Posts Tagged ‘Damian Lillard’

A big week for birthday cakes and the NBA

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — This is apparently a great week to be an NBA player having a birthday, or even if you’re just an NBA player who enjoys eating birthday cake.

Just one day ago we saw Danté Exum presented with a birthday cake. Little did we know it would mark the start of a trend.

Two nights ago, “The Starters” presented Bucks rookie Jabari Parker with this cake.

Last night, after Trey Burke visited “The Starters” on NBA TV, he was presented with a cake, which he promptly smashed into the face of my main man Trey Kerby.

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(gif via @CJZero)

Meanwhile, out in Portland, Damian Lillard got a birthday cake from a camper at his basketball camp featuring a photo of his Horry Scale shot against Houston from the playoffs.

If that wasn’t enough, Lillard also got a cake with an adidas shoe in the middle of it…

Don’t call Damian Lillard a lizard

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It seems like we’re constantly trying to come up with cool nicknames for NBA players. Some of them stick — one of my favorites was “B-Diddy” for Baron Davis — and some of them don’t — “Slim Reaper” for Kevin Durant.

Recently, an artist did a drawing of Portland’s Damian Lillard represented as a lizard. This was a nod to Lillard’s slithery game, but also a bit of wordplay — “Lillard” sounds a bit like “lizard.”

But as it turns out, Damian Lillard himself hopes this is a nickname that doesn’t stick. In a chat yesterday on ESPN’s SportsNation, someone asked Lillard about being called “Lizard.” And, well, he wasn’t really into it…

Damian Lillard shows off dunking ability at basketball camp

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of the surprise standouts at All Star Weekend a few months back was Portland’s Damian Lillard, who threw down one of the most memorable dunks of the weekend. That dunk was commemorated with a GIF…

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Yesterday, at his basketball camp in Portland, Lillard recreated that dunk, and threw down a nasty windmill off the bounce. As he wrote in the caption on Instagram, “Tried to get them to work on fundamentals first, but they wanted to dunk lol. #LillardCamp

Damian Lillard’s series-winner, from all angles

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I did not care who won Game 6 of the Portland/Houston series. I am not a fan of either team, and to me it didn’t matter which team won. I was up late on the East Coast watching the game, sure, because I love sports and I love basketball, and also because it’s my job. But was I cheering for either team? Nope, not at all.

I say all of that to give context to what happened next. When Chandler Parsons scored with 0.9 seconds remaining, I figured it meant we were headed for a Game 7 in the series. Which was fine by me, considering how great the games in that series had been. And then Damian Lillard came flying around the top of the key, caught the ball, calmly drained the game-winner, and the arena went crazy.

And I sat forward to the edge of my couch and thrust a fist into the air. Again, I didn’t care who won the game. (If anything, Portland winning meant more work for me because I was now on the hook for an Horry Scale post.) I just spontaneously felt like, as fan of sports, I needed to celebrate that moment, probably the best moment of the playoffs thus far.

What a shot, what a moment. Since that shot went down, more and more angles and versions of the shot have surfaced, and I thought we should compile them all in one place for posterity…

The original ESPN broadcast…

VIDEO: Lillard’s GWBB

Lillard’s shot via the phantom cam…

VIDEO: Lillard phantom cam

The Portland radio broadcast…

A Vine shot by a fan sitting courtside…

Video shot by a fan higher up in the stands…

VIDEO: Portland fan vid

And finally, a GIF from the great Patrick Truby
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(Portland radio via Awful Announcing)

Horry Scale: Damian Does It

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com


VIDEO: Lillard’s GWBB

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Earlier tonight I was at Brooklyn/Toronto Game 6, and I was talking with another media member about just how memorable the first round of these playoffs have been. A record number of Game 7s, tons of amazing finishes. HOWEVA, as I pointed out, there had been just one game winning buzzer beater thus far — Vince Carter against the Spurs. From my mouth to the basketball god’s ears, that all changed a few hours later, thanks to Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers, who eliminated the Houston Rockets with a dagger at the buzzer of Game 6 to end the series and give Portland a 99-98 win.

Before we go any further, 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 thing I’d like to clear up: 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. So when I gave Randy Foye a 3 Horry rating, that wasn’t only a reflection of his shot, which was admittedly remarkable, as I wrote, but also the play, which was awful. Taj Gibson’s lefty layup wasn’t the toughest shot, but that inbounds play was terrific. Basically, everything matters.

After 18 regular season entries, we now have our second of the postseason. Let’s break this down…

DIFFICULTY
As a shot, it wasn’t the toughest, mainly because Lillard was so open. On the inbound pass, Lillard basically just outran defender Chandler Parsons to get to the ball. You may wonder why a forward was guarding a much faster point guard on the play. This is a valid question. It wasn’t like Parsons got picked or screened, he was just out-run by Lillard, who was able to catch a pass and turn and shoot. And I love how if you look closely, you can see how he calls for the ball as he runs toward it. “I squared up and snapped my wrist,” Lillard told ESPN’s Heather Cox in his postgame interview, giving Portland their first first-round series win since 2000.

GAME SITUATION
This has been a series about as close as it gets. These teams had turned in three overtime performances in their first five games, and this seemed destined for another OT. On their final possession, the Rockets weren’t able to get a clear look, until a rebound fell into Parsons’ hands under the basket and he flipped it up and in an easy shot to give Houston the lead with 0.9 remaining. It seemed like this was destined to go to 7 games like so many other series. But on the ensuing inbound, Lillard broke free and send the Rockets back to Texas.

CELEBRATION
I’m going to let this Vine speak for me. Crank up the volume and check this out…

GRADE
I took some heat earlier this season when I gave some shots lower grades than you guys felt some shots deserved. My rationale was that the moments weren’t as large as they would be late in the season or in the postseason. Like tonight. The last time someone made a GWBB to end a series?

So yeah. I briefly thought about giving this shot 6 Horrys. But no. I’m going 5 Horrys…

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What say you? How many Horry’s would you give Damian Lillard’s GWBB?

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

j.r.-tucker

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