So, the NBA offseason means downtime away from the court, right? Not exactly for the Hawks’ Kent Bazemore.
The Atlanta guard headed across town to the BB&T Atlanta Open, a top-tier professional tennis tournament in midtown Atlanta, to try his hand at the sport with a fuzzier ball.
Bazemore took on top U.S. tennis star and four-time NCAA champion Steve Johnson on a mini court to test his mettle in a sport he’s apparently started to take up. It wasn’t a total rigged playing field for Bazemore, though, as he also challenged the former USC Trojans tennis star to a best-of-three horse competition on a mini-mobile court set up at the tournament in Atlanta’s Atlantic Station.
Outside an early string of nice shooting by Johnson, Bazemore pulled away in the end though because, well, he plays in the NBA.
“I had to bring my ‘A’ game, he was pretty good,” Bazemore said of Johnson and his hoops stroke. “He got out here and shot so well that I had to turn it on and lock in to take him.”
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In case you missed the news, voting for the 2015 NBA All-Star game began yesterday. The 64th annual game, which will take place here in New York City on February 15, takes it starting line-up from fan voting. That’s nothing new, but the new wrinkle this year is that thanks to the online voting, every NBA player is eligible to be voted for. You want to vote? You can do so right here.
To help get out the vote, teams have started releasing videos designed to raise awareness about the voting process. In Atlanta, for instance, we see Hawks players Mike Muscala and Kent Bazemore discussing how they want to vote and #which #hashtags #they #might #use in the process.
Meanwhile in Golden State, the Warriors have released a video demonstrating just how easy it is to vote, even to a collection of NBA legends like Jerry West, Al Attles, Nate Thurmond and Jim Barnett. It’s so easy, in fact, even a couple of kids can do it…
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 — 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 Golden State Warriors surprised a lot of people last season when, even after a run of late-season injuries, they made a deep run into the postseason, marking themselves as a team to watch going forward. And this season, as the Warriors demonstrate in their newly released commercial, we see that the Warriors are not only going to dominate you, particularly when there’s a mismatch in the post, but that they’re also willing to lend a hand when needed. –
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Warriors G Kent Bazemore made a mark last season mostly by being the team’s spirit leader from the bench, which led us a few weeks back to observe the trend known as Bazemoring. But Bazemore wants to be more than just a cheerleader, as we saw throughout the Vegas Summer League, where Bazemore averaged 18.4 ppoints per game over 7 games for the undefeated Warriors.
How does Bazemore fuel his fire? Last year, ESPN.com ranked Bazemore the 499th best player out of 500 NBA players. So yeah, not so great. In order to constantly remind himself of where he came from, Bazemore had “499” sewn into the tongue of his Under Armour sneakers. There was a brief shot of it on NBA TV, and CJ Fogler made a great screengrab of Bazemore’s motivation…
And after scoring 18 last night to help to lead the Warriors to the Las Vegas Summer League title over Phoenix, Bazemore grabbed the trophy and did his best MJ imitation on Instagram…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We saw last week that “Bazemoring” was officially a thing, but it’s not the only thing. Reactions from the bench during NBA games are a crucial part of the game. From Kent Bazemore‘s poses to Patty Mills‘ towel-waving, even if they’re not between the lines getting buckets, bench guys can play an important role in keeping the spirits of their teammates elevated.
The NBA’s official YouTube channel just dropped this supercut of the best bench reactions of the season, highlighting the work of some players who may have otherwise been overlooked… –
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Part of the fun in watching the Golden State Warriors turn up during the postseason was watching their bench, where players like Kent Bazemore showed their team spirit by getting up off the bench and celebrating whenever something good happened. They provided motivation for their teammates and gave fans a focal point, as well.
For instance, below is a Vine I posted from a game during Golden State’s first round upset of the Denver Nuggets. Watch Kent Bazemore and Draymond Green celebrate a make by Steph Curry a dunk by Harrison Barnes. –
Well, leave it to the folks at 2K Sports to realize that if they wanted their game, NBA2K14, to be as realistic as possible, they needed to get Bazemore into their high tech studios and get to work doing some motion capturing…of his celebrations. –
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Big thanks to the NBA’s official YouTube channel, where they posted the following video of the Golden State Warriors getting ready for last night’s game in San Antonio. Obviously nobody knew the game was going to turn into an instant classic, but it didn’t stop them from preparing for the game by breaking into an impromptu dance-off. So you think you can dance? Don’t challenge rookie Kent Bazemore, who winds up the center of the circle. Obviously prepped him for making his game-winner that wasn’t quite enough. –