Posts Tagged ‘Larry Johnson’

The NBA on Christmas Day: Talking with John Leguizamo

Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The holidays are not only a time of being with friends and family, they also bring about one of the marquee moments on the NBA calendar: Christmas Day, when the NBA is giving us five big match-ups to keep you glued to your couch all day long.

To celebrate the upcoming day, we’re talking with a few famous NBA fans about what the NBA and the Christmas Day games mean to them. Today we check in with the multihyphenate (writer-actor, producer-director, and on and on) John Leguizamo. Though he was born in Colombia, Leguizamo’s family moved to New York soon after, and a lifelong love affair with basketball and the New York Knicks began. His latest project is the loosely-autobiographical film Fugly!, out now on demand and on iTunes.

ME: I’ve seen you at lots of Knicks games through the years. Did being a fan of the Knicks start as soon you and your family moved to New York?

LEGUIZAMO: Yeah, definitely. I love basketball — that’s what I played growing up. You know, the sport you play is the sport you end up loving to watch. Somehow, it’s reliving the childhood and the life you never had. So yeah, I was a big Knicks fan back in the day — Clyde and up to Patrick Ewing, Sprewell, Starks, LJ, and up to now, the triangle offense, I’m here.

ME: Even these days, when the franchise is rebuilding, are you still fully invested?

LEGUIZAMO: It’s tough. The triangle offense is a tough thing to figure out. I mean, I guess it worked for Phil Jackson in Chicago and L.A., but how is it going to work on these cats who’ve played so differently all their lives, man? I don’t know, it’s a tough thing to watch. It’s like…(laughing) sending troops into war without weapons. I don’t know. It’s like, “Try and use your fist this time instead of a bayonet!”

ME: Also, to be fair, Phil had Jordan and Pippen in Chicago and Shaq and Kobe in L.A. So there may be a bit of a personnel issue with this Knicks team.

LEGUIZAMO: You mean you don’t think Carmelo is Kobe Bryant? (laughs) I mean, who was Michael Jordan anyway? No athlete will ever equal the excellence of that cat, but Kobe was pretty close, man.

Christmas2014

ME: Let’s get your predictions for the Christmas Day games. First up is your Knicks hosting the Washington Wizards.

LEGUIZAMO: Aw man. I mean, the Knicks will surprise you out of nowhere man, and maybe this is the time they’ll all come together — J.R. Smith and Shumpert — and maybe they’ll still come together for that. So I’ll give it to the Knicks. I mean, they come out of nowhere sometimes and they figure it out, and somehow the triangle offense comes together and somehow they’re loose and free. Or they get totally shut down, I don’t know.

ME: Right, sometimes it’s more like the Bermuda Triangle offense.

LEGUIZAMO: (laughs) Definitely the Bermuda Triangle. I think the Aztecs used The Triangle when they fought the Conquistadores. And what happened to the that empire?

ME: Yeah, didn’t work out so well. What do you do on Christmas Day? Will you watch games, or what’s your plan?

LEGUIZAMO: Well, we travel far. Our families are gypsies, so last year we went to Peru, and this year I’m going to be in Africa on a safari, not a shooting safari but shooting with my camera.

ME: Sounds amazing. OK, next up is the San Antonio Spurs at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

LEGUIZAMO: Thunder didn’t show up the other night. I mean, Kevin Durant is back, but I’m gonna go Spurs.

ME: Yeah, it’s hard to pick against them. Cleveland Cavaliers at the Miami Heat.

LEGUIZAMO: Aaahhhhhh! Oh dear, that’s gonna be wild. I love LeBron now that he went to the Cavs; somehow he regained my respect and love. But that’s gonna be tough, Look at Dwyane who came in the other day with crazy points. I don’t know, I’m gonna go with the Heat.

ME: Two more. Lakers at the Bulls.

LEGUIZAMO: Bulls. Derrick Rose. That’s all I gotta say, two words: Derrick Rose.

ME: Last one, Los Angeles Clippers at maybe the surprise team of the season, the Golden State Warriors.

LEGUIZAMO: Wow, that’s a tough one. I mean, I love the Clippers, man, I love CP3, and after all they went through, I’m going to do the emotional choice instead of the smart choice (laughing), I’m going to go Clippers.

Buy a pack of NBA cards, get a piece of a game-worn shoe?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Basketball cards have long been more than just photos and text. Years ago companies started inserting cards with little authentic game-worn keepsakes built-in to the card — swatches of jerseys, a piece of a court, etc. But this season cards are going where they’ve never gone before.

In Panini America’s 2013-14 Immaculate Basketball collection, releasing on Friday, they’ve managed to incorporate cards that have pieces of game-worn shoes from everyone from Kobe Bryant to Kevin Durant to Larry Johnson inside the cards. Panini wrote about the genesis of the idea on their official blog

“The idea to create the Sneak Peek memorabilia cards came while we were looking at a pair of Kobe Bryant game-worn sneakers in the Panini Authentic memorabilia room,” said Jim Stefano, Panini America’s Senior Director of Product Development. “NBA players, more so than any other athletes, wear sneakers that reflect their personalities. Their sneakers are an extension of who they are. It’s all about the swag.”

That swag, of course, takes various forms. Shaquille O’Neal’s Reebok Pumps. Blake Griffin’s Jordans. Kobe’s Kobes. Larry Johnson’s Converse Reacts. LeBron’s Nike Lebron Xs. It was one thing to create a wishlist of game-worn sneakers to target for Sneak Peek; it was another thing altogether more complex to actually acquire them and then figure out how best to incorporate them into a trading card.

But Panini America acquisitions officials worked their relationships with exclusive and non-exclusives athletes alike to turn a wishlist into a checklist; from there, the game-worn sneakers made their way through Panini America HQ, with each department — Product Development, Production, Design — helping shape the masterful finished product.

“This was truly a great experience to develop and execute with the various departments within Panini America,” Stefano said. “It was a true team effort that resulted in one of the most singularly spectacular sets of trading cards ever created. The sheer amount of different swatch colors, materials and patterns is a unique and exciting development for the entire trading card category. We believe these cards will not only be sought after by basketball collectors but by sneaker heads as well.”

To see some examples of the cards, check below…

panini-america-2013-14-immaculate-basketball-sneak-peek-kobe-bryant-2panini-america-2013-14-immaculate-basketball-sneak-peek-larry-johnson-1  panini-america-2013-14-immaculate-basketball-sneak-peek-kevin-durant-4 panini-america-2013-14-immaculate-basketball-sneak-peek-derrick-rose-1

The Hornets Are Returning; Are These Classic Uniforms, Too?


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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER –One of the first NBA games I remember attending was in Charlotte, N.C., in 1989, during the Charlotte Hornets’ inaugural season. I was an Atlantan and a Hawks fan, but we were on a family vacation, driving somewhere or another on a route that took us through North Carolina. My Dad, a huge NBA fan, planned ahead and ordered Hornets tickets. We rolled into town on March 27, 1989, just in time to see the Hornets host the New York Knicks.

The Hornets weren’t particularly good — they were an expansion team, after all — but the fans there in Charlotte loved basketball and loved the Hornets. I convinced my Dad to buy me a Hornets caricature t-shirt featuring Muggsy Bogues, Robert Reid, Kurt Rambis, and several other players.

I settled in to root for the home team, and all these years later, I remember exactly two things about that game:

1. Every time Hornets center Tim Kempton caught the ball, the man behind me would yell, “STONE HANDS” at the top of his his lungs. I guess he wasn’t a Kempton fan.

2. Patrick Ewing destroyed the Hornets that night, finishing with 45 points.

The Hornets eventually got pretty good, drafting Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. They drafted Kobe Bryant!  … but then they then immediately traded Kobe to the Lakers. Eventually, then-owner George Shinn moved the team to New Orleans. The NBA added the Charlotte Bobcats to the league to fill the void. The Hornets were sold, the Bobcats were sold. Last season, the Hornets announced they would change their name to the New Orleans Pelicans. Not missing a beat, new Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan recently announced that his franchise will be changing its name to the Hornets.

This has spurred a torrent of Hornets-related nostalgia. Kobe himself took to Twitter and reminded us all of those few minutes when he was a Hornet…

In honor of the name change #13thpick #nbadraft #96 #freshface

A photo posted by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on

BuzzFeed went long on the team’s history, reporting that their popular mascot, Hugo the Hornet, was actually designed by Jim Henson‘s daughter, Cheryl.

And then there were the uniforms. The colors and logo were unique enough to make them different, special even. WCNC in Charlotte dug up some old video from the reveal of the Hornets uniforms, featuring designer Alexander Julian and original Hornets star Kelly Tripucka. It’s especially worth noting the shorts, which are not only incredibly short by today’s standards, but also, as I recall, featured pleats.

It’s too early to tell which way the new Charlotte Hornets will go with their logo and uniform — they won’t be changing until 2014 — but as they’ve shown with the buzz they’ve garnered from the name change, it would be hard to go wrong by looking to their past.

(via SI.com)

All Ball Fave Five: Best Last Name Teams

by Micah Hart

You may have noticed it’s the offseason, which means we have plenty of time to sit around and think about many of the things that make it fun to be an NBA fan. Here at All Ball, we’ll be passing the time until the start of the season with a new series, the Fave Five. Each week will count down a list of the five best, or worst … somethings. We’ll try to get creative with it. Plus we’re taking requests! If you have a suggestion for a Fave Five post, give us a shout and you may see it appear in this space over the next several weeks.

Remember last year when the Nets had four Williams on their team? Crazy right? Maybe not, actually. As it turns out, Williams is the most populous last name in professional basketball history, with 69 players.

Williams is the most popular surname — but is it the best? For this week’s Fave Five, we took a look at the history books to pull out the five best teams by last name.

A couple quick notes: This list is entirely subjective, but there was a little method to the madness. First off, given the sheer mass of players who have competed over the years in the NBA and ABA, we narrowed the list to last names with at least 10 players listed in the Basketball Reference database.

Then, to help whittle down the contenders even more, we used Win Shares (if you are unfamiliar with them, here’s a brief description) as a baseline for judging performance. With a few exceptions, the five players we chose for each team had the most career Win Shares within each last name. To help further guide our hand, we then averaged the win share totals per starting five. I’m sure anyone with basic skills in statistical analysis could poke any number of holes in this methodology, but like I say, this list is ultimately subjective. So too bad.

Also — we used statistics to help frame the debate, but ultimately the rankings came down to answering this question: If these teams played each other head to head, with each player in their individual primes, who would win?

Here we go!

5. Miller

 


Total Millers:
16 (including 2012 Draft picks Quincy and Darius)
Starting Five: Reggie Miller (174.4), Andre Miller (90.1), Brad Miller (76.5), Mike Miller (53.5), Oliver Miller (21.1)
Hall of Famers: One, as of Friday
Average career WS of starting five: 83.1

The Miller name is pretty top heavy. Reggie, making his way into the Hall of Fame this weekend, is 15th on the all-time list in Win Shares, while Oliver has the least amount of any starter in the top five. In fact, only one other Miller (Larry, a G/F who played seven seasons in the ABA from 1968-75), has put up even double-digit career WS totals*.

*Quincy and Darius, you have your work cut out for you.

This isn’t the flashiest bunch of players, Reggie aside, but the rest of this lineup put together a fine collection of NBA careers in their time. And yeah, Oliver is the weak link here, but the dude — when he was fit enough, which perhaps wasn’t so often — could ball.

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Grand Ma-Ma is back!

by Zettler Clay

Larry Johnson, former collegiate and NBA All-Star, is reprising one of the most memorable characters in basketball history. “Grand Ma Ma,” the sweet gold-tooth elderly with hops is back, pitching…tea.

Yes, tea. Johnson will tout “Grand Ma Ma Southern Sweet Tea” for his company, Hall of Fame Beverages this summer. What, you thought he’d let a brand this iconic escape our consciousness without another appearance?

Introducing the Bragging Rights Bracket

by Micah Hart

Here’s a popular conversation around this time of year:

Sports Fan A: Oh man, imagine how good School A would be if Player X had just stayed one more year. They might have won the NCAA Tournament!

Sports Fan B: Tell me about it. And look how good School B could have been this year. Player Y and Player Z would both be seniors!

If you watched the two amazing basketball documentaries last weekend — ESPN’s “Fab Five” and HBO’s “Runnin’ Rebels” — you know what I’m talking about.

Nowadays, Chris Webber would never have called his infamous timeout in the NCAA title game because he’d almost certainly have left after his freshman year — as would have Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard. Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony and Stacey Augmon — all of whom were first-round picks in 1991 — returned to UNLV after winning the 1990 national championship. The only guys who have done that recently were Florida’s ’04s of Corey Brewer, Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Taurean Green — and even then, everyone knew they were the exception.

While we’ll never know if Syracuse could have repeated as national champs in 2004 had Carmelo Anthony stayed, or what kind of ridiculous stats Kevin Durant might have put up had he stayed four years at Texas, we do know they became stars in the NBA.

Which leads us to a new series we will be running on All Ball over the course of the next few weeks:

Bragging Rights: The Ultimate Battle for School Pride

The premise is simple:

We want to know which school has the best NBA players. Over the next few weeks, we will pit every school with at least five players currently on active NBA rosters against each other in a hypothetical, March Madness-style, single-elimination bracket.

We’ve seeded the teams (see below), and we’ll roll out a few games each week. You vote for the winners.

We’ll start this afternoon with Stanford vs. LSU.

Why spend your time wondering how good your favorite college team could have been when your favorite players are still in action today? Once a Dukie, always a Dukie, right?

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