Welcome to Throwback Thursday here on the All Ball Blog. Each week, we’ll delve into the NBA’s photo archives and uncover a topic and some great images from way back when. Hit us up here if you have suggestions for a future TBT on All Ball.
Today’s Topic: Summer League Superstars
The Summer League season is one of the most fun times of the NBA year, with every player on the floor having something to prove. The event has rapidly grown over the past few years and now includes a championship tournament during the action in Las Vegas (which begins tomorrow on NBA TV).
This Throwback Thursday we look back at some of the best players to ever play in the Summer League.
(NOTE:Click the “caption” icon below the photo for details about each moment.)
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s the summer, it’s late at night, you’ve got nothing better to do, so if you’re the reigning MVP, Kevin Durant, why not go on Twitter and answer some questions from your fans?
Late night question game. Who up with me. I'm down to answer a few— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 01, 2014
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In the video above, I asked Kevin Durant how he could improve his game after the historic season he just completed, in which he won the MVP. He answered the question, but he didn’t mention that it might include debuting a 360 jumper.
Well, I don’t actually think we’ll see KD use this in a game, but he did post an Instagram video of an innovative drill to help his balance. As KD wrote in the caption: “My brother @aharri21 has me doing some sick stuff for my balance. Challenging to say the least. This is the last video I will be posting of me gettin it in. That’s not what I do it for but I thought u guys might like it.”
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder may have lost in the Western Conference Finals, but it shouldn’t detract from KD’s historic season — he was first-team All NBA and, of course, was named the NBA’s MVP. Last week at the debut of the Nike KD 7 in Washington DC, I caught up with Durant to talk about his season, his MVP speech, and what the future holds.
Kevin Durant‘s season ended without him leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals, but 2013-14 was by no means a disappointment individually for the wiry forward. He claimed his first NBA MVP and showed time and again he could lead OKC as his All-Star teammate Russell Westbrook dealt with a myriad of injuries all season.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There were several celebrities in attendance last night in Los Angeles for Game 6 between the Clippers and the Thunder. But when the game ended, to whom did Kevin Durant trot over and hand off his game worn shoes? Bubba Watson, the two-time (and defending) Masters champ.
For a little added intrigue, it’s probably worth noting that Watson is an avowed fan and friend of Chris Paul, and he’s even thrown some alley-oops to Blake Griffin. Looks like KD might be working his way into Watson’s framily plan…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There’s something to be said for looking at volume, and this shot chart Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry put together of Kevin Durant‘s career shots taken is pretty amazing. It’s almost like one of those pictures at the mall where you stare at the dots for hours and wait for an image to emerge. (“Look, a sail boat!”)
One thing that did jump out at me is how good KD is at not taking shots just inside the three-point line. My high school coach used to drill into us that a shot with your foot on the three-point line was “the worst shot in basketball.” I think what he really meant was that it was the most inefficient shot in basketball — by moving your foot back just a few inches, you can gain an extra point. Either way, it seems KD understands the theory…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s barely been about 48 hours since we found out that Kevin Durant was the NBA’s new MVP. (And if you missed his memorable MVP acceptance speech, you can check it out here.)
Two days doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but it was time enough for Skullcandy, the headphone company that Durant has long endorsed, to put up a billboard congratulating KD in his hometown of Seat Pleasant, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. Pretty cool way to not only remember where you’re from, but where you’re going…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — With the start of the playoffs usually comes a new slew of commercials featuring your favorite NBA players. For instance, this new spot from Sprint featuring Kevin Durant as a giant version of himself who hangs outside of treehouses and takes off into the sky…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Welcome to Volume Two of the Crossover Contest, in which we highlight the best of the best (and worst). In the same way that we look at who got dunked on in our All Ball Posterized Poll, in the crossover contest we examine which NBA players have been put in a blender. 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 …
WILL BYNUM ON DEVIN HARRIS, Feb. 22 Zettler: Devin Harris didn’t really stand a chance. As soon as he stepped up, Will Bynum hit him with the stutter dribble. That was enough to set Devin up for the inadvertent Cupid Shuffle. Quick, efficient move by a man with an arsenal of them.
KYRIE IRVING ON THABO SEFOLOSHA, Feb. 26 Zettler: This was unique in that Kyrie Irving provoked Thabo Sefolosha’s (perennial All-NBA defender) fall before he performed the crossover. Irving drove hard right and stopped on a dime, which was enough to send poor Thabo sprawling on all fours and his bench off their seats for the inevitable dagger.
ANDRAY BLATCHE ON TYLER HANSBROUGH, March 10 Zettler (channeling his inner Hubie Brown): See, we know Andray Blatche likes to create like a guard. We’ve seen him hit fancy scoops. We know he’ll dunk it on ya. But now we see that he has the killer — slow, but killer — crossover to turn Tyler Hansbrough in circles and get the finish. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK ON PATRICK BEVERLEY, March 11 Zettler: Considering the contentious blood between these two, this is classic payback. Patrick Beverley stood too tall for a defensive stance and reached. Russell Westbrook taught with an old-school Zeke lightning cross through the legs. Speed and quickness under control.