ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It took them almost every minute of every game, but last night the New Orleans Pelicans beat the San Antonio Spurs and qualified for the NBA playoffs. This was cause for celebration, and while the Pelicans celebrated on the court, they were able to cut loose a bit more in this video from inside the locker room, which also includes coach Monty Williams’ congratulatory speech as well as their postgame prayer. Great stuff…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of the most exciting players in the NBA this season has been New Orleans big man Anthony Davis, who has one of the most versatile games the NBA has seen in years. Davis may be able to do many different things, but one thing he hasn’t done — yet, at least — is post a quadruple-double: racking up double figures in points, rebounds, assists and blocks or steals in the same game.
This is has only happened four times in the NBA since the league began tracking blocks and steals in 1973. Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, one of those instances happened, when Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon went for 18 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and 11 blocks against the Milwaukee Bucks. How dominant was Hakeem back then? Earlier that month, he had a game with 29 points, 18 boards, 11 blocks and 9 assists.
So while Hakeem’s old Houston Rockets franchise plays a national TV game tomorrow against the Washington Wizards (12:30 p.m. EST on ABC), and we can watch Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat man the middle for these teams, but check out these highlights of Hakeem dominating twenty-five years ago…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Tonight in New Orleans, for their game against the Boston Celtics, the New Orleans Pelicans will celebrate ’80s Night. I’m not sure how this will be manifested during the game — slower tempo? worse statistical analysis? — but they Pelicans are getting people fired up for ’80s Night with this video showing some of the players, including Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis, getting their ’80s on to the smooth sounds of Technotronic’s “Pump Up The Jam”…
Anthony Davis has done it all for the Pelicans in this very impressive breakout season … well, almost everything, until Friday night. Scoring, rebounds, blocked shots, steals, assists? The only thing missing from his resume in 2014-15 was a buzzer-beater, and that was signed, sealed and delivered in the nick of time to bail out the Pelicans and, more importantly, keep the Thunder at bay in the race for one of the final playoff spots in the West.
Yes, it was only fitting that his first buzzer-beater happened in a big moment and a big game. The Pelicans came to OKC with a one-game lead over the Thunder for ninth place, and this was designated, at least by folks in OKC, as the game in which the Thunder would make their move in the standings. They used much of the last two months digging out of a tough start this season caused mainly by injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. With the season nearly two-thirds over, time is of the essence, not only for OKC but New Orleans, since both are sitting on the playoff bubble.
Something had to give … and did with no time left on the clock.
Davis isn’t the first player you’d choose to shoot the ball from 3-point range. Actually, what was he doing so far away from the basket, with the score tied? A more reasonable spot for Davis would be near the basket for a tip-in off the inbounds pass. Oh, well. He was checked closely by Durant, but wiggled free and took the pass from Tyreke Evans with 1.2 seconds left. Davis was moving to his left from the top of the key, then leaped in the air, hanging about a split-second longer than Durant. He double-clutched just to make sure and created just enough air space to release a shot beyond the reach of Durant. Not many big man are athletic enough to pull off the mid-air gymnastics that Davis did. The game-winner was Davis’ first made 3-pointer since March of last season and only his third career make in 24 tries. You know what’ll happen this March? Davis turns 22.
The Pelicans nearly choked this game away. Evans missed a pair of free throws on New Orleans’ next to last possession that could’ve iced the game. And then, up three points, Quincy Pondexter ran out to guard Westbrook beyond the three-point stripe, which is really a defensive sin. Pondexter couldn’t stop his momentum and made contact with Westbrook, who released the shot quickly, on the way down. Westbrook had a monster night with a career-high 48 points with 9 rebounds and 11 assists (after scoring 45 points against these same Pelicans his previous game), and calmly hit all three free throws to tie the game with 1.2 ticks left.
Davis finished with 41 points and 10 rebounds in the 116-113 win and, as we already mentioned, the Pelicans are in a fight with OKC and the Suns for the eighth spot, which Phoenix is clinging to at the moment. OKC and the Pelicans met two nights earlier in New Orleans and Westbrook torched the home team in the win. And so: Westbrook scored a combined 93 points in back-to-back games against the Pelicans and OKC only managed a split. The Pelicans are on their best roll of the season, losing only twice since Jan. 19. In their next 12 games, they’ll only see teams with winning records three times. With a soft schedule, it’s the best time for New Orleans to make a strong move. The Pelicans also now hold a 3-1 head-to-head tiebreaker over the Thunder, who have have lost five of their last eight and no doubt hear the clock ticking.
Davis was mobbed by his teammates, with two potential goats, Evans and Pondexter, leading the charge. Seriously, had that shot missed, it would’ve been a long flight out of OKC for two players who only needed to do the right thing to avoid the last second drama.
This shot wasn’t exactly heavy on theatrics, but it did involve Davis, and it was a rare three-pointer from him, and the game carried a fair amount of importance for February. Therefore, the Brow Beater was better than most. We’ll give it four Horrys.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The New Orleans Pelicans have an exciting young team, lead by All-Star starter Anthony Davis, who is just 21 years old. And to make sure the people of New Orleans keep coming out to see them play, the Pelicans have introduced a new ticket plan: For $24, you can get tickets to any three games. Heckuva deal, for sure.
What’s really interesting is how the Pelicans are promoting this deal. We love local ads here at All Ball, and the Pelicans have chosen to recreate an old local ad for this new local ad. According to a press release from the Pelicans…
The spot included Anderson as the lead role, re-creating Frank Trapani’s persona in the original television spot for his store, Frankie & Johnny’s Furniture. Trapani, who stood just 5’ tall compared to Anderson’s 6’10 frame, passed away in July of 2012. Pelicans center Omer Asik and guard Tyreke Evans also make appearances in the series of spots.
Davis, donning a Stetson-looking hat and holding a plastic Mardi Gras cigar, reprised “The Special Man” role originally performed by Lester Love, Sr., a salesman at Frankie & Johnny’s who passed away in 2001.
“It was a lot of fun recreating the ‘Special Man’ commercial and I hope the employees and owners of the store would enjoy us reprising their roles,” said Davis. “At first when I saw it, I thought it was funny, but didn’t really get it. Some of the Pelicans staff who are from here were explaining to us how popular it was and it was fun to see their reactions as we were filming. We hope the fans enjoy it – it was fun for us to do.”
Here’s the Pelicans ad, starring Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans…
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.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — And here we are again. Summer has officially given way to fall, which means many things, but really only means one thing that we care about around these parts: IT’S ALMOST TIME FOR A NEW NBA SEASON.
And when training camps convene around the country, that means it’s time for … wait for it … MUSCLEWATCH!
What, you may ask, is MUSCLEWATCH? It stems from my friend Matt and I noticing years ago that our local paper used to always say that players had gained 15 pounds of MUSCLE in the offseason. No matter the sport, it was never 12, never 16, never 9, never 18, always 15 pounds of MUSCLE. So we began keeping an eye on the papers looking for references to the magic 15 pounds of MUSCLE. I started chronicling this each season in my blog over at SLAM, and eventually MUSCLEWATCH became about more than just the 15 pounds of muscle and more about guys who had either gained or lost a lot of weight. Previous winners include Thaddeus Young and Rudy Gay.
If you see MUSCLEWATCH info, tweet it and use the hashtag #MUSCLEWATCH to help us keep all this info straight.
MUSCLEWATCH has truly evolved from when it was Matt and I sitting around our apartment cracking jokes. I thought we’d come a long way a year ago when the official television network of the NBA was running promos for it…
I feel like we’ve got a movement on our hands. This is a wonderful thing.
WHEN WE LAST LEFT MUSCLEWATCH, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday were putting in work. Let’s get into the muscles…
• The biggest story in the NBA this summer was LeBron James leaving the Miami Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. But pretty soon after the dust settled from The Announcement, LeBron started posting photos online where he looked drastically thinner than he looked last season.
In an interview this week with CNN’s Rachel Nichols, LeBron talked about his weight loss. (Around the 2:45 mark here.) According to LeBron he’s around 250 pounds — even though he’s been listed at 249 for years — thanks to eating only fish, meat, fruits and vegetables for 67 days. He also said, “I had the Cookie Monster chasing me in my dreams a few times.
We don’t know exactly how much weight LeBron lost or even how much he weighed before, unless someone gets it out of him at Cleveland’s media day, which I’m afraid makes him ineligible to win the MUSCLEWATCH title this season.
Instead, LeBron, in recognition of your efforts, we will give you this GIF of Cookie Monster dancing …
• While we’re talking about the NBA’s bold names, how about Carmelo Anthony slimming down?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Before getting your picture taken or appearing on TV, you get a haircut to make sure you’re presenting your best self. But before having your face scanned to appear in a video game, such as NBA2K15? If you’re James Harden, you call the only man who understands, the Beard Guru.
Harden has one of the world’s great beards, but it apparently doesn’t just grow on its own. It takes some finesse, some cajoling. And apparently, it takes a visit from Fritz, the Beard Guru (with a cameo from Anthony Davis)…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The FIBA Basketball World Cup is still a few weeks away, far enough away that Team USA doesn’t even have a roster set, but today Nike dropped images of the new uniforms Team USA is going to wear. According to a press release…
The angle of USA graphic on the new uniform was inspired by the chevron of the classic Nike Windrunner track jacket that was born in 1978.
Both the USA home and away uniforms feature red, white and blue hues meshed together in the 26-degree speed graphic – crossing the front of the game jersey, fading into a representation of the USA flag, and extending across the side of the game short from the front to the back. The speed graphic represents a distinctive basketball point of view, based on the roughly 1,000 directional changes, or “cuts” that a player might make in the course of a game.
NIKE HYPER ELITE JERSEY
A flocked lining at the inside of the neck allows the athlete to comfortably wipe excess moisture from the face. Ultra-lightweight stretch mesh in the back of the jersey serves to regulate the temperature of the player along the spine, where athletes tend to heat up the most. Redeveloped, lightweight sphere fabric in the front of the jersey helps to maintain a comfortable body temperature by wicking moisture, while eliminating cling from excess sweat.
NIKE HYPER ELITE SHORTS
A perforated, vented waistband in the Nike Hyper Elite shorts provides a level of cooling, while maintaining the comfort and security that athletes require. A new, performance flex vent placed by the knee allows the game short to flex when the player moves. The addition of a flocked “wipe zone” at either hip allows a comfortable spot to dry hands as sweat builds up.
The new uniform will be available beginning Aug. 7 on nike.com, in Nike stores and selected shops, and will debut on-court when the USA Basketball Men’s National Team takes on the Brasil Men’s National team on August 16, in an exhibition game at Chicago’s United Center.
To check them out, click through the gallery below…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There are still a few months until NBA training camps begin, so NBA players still have time to get in the weight room and add 15 pounds of muscle, the amount they always seem to add, and make an appearance on MUSCLEWATCH. Once camps start up we’ll launch our official MUSCLEWATCH 2014, but right now with plenty of guys playing in summer league, we can make an initial check-in and see how MUSCLEWATCH is shaping up.
What, you may be asking, is MUSCLEWATCH? It stems from my friend Matt and I noticing years ago that out local paper used to always say that players had gained 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason. No matter the sport, it was never 12, never 16, never 9, never 18, always 15 pounds of muscle. So we began keeping an eye on the papers looking for references to the magic 15 pounds of muscle. I started chronicling this each season in my blog over at SLAM, and eventually MUSCLEWATCH became about more than just the 15 pounds of muscle and more about guys who had either gained or lost a lot of weight. Previous winners include Thad Young and Rudy Gay. If you see MUSCLEWATCH info, tweet it and use the hashtag #MUSCLEWATCH to help us keep all this info straight.
• In the video above, AD’s teammate Jrue Holiday talks about adding muscle and strengthening the leg he had surgery on. We don’t get any concrete numbers, but he still has months to go.
• One of the big stories from summer league has been the newly-slimmedAnthony Bennett, who looks much different. According to our man Steve Aschburner, Bennett has lost 15 pounds from his playing weight last season. I also love this quote from Bennett so much: “It wasn’t really that tough. My body is kind of weird. I can gain weight fast, I can lose weight fast. So it was just me maintaining it. Watching what I eat at night.”
• Bulls forward Tony Snell arrived for summer league not only with his braids gone, but with 10 pounds of muscle added. “I’ve been in the weight room a lot and I’m eating right,” Snell said. That’ll do it, Tony.
• Victor Oladipo is dropping weight this summer. Might want to slow the pace a bit, Vic, considering we have a few months to go…
Victor Oladipo says he's down 20 pounds from the end of the season