Posts Tagged ‘Boston Celtics’

Story of a photo: Capturing LeBron’s Game 3 dunk

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 8: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes up for a dunk against the Golden State Warriors against the Golden State Warriors in Game Three of the 2016 NBA Finals on June 8, 2016 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

CLEVELAND — The frozen moment happened with just under 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter of Game 3 of The 2016 NBA Finals. After knocking loose a pass from Golden State’s Stephen Curry to Festus Ezeli, Cleveland’s LeBron James grabbed the basketball and raced the other way to start a fast break.

Just past halfcourt, James collided with Curry and stumbled, his right knee and hand going to the floor to help him retain his balance, while James used his left hand to slap at the ball and keep his dribble alive. One second later, his bearing renewed, James resumed his dash to the hoop.

Curry was the lone defender between James and the basket, and as James neared the rim, Curry slid one step to his left, to truncate James’s angle of attack. LeBron quickly fired the ball to his left, where his teammate Kyrie Irving was streaking toward the rim. Curry and the basketball reached Irving at nearly the same time, and just as quickly as Irving caught the ball, he sprang off his right foot and immediately flipped the ball back up and over Curry, in the general vicinity of the hoop, where it figured that James would be arriving shortly.

“I knew he was going to throw it up there,” James said later. “And I had to go get it. He threw it, I had to go get it.”

It was not a perfect pass, but it was good enough. It was up to James, then, to do his part. And did he ever.

During the ball’s brief dalliance with Irving, James took five steps in the direction of the basket and then, leveraging his left foot against the court, James launched himself skyward, soaring up and at least equal to the rim.

As he flew, James twisted his torso and reached back with his right hand past the edge of the backboard, corralling the ball, and then he fired it though the hoop with a breathtaking combination of equal parts improbability, power, force and grace.

It was the play of The 2016 Finals thus far, a moment tailor-made to immediately go viral and embed itself in our brains for posterity as one of the signature plays of the 2016 postseason, if not James’ career.

***

But James and Irving weren’t the only one who did great work on the possession. As LeBron stole the ball and turned toward his basket, sitting a few hundred feet away and a couple of rows up in an arena seat in Quicken Loans Arena’s Section 106, Jesse Garrabrant was also preparing to try and create a different type of NBA Finals history.

A photographer for NBA Photos since 1994, Garrabrant lives on the New Jersey shore and shoots every Philadelphia 76ers home game. As the playoffs build toward an ultimate finish, NBA Photos brings all hands on deck to cover every game from every angle. In Cleveland for Game 3, Garrabrant rigged multiple remote controlled cameras around Quicken Loans Arena, which he could control from a button in his seat in Section 106. While Garrabrant could make the cameras click, he wasn’t actually looking down the viewfinders as the shutter snapped. So Garrabrant was, quite literally, firing blind.

“You want to take chances and if it works, there’s a big bonus,” said Garrabrant a day later. “You get a guy like LeBron who can create an incredible play, and if he’s in the exact right spot, it can totally work. At the same time, it could have also completely struck out, especially when you’re doing directional lighting like that.”

The lighting Garrabrant referred to is a special technique known as “spotlighting.” Garrabrant’s remote cameras for Game 3 were geared to take advantage of this method, which can give action photos a dramatic flair, adding depth and richness. But again, with the reward came a risk. “The lighting covers the paint,” Garrabrant explained, “because that’s where the majority of the action happens. LeBron is going to go to the hole sometime, and you just hope the lighting is going to cover it.”

For Game 3, Garrabrant had a camera clamped to the edge of the set ESPN uses for their live pre-and postgame broadcasts, which is assembled on a platform in a corner of The Q, near Section 113. Unless you looked closely, you wouldn’t notice Garrabrant’s camera. Luckily for the rest of us, this camera saw everything. As it turned out, this was the ultimate angle, from which Garrabrant captured the photo you see at the top of this post.

Within seconds of James’ dunk, Garrabrant’s picture was made available for download via NBA Photos on Getty Images, and it quickly started popping up all over social media. It was tweeted and re-tweeted and shared tens of thousands of times, as fans and other media members expressed their amazement. ESPN’s Don Van Natta tweeted that it was the picture of the year. It “belongs in the damn Louvre,” noted Mashable’s Sam Laird.

***

While the rest of us marveled over Garrabrant’s image of James’ Game 3 dunk, Garrabrant’s mind drifted back to 2008. As it turned out, Garrabrant may have been the perfect person to capture this dunk from this player from this angle, particularly when you consider he’d done almost exactly the same thing before.

“[James] had almost the same dunk in the ’08 Conference semifinals against Kevin Garnett, in the same spot on the court,” recalled Garrabrant. “Same angle, he threw it the same way, everything, except this was an alley-oop and that one was just him driving to the basket. I shot that game and I got the same angle on that particular dunk.”

CLEVELAND - MAY 12: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dunks over Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the 2008 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 12, 2008 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright: 2008 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

We may live in an age where video is increasingly available, streaming at us almost inexorably every time we open a browser window. But there’s still something magical about the perfect photo, which freezes a moment in time in a way that we never want to forget.

Following Game 3, Kyrie Irving was asked about his pass to James on the play. “I wanted to see something great,” Irving said. “I threw it very, very… you know, some people may say it’s a bad pass, but I wanted to see something great.”

At least on this night, we all got to see something great.

A night at the NBA Draft Lottery with Isaiah Thomas

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The NBA Draft Lottery was held last night here in New York City, and it was an event where people tried to have some sort of influence over something that is beyond influencing. And while several teams were represented on the dais by front office members or ownership, a few teams sent players to wear their colors. Devin Booker was there for Phoenix, for example, just as Willie Cauley-Stein repped for the Kings. The Celtics sent All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, and Celtics.com put together an all-access look at Thomas’s evening…

What it’s like to go through a Draft combine workout

By Jeff Case

Few (if any) of us know what it’s like to be an NBA Draft prospect and go through the various tests and trials that it takes to go from talented unknown to NBA player.

With the NBA Draft Combine in full swing, the Boston Celtics are one of many teams eyeing prospects (particularly because they have a solid shot at a top-three pick come June).  So what is it like for a prospect to go through the rigors of combine and team drills? Celtics.com beat writer Marc D’Amico got a shot at it and gives a look at just how grueling it can be …

Harry the Hawk pays tribute to Prince

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Atlanta Hawks mascot Harry the Hawk has apparently recovered from his mishap last week, and last night during the Hawks game against the Boston Celtics, Harry took the court along with the Hawks dance team to perform a tribute to Prince. And not only did it serve to get the crowd involved, but it also seemed to have a positive effect on the Hawks…

Can someone check on the Atlanta Hawks mascot?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — At one point during last night’s Game 2 of the series between the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics, the Hawks’ mascot, Harry, took a stroll through the stands, as a mascot may do from time to time. Except Harry, being less than human, chose to walk along a railing instead of the floor, which in hindsight was probably his first mistake. It may also have been his last mistake…

The NBA reacts to the NCAA championship game


VIDEO: Jenkins shot

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last night’s NCAA Championship game between North Carolina and Villanova came down to a game-winning buzzer beater by Villanova’s Kris Jenkins, just seconds after an incredible game-tying three from UNC’s Marcus Paige. With the NBA taking a final night off before the sprint to the playoffs, plenty of NBA players tuned in to the big finale and reacted on social media…

(more…)

Brad Stevens can throw it down

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — At almost every NBA game, there’s a moment during a break in play where a group of people come out and dunk while jumping off of trampolines, soaring through the air and throwing the ball down. It’s both fun to watch and a bit aspirational — I think everyone watching has wondered what it would be like to try and dunk off of a trampoline.

That list apparently should include Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who in this video from the Celtics’ practice facility takes flight off a trampoline and tomahawks a dunk home…

Amir Johnson blocks Robin Lopez’s shoe

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Boston Celtics signed Amir Johnson to help shore up their interior presence, and give them a rim protector. Last night against the Knicks, we discovered that Johnson’s defensive ability extends even to stopping a shoe belonging to Robin Lopez

POSTERIZED POLL Week of Jan. 8

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Like we always do at this time, let’s take a look at the best instances of people getting #POSTERIZED over the last week and, at the bottom of the post, you can place your vote for a winner. And don’t forget, if you see someone get posterized, tweet it with the hashtag #POSTERIZED so we don’t miss it!

Before we get to the NBA posters, let’s take a moment and give a shoutout to the NBA D-League, which is currently gathered in Santa Cruz, California, for their annual D-League Showcase. Jaron Johnson plays for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and while he may not be in the NBA quite yet, I think we can all agree that his POSTERIZING skills are NBA worthy for sure…


VIDEO: Jaron Johnson

Special shoutout to last week’s winner, Boston’s Marcus Smart, who narrowly defeated Utah’s Alec Burks in his attempt to get back-to-back POSTERIZED POLL wins.

OK, let’s get to the POSTERS…
(more…)

POSTERIZED POLL Week of Jan. 1

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Like we always do at this time, let’s take a look at the best instances of people getting #POSTERIZED over the last week and, at the bottom of the post, you can place your vote for a winner. And don’t forget, if you see someone get posterized, tweet it with the hashtag #POSTERIZED so we don’t miss it!

By the way, welcome to 2016! I’m thinking we’ll continue with weekly #POSTERIZED polls until we get a little closer to the All-Star break, and then we’ll round up all the previous winners and crown a first half champ. We can do the same with the second half of the season, and then have a poll to select an overall winner as well.

Special shoutout to last week’s winner, Utah’s Alec Burks, as he goes for back-to-back wins this week. And let me say right here, I understand that Burks’ dunk this week generated some controversy — was it technically a dunk? Did he just throw the ball through the basket?

The beauty of the #POSTERIZED Poll is that it doesn’t even really matter. Did a player put someone else on a poster? Then that’s good enough for us!

OK, let’s get to the POSTERS…
(more…)