Posts Tagged ‘Kyrie Irving’

Kyrie Irving celebrates his contract extension

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The first real news of last night’s free agency period came not from a report or an agent, but directly from the principles involved, as Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and point guard Kyrie Irving tweeted news of a long-term contract extension…

According to our David Aldridge, it’s a 5-year, $90 million extension for Irving, a max deal for the 22-year-old point guard. And how does one celebrate such a huge deal? Late last night, Kyrie’s former high school teammate Dexter Strickland posted the following video on Instagram with the caption, “5 o’clock this morning this dude wakes me up, I’m half sleep tryna celebrate with him lol, yal congratulate my brother @k1irving! #DreamsComeTrue”

Kyrie Irving tries baseball


VIDEO: GameTime crew looks at Kyrie Irving’s day with the Indians

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We’ve avidly followed the story of Tracy McGrady, who retired from the NBA and is pursuing a second career as a baseball pitcher. Now we can add another name to the list of hoops stars crossing over to the diamond: Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving spent last night taking batting practice and warming up with the Cleveland Indians. According to the news story, he did pretty well:

On Monday, Irving took his shot at hitting. As players from both teams watched, he made contact on all 14 pitches he saw in his two sessions in the batting cage. His best swings resulted in a line drive over second base and a hard ground ball into left field. Irving jokingly tipped his cap when he finished.

In one of the videos below, you can see him show off a little opposite-field ability when he takes a pitch the other way. Not bad, Kyrie…

The All Ball Crossover Contest (Vol. 2)

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.


VIDEO: Will Bynum jukes Devin Harris

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.


VIDEO: Kyrie loses Thabo

TY LAWSON ON JODIE MEEKS, March 7
Zettler: Don’t hurt ‘em, Law! This was just, oh my…just pause the clip at the seven second mark. A frozen video is worth a thousand words.


VIDEO: Ty Lawson carves up Jodie

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.


VIDEO: ‘Blatcheness’ takes over Brooklyn at Tyler Hansbrough’s expense

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.


VIDEO: Westbrook crosses by Beverley

Kyrie Irving Sings With Pete Holmes

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I knew Kyrie Irving had an affinity for music and musicals — he once performed a duet from Grease on a radio show. But last night on “The Pete Holmes Show,” Irving was convinced to try to sing his name, with mixed (but hilarious) results. (His Bane impression is also terrific.)


VIDEO: Kyrie Sings

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!

NBA Behind The Scenes: Highlight School

ATLANTA, GA — I stepped into the darkened soundproof booth and, with a palpable feeling of dread, pulled the door closed behind me. As it clicked shut, I surveyed my surroundings: one small light casting a dim glow in the otherwise black room; a music stand to place my notes; a flatscreen monitor embedded in the wall; a microphone and headphones, silently taunting me.

It was the day after Christmas, but there was nothing festive about this. I pulled the headphones over my ears and shuffled my notes on the stand in front of me. I could hear my own panicked breathing through the headphones, could hear my shirt and sweater ruffle with the slightest move of my arm.

Just as I began to run my eyes over the shot sheets in front of me for a final time, the voice of NBA.com associate producer Charles Staples crackled through the headphones.

“OK,” Charles said, “if you’re comfortable we can give this a go.”

“Yeah, I’m…I mean, I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” I said, resigning myself to this fate.

“Great. So you’ll hear a series of beeps in the headphones to count you down, and then you’re on.”

For better or worse, I thought.

You click an icon, you watch a fully illustrative highlight from pretty much any game in any league — that is how streamlined and simple highlight delivery has become these days. It wasn’t that long ago that the only highlights available to the sporting public were once a day during the last five minutes of local news. The arrival of ESPN made highlights more frequent, and then the advent of the internet has made highlights basically omnipresent.

But how do those highlights come about? I wanted to find out. On the night of December 26, 2013, I arrived at Turner Studios a little before 7:00 P.M., where Gerald Smith, NBA.com’s Senior Multimedia Producer, met me. Even though I work for NBA Digital, and in turn work for Turner Sports, I work out of New York City, so I don’t know the geography of the massive Turner compound in Atlanta. Gerald and I walked about eight miles from the visitor’s entrance to the Turner Sports studios, a huge building which backs up against 10th Street in Midtown Atlanta. This is effectively the NBA.com highlight factory, where entire games are logged, recorded, edited, voiced over and posted online for the world to consume.

As we walked, Gerald told me that I’d be recording the highlight for the Hawks/Cavaliers game. As a native Atlantan, I’ve followed the Hawks my entire life, so I felt pretty comfortable with doing a Hawks highlight — in theory, at least.

Once we reached the studios, we went to the Feeds area, where about a dozen people were monitoring and logging all the games happening on a plethora of screens. Once there, we met up with my main man Jared Greenberg. Jared is one of the anchors on NBA TV, and part of a rotation of guys (along with Beau Estes and Matt D’Agostino) who take turns staying late at the studio to record voiceovers on highlights.

We parked at a deserted desk to watch the Hawks/Cavs game, and of course it turned out to be one of the most exciting games of the year. We looked on in surprise as regulation stretched into overtime, and then overtime went into double-overtime. I used the bonus time to flip through some of the game previews on NBA.com and on the team websites, finding stats that might be relevant to drop into the highlight. (For instance, the Hawks had lost five consecutive road games coming in to this one.) When Al Horford injured his chest area and left the game, Jared and I quickly looked up when his previous chest injury had occurred ( and which side it had been on to make sure we had everything correct.

During a break, Gerald and I went into the Feeds room. In a cubicle off to the side, I was introduced to Matt Gaynes, the editor who had been assigned to edit the highlight of the Hawks/Cavs game. The game was midway through the third quarter at the time, and Matt said the highlight he was cutting was at that moment up to date with the game. So as soon as the game ended, we would just need to match a voiceover to the video and we’d be good to go.

As the game stretched on, with each crazy make and crucial miss, I wondered how I should describe that particular play. The major part of my problem was that I had no signature style or experience to fall back on. When I have to write a sentence, there are certain words and phrases I like to use and am comfortable grabbing out of my brain on short notice. But talking over a highlight is a completely different animal, an animal I was rather uncomfortable wrestling with. If anything, I felt like it must feel to be a stand-up comedian who climbs onto the stage in front of a rowdy crowd and has no material. Even worse, I knew I had no material. It wasn’t that I don’t know basketball, or the Hawks or the Cavaliers, or even a little bit about the art of broadcasting, but I’m pretty sure that for most people, their very first try voicing a highlight probably doesn’t get posted on a website that averages tens of millions of video streams each week.

As the buzzer sounded to end the second overtime, Hawks guard Jeff Teague fired up a long jumper that caromed off nearly every portion of the rim before finally dropping through as the buzzer howled. Game over. Hawks win, 127-125 in double OT.

Maybe five minutes later, someone came by and handed Jared and me copies of the shot sheet. This is a piece of paper that lists, in order, every clip that made it into the final highlight, with the accompanying score and game time remaining for each clip. This would be the road map Jared and I would use, albeit it seemed to be a decidedly text-heavy map for a primarily visual journey. The first shot on the sheet was a Jeff Teague runner at the end of regulation. This meant that all the work Matt had done when I met him earlier had been left on the cutting room floor in order to make room for all the overtime exploits and preserve this as a roughly two-minute clip.

Jared graciously sat with me and walked me through the shot sheet, helping me figure out at which point we should note, for instance, that Jeff Teague had finished with a career high, or when to point out that Kyrie Irving was trying to avenge his only scoreless pro appearance. As a writer, I tried to put some thought into crafting an interesting lead to the highlight, and decided to make some sort of reference to it being the day after Christmas and this game being a gift. I also knew that with the Hawks win, I wanted to throw an “#ATLshawty” into the highlight, referencing the Twitter hashtag I frequently use whenever Atlanta teams notch a victory.

Perhaps five minutes after we’d been given the shot sheet, Jared strolled to the voiceover booth and disappeared inside. I stood at Charles’s desk and listened to Jared record his take, the take NBA.com users would hear. Jared did it without having actually seen the highlight, but he managed to make it work smoothly, and even got the catchphrase he likes to use (“You betcha!”) in there. It was a nice mix of stats, descriptions and fun. Just seconds after Jared stepped out of the booth, the video you see below was live on NBA.com…


VIDEO: Hawks at Cavs Real Highlights

As I watched Jared’s take go down flawlessly, my own trepidation increased in equal measure. When he finished and I walked toward the booth, the overwhelming feeling I had was one of fear, mainly because I knew if I stopped talking while on the mic, there would just be dead air in the background. And while there is an occasional time and place for silence on a sports broadcast — maybe on a live telecast after a game-winner, for instance — a fast and furious highlight did not feel like that place. I also realized a moment like that should probably happen intentionally, not as a result of the announcer’s inexperience.

Soon enough I was in the room, alone with my insecurities. The series of beeps I’d been warned about began counting down the time until the highlight started. I said later that it felt like the beeps were counting down until the firing squad went to work, and in a way this was correct: When the beeps ended, the video came at me, and like it or not I had to start talking. So I did.

You could argue that I have a voice for print, meaning I don’t have the same golden pipes many of the more iconic broadcasters of all-time possess. This would likely be a winning argument on your part. But the way I chose look at it, there’s a thin, fragile line between being an anchorman and Anchorman. And I am in no danger of getting anywhere near that line.

In the end, we recorded two takes, the second nominally better than the first mostly due to trial and error and error and error. It didn’t take me long to figure out that paying attention to the highlight was more important than keeping my eyes glued to the stat sheet. And talking to fill the dead air wasn’t a problem as long as I could talk about what was happening on the screen in front of me. But at this point I felt like I was running wind sprints with a twenty-pound weight tied to my leg. I was doing my best, but I knew as I was doing it that my best was just not good enough. Doing highlights was infinitely harder than it seemed.

Being my own worst critic is a trait that is both annoying and, occasionally, helpful, as it drives me to give my best and strive to meet my own high expectations. Which in some ways made recording the voiceover pretty frustrating: Could I do better? Yes. Would I do much better on this evening? No, that would only come with at least a few weeks of reps. On this evening, at least, it was what it was. The entire experience will definitely go down as a highlight of my professional career. You just might not want me to be the one recording the voiceover on it.

You can watch the video below to see what I went through that evening, and stay tuned to the end for my version of the highlight…


VIDEO: Lang Goes To Highlight School

Horry Scale: Teague Time


VIDEO: Teague’s Winner

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Perhaps you thought you were done unwrapping presents, but tonight in Cleveland, the Hawks and Cavs had one last gift for you. It was one of the most entertaining games of the season, so of course it had to end (not in regulation, not in overtime, but in double overtime) with a game-winning buzzer-beater from Hawks guard Jeff Teague.

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, tonight we look to the shores of Lake Erie, to Cleveland, where Jeff Teague could not be stopped…not even by Uncle Drew.

DIFFICULTY
To be fair, it wasn’t the toughest shot in the world — Teague drove left and pulled up for the right-handed jumper, kind of like Hawks guard Mike Bibby used to do. The simple genius in this play was the Hawks running Paul Millsap at Teague with about 6 seconds left to ostensibly set a screen. Millsap got to Teague and set what was basically a token screen, and the Cavs switched the pick. Now, we’ve talked about switching picks here previously — pretty much every NBA team switches picks in the final seconds because the last thing you want is someone who is totally unguarded. You might end up with a mismatch, but at least you’ve got someone defending everyone. On this play, that meant the Cavs went from having Kyrie Irving on Teague to having the 6-foot-9 Tristan Thompson guarding Teague. (Kyrie, by the way, was equally huge tonight, finishing with 40 points and 9 assists). This is what is known as a mismatch, and it only took Teague a few dribbles to shake Thompson and clear room for the last-second shot.

GAME SITUATION
It is in this category that this shot really soars. To begin with, Teague missed a floater with seconds left in regulation that would have broken the tie at 95. Not long into the first overtime, Hawks All-Star center Al Horford had an injury to what appeared to be his right shoulder/chest that took him out of the game, and forced the Hawks to use a variety of makeshift lineups down the stretch. With about 7 seconds left in OT and the Hawks down three, Teague drained a long three-pointer to tie the game at 108. Then with 2.4 seconds left in overtime, the Hawks had a shot at a GWBB from the baseline that Teague couldn’t connect on, sending the game into double OT. In the second OT, Teague had a huge drive-and-one to give the Hawks a 125-123 lead, and then with the game level at 125, Teague ended it. Basically, the situation couldn’t have been much more dramatic. And Teague put the bow on top.

CELEBRATION
I’m going to lump the ball going through the rim as part of the celebration, because it doesn’t really fit anywhere else (it’s not “difficulty,” it’s just lucky) and that was a huge part of what made this such a great shot. The ball hit the rim five times, I believe, and it may have even kissed the glass somwhere in there, all while the buzzer was sounding in the background and you wondered, “It’s not going to…no way…that can’t…ohmygoshhemadeit!” And then after the ball drops, you see Teague laying flat on the ground celebrating — not only the GWBB but also a career-high 34 points — with Kyle Korver pounding on his chest. This was the first prone Horry Scale celebration of the season, I believe.

GRADE
For reasons that will become evident in the next week or so, I watched this game intently from the Turner Studios in Atlanta, and the deeper the game went, the more sure I was that we’d have a GWBB. It was an exciting, close game, and it had an equally exciting finish. So for all the reasons detailed above, I’m giving this Four Horrys. I thought seriously about giving this a Five just because it was such a great game, but I felt the actual shot could have had a bit of a higher degree of difficulty.

horry-star horry-star horry-star horry-star

What say you? How many Horrys would you give Jeff Teague’s GWBB?

Kyrie Irving, Dennis Rodman Celebrate Foot Locker Week of Greatness

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Foot Locker’s Week of Greatness is a way for the kicks store to celebrate some of the coolest shoes on the market, by releasing some of “the most premium” shoes all within one week. In this new commercial, Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving celebrates the Week of Greatness by imagining some of the things that would just make the world seem right. Let’s see those suits burn, Sager
-

VIDEO: Foot Locker Week Of Greatness

Kyrie Irving Returns As Uncle Drew

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Pepsi and Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving have been teaming up for a while now to produce videos in which Irving stars as Uncle Drew, an old soul who comes alive on the court and, more than anything, understands how to get buckets.

With the new NBA season very nearly upon us, it was only fitting that Uncle Drew also makes a return appearance…alongside a couple of perhaps familiar faces…
-

Kyrie Irving Breaks Out Uncle Drew Moves

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just a few days ago, Pepsi released a teaser video tipping us off that Cleveland G Kyrie Irving‘s alter ego, Uncle Drew, would soon be making a return appearance.

But apparently the Philadelphia 76ers didn’t get the memo, because last night Irving broke out crossover dribbles on consecutive plays that were dazzling enough to make even old heads spin.
-