When Mike Millerdrained a treyball without a left shoe during a Miami run in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, it was a moment that earned an ESPY nod and will be remembered for a long time. Yeah, it was a big shot during a classic Finals game, but the visual was more remarkable by its rarity. If you asked every player that suited up for an NBA game if he hit a deep ball bereft of a shoe during a game, I’d wager that less than two percent would say yes.
Count the Hawks’ Mike Scott among the initiated. Against the Warriors on Friday, he slips right out his left shoe while setting a pick. Call a timeout or foul immediately on defense, right? Nope. Play on!
After playing a possession on D, still unable to slip his shoe back on, he slides back down the court. Coming off another screen and his man David Lee miles away, he found himself WIDE OPEN on the pass from Jeff Teague. You can guess what happened next:
There was, however, a guy at last night’s Celtics/Warriors game in Boston who looked an awful lot like rapper/actor Tupac Shakur, who died in 1996. After the game, Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala posted a photo of the guy on Instagram, noting, “They sayin 2pac back, 2pac back! At the game tonight in Boston.”
It wasn’t just a thing that was noticed post-game. Late in the game, with the Celtics down 30, the Tupac doppleganger made an appearance on the scoreboard, prompting the crowd to chant their support…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — NBA practices frequently devolve into shooting contests — from halfcourt, from full court, between teammates, whatever. And when your team’s coach is a former NBA point guard, it just gives the players one more competitor to go up against in any shooting contest. That’s what happened yesterday in Indianapolis, where the Golden State Warriors had practice on an off day, and where Steph Curry and coach Mark Jackson got into a post-practice shootout.
Even though Curry is arguably the best shooters in the game today, Coach Jackson gave him all he could handle. Hand down, man down.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just as important as any great dunk is the celebration that follows. And we aren’t only talking about the way the dunker himself lets the world know he threw down, but the way his teammates get into the act and celebrate. To that end, let’s take a look at a couple of recent bench celebrations and see which bench celebrated best.
1. Detroit Pistons A few days ago the Pistons hosted the Atlanta Hawks, and Pistons big man Andre Drummond got a steal and a dunk on Elton Brand. It wasn’t a dunk on as much as it was a dunk around as Brand tried to deliver a foul. Still, Brand went reeling, making it look worse than it probably was. Either way, as it was down the stretch in a close game, the Pistons bench turned in a celebration for the ages.
And how about that Pistons bench? Coaches and players alike went wild, although it’s always hard to top Pistons assistant coach Rasheed Wallace…
2. Golden State Warriors
Last night against the same Pistons team, Golden State’s Klay Thompson dunked on Kyle Singler. Singler’s legs got tangled or went numb or something, and following the dunk Singler did a stiff-legged stumble into the photographers along the baseline.
It’s a bit tougher to see the bench celebration on this one, but even without Kent Bazemore there to lead the way, the Warriors bench knows how to be explosive after a big play. Watch this GIF of the play and see how the bench shows out. (There’s also the great juxtoposition of the bench getting up as Singler goes down.)
So what say you? Which bench had the better reaction?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Throughout this season, perhaps you’ve seen our ongoing series, The All Ball Posterized Poll. In those posts, we examine which NBA players have been victims of the most vicious dunks.
We are proud to continue the tradition of highlighting the best of the best (and worst) with the new All Ball Crossover Contest. From time to time, we will check in and look at some of the best ankle-breaking dribbling exhibitions we’ve seen. We want to see the greatest moves, of course, but we also want to take note of who got shook.
So who broke out the best crossover in this edition of the Crossover Contest? We culled this selection of videos, and NBA.com’s Zettler Clay is providing the written commentary to accompany what you see.
Check out the videos below and vote at the bottom of the post …
NORRIS COLE ON DERRICK ROSE Zettler Says: I know, Derrick Rose was only minutes into his first game back from an ACL tear. Still, as Avon Barksdale accurately summed it up, the game is the game. Norris saw an opportunity and made a quick decision. We’re rooting for a full recovery for Rose, if only for a chance at redemption, because this move is nasty.
JOHN WALL ON TERRENCE ROSS Zettler Says:John Wall hits Terrence Ross with the double. If you were to ask for defining Wall plays to teach to youngsters, this would lead the reel. A stutter step to freeze Ross, then a crisp crossover followed by another, followed by speed to the cup. Great read, timing and execution.
STEPHEN CURRY ON REGGIE JACKSON Zettler Says: There’s nobody else in the NBA that could pull this move off, save for Jamal Crawford and Kevin Durant. Curry’s ability to quickly set his feet after a move combined with his deadly deep aim gives his crossover another element. No spot on the court is safe for any Steph defender.
DERON WILLIAMS ON CHRIS PAUL Zettler Says: Classic end of half isolation clash between two of the league’s best. What gives this play flair is the stealthy rivalry between these two players since they entered the NBA in 2005, one pick behind each other (D-Will was the third pick, Paul fourth). On this night, multiple times, the third pick had the upper hand.
J.R. SMITH ON TRISTAN THOMPSON Zettler Says: This is just Earl Joseph Smith III doing his thing. Thankfully Tristan Thompson took an unnatural fall, which not only made the play pop, but saved his ankle. If he doesn’t hit the deck, his talus is broken. Believe.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The greatest single-game scoring performance in NBA history is Wilt Chamberlain‘s 100-point night, when the Philadelphia Warriors defeated the New York Knicks, 169-147, in a game played in Hershey, PA. But like many of the older bits of NBA history, this game exists only on paper — there was no video recorded of Wilt’s unbelievable night.
Or was there? In an interview this weekend with The 700 Level, University of Memphis coach Josh Pastner mentioned some incredible details. Pastner noted that his father, Hal, apparently video taped Wilt’s historic night…
“My father was the ball boy for the 76ers for many, many years, and he and Wilt Chamberlain were very close. … And Wilt Chamberlain always felt somebody was trying to get him on timeouts with assassination through drinking. And he drank 7-Up or Sprite, one of the two. And my dad always had to taste it before Wilt — He made my father drink it before [he] would taste it to make sure my dad didn’t conk out. But Wilt took care of my father. They always went around. Like my dad said, he never had a front seat; Wilt sat in the back when he was driving because his legs were so long.
“And in fact, my father and his father taped the game reel-to-reel in the second quarter when it was in Hershey, Pennsylvania in the 100-point game. They started when he had like 30-something; they thought it was going to be a special night. They gave it to Wilt — the 100-point game — and Wilt gave it back to my dad and my dad’s dad. He gave it back to them, they boxed it up, and he’s still trying to find it. He’s got all kinds of boxes, and he doesn’t know if he lost it. He’s trying to find the sucker. … I mean he’s got jerseys of Wilt, pictures.”
Until his Dad finds the tape, though, we’re still missing a big chunk of NBA history.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Here’s the latest spot for NBAStore.com, where you can order all kinds of gear and, if this commercial is correct, team up with your favorite players — such as Brandon Jennings, Chandler Parsons, Carlos Boozer and Andre Iguodala — to create huge mythological figures that apparently make scoring impossible.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — AHHH. Of course, it happened again. After I lamented Joe Johnson rudely intruding on my vacation with his Game Winning Buzzer Beater last night, of course Andre Iguodala had to get in on this as well. You want a vacation? Suck it up, buddy! Sorry Mom and Dad!
Like I said last night, 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.
And so here we are, with Andre Iguodala tearing me away from movie night with the family to write another Horry Scale post. (BTW, thanks Dre!) Let’s do this…
It was just six weeks ago that Andre Iguodala hit a GWBB to beat the Thunder. This time Andre was the inbounds man instead of setting the pick. He got the ball in to Stephen Curry, and the Hawks immediately doubled Curry. In the circumstance, this seemed like the right thing to do, because, you know, it’s Steph Curry and draining crazy threes is the kind of thing Curry does. Curry made the smart play and hit the open Iguodala, and Dre spun around and, completely unguarded, drained the long three for the win. Jeff Teague made a late charge at him, but it was too little (literally), too late. Simple, smart basketball by the Warriors. And if the Hawks were going to double someone, they should probably have had someone ready to rotate to the shooter quicker than they did.
I grew up a Hawks fan, so I’m used to seeing the Hawks blow close games at the buzzer. That said, with Al Horford injured and out for the season, this is the type of game the Hawks probably aren’t supposed to even be close in, much less have a chance at winning. The Warriors were down 8 heading into the fourth, but they mounted an epic comeback to not only get into the game but to win it with that long last second three. Nice road win for Golden State, tough home loss for the ATLiens.
The Warriors managed to piece together my favorite type of celebration, where they exit the floor as they’re cheering on the shot. Also, Dre appeared to shout out someone in the crowd as he sprinted to the opposite end of the court. (Maybe Harry the Hawk? Spirit the Hawk?) Klay Thompson was gesturing for everyone to get on their feet, even as all the Warriors cleared the floor. Also worth noting, someone in an orange shirt sprinted off the Warriors bench and narrowly missed delivering a shivering chest bump to Iguodala. I’m guessing that was Kent Bazemore, because that seems like a really Kent Bazemore thing to do.
Clutch shot. Not an easy shot, because a three-pointer with the clock ticking down isn’t easy. But then, it was an open shot, and it was the kind of shot Andre Iguodala loves to take, even with the pressure on him. So for those reasons and more, I’m giving this shot Three Horrys…
What say you? How many Horrys does Andre Iguodala’s shot deserve?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The best way to get fans to vote for your players for the NBA All-Star Game? Use kids to get out the vote, obviously. Because everyone loves kids. The Golden State Warriors are clearly a step ahead of some other franchises when it comes to mobilizing their base.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — And now the Horry Scale nominees will come fast and furious. After Jeff Green’s game winner just a few days ago, last night’s late TNT game gave us our second nominee of the season, on a last-second shot that didn’t exactly go as planned.
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, let’s check out last night’s game-winner from Golden State’s Andre Iguodala at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder. (By the way, we will not call him Iggy, because he hates the nickname Iggy.)
In terms of basketball fundamentals, Iguodala was able to take a relatively normal jumper — he was moving toward the baseline with the ball in his right (shooting) hand. But we should note here that the play we saw executed was not the play Mark Jackson drew up, according to Iguodala.
Dre said he was supposed to get the ball, fake a dribble handoff to Klay Thompson, who was inbounding, and then look for his shot. And when they lined up for the play, Kevin Durant was assigned to Iguodala. But the Thunder were switching on the play, and when Thabo Sefolosha switched onto Iguodala and basically overplayed as Iguodala cut toward Thompson, Iguodala make the executive decision to cut backdoor — “I took a page out of Kobe’s book,” said Iguodala — and he found room to receive the pass. If nothing else I just love this play as an example of how much happens in an NBA game that is unplanned — these guys are constantly making plays that are based on reads and reactions, and when multiple players are in sync on something like that, it can be a beautiful thing. Sefolosha defended the shot pretty well and recovered enough to get up in Iguodala’s release, but Dre put enough arc on the ball to not only clear the defender, but also take pretty much the entire clock before it splashed home.
It’s worth noting that just seconds before Iguodala’s shot, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook drained a long three-pointer on a broken play to give OKC the temporary 115-114 lead. And frankly, I was a bit surprised Iguodala’s shot was a game-winning shot, because when the ball was inbounded there were 2.3 seconds left. And in the NBA, 2.3 seconds can be an eternity — enough time to catch the ball and run a quick play, or make a few moves even. As the Warriors were inbounding the ball, TNT’s Reggie Miller noted, “A lot of time left for a dribble or two for the Warriors, to get this shot off.” Watching the replays, I’m still not convinced there shouldn’t have been a few tenths of a second added back on after this shot. That is barely any time, I know, but hey, Derek Fisher is on the Thunder, isn’t he?
Let me say this here: I am not perfect. In my breakdown of Jeff Green’s game-winner, I discounted my rating of the shot because I felt like it was such an early-season game that it wouldn’t really have ramifications down the line. And in the comments, you guys upbraided me for not accepting that for the Celtics, beating the defending champs at home was a big deal. Looking back, I probably should have given the Green play a 4. There, I said it. But we don’t choose these things, they choose us, and we just have to move on. So before I go and discount this shot for taking place so early in the season, let’s realize that beating Oklahoma City meant a lot to the Warriors, regardless of the point in the season.
Hitting a dagger at home means built-in celebratory upgrades, such as confetti and a raucous crowd. After the shot connected, Iguodala instinctively sprinted to halfcourt, and the Warriors bench rushed the floor. We also got a shot of a calm, grinning Jermaine O’Neal, surveying the action from the sideline like the old man who’d seen it all and felt proud for these kids. And you think the Warriors weren’t excited? Check out the celebration from owner Joe Lacob…
Fist pumps in a blazer, you guys.
As stated earlier, I caught flack for giving Jeff Green three Horrys, and I have publicly reconsidered my position on that one. For a while I wondered if my legacy here at All Ball would be as the Simon Cowell of the Horry Scale, the tough judge nobody could impress. But nobody likes a meanie, and it’s no fun to have a heart two sizes too small. So for this shot, for reasons outlined above that go above and beyond what was basically a fadeaway jumper, I’m going with four Horrys.
That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give Andre Iguodala’s game winner?