with your favorite team logo. The NBA has one of the largest global merchandise businesses in sports, with products available in more than 100 countries on six continents.

Sal LaRocca

Sal LaRocca

I had an opportunity to sit down with Sal LaRocca, the then Executive Vice President of Global Merchandising at the NBA, who oversees the league’s global consumer products business. He has since been named President, Global Operations and Merchandising, adding the oversight of the operations of the league’s 13 international offices to his responsibilities.

LaRocca started his career at the NBA in 1990 (which he kindly pointed out was before I was born), and has brokered the league’s partnerships with adidas, Panini and Spalding, as well as developed the global video game and e-commerce business. Throughout his tenure, LaRocca has seen incredible change and growth in the league’s merchandising business.

“The retailers used to be small, independent brands focused only on filling their orders,” LaRocca said. “When global brands like Nike, adidas and Under Armour jumped in, the business became more sophisticated with retailers becoming their own stand-alone brands, with the NBA as only part of their overall image.”

The advent of the internet also provided access to the purchasing power of NBA fans around the world. In 1990, less than 2 percent of the overall business came from outside the U.S. Now, about 40-45 percent comes from outside. The business has continued to grow.

“Overall, the merchandising business is largely driven by big companies, social media and the internet, and it is done on a global basis,” LaRocca said.

With all that change and access to consumers, you can only imagine what that translates to in terms of revenue. Estimates are that sales total between $2 and 3 billion, but the revenue is significantly less than that. The league does not make any money from fan purchases at retailer locations, but rather from wholesale deals with licensees. Of that profit, any revenue from products with player images or numbers is split 50/50 with the Players Association.

In deciding what goes on shelves, it all comes down to location, location, location. There are certain products – jerseys and video games – that are popular around the world. Other products resonate only locally. For example, the NBA is considered more of a fashionable lifestyle brand in Korea, so the product there features clothes that are more street wear than fan statement, with logos and apparel in colors and styles you won’t find anywhere else. Can you imagine a Blazers jacket in pink and yellow instead of black and red?

It’s great that there are so many options for fans to show support for their teams. But let’s get down to where it really matters – the jerseys on the court. It seems like there is a new style, cut or color introduced on a regular basis. What’s it all about?

C.J. McCollum (Sam Forencich/NBAE)

C.J. McCollum (Sam Forencich/NBAE)

Fashion, marketing and performance technology.

From the fashion side, the different iterations of oncourt apparel are the league’s way of standing out in a very cluttered world of products. A lot of thought goes into figuring out how to push the fashion envelope to stay in front of trends and help integrate NBA merchandise into fans’ lives outside of the arenas.

“There is always an evolution, and as things change and trends evolve, it’s up to us to try new and different things,” LaRocca said.

Jerseys also play a pivotal role in marketing at both the league and team level. There are certain NBA-led initiatives, such as Noches éne•bé•a, that will feature special jerseys as one component of an overall marketing campaign. Among teams, LaRocca said jerseys are driven by what each organization wants to do in its particular market.

“Different jerseys give teams an opportunity to continue reinventing themselves to the local fan base and produce sales opportunities,” he said, “especially as things get more competitive in team markets with other professional leagues.”

When it comes to performance enhancement, the current trend is fabric that is light and dries more quickly. According to LaRocca, the goal is to put players in a position to perform at their best.

“When you decide what helps performance, it can’t make you faster, can’t make you jump higher, can’t make your arms three inches longer,” he said, “but if a uniform can stay light on your body and can dry quickly, and if you never notice that you have a uniform on, that probably is helpful. “

No change is without controversy, which the league is familiar with. There are a lot of people with a lot of opinions, including 450 players that have to wear the jerseys. LaRocca accepts that with so many opinions, you are never going to get 100 percent approval. The solution lies in clear communication and engaging players in product development.

“Our job is to generate revenue, and the more we generate, the more we share with players in the 50/50 split,” LaRocca said. “We aren’t trying to embarrass players or make them look unprofessional and compromise their performance.”

During February, players wore special Black History Month shooting shirts, which Miami Heat guard Ray Allen was very involved in designing.

“[Commissioner] Adam Silver has been very focused on getting players as involved as possible in overall business to educate them on what, how and why we do things,” LaRocca said. “We are trying to do what we can to raise awareness and revenue for everyone.”

I joked with LaRocca that I had some great ideas, and he extended a standing invitation to visit him at NBA headquarters to talk shop. So stay tuned for a limited edition CJ McCollum sock line!

In the end, it is amazing how NBA logos make their way around the world and into the wardrobe. Merchandise allows fans to connect with their favorite athletes and literally wear their passion on their sleeves.

Yao Ming Still Making People Look Small

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We’ve been here before. A few months ago we saw what happens when biggest of big men Yao Ming takes photos next to normal-sized folks. The result: Everyone looks tiny.

And if we ever needed confirmation, here’s a photo from China (from Adam Silver‘s Instagram, of all places) of Yao Ming hanging out with the 5-3 Muggsy Bogues, the shortest player in NBA history.

Yep, Yao’s still really tall.

(via Deadspin)

Draft Diaries: C.J. McCollum

By C.J. McCollum, for

The Graduate

CJ McCollum and family

The proud graduate with his family.

When I saw the look on my Mom and Dad’s face as I crossed the stage at graduation, I knew all the hard work and late nights in the library were worth it! I graduated from Lehigh University a couple weeks ago, and not only did I feel a great sense of pride, but I had a lot of fun! My whole family was there to see me graduate. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Aunt, and almost all of my cousins were there. We did miss my brother, though, who is overseas playing professional basketball in Greece. I hadn’t seen my family since Easter, so it was nice to spend time with everybody and enjoy the end of a fun, exciting chapter and the start of a new one with them.

NBA TV was on-site documenting the whole thing. They started taping my family and me before we left the house in the morning and then captured more footage at graduation. They also interviewed my teammates and coaching staff at Lehigh. It’s supposed to air when it gets closer to the Draft. Oh, and I took a selfie with the school president as she handed me my diploma, which was hilarious – I hope NBA TV got that on film!

A lot of students and their families were asking for my picture and for an autograph. It took my Mom and I about an hour and a half to get from the field where we had graduation back to the car since I kept stopping to talk to people. It was definitely fun for me, especially because I can clearly remember a time when nobody wanted my autograph. In the last two years, as I’ve progressed in basketball and made more of a name for myself, I realize I get that request more and more often and I take a lot of pride in that.

The whole graduation experience was filled with mixed emotions. It was great to celebrate and get together with my friends one last time in a college setting. I felt content with my college career because I did just about everything I wanted to accomplish, except winning a National Championship of course. It was tough, but all of the hard work was definitely worth it!

Front Row At The Draft Lottery

I had a chance to go to the NBA Draft Lottery, which was awesome! I went with Anthony Bennett and Michael Carter-Williams, two fellow Draftees I’ve spent a lot of time with since I started training in Long Island. Not only were we sitting front row, but I also got the chance to meet Damian Lillard, who was the 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year. We’ve been in contact over the last few years, so it was good to finally meet him in person. I had a chance to speak to him privately about his experience transitioning from a smaller school to the NBA. I also was interested in hearing how he stayed consistent and dealt with the ups and downs of his rookie season.

After I spoke to him on the side, NBA TV taped Anthony, Michael and I picking Damian’s brain a little bit, asking all kinds of questions about life in the NBA.

Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, top picks in the 2012 NBA Draft, were there too and it was real nice to meet them. They were cool and happy to share their experiences with us.

We also met and shook hands with Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner, soon to be Commissioner Adam Silver. I hope to be shaking Commissioner Stern’s hand again very soon at the Draft!

I’ve always watched the NBA Draft Lottery on TV, but to be there live and in a situation where the Lottery will dictate which team will Draft me … now that’s very interesting.

Eye On The Prize

We’ve been tapering down our training a bit so nobody gets hurt, especially since we’re traveling to a lot of team workouts. Of course we’re still getting in our reps, but it’s just not as intense.

It has been nice to see all of the positive feedback from teams and the media. Sometimes I look at the player rankings, but I don’t read into it too much or let it alter my mindset. The path to the Draft is a long process and all you can control is how hard you work and how well you prepare yourself and I feel like I’ve done a good job with both of those things.

It’s actually been easy for me to stay focused and on the right track because I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity for a long time. I’m almost there, I can taste it … the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp, the NBA Draft Lottery, next thing I know it will be Draft night, so it’s all business right now. I have been able to enjoy myself a little bit though. Last week I took in a Yankee/Mets game, which was great.  Special thanks to the Lehigh Alum who took care of us at the game. We have a great alumni network and I’m proud to now be part of it! Aside from the baseball game and a barbeque on Memorial Day, it has been all about basketball!

As for my mindset now, I’m fully recovered from my injury, and my body feels strong. I have my college degree. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity and hope to reach my dream of not only getting drafted, but also becoming an NBA mainstay and building a legacy in the league. I’ve worked extremely hard, and I’m ready for the next step!

I’m not sure if I’ll be blogging again before the Draft, so make sure to follow me on Twitter @CJMcCollum and on instagram and vine @3JMCCOLLUM to catch the latest on my journey. Wish me luck!

A Night At The NBA Draft Lottery

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last night in New York City, a handful of NBA franchises looking for a little luck gathered in Times Square to try and beat the odds. That’s right, it’s the annual NBA Draft lottery, where the best of the worst vie for the first pick in the NBA Draft. I showed up and brought my cell phone camera along with me to see what went down behind the scenes.

Let’s get to the pictures …

photo 1

I arrived in Times Square right around 6:30 p.m. and fought my way over to the ABC Studios, where they shoot “Good Day America” or “Today This Morning” or whatever they call it — one of those morning shows that airs when I’m still asleep. There’s never really a good time to be in Times Square, because it is consistently crowded and busy and bustling, but 6:30 p.m. must be just about the worst time. Add in that it was humid and in the mid-80s today, and Times Square felt a bit like being stuck in a mosh pit. Or at the bottom of a mosh pit. (more…)