ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Dirk Nowitzki is one of Germany’s greatest athletes, but his time developing his skills has clearly been mostly devoted to basketball, as we see in these clips from a recent charity soccer exhibition.
First up, when Dirk had a chance at a free kick, he imitated Italy’s Simone Zaza and gave the kick a hilariously exaggerated run-up…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. And that’s never more clearly felt than of late, as we are currently in the midst of a time of change in the NBA. Free agency has seen a bunch of NBA players change franchises and cities, and while at this point we’re used to seeing guys move cities at the drop of a hat, it’s still often difficult for a player to leave behind the fans and people who have helped them reach their current status. So how better to reach out directly and let people know exactly how you feel than via an open letter?
The open letter is not a new form — athletes on the move have done things such as taking out ads in newspapers to publish open letters for years. But the advent of the internet has allowed for new forms and forums.
Here are some of the letters we’ve seen over the last few weeks…
In a letter on The Players’ Tribune announcing his departure from Oklahoma City for Golden State, Durant said he will always miss the relationships he built in Oklahoma City…
I’m from Washington, D.C. originally, but Oklahoma City truly raised me. It taught me so much about family as well as what it means to be a man. There are no words to express what the organization and the community mean to me, and what they will represent in my life and in my heart forever. The memories and friendships are something that go far beyond the game. Those invaluable relationships are what made this deliberation so challenging.
It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point in my life and my playing career.
I will miss Oklahoma City, and the role I have had in building this remarkable team. I will forever cherish the relationships within the organization — the friends and teammates that I went to war with on the court for nine years, and all the fans and people of the community. They have always had my back unconditionally, and I cannot be more grateful for what they have meant to my family and to me.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A few days ago we saw what happened when Oklahoma City Thunder guards Russell Westbrook and Cameron Payne had their pregame dance routine interrupted by a couple of members of the Dallas Mavericks. Well not only did the dancing duo return to their pregame ritual, but as we saw last night as the Thunder eliminated Dallas, Payne managed to keep dancing even while on the bench…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — After getting blown out in Game 1 of their first round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Dallas Mavericks surprised many by winning Game 2 to steal home court advantage. Tonight in Dallas, the teams meet up for Game 3. But because the game starts at 6:00 p.m. Dallas time, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wanted to be sure Mavs fans were able to get out of work early enough to get to the game on time, so he posted this note for fans to show their bosses, giving them a good excuse…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just before tipoff at Oklahoma City Thunder games, Russell Westbrook and reserve guard Cameron Payne engage in a little two-step dance near halfcourt. Tonight, prior to tipoff of Game 2 of the Oklahoma City/Dallas series, as Westbrook and Payne got their groove on, Mavs players Charlie Villanueva and Justin Anderson wandered over into the way. Do you think this stopped Russell Westbrook? Not a chance!
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…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Today is Twitter’s tenth birthday, and over the last decade the social media platform has become an invaluable tool to use while following the NBA. Not only can fans and teams interact in real time, but NBA players and front office members have also taken to Twitter as a way to communicate with fans.
So, to celebrate Twitter’s tenth birthday, we got into the wayback machine and checked out some of our favorite NBA people’s first tweets…
Stay tuned to find out where Amazing will happen tonight…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Spend nearly two decades of your life in the NBA, and what is your reward? Among other things, how about your own hamburger? The Dallas Mavericks have introduced The Dirkburger, a hamburger created in conjunction with Dirk Nowitzki. As Dirk explains in the video above, he was hoping for a turkey burger, but instead they went with a beef burger topped with bacon marmalade, arugula, jalapeno beer cheese and a pretzel bun. You can get a Dirkburger at American Airlines Arena in March.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Gordon Hayward delivered a reminder of the old philosophy that it doesn’t matter what you do early in a game as long as you deliver late.
The Jazz forward struggled to find a rhythm and the range on his shots all night long Tuesday at American Airlines Center in Dallas. They came up long and short, bounced off the rim and clanked off the backboard.
Then teammate Rodney Hood dropped in the clutch 3-pointer at the end of regulation and Hayward had a fresh chance to start all over again in overtime.
And he jumped on it.
After shooting just 5-for-17 from the field in the first four quarters, Hayward couldn’t miss in OT. He took three jumpers and made them all, including the pretty step-back, 20-footer from the baseline that beat the horn to give the Jazz their 121-119 win in overtime.
The shot gave the Jazz their seventh consecutive win and eighth in the last nine games, enabling Utah to jump ahead of Houston into the No. 7 slot in the Western Conference playoff race.
With big men Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors healthy and back in the lineup, it’s looking like the Jazz are ready to end their four-year playoff drought.
Remember, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety night in November?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, named for the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.
One thing to get straight: 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 … basically, everything surrounding and including the shot. In short, it’s about the total package.
DIFFICULTY — Once Hayward rubbed off would-be defender Raymond Felton by coming through the lane to take Joe Ingles’ inbounds pass, he kept on circling to the left baseline, then rose up to get off a gorgeous step-back jumper over the outstretched arm of too-late 6-11 Zaza Pachulia that buried into the bottom of the net as the horn sounded.
GAME SITUATION —There’s always less pressure when the score is tied. But considering how much difficulty Hayward had finding the basket for most of the night, it was impressive the way he took over in overtime and stroked the game-winning shot with such confidence right in from of his teammates on the visitors’ bench.
CELEBRATION — Hayward didn’t have far to go to get his pats on the back since his fallaway motion practically took him into the arms of his happy teammates. First a hug from Trey Lyles, then Chris Johnson and Hood and as the Jazz made their way toward the locker room.
GRADE — Pachulia definitely gave Hayward just enough of an opening to get the shot off, but it wasn’t a wide open, size-it-up. For a guy who struggled all night with his shot, it was a redemptive thing of beauty. We’ve giving it two Horrys.
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!
I missed last week’s #POSTERIZED poll because I was traveling, working on a cool piece for NBA TV (coming soon!). Which means more dunks than usual this week!