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…
Is it OK to say this was the sweetest moment for Derrick Rose since 2011? Yes, it appears so, because what could be more uplifting to a player who’s been to injury hell and back (three times) than sending a sucker punch to LeBron James and the Cavs here in what could be a tightly-contest second-round playoff series?
Over the last few years it has become customary, even tired, to proclaim “He’s Back!” whenever Rose did anything that remotely resembled his MVP season. To be honest, Rose will never be “back” until he displays the consistency of that season, but let’s put that aside for a moment. On this very play, with this very shot, he was “back” for a fleeting microsecond, even if the three-point buzzer beater than put the Bulls up 2-1 in the series required a kiss from the basketball Gods to bank off the glass.
As it is, Rose is being celebrated today in the same city that heckled him during his clumsy comeback from knee surgery a few years ago. Good for him, because if anyone needed a lift from a crazed crowd and a game-winning shot, it’s Rose.
Well, when you’re running to your right and need to shoot over a defender who has the wingspan of a prehistoric bird, then yeah, this shot was a bit tricky to pull off.
Rose took an in-bounds pass with three seconds left and after shaking free of ImanShumpert, found Tristan Thompson flying in his grill. Of course, with time of the essence, there really wasn’t any time to think. And maybe that was a good thing. Three times on the Bulls’ previous four possessions, Rose missed one of two free throws and went 0-for-2 on isolation plays. This time, Rose simply launched it and didn’t call bank.
Before Rose’s game winner, the Bulls were stunned by a desperate three-pointer by J.R. Smith just seconds earlier. In a bit of bad decision-making by the Bulls and coach Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls refused to foul Smith while leading by three. In that situation, it’s better to send a player to the free throw line than risk having him tie the game, and the Bulls lost that gamble.
With Pau Gasol on the bench dealing with an injured hamstring, the Bulls couldn’t afford to play into overtime, not against LeBron. Speaking of whom, he poked the ball away from Rose on the very next play. Lucky for LeBron, he wasn’t called for a foul. And lucky for Rose, the ball went out of bounds, giving the Bulls another shot with three seconds left.
Bulls are up 2-1 in the best of seven. And the next game’s at the United Center on Sunday. C’mon.
Rose was rather subdued, as though he knew a 30-foot bank shot was going in all the way. Anyway, he was immediately lifted into the air by Joakim Noah, who sprinted off the bench, and soon mobbed by teammates. Of course, the UC went nuts, as it should, given that all of Chicago has been waiting to see something like this from Rose for nearly four years. Wish granted. If the Bulls win this series, don’t you think this shot will be raised as one of the reasons why?
Five Horrys, because of the circumstances: Rose’s continued comeback from injuries, it was a playoff game, LeBron was on the floor, and the ball was banked in. Yes, this is the max number of Horrys, but just the same, this isn’t some game in February. Please, after all he’s been through, don’t you think Rose should get lots of Horry love?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Kids say the darndest things, which basically means that sometimes kids say things that don’t make much sense. So leave it to Bulls center Joakim Noah to turn the tables in this new Foot Locker commercial and say some things so wacky that even these kids seem to understand that maybe they shouldn’t listen to him. He does have a point about the chair and the dogs though — had never really considered that…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — On the surface, this seems like a simple enough game: Second and third graders from a Chicago elementary school drew pictures of Chicago Bulls players. Then, the actual Chicago Bulls players looked at the pictures and tried to guess which player was featured in the drawing. Again, simple idea, although it’s safe to say the players struggled the right identifications.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Every year about this time, we start to see the same movies airing on TV over and over, the holiday classics: Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, etc.
Now the Chicago Bulls have created a new video to add to the holiday classics canon. Their video, The Gift Of The Game, which tells of a Christmas miracle involving Benny the Bull and a Bulls team that understands teamwork is the key to success. Special shoutout to Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott, and Mike Dunleavy for their narrating skills.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — All summer long, we’ve seen NBA players throwing out the ceremonial first pitches at baseball games. Not just major league games, and not just from active NBA players, but from NBA-related folks (coaches, retired players) all over the place.
I’ve been collecting these videos for a few months, and now we present them, all of them, in several parts, because there’s a lot to get through.
And so, here are a bunch of NBA people throwing out the first pitch at baseball games…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There have been a bunch of NBA players throwing out ceremonial first pitches at baseball games the last few weeks, but I’ve been trying not to post each one individually in the hopes of later putting together a round-up of all the different first pitches.
But we had a first pitch earlier this week that I just couldn’t overlook. Bulls center Joakim Noah tossed the first pitch this week at a Chicago White Sox game. And after warming up a bit in a tunnel under the stadium, Joakim ran onto the field and…fired a pitch way low and outside.
But all is not lost! Instead, Joakim asked for another try, and this time lobbed a strike down the middle. There’s a reason you four balls to throw three strikes…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — NBA players are the best of the best, elite athletes who have reached the peak of their sport, and perhaps even the top of the sporting world. They have honed their craft and skills to reach their place among the greats, and they will do whatever it takes to prove that dominance against any opponent, no matter the size or challenge that opponent presents.
But as we’ve seen several times the last few weeks, as good as NBA players are against their peers, they are absolutely dominant against children. Seriously, kids, don’t challenge NBA players.
For instance, here’s what happened when this kid recently tried to defend JR Smith one-on-one…
A video posted by Jr. Jazz Youth Basketball (@officialjrjazz) on
And then there’s Chicago’s Joakim Noah, who takes on an army of kids and dispatches all of them…
But fear not, kids! Because every once in a while, even if it is a really rare while, one of the kids stands up for the rest and shows an NBA player that maybe they aren’t quite infallible. Just ask Nick Young…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of the things that makes Bulls center Joakim Noah such an effective center is his mobility; it’s hard for most NBA players to keep up with him on the break, much less other big men. Watching him get out and run the floor, and particularly when he has the ball in his hands, there’s an element of danger there. Is he going to dribble the ball off his foot? Is he going to throw a pass out of bounds? But he generally makes the correct plays, which is why it’s so much fun to watch Noah run the floor. Rob Mahoney at SI.com put together this supercut of Noah on the break, set to, appropriately, Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born To Run”…