Posts Tagged ‘Damian Lillard’

Damian Lillard wants rings

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In the world of Foot Locker commercials, famous athletes randomly hang out together like it’s an everyday occurrence. In this new spot from Foot Locker, we find Portland’s Damian Lillard sitting around a mod house chatting on his phone, when he offhandedly mentions he would like to win a championship ring at some point in his career. This is a perfectly acceptable feeling to have, unless perhaps you express that feeling aloud within earshot of Barry Sanders, LaDanian Tomlinson, Chris Webber and Karl Malone.


VIDEO: Lillard Foot Locker

Check Out This Animated Version Of Damian Lillard In The Dunk Contest

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Yesterday we checked out an awesome animated, illustrated drawing of John Wall‘s winning dunk that Portland-based artist Patrick Truby created exclusively for Turner Sports/NBA Digital. Well, just in case you missed it, Truby also did a drawing of Damian Lillard‘s sick between-the-legs dunk yesterday for Deadspin

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The 2013-14 All Ball YOLO All-Stars

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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — If there’s one thing I’ve learned from attending a dozen All-Star Weekends, it’s that at its core, All-Star Weekend is about the fans. The fans actually select the starting line-ups, and fans travel from near and far to hit up Jam Session and All-Star Saturday Night and the Rising Stars Challenge and, of course, all the parties.

In some broader sense, the All-Star Game is about recognizing the best players from each conference. Sure, there are a couple of rim-rattling dunks and the occasional long-range shot that falls. And if you’re lucky, really lucky, the game is close down the stretch, and then everyone’s competitive juices kick in and you might just get a memorable finale. The main purposes of most participants in the actual All-Star Game? They wear funky uniforms, get a little run in, hang out with their buddies, and then they go back to their own teams for the stretch run and the Playoffs.

But that’s not why I’m watching the All-Star Game. And I think most people tuning in or even attending All-Star are looking to have a similar question answered: Are we not entertained? No matter what the Fun Police tell you, at All-Star weekend, nobody is looking at efficiency stats or plus/minus ratings. We want to see Shaq playing point guard. We want to see Gilbert Arenas joining the Elvis impersonators and dunking off of a trampoline. Simply put: We want the All-Star Game — and the entire weekend, really — to be fun.

So you can argue all you want about who does and who doesn’t deserve to be named to the actual Eastern and Western Conference All-Star teams. Instead, I present to you my annual YOLO All-Stars. (If you didn’t know, YOLO is an acronym for You Only Live Once.) These are the guys who deserve to be All-Stars based on my own vague All Ball Blog criteria. I considered all of the following elements: hilarity; social media proficiency; general swag; likelihood the player will do something memorable; dunking/dribbling/shooting ability; previous Shaqtin’ A Fool appearances; mentions on the All Ball Blog.

To be clear, those categories are listed in no particular order, with no importance or weight to any given specific category. These are just the players I think it would be fun to see in an All-Star Game. If we want to be entertained, these are the players that will give it to us. Meet your 2013-14 NBA YOLO All-Stars…

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Starters
C – Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers — Always a blast on Twitter, and a man who appreciates good humor.
F – Chris Bosh, Miami Heat — Will be in charge of all videobombing.
F – LeBron James, Miami Heat — Not only is he a force on Twitter, which is good enough to qualify for the YOLO All-Stars, but he’s also the reigning MVP, so that wins him an invite.
G – J.R. Smith, New York Knicks — In the YOLO All-Star Game, untying shoes will be encouraged.
G – Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers — UNCLE DREW!

Bench
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks — The Greek Freak is perhaps the most unconventional athlete in the league, so you never know what he’s going to pull off next. He also loves smoothies, and with the All-Star Game being played in the newly-named Smoothie King Center, what could be more perfect?
Amir Johnson, Toronto Raptors — One of my favorites on social media.
Andray Blatche, Brooklyn Nets — Eurostep!
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons — Will be in charge of Vine videos throughout the weekend.
Metta World Peace, New York Knicks — Still the best.
Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers — He may not have made the actual All-Star Game, but I can’t knock his hustle. Besides, he dunked on a ref, which is awesome.
Kevin Seraphin, Washington Wizards — Anyone with a pet snake named Snakey and a skeleton that rides a Segway is a lifetime YOLO All-Star.

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Starters
C – Robin Lopez, Portland Trail Blazers — He’s a nerd and he’s proud of it.
F – Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves — We’ll have him making coffee for everyone.
F – Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder — If LeBron is on the East, we might as well put KD on the West.
G – Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers — My favorite dribbler in the NBA.
G – James Harden, Houston Rockets — The beard is fun on its own, but Harden’s also made a heavy push into social media the last few years. Maybe he can perform at halftime.

Bench
Nick Young, Los Angeles Lakers — You can’t have a YOLO game without Swaggy P.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers — Founder of #4BarFriday.
Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies — Perhaps my favorite NBA player to challenge his team owner to a game of one-on-one.
Matt Bonner, San Antonio Spurs — Broken nose and all, Bonner is always entertaining.
Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors — Always a candidate to dunk on someone. Or to review an episode of “Breaking Bad.”
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings — Hard not to select someone who’s nickname is “Boogie.”
JaVale McGee, Denver Nuggets (Injured) — Really the perfect player for this game.
Nate Robinson, Denver Nuggets (Injured) — Go long, Nate will throw you the pineapple.

So there’s my YOLO All-Stars. Who would you put on your YOLO All-Star team? Let us know below in the comments!

Horry Scale: Joe Knows


VIDEO: Joe Johnson Does It Again

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s late at night, I’ve got one full day of vacation staring me in the face, and before I drift off to bed, I’m thinking about the last few things I’d like to accomplish (a long nap tomorrow, not doing chores, etc.) before heading back to the blizzard in NYC. And then Joe Johnson does it again. The Brooklyn Nets needed a win in the worst way, and who better to turn to than Joe Cool?

I know we usually air these posts out a bit, but this one is going to be a bit more to the point, because, you know, vacation. But before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain why we’re here: What is the Horry Scale? For those who 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.

One other thing before we move on: I’ve received a few emails from Blazers fans and Thunder fans wondering why I had not done Horry Scale posts for their teams when Lillard and Westbrook have hit game-winners. My reasoning is sound: Those guys have hit game-winners, yes, but they both left tenths of a second on the clock. And as we all know from reading the rules above, we are looking for shots with 0.0 remaining on the clock.

Which leads us to Joe Johnson…

DIFFICULTY
The toughest part of Joe’s game winner was having the 6-10ish Serge Ibaka guarding him. But the rest of the shot was the same kind of shot Joe’s been knocking down his entire pro career. He inbounded the ball to Kevin Garnett, who handed it back to Joe, and then you can see all the other Nets clear out of the way and just let Joe do his thing. I’ve often said that if Joe Johnson were in a one-on-one contest against any other NBA player, I think he’d fare pretty well, because he’s terrific at using his dribble and his size to nearly always get his shot off. And this instance was no exception.

GAME SITUATION
More like season situation. The Nets have famously been something of a mess this season, and the recent season-ending injury to Brook Lopez led to many thinking it was time to put the final fork in the Nets (if we hadn’t already). So to say they needed a win not just on this night but to give life to their season is no understatement. And I’m pretty sure nobody thought that win would come on the road, against the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder.

CELEBRATION
Rowdy. Even moreso than on Johnson’s previous game-winner this season. Of course, even though this isn’t an overtime finish, the Nets probably have more at stake now than they did a few weeks back. They’ve been knocked down, but they got up again.

GRADE
We’ve had a run of 4 Horry scores of late, and I think it’s time to break that streak. While the shot over the bigger defender was impressive, it was a basic jumper in a one-on-one setting. So I’m giving this three Horrys

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What say you? How many Horrys does Joe Johnson’s GWBB deserve?

Turner Riles Up Lakers With Late Jam


VIDEO: Evan Turner’s late-game dunk

By Jonathan Hartzell, NBA.com

Evan Turner didn’t make many friends in Los Angeles with this 180-degree dunk at the end of Sunday night’s game.

The Sixers led the Lakers 109-104 with less than ten seconds left when James Anderson grabbed a long-rebound to seal the win for Philadelphia. Instead of holding the ball for the final four seconds, Anderson passed it ahead to Turner, who didn’t think twice before throwing down the monster dunk to act as an exclamation point on their win. As you can see towards the end of the video, the Lakers’ Nick Young – and probably the rest of the Lakers team — did not take too kindly to Turner breaking an unwritten NBA rule.

Turner attempted to apologize for the dunk to Young and other Lakers after the game. But they didn’t seem too keen to accept it.

A similar situation occurred last season between the Portland Trail Blazers and Chicago Bulls when a rookie Damian Lillard couldn’t help but add some emphasis to his team’s win. His action quickly drew displeasure from Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.


VIDEO: Lillard’s late-game dunk irks Bulls’ veterans last season

Horry Scale: Monta Is Money


VIDEO: Monta Ellis GWBB

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I can not tell a lie: It has been a season of highs and lows here at Horry Scale Central. We began the season with three Game-Winning Buzzer-Beaters within seven days, a flurry of activity to make even the most jaded NBA watcher’s head twirl. This required me to write three Horry Scale posts in succession, which turned out to be a controversial endeavor. Folks weren’t happy with my rating of the Jeff Green GWBB, which kept me up very late at night, triggering some difficult and genuine soul searching, at least as far as you know. Since then I have perhaps tried to overcorrect with some of my other ratings, a maneuver that has in no small part generated its own share of controversy, and which has caused something of an existential Horry Scale crisis.

But I digress. Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain: What is the Horry Scale? For those who 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.

With the rules in place, Today we turn our tired eyes to the lovely Pacific Northwest. Let’s check out last night’s game-winner from Monta Ellis

DIFFICULTY
Monta Ellis has made tougher shots in his career, probably even in this game. This was basically a catch-and-shoot on a curl coming around a screen, a shot Ellis has taken thousands of times in his life. And Ellis made a clean catch, swung around the screen, and had a wide open look at the basket. And yes, he drained the shot, so kudos to him. To me the most interesting thing on this play was that the Blazers did not switch defenders on the screen. In the NBA, for the most part defenders always switch on picks in the last few seconds of a game, and particularly on an inbounds play. This is not only easy for the players on the floor to remember, in a more general sense it means defenders are always running at the ball when there are only seconds to play. But as Ellis came around the series of screens, Portland’s Wesley Matthews tried to stay with him, with no real help waiting for him. (As my main man Ben Golliver reports on Blazers Edge, Portland had decided before the play to only switch guard-on-guard screens. Dallas’ other guard on the floor was Jose Calderon, who was inbounding the ball, so the Blazers all knew there would effectively be no switching.) By the time Ellis caught the pass, curled around the pick from DaJuan Blair and popped free at the top of the key, Portland’s best defensive option may have been LaMarcus Aldridge, who was flat-footed about six feet away from Ellis. Matthews made a last-second swipe at the ball from behind while trying to recover, but he couldn’t make a difference.

GAME SITUATION
What you don’t see in the clip above is the clutch three-pointer Lillard made to tie the game with 1.9 seconds remaining. That play was set up by a Dallas turnover from, you guessed it, Monta Ellis. So in many ways this GWBB was about redemption for Monta. Still, once Dallas got the ball with the game tied, it seemed like it would probably be Dirk Nowitzki time, right? Even in the video above, as the Mavs line up for the play, you can hear Portland analyst Mike Rice note, “Watch [DaJuan] Blair set a pick for either Vince Carter or Dirk.” So Dallas coach Rick Carlisle using the situation to run a play for Ellis was not only in retrospect a wise choice, it was crafty, as well.

IMPORTANCE
This was big on both sides. The Blazers had been riding a four-game winning streak, and had amassed eight straight wins at home. The crowd in Portland, which is always among the best in sports, was rowdy and sold out, twenty-thousand strong. The Mavs, meanwhile, after an offseason that was quieter than most expected, have been something of a mild surprise this season, bobbing along a couple of games above .500. Any road win in the NBA is a good thing, but a road win over the best team in the Conference is always a great thing.

CELEBRATION
The Mavs seemed really fired up by Ellis’ shot, surrounding him and grabbing him. Also, I’m pretty sure someone ran off the Dallas bench and hit Ellis with a large cushion at about the 19-second mark of the video. I particularly enjoyed this facet of the celebration: The cushion bash needs to become a regular part of post-shot celebrations.

If nothing else, Mavs owner Mark Cuban was jacked up about it…

GRADE
I think we can all agree that the degree of difficulty wasn’t through the roof, at least just as a jump shot, in a bubble. But all the other parts of this play — Ellis’ earlier turnover, Lillard’s game-tying three moments earlier, Portland’s home win streak, Dallas’ execution on the final play — give added weight to the play. This is one of those situations where I wish we had half-Horrys to award, because I really feel like this is a 3.5 Horry Play. Should I round up or down? That’s another discussion for another day. In this case, I’m going with four Horrys, because for me the post-shot cushion bash lifts it from three to four…

horry-star horry-star horry-star horry-star

That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give the Monta Ellis game-winner?

NBA Behind The Scenes: The Photo Game (Part Two)

FOR PART ONE, CLICK HERE

BROOKLYN Earlier this week, I spent an evening shadowing Nathaniel Butler from NBA Photos as he photographed the Trail Blazers-Nets game in Brooklyn. During the game, Butler gave me a camera and let me shoot the action. What follows are some of the images I took that night, with my thoughts and comments below each picture. These pictures have not been cropped or color-corrected or anything else. This is what I shot … for better, or for, probably mostly, worse.

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As the Blazers took the floor to warm up directly in front of me, Nic Batum started hoisting 15-footers from the right wing. I picked up my camera, zoomed in a bit, half-pushed the button down to make sure the image was focused, and then fired off the shot. What I didn’t account for was that Batum would jump when he shot, so my photo chopped off his arms and the ball.

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Once the game started, sure enough the Nets ran a play to get Kevin Garnett a shot at the top of the key. I saw the play developing and as soon as KG caught the ball and squared up, I took this picture. Unfortunately, as you may notice, I managed to capture all of the players out of focus. But the basket support and the fans in the front rows are crystal clear. Also, terrific job by me to cut off the shot clock. (more…)

NBA Behind The Scenes: The Photo Game (Part One)

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(Editor’s Note: While we cover the NBA as obsessively as we can around here, there are still numerous ancillary parts of the game experience that we want to uncover and explore. Being involved with the NBA can mean everything from serving up exotic foods to firing shirts into the crowd. We will delve into these angles of the NBA as part of a new regular (and perhaps a bit irregular) All Ball series, NBA Behind The Scenes.)

BROOKLYN – It was 3:30 on Monday afternoon in Brooklyn, four hours before the Brooklyn Nets would play host to the Portland Trail Blazers. The interior hallways of the Barclays Center were mostly deserted, save for a few food service employees firing up ovens and custodial staff giving the place a final shine before thousands of fans arrived. Out on the arena floor, a rec league championship game was taking place.

Sitting in a folding chair just below one of the baskets was a man in a black polo shirt and jeans, working at a determined pace. He wasn’t tall, wasn’t short, and his blond hair made determining his age require more than a glance. He tore black gaffers tape into strips and secured loose wires that were splayed all over the place — to the basket support, from the basket support, along the cement arena floor, on the edge of the court. Three large hard plastic containers were open on the floor around him, all neatly packed with lenses, cameras, tripods and various other equipment. A hand truck was just behind, waiting to be loaded up and rolled away.

The man’s assistant turned up, carrying several camera batteries, which were checked and rechecked, and some were swapped out for more potent options. Words like “reflectors” and “overheads” were used casually between the two men in conversation. A ladder was propped up under a backboard, and a multi-thousand dollar camera was affixed to the glass and carefully aimed out toward the paint.

I had come to Brooklyn to meet up with Nathaniel S. Butler, who is a photographer for NBA Photos, and has been chronicling the NBA in pictures for about two decades now. You may not know Nat Butler’s name, but if you’re an NBA fan, you almost definitely know his work. Like perhaps this image …

John Starks drives hard for a slam dunk

(more…)

Adidas Unveils New On-Court Collection

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Today adidas unveiled their all new collection of NBA on-court gear. According to adidas, “The NBA On-Court Collection will outfit all 30 NBA teams with the most innovative performance and on-trend style.” A photo gallery follows, but first some details…

    • On-Court Warm-Up Jacket And Pant — To illustrate the speed of the game, the jacket features intensity graphics on the sleeves and front panel of the body; Sleeves and trim of the jacket feature contrasting color to the body of the jacket; An homage to team pride, the back of the jacket features the geographical team name and logo in white-stencil font; Warm-up pant features ventilation panels built into high-performance areas for comfort and functionality along with adidas’ classic three stripes.
    • Varsity Warm-Up Jacket — Designed to capture the classic varsity jacket look and feel and built for optimal performance and on-court usage; Worn by all players and teams for weekend home games after Christmas Day; Classic heather grey-based jacket with contrasting team-colored sleeves; Soft-textured team patch logos on the back and left chest complete the varsity look.
    • Long-Sleeve Shooting Shirt — Team name across the chest in official team font; Front and back panels feature contrasting team colors along with accenting impact camo sleeves to illustrate speed and style.
    • Short-Sleeve Shooting Shirt — Varsity-style shooting shirt features team letter logo on the left chest; Features player’s name and number on the back and an impact camo pattern across the entire shirt to illustrate speed and style.

The collection is available now at NBAstore.com. To see Harrison Barnes, Damian Lillard, Derrick Rose, Ricky Rubio, Iman Shumpert and John Wall model the new gear, check below…

Draft Diaries: C.J. McCollum

By C.J. McCollum, for NBA.com

The Graduate

CJ McCollum and family

The proud graduate with his family.

When I saw the look on my Mom and Dad’s face as I crossed the stage at graduation, I knew all the hard work and late nights in the library were worth it! I graduated from Lehigh University a couple weeks ago, and not only did I feel a great sense of pride, but I had a lot of fun! My whole family was there to see me graduate. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Aunt, and almost all of my cousins were there. We did miss my brother, though, who is overseas playing professional basketball in Greece. I hadn’t seen my family since Easter, so it was nice to spend time with everybody and enjoy the end of a fun, exciting chapter and the start of a new one with them.

NBA TV was on-site documenting the whole thing. They started taping my family and me before we left the house in the morning and then captured more footage at graduation. They also interviewed my teammates and coaching staff at Lehigh. It’s supposed to air when it gets closer to the Draft. Oh, and I took a selfie with the school president as she handed me my diploma, which was hilarious – I hope NBA TV got that on film!

A lot of students and their families were asking for my picture and for an autograph. It took my Mom and I about an hour and a half to get from the field where we had graduation back to the car since I kept stopping to talk to people. It was definitely fun for me, especially because I can clearly remember a time when nobody wanted my autograph. In the last two years, as I’ve progressed in basketball and made more of a name for myself, I realize I get that request more and more often and I take a lot of pride in that.

The whole graduation experience was filled with mixed emotions. It was great to celebrate and get together with my friends one last time in a college setting. I felt content with my college career because I did just about everything I wanted to accomplish, except winning a National Championship of course. It was tough, but all of the hard work was definitely worth it!

Front Row At The Draft Lottery

I had a chance to go to the NBA Draft Lottery, which was awesome! I went with Anthony Bennett and Michael Carter-Williams, two fellow Draftees I’ve spent a lot of time with since I started training in Long Island. Not only were we sitting front row, but I also got the chance to meet Damian Lillard, who was the 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year. We’ve been in contact over the last few years, so it was good to finally meet him in person. I had a chance to speak to him privately about his experience transitioning from a smaller school to the NBA. I also was interested in hearing how he stayed consistent and dealt with the ups and downs of his rookie season.

After I spoke to him on the side, NBA TV taped Anthony, Michael and I picking Damian’s brain a little bit, asking all kinds of questions about life in the NBA.

Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, top picks in the 2012 NBA Draft, were there too and it was real nice to meet them. They were cool and happy to share their experiences with us.

We also met and shook hands with Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner, soon to be Commissioner Adam Silver. I hope to be shaking Commissioner Stern’s hand again very soon at the Draft!

I’ve always watched the NBA Draft Lottery on TV, but to be there live and in a situation where the Lottery will dictate which team will Draft me … now that’s very interesting.

Eye On The Prize

We’ve been tapering down our training a bit so nobody gets hurt, especially since we’re traveling to a lot of team workouts. Of course we’re still getting in our reps, but it’s just not as intense.

It has been nice to see all of the positive feedback from teams and the media. Sometimes I look at the player rankings, but I don’t read into it too much or let it alter my mindset. The path to the Draft is a long process and all you can control is how hard you work and how well you prepare yourself and I feel like I’ve done a good job with both of those things.

It’s actually been easy for me to stay focused and on the right track because I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity for a long time. I’m almost there, I can taste it … the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp, the NBA Draft Lottery, next thing I know it will be Draft night, so it’s all business right now. I have been able to enjoy myself a little bit though. Last week I took in a Yankee/Mets game, which was great.  Special thanks to the Lehigh Alum who took care of us at the game. We have a great alumni network and I’m proud to now be part of it! Aside from the baseball game and a barbeque on Memorial Day, it has been all about basketball!

As for my mindset now, I’m fully recovered from my injury, and my body feels strong. I have my college degree. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity and hope to reach my dream of not only getting drafted, but also becoming an NBA mainstay and building a legacy in the league. I’ve worked extremely hard, and I’m ready for the next step!

I’m not sure if I’ll be blogging again before the Draft, so make sure to follow me on Twitter @CJMcCollum and on instagram and vine @3JMCCOLLUM to catch the latest on my journey. Wish me luck!