Posts Tagged ‘NBA Finals’

Story of a photo: Capturing LeBron’s Game 3 dunk

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 8: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes up for a dunk against the Golden State Warriors against the Golden State Warriors in Game Three of the 2016 NBA Finals on June 8, 2016 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

CLEVELAND — The frozen moment happened with just under 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter of Game 3 of The 2016 NBA Finals. After knocking loose a pass from Golden State’s Stephen Curry to Festus Ezeli, Cleveland’s LeBron James grabbed the basketball and raced the other way to start a fast break.

Just past halfcourt, James collided with Curry and stumbled, his right knee and hand going to the floor to help him retain his balance, while James used his left hand to slap at the ball and keep his dribble alive. One second later, his bearing renewed, James resumed his dash to the hoop.

Curry was the lone defender between James and the basket, and as James neared the rim, Curry slid one step to his left, to truncate James’s angle of attack. LeBron quickly fired the ball to his left, where his teammate Kyrie Irving was streaking toward the rim. Curry and the basketball reached Irving at nearly the same time, and just as quickly as Irving caught the ball, he sprang off his right foot and immediately flipped the ball back up and over Curry, in the general vicinity of the hoop, where it figured that James would be arriving shortly.

“I knew he was going to throw it up there,” James said later. “And I had to go get it. He threw it, I had to go get it.”

It was not a perfect pass, but it was good enough. It was up to James, then, to do his part. And did he ever.

During the ball’s brief dalliance with Irving, James took five steps in the direction of the basket and then, leveraging his left foot against the court, James launched himself skyward, soaring up and at least equal to the rim.

As he flew, James twisted his torso and reached back with his right hand past the edge of the backboard, corralling the ball, and then he fired it though the hoop with a breathtaking combination of equal parts improbability, power, force and grace.

It was the play of The 2016 Finals thus far, a moment tailor-made to immediately go viral and embed itself in our brains for posterity as one of the signature plays of the 2016 postseason, if not James’ career.


But James and Irving weren’t the only one who did great work on the possession. As LeBron stole the ball and turned toward his basket, sitting a few hundred feet away and a couple of rows up in an arena seat in Quicken Loans Arena’s Section 106, Jesse Garrabrant was also preparing to try and create a different type of NBA Finals history.

A photographer for NBA Photos since 1994, Garrabrant lives on the New Jersey shore and shoots every Philadelphia 76ers home game. As the playoffs build toward an ultimate finish, NBA Photos brings all hands on deck to cover every game from every angle. In Cleveland for Game 3, Garrabrant rigged multiple remote controlled cameras around Quicken Loans Arena, which he could control from a button in his seat in Section 106. While Garrabrant could make the cameras click, he wasn’t actually looking down the viewfinders as the shutter snapped. So Garrabrant was, quite literally, firing blind.

“You want to take chances and if it works, there’s a big bonus,” said Garrabrant a day later. “You get a guy like LeBron who can create an incredible play, and if he’s in the exact right spot, it can totally work. At the same time, it could have also completely struck out, especially when you’re doing directional lighting like that.”

The lighting Garrabrant referred to is a special technique known as “spotlighting.” Garrabrant’s remote cameras for Game 3 were geared to take advantage of this method, which can give action photos a dramatic flair, adding depth and richness. But again, with the reward came a risk. “The lighting covers the paint,” Garrabrant explained, “because that’s where the majority of the action happens. LeBron is going to go to the hole sometime, and you just hope the lighting is going to cover it.”

For Game 3, Garrabrant had a camera clamped to the edge of the set ESPN uses for their live pre-and postgame broadcasts, which is assembled on a platform in a corner of The Q, near Section 113. Unless you looked closely, you wouldn’t notice Garrabrant’s camera. Luckily for the rest of us, this camera saw everything. As it turned out, this was the ultimate angle, from which Garrabrant captured the photo you see at the top of this post.

Within seconds of James’ dunk, Garrabrant’s picture was made available for download via NBA Photos on Getty Images, and it quickly started popping up all over social media. It was tweeted and re-tweeted and shared tens of thousands of times, as fans and other media members expressed their amazement. ESPN’s Don Van Natta tweeted that it was the picture of the year. It “belongs in the damn Louvre,” noted Mashable’s Sam Laird.


While the rest of us marveled over Garrabrant’s image of James’ Game 3 dunk, Garrabrant’s mind drifted back to 2008. As it turned out, Garrabrant may have been the perfect person to capture this dunk from this player from this angle, particularly when you consider he’d done almost exactly the same thing before.

“[James] had almost the same dunk in the ’08 Conference semifinals against Kevin Garnett, in the same spot on the court,” recalled Garrabrant. “Same angle, he threw it the same way, everything, except this was an alley-oop and that one was just him driving to the basket. I shot that game and I got the same angle on that particular dunk.”

CLEVELAND - MAY 12: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dunks over Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the 2008 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 12, 2008 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright: 2008 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

We may live in an age where video is increasingly available, streaming at us almost inexorably every time we open a browser window. But there’s still something magical about the perfect photo, which freezes a moment in time in a way that we never want to forget.

Following Game 3, Kyrie Irving was asked about his pass to James on the play. “I wanted to see something great,” Irving said. “I threw it very, very… you know, some people may say it’s a bad pass, but I wanted to see something great.”

At least on this night, we all got to see something great.

Stephen Curry plays a video game on the bench

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There are times when the Golden State Warriors offense starts really humming, when the ball is flying around from player to player in search of an open shot, that the Warriors’ offense can look like something out of a video game. Last night against the Cavaliers, for instance, as the Warriors were on their way to a 33-point win, there were a few moments when the Golden State offense looked like someone was controlling them from the sideline. And actually, upon a closer examination of Steph Curry on the bench, perhaps that’s exactly what was happening…

Cavs fan updates ‘2015 NBA Champs’ tattoo

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A few months ago, just before the NBA Finals tipped off, we met a Cleveland Cavaliers fan who celebrated their Finals trip by getting a “2015 NBA Champs” tattoo. It was both confident and aspirational, and in retrospect it was also, well, wrong. The Golden State Warriors, of course, ended up being the 2015 Champs, making the Cavs tattoo incorrect.

But this story has a happy ending! Earlier today, the NBA on TNT Twitter account tweeted out a photo of the tattoo, asking followers to retweet if they had a better year than the Cavs 2015 NBA Champs tattoo guy. And the original Cavs fan responded with an image of his freshly updated tattoo, which is suddenly relevant again…

Jimmy Kimmel pranks fans in Cleveland

By Jeff Case

When The Finals were out in Oakland for Games 1 and 2, Jimmy Kimmel sent a camera crew around town to talk to Golden State Warriors fans and, unfortunately, out some of them as not being to knowledgeable about their team. With the series having just left Cleveland for Games 3 and 4, he did a similar stunt in Ohio and, well, stop making fun of those Warriors fans, Cavs people …

VIDEO: Kimmel Finals, Part 2

Throwback Thursday: Celtics Win Finals Thriller

Gallery: Celtics win 1976 Finals Game 5 thriller

What are your favorite NBA Finals moments? Leave your comments below!

Throwback Thursday: Top Finals Upsets

VIDEO: The 2010-11 NBA Finals

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: Top Finals Upsets

On June 12, 2011, Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to win their first championship in franchise history. The newly assembled “big-three” of LeBron JamesDwyane Wade and Chris Bosh made the Heat heavily favored over the Mavericks coming into the series. But Dallas rallied from a 2-1 series deficit to pull off the upset.

This Throwback Thursday we look back at the top upsets in NBA Finals history.

(NOTE: Click the “caption” icon below the photo for details about each moment.)

Gallery: TBT: Top Finals Upsets

Which upset do you think was the most surprising? Leave your comments below!

San Antonio Spurs winning food finals

VIDEO: Lang at Barclays

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The NBA Finals don’t begin until tonight, but the Spurs have already pulled ahead in one important race — stadium food. As you can see in the video above, a few months ago I did some extensive research into the food served at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, so I may be something of an expert on this topic. But I’ve never seen anything like what the Spurs have introduced for the Finals.

I mean, really? I thought it would tough to top my favorite food in San Antonio, the Frito Pie. According to Eater, this sandwich, called The 3-Pointer, has “three kinds of barbecued meat (pork, brisket, and sausage), three cheeses (“Texas Havarti,” muenster, and queso fresco), plus ‘Mexican Coca Cola Caramelized Onions’ and a choice of three barbecue sauces including a root beer barbecue sauce. Oh and also three pieces of Texas toast. $12.50.”

That actually seems like a pretty good deal for $12.50. I guess all that’s left is to wait for Matt Bonner’s review of the 3-Pointer.

(via TNLP)

What Would Happen If A Wacky British Announcer Called Game 7 Of The NBA Finals?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — If you ever wanted to know what it would sound like if a wacky British announcer called Game 7 of the NBA Finals, this video is for you…

Spurs Fans View Ray Allen’s Game 6 Three-Pointer

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just this past weekend at a barbecue, I was introduced to a gentleman from Texas. Our conversation, as many conversations I engage in tend to do, soon turned to the NBA, and this man told me he was a rabid Spurs fan. He quickly mentioned how tough the NBA Finals were to watch for a Spurs fan, and I mentioned that I was there in in the arena in Miami covering that devastating game six for We both shook our heads at the memory of that game.

Even though it was just a few months ago, Ray Allen‘s corner desperation three-pointer to send game six into overtime, which you can see in the clip above, has firmly found a home among the NBA’s all-time biggest shots. There in the arena in Miami, even as some fans had already headed for the exits, it was deafening when that ball swished through the net.

What would the reaction have been like had it the same thing happened in San Antonio? Thanks to a video working its way around the internet lately, we have a pretty good idea. The video below was shot in San Antonio’s AT&T Center during a game six viewing party for Spurs fans. Ray Allen’s shot happens right around the 55-second mark, and you can see hands go to heads throughout the arena as the shot drops. Oof.

(via CBS Sports)

Watch Isiah Thomas On NBA TV Along With Isiah Thomas


ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — On last week’s edition of the Hang Time Podcast, Sekou and I got into a discussion about Allen Iverson‘s impending retirement. When I wondered aloud if Iverson would go down in history as the best “little man” to play the game, Sekou quickly countered by bringing up Isiah Thomas. When I wondered if maybe Iverson would be known as just the best plain scorer at six-feet or under, again Sekou brought up Isiah. This was a timely conversation to have, because on Tuesday night on NBA TV, we’re going to celebrate one of Isiah’s greatest games, and one of the NBA’s greatest moments. And Isiah himself will be involved.

The 1988 NBA Finals lasted seven games, with the Los Angeles Lakers eventually prevailing, 4-3. But it was Game 6 of the series when Isiah Thomas had perhaps the most heroic game of his career, even in defeat. In the middle of the third quarter, Isiah sprained his ankle, badly enough that he could barely put any weight on it. Still, he missed just 35-seconds of game action, and Isiah hobbled through to finish with 43 points for the Detroit Pistons. Isiah’s big night included 25 points in the 3rd quarter on 11-of-13 shooting, a Finals record for points in a quarter. (The Lakers went on to come from behind and win as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hit two free throws to give them a 103-102 victory to force a Game 7.) You can see some highlights from the third quarter in the video above.

NBA TV will air a two-hour version of the entire game, Tuesday night, August 27th, at 8 p.m. ET. Even cooler? Thomas will be live tweeting along with the game as it airs. Isiah will be using the @NBATV handle and the hashtag #IsiahLive during the event. And if you’re not on Twitter, Isiah’s tweets will appear on-screen on NBA TV.