Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Cavaliers’

The NBA on Christmas Day: Talking with Mario Batali

America Farm To Table_cover image

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The holidays are not only a time of being with friends and family, they also bring about one of the marquee moments on the NBA calendar: Christmas Day, when the NBA is giving us five big match-ups to keep you glued to your couch all day long.

To celebrate the upcoming day, we’re talking with a few famous NBA fans about what the NBA and the Christmas Day games mean to them. Today we check in with one of the world’s great chefs, Mario Batali. Mario owns restaurants around the globe, has written nearly a dozen cookbooks (his latest is America — Farm to Table) and is a co-host of “The Chew.” All Ball readers already knew Mario was an NBA fan, so it’s worth taking a moment to exchange emails with him about the upcoming NBA Christmas Day slate…

ME: Last year you told us you root for both the Knicks and the Nets. How do you feel about the state of the two franchises right now?

MARIO: Not ideal, but I am still a supporter.

ME: You told us you take your sons on an NBA road trip each year. Where have you yet to see a game that you’d like to visit?

MARIO: This year for Leo, it will be the Pelicans, because we love New Orleans.Christmas2014

ME: All-Star Weekend in New York City is a few months away. Any don’t-miss stops you have for people visiting town?

MARIO: Eataly, Pearl Oyster Bar, Buvette, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Otto, Babbo, Lupa, Casa Mono.

ME: What Christmas gift would you give to the Knicks? To the Nets?

MARIO: Bourbon to drown their sadness and linguine with clams to build them back up again.

ME: What Christmas Day traditions do you and your family share?

MARIO: Presents, brunch, NBA hoops, winter beach walk, ham and biscuits.

ME: What’s your go-to snack/food to eat when watching NBA games on Christmas Day?

MARIO: Snacks will be salami and cheese from Eataly, smoked whitefish from Carlson’s in Leland, hard cider from Tandem in Suttons Bay, and Goat Cheese from Idyll Farms in Northport.

ME: Give us your predictions for the Christmas Day lineup. First up, Washington Wizards at New York Knicks?

MARIO: Knicks will give me a Christmas Day win, by 5.

ME: San Antonio Spurs at OKC Thunder?

MARIO: Spurs by 4.

ME: Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat?

MARIO: Cavs will finally have it together and win by 2.

ME: Los Angeles Lakers at Chicago Bulls?

MARIO: Bulls by 5.

ME: And finally, Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors?

MARIO: [Stephen] Curry will dust them — Warriors by 12.

The NBA on Christmas Day: Talking with John Leguizamo

Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The holidays are not only a time of being with friends and family, they also bring about one of the marquee moments on the NBA calendar: Christmas Day, when the NBA is giving us five big match-ups to keep you glued to your couch all day long.

To celebrate the upcoming day, we’re talking with a few famous NBA fans about what the NBA and the Christmas Day games mean to them. Today we check in with the multihyphenate (writer-actor, producer-director, and on and on) John Leguizamo. Though he was born in Colombia, Leguizamo’s family moved to New York soon after, and a lifelong love affair with basketball and the New York Knicks began. His latest project is the loosely-autobiographical film Fugly!, out now on demand and on iTunes.

ME: I’ve seen you at lots of Knicks games through the years. Did being a fan of the Knicks start as soon you and your family moved to New York?

LEGUIZAMO: Yeah, definitely. I love basketball — that’s what I played growing up. You know, the sport you play is the sport you end up loving to watch. Somehow, it’s reliving the childhood and the life you never had. So yeah, I was a big Knicks fan back in the day — Clyde and up to Patrick Ewing, Sprewell, Starks, LJ, and up to now, the triangle offense, I’m here.

ME: Even these days, when the franchise is rebuilding, are you still fully invested?

LEGUIZAMO: It’s tough. The triangle offense is a tough thing to figure out. I mean, I guess it worked for Phil Jackson in Chicago and L.A., but how is it going to work on these cats who’ve played so differently all their lives, man? I don’t know, it’s a tough thing to watch. It’s like…(laughing) sending troops into war without weapons. I don’t know. It’s like, “Try and use your fist this time instead of a bayonet!”

ME: Also, to be fair, Phil had Jordan and Pippen in Chicago and Shaq and Kobe in L.A. So there may be a bit of a personnel issue with this Knicks team.

LEGUIZAMO: You mean you don’t think Carmelo is Kobe Bryant? (laughs) I mean, who was Michael Jordan anyway? No athlete will ever equal the excellence of that cat, but Kobe was pretty close, man.


ME: Let’s get your predictions for the Christmas Day games. First up is your Knicks hosting the Washington Wizards.

LEGUIZAMO: Aw man. I mean, the Knicks will surprise you out of nowhere man, and maybe this is the time they’ll all come together — J.R. Smith and Shumpert — and maybe they’ll still come together for that. So I’ll give it to the Knicks. I mean, they come out of nowhere sometimes and they figure it out, and somehow the triangle offense comes together and somehow they’re loose and free. Or they get totally shut down, I don’t know.

ME: Right, sometimes it’s more like the Bermuda Triangle offense.

LEGUIZAMO: (laughs) Definitely the Bermuda Triangle. I think the Aztecs used The Triangle when they fought the Conquistadores. And what happened to the that empire?

ME: Yeah, didn’t work out so well. What do you do on Christmas Day? Will you watch games, or what’s your plan?

LEGUIZAMO: Well, we travel far. Our families are gypsies, so last year we went to Peru, and this year I’m going to be in Africa on a safari, not a shooting safari but shooting with my camera.

ME: Sounds amazing. OK, next up is the San Antonio Spurs at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

LEGUIZAMO: Thunder didn’t show up the other night. I mean, Kevin Durant is back, but I’m gonna go Spurs.

ME: Yeah, it’s hard to pick against them. Cleveland Cavaliers at the Miami Heat.

LEGUIZAMO: Aaahhhhhh! Oh dear, that’s gonna be wild. I love LeBron now that he went to the Cavs; somehow he regained my respect and love. But that’s gonna be tough, Look at Dwyane who came in the other day with crazy points. I don’t know, I’m gonna go with the Heat.

ME: Two more. Lakers at the Bulls.

LEGUIZAMO: Bulls. Derrick Rose. That’s all I gotta say, two words: Derrick Rose.

ME: Last one, Los Angeles Clippers at maybe the surprise team of the season, the Golden State Warriors.

LEGUIZAMO: Wow, that’s a tough one. I mean, I love the Clippers, man, I love CP3, and after all they went through, I’m going to do the emotional choice instead of the smart choice (laughing), I’m going to go Clippers.

Nike introduces Kyrie Irving signature shoe

VIDEO: Nike Kyrie

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — “Welcome to the club,” Charles Barkley said to Kyrie Irving, and he settled into a seat next to Chuck and Penny Hardaway, and as LeBron James showed support from the back of the room. Irving was not only literally joining a couple of NBA superstars by sitting alongside them, he was also joining their ranks with a product that elevates him to a higher marketing plane.

Last night, at a gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea district, Nike debuted the Kyrie 1, the Cleveland guard’s first signature shoe. This puts Irving into some exclusive company: He joins LeBron, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant as current NBA players with their own signature Nike lines.

The shoe has all sorts of design call-outs that make it unique to Irving. From a release via Nike…

1. The new Kyrie Irving logo on the shoe’s tongue represents his inner strength and hunger to learn

2. Hand-written details in Irving’s penmanship: #2 on the upper heel along with his personal signature on the inside of the tongue

3. Jagged pattern on the wrapped traction near the toe and heel counter with architectural angles are both inspired by the Sydney Opera House in Irving’s homeland of Australia

4. The acronym “JBY” that sits beneath Irving’s new logo on the outsole stands for “Just Be You,” a motto that Irving hopes inspires kids as they establish their own, unique identities

Each of these distinctions appear on all KYRIE 1 colorways. Individual stories come to life on each colorway beginning with the KYRIE 1 Dream. Irving often dreamt of waking up on Christmas morning and lacing up for a game professionally – a dream that will come true when Cleveland plays in Miami on Christmas day. The black-based shoe features geometric, colorful objects specific to Irving’s life journey, including stars from the Australian flag, a skateboard, his jersey number and a brass musical instrument.

The KYRIE 1 Deceptive Red is the global lead colorway; it takes inspiration from Irving’s phenomenal quickness and accelerated first step.

The KYRIE 1 is currently available for customization on NIKEiD, the KYRIE 1 Dream colorway will be available in North America on Dec. 23 in adult and kids sizes at and select retail destinations. The KYRIE 1 Deceptive Red colorway is available globally on Jan. 10, 2015. Along with the shoe, special KYRIE 1 T-shirts, hats and socks will also be available.

For detailed looks at the shoe, check the gallery below…

Cleveland Cavaliers are undefeated since LeBron stopped the chalk toss

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics, Game 3

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We’ve seen and heard plenty about the LeBron James chalk toss here on the All Ball blog. From the people of Ohio utilizing it in weddings to LeBron himself asking fans for advice about bringing it back, the chalk (or powder) toss is officially a thing. And to keep the citizens of Cleveland happy, LeBron did bring back the chalk toss at the start of the season. Unfortunately, he didn’t really bring back the old LeBron — the Cavs started 5-7 and LeBron’s production was all over the map.

Then, something changed, and maybe this is all a big coincidence, but either way it’s impossibly to deny that it happened:
1. LeBron stopped doing the chalk toss before games.
2. In the three games since then, LeBron averaged 25.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists, and 2.3 steals per game.
3. Also in the three games since LeBron stopped the chalk toss, the Cavaliers have gone 3-0.

Now, as’s Joe Vardon notes, ending the chalk toss isn’t the only change LeBron has made — he’s also mixed up his pregame shooting routine and made an effort to be more aggressive earlier in games. And sure, those are both things that probably (OK, almost definitely) would have a more direct effect on LeBron’s play and the results from the Cavaliers. But for those of us looking for answers, the chalk toss conspiracy has to be considered.

(via NOMG)

Anderson Varejao is a dancing machine

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — During an important moment in last night’s San Antonio/Cleveland games, the Spurs needed to inbound the ball along the sideline. In order to try and disrupt the pass, the Cavs had seven-footer Anderson Varejao defend the passer, Kawhi Leonard. And in order to make the pass as tough as possible, Varejao was very awkwardly active. Which meant he did this…


Later, just to make sure the moment was commemorated perfectly, “Inside Stuff” host Kristen Ledlow took to Twitter to suggest someone put Varejao’s moves to music. After we discussed a few options — I knew Ledlow would initially gravitate toward Grizzlies fan Justin Timberlake — a Twitter user came up with what just may be the perfect soundtrack to Varejao’s funky moves. Thank you, internet…

(gif via r/NBA)

Will LeBron ditch chalk toss for glitter?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — For Halloween, LeBron James tweeted a photo of himself as Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials. Last night another shoe dropped, as Progressive posted a snippet of a commercial with LeBron dressed like Flo and Flo trying to convince LeBron to ditch his chalk toss in favor of a glitter toss and I’m not entirely sure what all is going on here.

Horry Scale: Hayward shocks Cavs

VIDEO: Gordon Hayward’s game-winning buzzer-beater

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — When it rains, it pours. We waited more than a week into the season to get our first taste of last-second lusciousness — and suddenly we have an embarrassment of riches.

Tobias Harris tickled our fancy first in Philly. But it was most definitely Gordon Hayward who sent an electric shock from Salt Lake City all the way into the heart of Cleveland with his theatrics by putting his thumb down heavily on the Horry Scale.

One minute it seemed LeBron James was going to pull the rug out from under all those excited fans at EnergySolutions Arena, not to mention the Jazz, with some clutch play of his own. A clutch corner 3 and then three free throws inside the final 14 seconds.

But in the next minute LeBron was taking LeTumble to the floor and Hayward stepped into the hero’s role with a 23-footer as time expired to give the Jazz a roaring 102-100 win.

Since it’s still opening night in Horry World, let’s repeat the ground rules. The Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation, importance and celebration.  Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the master of avoiding last-second disaster.

Remember, 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, the whole magilla.


It was the kind of shot Hayward probably made a zillion times in the back yard while growing up in Indianapolis and he definitely made his share in the clutch during a celebrated career at Butler. But the truth is they’ve been hard to come by in four seasons in the NBA. Last season was his first in the starring role and he struggled, shooting just 41 percent from the field.  That made a lot of Jazz fans struggle to accept that four-year, $63 million contract Hayward signed last summer after getting a free-agent offer sheet from the Hornets.

But here was Hayward in all his glory, doing it against the best player in the game. He took the inbounds pass from Joe Ingles at the top of the key and moved immediately to his right when LeBron slipped to the floor after making contact with Derrick Favors.  It was the opening Hayward needed, taking two dribbles and letting fly before the Cavs’ defense could recover, burying the step-back fallaway over the desperately reaching arm of Tristan Thompson.


It was a game that might have stuck in the Jazz’ craw past Thanksgiving and Christmas if they had let it slip away. Utah held a 96-90 with 1:29 left to play and was still on top 98-94 with 17.9 seconds to go.  But LeBron is LeBron and, on a night when he finished with 31 points, he was just really getting warmed up. First he drilled a trey from out of the left corner. Then after Alec Burks made two free throws for a 100-97 lead, the veteran James got Favors to go for a pump fake and leaned in himself to draw three free throws. He nonchalantly made them all to tie it up at 100-all.  That set the stage for Hayward and the ex-Butler Bulldog sank his teeth in to the bone. Tough spot, tough shot.


From the way the crowd reacted, the streamers fell from the ceiling and all of Hayward’s Jazz teammates went bonkers, this is what it might have been like in the 1998 NBA Finals — if Michael Jordan’s shot over Bryon Russell in Game 6 rimmed out. It was that kind of wild and crazy. Hayward himself was virtually speechless in a post-game TV interview.


The bigger the profile of the opponent, the higher the score and there’s nobody bigger in the game these days than LeBron. Even if his getting-to-know-you Cavs have now sagged to a 1-3 start and are cranking up the sirens of early season overreaction-to make-your-ears-bleed level.  The Jazz, under rookie coach Quin Snyder, are a young team that needs confidence. And nobody needed a shot of adrenaline more than Hayward. This was Uma Thurman sitting bolt upright in “Pulp Fiction.”

I’m giving it four Horrys for all those reasons and also for sheer early-season fun.

horry-star horry-star horry-starhorry-star





A cinematic look at LeBron’s return to Cleveland

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The biggest story in the NBA this summer was LeBron James leaving the Miami Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. And after months of build-up, the storyline finally came to a boiling point last week when the Cavs, with LeBron, played their first home game of the season. And while the result didn’t go the way they were hoping it would, cameras documented every moment of the day for this mini-movie about Cleveland’s opening night…

VIDEO: Cavs Opening

NBA Players in Halloween costumes

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Halloween has come and gone, which means it’s time once again to see what some NBA players went dressed as this year. We already checked in on the Oklahoma City Thunder, but let’s check out the costumes of some other NBA players…

LeBron James went as Flo from the Progressive Insurance ads…

Carmelo Anthony was…I don’t know what this costume is…

Happy Halloween #OfficerFriendly

A photo posted by @carmeloanthony on

Paul Pierce was Captain America…

Deron Williams and his wife went as Khal Drogo and Khaleesi from “Game of Thrones”…


Michael Jordan brings back the fist-pump

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of Michael Jordan‘s first iconic NBA moments came in the 1989 playoffs, when Jordan hit a jumper over Cleveland’s Craig Ehlo to give the Bulls a series win. After sinking the shot, Jordan celebrated with a vigorous fist pump…


Last night, Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets were down three toward the end of regulation, and Kemba Walker knocked in a huge three pointer to tie it and send it to overtime. And in this video from the crowd, MJ can be seen celebrating. Guess which celebration he brought back (well, a less vigorous version)?

Fan, player and owner alike… we all get crazy during game-winning shots in OT! #HornetsComeback

A video posted by Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) on