ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last week while I was on vacation, my intrepid colleague Jeff Case served up a link to a story about NBA-themed “ugly” sweaters, which you can order from the NBA Store. Yes, these sweaters are ugly, but intentionally so, as they mock/pay tribute to the tradition of wearing “festive” garb around the holiday season.
One team has decided to aggressively embrace the ugly sweater. The Sacramento Kings recently announced plans for an ugly sweater night when they host the Milwaukee Bucks a week before Christmas.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of the joys of watching games via League Pass is seeing local commercials you might not otherwise come across. As such, it was fun last season watching Kings guard Isaiah Thomas star as the Pizza Guy.
But alas, Thomas left this summer and found a new home in Phoenix, meaning the coveted Pizza Guy slot in Sacramento was vacated. To fill it, the Pizza people looked no further than Ben McLemore, who apparently used to actually order the pizza.
And now he’s not just a customer, McLemore is the new pizza guy…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — All summer long, we’ve seen NBA players throwing out the ceremonial first pitches at baseball games. Not just major league games, and not just from active NBA players, but from NBA-related folks (coaches, retired players) all over the place.
I’ve been collecting these videos for a few months, and now we present them, all of them, in several parts, because there’s a lot to get through.
And so, here are a bunch of NBA people throwing out the first pitch at baseball games…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The nae nae is a dance that has been growing in popularity for the past few months. (Deadspin provided some pretty good background on it here.) And as it has expanded, it has crossed over into the NBA several times. So we all know what that means…time for another dance-off!
Who performed the best version of the nae nae? Vote at the bottom…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — An oft-heard trope from people complaining about the dunk contest is that by now, every dunk has been done before. This is not verifiable, although it may seem to be true, if only because we’ve seen many of the same dunks performed over and over. But there are still dunks that have been performed in venues other than All-Star Weekend that have yet to be even attempted in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
Sacramento Kings rookie Ben McLemore is on the West squad for this weekend’s upcoming Sprite Slam Dunk Dunk Contest. We know he’s incredibly athletic, and from what we’ve seen in games and on social media, we understand he’s a high flyer. He also appears to have an understanding of what works and doesn’t work in dunk contests, as McLemore discussed with Celtics Blog after playing the Celtics this weekend…
“Not yet, I’m still working on it. Still planning. I still got time, I still got almost a little over a week to plan and get prepared for this great event coming up.”
He is known for his absurd vertical leap and ability to finish in traffic, but when asked if his style is more aerodynamic or high-flying, McLemore told CLNS Radio, “A little bit of both.”
“I’m definitely a high flyer. I can get high. I just want to show my athleticism out there on the floor and bring a lot of excitement out there.”
Being both aerially dynamic and a high leaper, the current holy grail of the slam dunk, the 720, has come under consideration.
“I was thinking about that, nobody has put that up,” McLemore told CLNS Radio. “But we’ll see.”
Now, the 720 dunk McLemore referenced has never been completed in an NBA Dunk Contest. But hardcore hoops fans may recall it being performed back in 2006 by former And 1 tour member Air Up There. We know McLemore can dunk. But can he do this? This just might be the game-changer the Dunk Contest has been waiting for… -
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — If you’re into the NBA’s most devastating dunks, we’ve got you covered over at the new-and-improved Dunk HQ. But because we’re the All Ball blog and we like to look at the NBA from non-traditional angles, we will focus on the flip side of the NBA’s best dunks: What we want to know is, who got got?
So welcome to Volume Two of The All Ball Posterized Poll. We will check in from time to time and examine the worst of the best, and use a highly scientific polling method to determine which NBA player got dunked on (a.k.a. posterized) the most egregiously. And at the end of the season all of our winners will battle it out to determine who it is that most belongs on a poster.
The winner of Volume One was New Orleans’ Jeff Withey, who was placed on a poster by Lakers’ wingman Xavier Henry, his college teammate. (You can see the offending dunk at this post.) Voting at Volume One is now officially closed.
But can anyone top Withey? We have four new nominees. We checked in with NBA.com’s own slam dunk specialist, LeMont Calloway, for his informed perspective on the matter. “What I’ll say most about these defenders is that at least they’re trying to show help-side D,” LeMont notes. “There’s a defender or two around the league who wouldn’t even dare, let alone probably couldn’t even make the proper rotation. (Calling you out Boozer!) But, it’s like Bill Walton used to say: What are big men doing trying to take charges anyway?”
1. Chris Bosh (as nominated by Josh Smith) LeMont’s Take: “It’s got to be fun for Brandon Jennings to play with several front-line bangers on his team. He’s dropped a few passes behind to his big men on fast breaks, and this time it’s J-Smoove’s turn to finish it off.”
2. Al Horford and Paul Millsap (as nominated by Victor Oladipo) LeMont’s take: “Any dunk that can get this kind of response out of announcer Dominique Wilkins, one of the godfathers of the dunk, has to be something special. On his visit to the Hawks, I guess Vic wanted to pay tribute to Atlanta rapper Future. Two at the same time indeed.”
4. Darren Collison (as nominated by Ben McLemore) LeMont’s Take: “This is my pick for the new bunch. You’ve got Big Ben flying with authority and a competent attempt to make a defensive play. Just not enough lift for Collison. The rook’s making me a fan, that’s for sure.”
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Every year people complain that the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest isn’t as exciting as it used to be, that all the great dunks have been done, that there’s no drama or excitement remaining. But in the video below we see Kings rookie Ben McLemore just messing around after practice, looking like he’s got enough tricks up his sleeve to put together a pretty impressive performance in this season’s Dunk Contest. And I’m guessing his teammate Travis Outlaw would agree that McLemore is a great dunker. -
Perhaps inspired by fellow rookie Victor Oladipo at the rookie shoot, Kings G Ben McLemore teamed up with Patrick Patterson yesterday at Kings’ Media Day to posterize their teammate, Travis Outlaw. Here’s a video from the Sacramento Bee… -
And here’s a secondary angle captured by Cowbell Kingdom (with wholly appropriate music)… -
Keep your head on a swivel, you guys — don’t get posterized!
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — So it looks like trampolines are becoming a thing with NBA players. A few weeks ago we saw Nate Robinson and Deron Williams take to the trampolines and jump around, jump around. Now we have video of Kings rookies Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum at one of those trampoline facilities in Sacramento working on their air games.