Last night, the Miami Heat hosted the San Antonio Spurs in a TNT showdown on national TV. As such, the Heat decided this would be a “throwback” game and sported uniforms the team wore during the franchise’s 1990s era. But they didn’t stop there with the historical stuff.
They had a throwback “I Love This Game”-themed commercial, playing off the popular advertising campaign the NBA used in the 1990s …
… and perhaps the best part, they had the players do a 1990s-style infomercial featuring Amar’e Stoudemire, Dwyane Wade, TylerJohnson, Goran Dragic and Chris Andersen dancing to hits from Bobby Brown (“Every Little Step”), Kris Kross (“Jump”), Tom Jones (“It’s Not Usual”/The Carlton) Los Del Rio (“The Macarena”) and M.C. Hammer (“Can’t Touch This”).
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — On this pivotal day in the season of giving, the NBA family took a moment to celebrate the 10th anniversary of NBA Cares, the arm of the NBA “that builds on the NBA’s mission of addressing important social issues.” “Good Morning America” recently caught up with several current and former players to celebrate the anniversary of the program. Click below to check it out…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Late last night, as the All-Star Game in Madison Square Garden was dwindling to a close, word broke that the New York Knicks had reached a buyout with their forward Amar’e Stoudemire. This became official today, as the Knicks waived Stoudemire, potentially allowing him to sign with a team heading to the playoffs. Today, Stoudemire took to social media to say goodbye to Knicks fans via a poem…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The New York Knicks were off to a franchise record-worst start. The Charlotte Hornets had lost ten in a row. But despite initial appearances, tonight didn’t do anything to remedy the situation for the Knicks.
Twenty-four hours after losing a close game at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, tonight in Charlotte the Knicks mounted an impressive comeback to hold a one-point lead with four seconds left, only to see their win float away with a lay-up from Charlotte’s Kemba Walker.
And it’s not like the Knicks, off to a 4-17 start and losers of six consecutive coming in, were the only team struggling here. The Hornets, a team tabbed by many to compete for a Southeast Division title, came into this game riding a 10-game losing skid with a 5-15 record. But it all ended in the capable hands of Kemba Walker. (And not for the first time.)
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.
Let’s get to the game-winner…
To be honest, it should have been harder. With 4 seconds left on the clock, the Hornets had the ball out of bounds along the sideline, down one. The Knicks had J.R. Smith — not noted for his defense — guarding the inbounder. And Hornets center Al Jefferson set what was basically a cursory screen on Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni, as Kemba Walker popped free to receive the pass.
And then — and this is the weird part — Walker just dribbled directly down the left side to the basket and shot a lay-up to win it. Amar’e Stoudemire tried to help out and contend against the shot, but his defense seemed more unintentional than anything.
Did Prigioni think he had help behind him? The Knicks had a foul to give, did they think someone was going to take that foul? Did Knicks coach Derek Fisher try to call a twenty-second timeout from halfcourt before the play?
There are more questions than answers. All we know is that Kemba Walker got a layup to win the game.
Both teams needed — desperately — a win tonight. And the Knicks mounted an epic comeback, losing at one point by 21, and entering the fourth quarter down 16, 85-69. But despite the comeback, on that last play the Hornets just seemed to want it more.
Like we said, it was huge for both teams, but Charlotte arguably needed this more than the Knicks. (Ten game losing streak > six game losing streak.) After adding Lance Stephenson in the offseason, the Hornets were supposed to be better than they were a year ago. Instead, they’ve struggled mightily. Someone had to lose, and tonight it was the Knicks. Again.
Walker ended up on his back under the basket, after extending himself to get the shot up and over Stoudemire. When the ball dropped through, Gerald Henderson and Marvin Williams jumped atop Walker and helped him to his feet, and Lance Stephenson arrived moments later. In the clip above, we even get one of those cool long-range crowd shots where you see the entire arena rise to their feet as one when the game-winner drops.
It was a nice play, a nice shot, and nice win for a Charlotte team that needed a win. But it was also incredibly simple, and came during a regular season game. Prigioni seemed to think he had help coming from behind, as Walker basically walked directly to the rim for the winning bucket. I don’t want to discount the skill required to get a shot off over a big man, but to be honest, the Knicks couldn’t have defended the play much more poorly.
So I’m giving Kemba Walker’s game winner 2 Horrys.
What say you? How many Horrys would you give Kemba Walker’s GWBB?
2. Swift’s latest hit is a song called “Shake It Off,” but as we all know, a song isn’t a real hit until it gets parodied by an NBA mascot and some players. Take it away, Denver Nuggets. And you go, Timofey Mozgov…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In almost every NBA locker room after every game, the media enters the room to find the players sitting with their feet buried in buckets of ice water. They do this as an anti-inflammatory, to help reduce stress and swelling immediately after the rigors of an NBA game.
Ice water, I’ve seen a number of times. But yesterday on Instagram, Amar’e Stoudemire posted a photo of himself utilizing a recovery method that I’ve never seen. Below is a picture of Amar’e soaking in a tub filled with…red wine? As Amar’e said in the comment, “Recovery Day! Red Wine Bath!!”
A photo posted by (əˈ•mär•ray) Amar'e Stoudemire (@amareisreal) on
Just because I’ve never heard of it doesn’t mean it’s not real. After doing some extensive research on the topic — a.k.a. one Google search — I learned that this is called “vinotherapy,” and it “can boost circulation, shift cellulite and make you feel invigorated thanks to grapeseed oil — its key ingredient. This is because, they say, polyphenols extracted from grape seeds are a powerful antioxidant – our body’s defenses against highly-reactive molecules that can lead to premature aging.”
You learn something new every day. And here all this time I thought water worked pretty well.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — As part of Jimmy Kimmel‘s series of shows that ran before the NBA Finals, he decided to have some fun with All Ball favorite Metta World Peace. So Kimmel recruited Metta’s former Knicks teammate Amar’e Stoudemire, and along with Jimmy’s Cousin Sal, they gave Metta a limo ride he won’t soon forget…
Coaches are fond of telling their team that whoever plays with the most physicality will win nine out of 10 times. The Pistons of the late 1980s took that to heart and it led to a dynasty and adulation many years later.
It didn’t work as well for the early to mid-90s New York Knicks, who boasted a trio of imposing bruisers — Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason — but couldn’t get out the East. Throughout the years, plenty of teams followed the rough and tumble blueprint. While it doesn’t always result in a championship, a physical brand of basketball does make things competitive…which is ultimately what we want to see.
Sunday night at ORACLE Arena, the (current) Knicks discovered what a bit of nasty could do. First Tyson Chandler got demonstrative on Jermaine O’Neal, capped off by a searing stare-down:
Gotta love how Stephen Curry just helped himself to his feet, wiped his mouth off with his jersey and trotted up the court. As fierce as any competitor in the NBA, he dropped a cool 32 points and single-handedly almost led Golden State to a dub. But for another night at least, the bullies captured the flag.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I grew up in Atlanta during the ’90s, a time that coincided with the run of Dikembe Mutombo as an Atlanta Hawk. Mutombo never really developed a dominant offensive post game, he was terrific on defense. He got dunked on from time to time, yes, but that was because he tried to block any shot that came near the rim. And when he did get his hands on a shot attempt, Mutombo generally turned that shot around pretty quickly. And then came the crowning glory: The Finger Wag.
It was such a prevalent maneuver that my friends and I started using it in traffic to express our displeasure with other drivers. It was cheeky, but ultimately non-threatening. Also, it was awesome.
Even though Mutombo retired a few seasons ago, the finger wag remains relevant. Just yesterday, for instance we got two displays of the Mutombo finger wag. First Amar’e Stoudemiredelivered one after blocking Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson…
And then we saw one from the stands, as Joakim Noah‘s dad, Yannick, dropped one following a block from Joakim that caused a Miami 24-second violation…
Mutombo may be gone. The finger wag will never die.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s been a rather eventful season for Knicks guard J.R. Smith, a designation that has pretty much nothing to do with his play on the court. If anything, we’ve learned that if you’re not on your toes, J.R. might untie your shoes, or pull your headband down over your eyes. And if you fall asleep around J.R., like a bunch of the Knicks players did yesterday on the team plane, leaving J.R. with nothing else to do, he might post photos of your sleeping on Instagram.
To wit, Iman Shumpert (wearing leather pants) and Tim Hardaway Jr.