ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of my favorite descriptions of all time came a few years ago, back when NBA TV’s Steve Smith was calling Hawks games on Atlanta-area TV. The Hawks were playing the Chicago Bulls, and Bulls center Joakim Noah got fouled and sent to the free throw line.
Noah stepped to the stripe, took a deep breath and then … well, he didn’t shoot the ball so much as he kind of launched it, with both hands, with sideways spin, toward the rim. The Hawks’ announcers were taken aback, and then Smitty said Noah shot like he had a charley horse in his chest.
The thing is, Smitty was correct. Noah shoots the ball in such a way that if you displayed similar form at basketball camp, they would promptly refund your money and send you home. But it works for Noah, and he’s managed to be effective enough with it that no coach has seen the need to fundamentally change it.
Noah, however, is not the only NBA player with nontraditional form. Shawn Marion immediately comes to mind — I once asked Marion where he developed his strange release, and he said it was because he jumped so high that he was basically shooting down at the rim.
My main man Kevin Lincoln over at Buzzfeed.com compiled a list of the 9 Ugliest Shooting Motions in the NBA, and he makes a compelling argument for a lot of these guys. Check it out, and let us know who gets your vote for the worst shooting motion.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER –Have you ever looked a team’s uniform and thought, “I could come up with something better than that?” Well, has Mark Cuban got a proposition for you: You can design new uniforms for the Dallas Mavericks.
In the wide universe of sports uniforms, everything old is new again. Or at least it seems that way, as franchises introducing new uniforms increasingly look to throwback logos and color schemes, trading on nostalgia to find looks that simultaneously feel new and familiar. The Mavs have had the same basic look since 2001, with a few notable exceptions: Who could forget the drab gray alternates in 2003-04…
…or the P-Diddy-designed green alternates?
Now it’s time for something new (well, for the 2015-16 season). Mavs owner Mark Cuban is crowd-sourcing this project on his blog, asking fans who have an idea or a plan to offer up their designs in his comments section. If you win, you could see the Dallas Mavericks rocking your uniform on the court. Pretty simple.
If there’s a catch here, it’s that Cuban says you will not be paid for your work — he suggests maybe some free tickets could be in the offing — but he’s up-front about the deal and suggests that if this offends you, don’t get involved. (I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t some elaborate Willy Wonka-type situation where Cuban is just looking for someone who is willing to do the work for free, and then he will reward you by giving you the Texas Legends D-League team or something like that. With Jerry Jones as Slugworth? OK, sure, probably not.)
Anyway, do you think can do better that what you’ve seen here? Swing by Cuban’s blog and show the world.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER – We can understand when a player, fresh off a loss, feels the need to somehow react. After all, you play to win the game, and when you catch an L, it’s never a good feeling — and it’s even worse when the sentiment is rubbed in by 20,000 rabid fans, as often happens to Golden State opponents in Oracle Arena in Oakland.
So we get why Denver F Kenneth Faried was apparently pretty upset after losing at Golden State last night. So upset, in fact, that Faried put his foot through a locker room wall, as documented here by USA Today‘s always excellent Sam Amick:
Asked if he kicked it with his ailing left foot (ankle injury), a frustrated Faried said, "I don't know. I just kicked it."— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) April 29, 2013
And as we noted earlier, the isn’t the first time an opponent in Golden State has been driven to violence: After losing at Oracle in the 2007 Playoffs, Dallas F Dirk Nowitzkitossed a trash can through a wall 12 feet in the air. Five years later, as Amick showed last night, the wound is still there, now commemorated with a t-shirt…
If the Warriors are going to keep knocking off higher-seeded teams in the Playoffs, maybe they should invest in a punching bag for the visitor’s locker room? Could probably save themselves a good bit in drywall costs.
Maybe accidentally bopping officials is something limited to Midwest teams, because the Bucks have gotten themselves in the mix after (literally) rising big man Larry Sanders tagged Bill Kennedy in the face last night. Unlike the Boozer-Crawford hit, which took place late in the second quarter, this incident happened during the jump ball (!!!) of the Bobcats-Bucks game from the BMO Harris Bradley Center, as you can see below:
As the Associated Press tells it (and the clip above shows), Kennedy went down to one knee for a couple of minutes, but ended up staying in the game — much like Crawford did on Saturday when he got hit by Boozer.
What do these incidents all mean? Apparently, NBA officials are a group you can’t keep down for very long.
If it seems like the Horry Scale has weighed the Blazers more than few times since we started this venture back in 2010, it’s not that far off. By our count, Portland has been on the Horry Scale — either as the Horry-er (aka the shot-maker) or as the Horry-ee (aka the victim) — three times, including once this season, entering Tuesday’s action. The Blazers’ mark in those Horry situations? They’re 2-1 … but let’s make that 3-1 after LaMarcus Aldridge went to a reliable Horry shot to sink his hometown Mavs.
If Aldridge’s game-winner last night that you see above looks an awful lot like another recent Horry shot from him, you’ve got a sharp memory. Just a little more than a year ago, Aldridge victimized the Mavs in Dallas with a fadeaway jumper at the horn over Brendan Haywood. Haywood has since moved on to Charlotte, but that didn’t stop Aldridge from victimizing another Mav (with a similar-sounding first name), Brandan Wright, with a nearly identical shot.
Of course, it takes a team effort to set the stage for a shot like Aldridge’s and the Blazers needed everyone’s effort on Tuesday to get into a spot where they could win this game. The Mavs essentially had the Blazers finished after building a 69-48 lead off O.J. Mayo‘s stepback 3-pointer with 8 minutes, 37 seconds left. By late in the fourth quarter rolled, though, we had a lead-changing frenzy.
For those that are new around these parts, 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 Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.
How does Aldridge’s shot Tuesday night stack up? Let’s dive in …
At times to the chagrin of Blazer fans, Aldridge has made his All-Star bones as a perimeter shooter, so it’s fitting he’d favor that shot to clinch a victory. Shot selection is key when there’s 1.5 seconds to go, so kudos to coach Terry Stotts for putting Aldridge in position to succeed. Much like his shot against the Mavs in 2012, Aldridge sets up on the low post. Unlike against Dallas, though, Aldridge knows he doesn’t have time to move out to the perimeter, catch the ball and take two dribbles to set up his shot. So he gets position on Wright, receives the ball from inbounder Wesley Matthews, turns … fades … and that’s the ballgame.
For Dallas, Mayo provides token pressure on the inbounds, Vince Carter stays at home with Nicolas Batum on the left baseline, making this a one-on-one situation for Aldridge. Darren Collison appears to try and help Wright from underneath, but he can’t get there in time.
Overall, this is an All-Star-vs.-rotation-player situation, and not surprisingly, the All-Star gets what he wants. Wright defends it pretty well, but Aldridge knows what he’s doing here.
Tie ballgame between two low-to-mid-level West teams … not a shocker, right? Wrong. As we mentioned, the Blazers were down 21 in the third and looked cooked. Portland’s bench won’t win any productivity awards this season, but without those reserves, the Blazers wouldn’t have won. Big contributions from Sasha Pavlovic and Ronnie Price in the fourth quarter kept the Blazers ahead or tied with the Mavs down the stretch. No play was perhaps bigger for that crew than Price drawing a charge on Mayo with 1.5 seconds left.
The Mavs weren’t without their own displays of clutch-itude, what with Collison banking in a wacky 3-pointer with 3:01 left and Dirk Nowitzki draining what at the time seemed to be a back-breaking 3-pointer with 11.9 seconds left to give Dallas a 104-101 lead.
Teammates Nicolas Batum (a Horry Scale inductee himself in 2011) said Aldridge was “smiling like a rookie” after hitting his shot. Aldridge, who starred at the University of Texas and Dallas-area high school Seagoville, simply turns and looks at the Mavs’ bench a little before laughing, smiling and walking up court. Matthews chest bumps him first before everyone short of ex-Blazer James “Hollywood” Robinson comes running toward him from the Blazers’ bench to celebrate.
There’s one last huddle up and then the Blazers head out to the locker room.
4 Horrys. Tough shot for most players, but pretty routine for Aldridge. This one kind of ranks up there in importance with the J.R. Smith shot against the Bobcats earlier this season in that the defense gave a standout player just the kind of shot he wanted. Overall, it should be three stars. But I give it that extra star bump for the clutch-iness of Aldridge in not just nailing the game-winner, but also the game-tying shot, too. If that’s not the sort of thing Horry used to do, I don’t know what is.
By Jared Cunningham, Dallas Mavericks January 8, 2013 New Year, New Opportunities
This year has gotten off to a great start! I was playing in the D-League with the Texas Legends for a couple weeks last month, and I found out at 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 31 that the Dallas Mavericks had just recalled me. The Legends GM called me to say it was time to go back to the Mavs, and that I needed to be at the gym for practice that morning. That was a great phone call!
When I got to the gym, a lot of people had smiles on their faces. Dahntay Jones even said, “I missed you, rook!” It was a happy moment. I went with the team that afternoon to play Washington. A few of us went out to dinner for New Year’s Eve, and then we got a great win against the Wizards the next day. For us to get that win, it was a great start for our team’s new year.
Things are great. I came back to the team feeling more comfortable handling the ball and making my teammates better. I think the coaches have seen that in me. Getting recalled right before the first of the month, when the New Year hit, really gave me a fresh start to get focused and ready to play with the Mavs. I’m working on my all-around game, learning every day, developing into a better player and taking advice from our team’s veterans.
Vince Carter talks to me a lot and points out things to help me get better. He’s been in this league a long time, and he tells me to fight through adversity. My assistant coach Darrell Armstrong has helped me out a lot, too. It’s been great having two other rookies, Jae Crowder and Bernard James, as teammates, too. We are all in different situations — some playing, some not — but at the end of the day, we are all working hard together.
I don’t really have a New Year’s resolution, but I told myself that I’d come back to the Mavs with a lot of energy and help my team win. I’m really glad to be back with the team.
I’ll tell you a little bit about my D-League experience, which was really great for me. On Dec. 11, I was ready to leave for a Mavs road trip – bags packed and everything – and when I got to practice, my agent called. He told me I’d be going to the Texas Legends, which is in Frisco, about 30 minutes from Dallas. At first, I was really in disbelief. My agent told me it would be an opportunity for me to get back in shape and play basketball. I knew it would be a new challenge to play with guys I didn’t know in a different environment.
I ended up playing over 30 minutes a game (for seven games), and got to run the point guard position that I should be playing in the future. I had some good teammates looking out for me and trying to help me succeed. It was a lot of pressure, but I had to stay confident and in the right frame of mind. I kept telling myself that I needed to take advantage of the opportunity, go hard and go back to what I know I can do. I talked to my family a lot during that time, and also to my agent. He kept telling me that my time would come and to take advantage of the opportunity to get in shape and get up and down the floor.
During one of the Legends home games, Coach Carlisle came out to Frisco on a Mavs day off to watch me play. That meant a lot to me because I knew they cared about wanting me to grow and develop as a player. Seeing Coach there made me play even harder and focus even more.
The D-League was a good experience for me, but it was definitely different than the NBA. The first couple days I drove about 30 minutes back and forth from Dallas to Frisco. Then I decided to stay in a hotel with some other players from the Legends team so I didn’t have to drive that much. In the NBA, you fly on a charter plane. In the D-League, you fly commercial and take a lot of buses.
It was a very humbling experience and made me realize how fortunate I am to be in the NBA.
It was a great thing when the Legends coach said we had time off for a few days during Christmas. I caught the first plane to home to Oakland to spend Christmas with my family. We opened a couple presents on Christmas Eve; they were very happy to have me there. And it was very beneficial for me to have fun with my family for a couple days.
I hope you are having a great start to the year! Find out how things are going for me on Twitter @J1Flight and on Instagram at J1Flight.
Jared Cunningham, a 6-foot-4 guard from Oregon State, was the 24th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs later traded him to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Mavericks rolled into Charlotte Saturday with a 16-game winning streak against the Bobcats. Now that streak is at zero, as Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist put the ‘Cats on their back to stop — as my mom would put it — the madness. As for the latter, he proved that two shoes might not be a necessity to finish an incredible play:
Kidd-Gilchrist, the number two pick in the 2012 Draft, isn’t ready to be discounted from the Rookie of The Year discussion just yet.
Amidst the hoopla of Dirk returning to his hometown for Dallas’ first preseason game, a guy at halftime decided to end the speculation of the world’s best dunker once and for all:
Of course, the guy had help. No matter. The world record for longest dunk is his. Now, I fully await the day when Blake Griffin finds a way to stuff the roundball from halfcourt. Don’t doubt it. He did this. And these. Along with these.
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