ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — NBA players work on their games in the summer, and try and find ways to be better than they were when the season ended. Last season, Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schröder had a big campaign, becoming the Hawks’ back-up point guard and getting regular playing time. Schröder shot 43-percent from the three-point line on the season, well above the league average of 35-percent. But Schröder apparently wants to extend that range.
So, the NBA offseason means downtime away from the court, right? Not exactly for the Hawks’ Kent Bazemore.
The Atlanta guard headed across town to the BB&T Atlanta Open, a top-tier professional tennis tournament in midtown Atlanta, to try his hand at the sport with a fuzzier ball.
Bazemore took on top U.S. tennis star and four-time NCAA champion Steve Johnson on a mini court to test his mettle in a sport he’s apparently started to take up. It wasn’t a total rigged playing field for Bazemore, though, as he also challenged the former USC Trojans tennis star to a best-of-three horse competition on a mini-mobile court set up at the tournament in Atlanta’s Atlantic Station.
Outside an early string of nice shooting by Johnson, Bazemore pulled away in the end though because, well, he plays in the NBA.
“I had to bring my ‘A’ game, he was pretty good,” Bazemore said of Johnson and his hoops stroke. “He got out here and shot so well that I had to turn it on and lock in to take him.”
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Besides being two of the best younger players in the NBA, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Atlanta’s Dennis Schröder both grew up in Europe, where soccer is a big part of everyday life. And even though they both grew up to have careers in the NBA, Giannis and Dennis both have soccer skills that they like to show off when they have the chance…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schröder is a native of Germany, where despite the best efforts of NBA players like Dirk Nowitzki and Schröder, soccer remains king. After all, Germany won the 2014 World Cup. So leave it to Schröder to figure out a way to combine soccer and hoops in this Instagram video, where he shouts out German National Team member Jerome Boateng…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The NBA Draft is tomorrow, which means NBA teams have the opportunity to change their fortunes quickly. Another way teams can change their futures? With new uniforms. Today the Atlanta Hawks announced their new brand identity, making them the fourth NBA team this offseason to debut new uniforms/logos. Below we present all four, with your chance to vote for your favorite new look at the bottom…
The Atlanta Hawks are in the Eastern Conference finals and the series is being broadcast on TNT, which makes for an in-town jaunt to cover the Hawks’ home games in the series for the “Inside the NBA” crew of Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. That quartet had a perch in Philips Arena to watch and broadcast the game and, as is tradition at Hawks games between quarters or during timeouts, the “Kiss Cam” was had its moment in the sun.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — During last night’s Hawks/Wizards Game 5, as terrific as it was, might have been upstaged by a few seconds on the Kiss Cam. As you can here, a young couple is enjoying the Hawks game, and then the Kiss Cam shows up and puts them on the screen, so they kiss and…welp…you can see how it went…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In Game 3 of their series against the Washington Wizards, the Atlanta Hawks mounted a furious fourth quarter comeback, only to lose on a game-winning buzzer-beater from Paul Pierce. And not only was it a game-winning buzzer-beater, it was a game-winning buzzer-beater off of the glass. As Pierce said later, he didn’t call glass, he called game. Pierce joined Chicago’s Derrick Rose, who also hit a game-winning buzzer beater, also off the glass, to beat the Cavaliers.
How to deal? Well, the Hawks suggested perhaps we should just ban using the glass on buzzer-beaters altogether. If you’re a Hawks or Bulls fan, you can support this movement by signing their iPetition. OK, so it’ll never work, but still, as coping mechanisms go, this one is rather humorous.
Did you call bank? Paul Pierce was asked after putting the dagger in the Hawks.
“I called game,” he responded.
Perfect. And clutch. And another part of his Hall of Fame legacy. And a funny summation.
Pierce hitting the 21 footer — off glass — to give the Wizards a 103-101 win Saturday in Washington and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals was everything, delivering in the moment and also the emotional boost of a close victory, or any victory, with All-Star John Wall sidelined by a broken left hand.
Pierce supplying a much-needed veteran presence in the wake of the emotional hit of losing Wall would have been plenty. It really would have been a big contribution as the Hawks charged back from a 21-point deficit with about 10 minutes to play. The shot, though, was a highlight moment even for a player who has had so many through the years.
It wasn’t just a clutch shot. It was a tough shot, slightly fading away and under defensive pressure from Dennis Schroder. Pierce was near the top of the free-throw circle, took a one-bounce dribble to his left and elevated with the additional clearance at 6 foot 7 over the 6-1 Schroder. Kent Bazemore came over for the double team, but it was too late. The ball was away.
Pierce shouldn’t have been needed to play the hero. The Wizards were up 21 early in the fourth quarter, until the Hawks went on a 17-0 run to close within three points with about 3 1/2 minutes remaining. When Mike Muscala connected from behind the arc with 14.1 seconds left, Atlanta had erased the entire deficit. It was 101-101, setting the stage for Pierce.
Rhetorical question, right?
Pierce’s momentum took him backward and to the court, where he stayed, on his back with his arms up and outstretched. Bradley Beal, the first teammate to get there, stood over Pierce and delivered a series of soft punches to the gut and chest — right, left, right, left, right. The other Wizards charged over to mob him, including Wall in suit and tie, as the crowd exploded in delight. The shot was the thing, but high marks for the reaction as well.
Five Horrys, because five is the limit. This should break the scale, though. Five isn’t enough. Ten wouldn’t be enough. Maybe 34 would be.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — If there’s any NBA team that should be embracing emojis, those little pictures you can use on your phone when texting and emailing, it’s the Atlanta Hawks. After all, Hawks forward Mike Scott has dozens of emoji tattoos. In fact, Scott recently did an interview where he responded only using emojis.
“Connecting with our fans is extremely important and our new app and keyboard will allow us to build an innovative bridge to reach tech-savvy Hawks supporters, giving them around-the-clock access to team-related information at their fingertips,” said Hawks CEO Steve Koonin. “The custom emoji keyboard will change the way our fans communicate, enhancing text conversations by enabling users to speak the language of the Hawks.”
The downloadable custom keyboard, developed by Snaps, includes Hawks-themed emojis ranging from electronically-generated images of player logos and gear, to distinguishing features of players and Harry the Hawk. In addition to the exclusive Hawks emojis, the keyboard gives users the ability to send animated GIF files to friends through text messages. Snaps, the creator of a unique content management system for messaging, is the first end-to-end platform for brand marketing across messaging applications and devices.
“A major way that my generation communicates and expresses itself is through emojis. This keyboard will add some fun, new options to my text game. I love it,” said Mike Scott, Hawks forward and emoji expert.
The “Hawks High Flyers” contest is a game-by-game competition through the app requiring fans to predict which players will lead the team in specific statistical categories. Throughout the season, prizes will be awarded to fans who accurately predict team leaders. Other prominent app features include: an interactive amenities map, giving fans locations and descriptions of food and beverage options in Philips Arena; and traffic alerts, providing information and navigation assistance to fans traveling to the arena.
Here’s a look at how it works. (The Schröder hair is my favorite.)