ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Shaqtin’ A Fool, the weekly compilation of lowlights on “Inside the NBA,” has become one of the most popular segments on the show. (And if you frequent the All Ball blog, you know we post Shaqtin’ each week right here on this blog.) And while we all know Shaq has his favorite players to regularly appear — JaVale McGee, Kendrick Perkins, etc. — in retrospect, for this season at least, it seems like Shaq also may have had a favorite team.
In this Youtube compilation video, someone cut together all the different Knicks appearances on Shaqtin’ A Fool from this season. Warning: It is over 5 minutes long.
Coaches are fond of telling their team that whoever plays with the most physicality will win nine out of 10 times. The Pistons of the late 1980s took that to heart and it led to a dynasty and adulation many years later.
It didn’t work as well for the early to mid-90s New York Knicks, who boasted a trio of imposing bruisers — Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason — but couldn’t get out the East. Throughout the years, plenty of teams followed the rough and tumble blueprint. While it doesn’t always result in a championship, a physical brand of basketball does make things competitive…which is ultimately what we want to see.
Sunday night at ORACLE Arena, the (current) Knicks discovered what a bit of nasty could do. First Tyson Chandler got demonstrative on Jermaine O’Neal, capped off by a searing stare-down:
Gotta love how Stephen Curry just helped himself to his feet, wiped his mouth off with his jersey and trotted up the court. As fierce as any competitor in the NBA, he dropped a cool 32 points and single-handedly almost led Golden State to a dub. But for another night at least, the bullies captured the flag.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s only been a few hours since the New York Knicks announced Phil Jackson as their new team president, but Knicks fans excited by the move can already rep the Zen Master. Adidas today dropped two Jackson/Knicks shirts, and they’re now bothavailable in the NBA Store…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last night on NBA TV’s “GameTime,” Greg Anthony reported that a deal has been struck between the Knicks and Phil Jackson. While we wait for confirmation from Jackson or the Knicks, Phil Jackson would not only give the Knicks instant championship experience, but he’d also give Knicks fans the single greatest quality for sports fans: Hope.
And if you don’t think Knicks fans are already excited about the possibility of Phil returning to the franchise where he played decades ago, check out this video one Knicks fan created and posted on YouTube…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I grew up in Atlanta during the ’90s, a time that coincided with the run of Dikembe Mutombo as an Atlanta Hawk. Mutombo never really developed a dominant offensive post game, he was terrific on defense. He got dunked on from time to time, yes, but that was because he tried to block any shot that came near the rim. And when he did get his hands on a shot attempt, Mutombo generally turned that shot around pretty quickly. And then came the crowning glory: The Finger Wag.
It was such a prevalent maneuver that my friends and I started using it in traffic to express our displeasure with other drivers. It was cheeky, but ultimately non-threatening. Also, it was awesome.
Even though Mutombo retired a few seasons ago, the finger wag remains relevant. Just yesterday, for instance we got two displays of the Mutombo finger wag. First Amar’e Stoudemiredelivered one after blocking Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson…
And then we saw one from the stands, as Joakim Noah‘s dad, Yannick, dropped one following a block from Joakim that caused a Miami 24-second violation…
Mutombo may be gone. The finger wag will never die.
The Chicago Bulls don’t want our pity. Despite being hit hard with injuries and attrition the last two seasons, they continue to make it their business to repel any “that’s OK, there’s always next year” sentiments fans are wont to throw their way. And these days, fresh off ripping the Knicks at home for their ninth win in 10 games, business is good.
For Joakim Noah, it was a historic performance. He recorded his fifth triple-double. By halftime, the deed was almost done, as he was two rebounds shy of the mark. His 14 assists were the most ever by a Bulls center, and the most by a center in the NBA since 1978.
His doings could have easily been the talk of the game, but not so fast, says Jimmy Butler. In the first quarter, he poked the ball out of Carmelo Anthony’s hands. After dashing toward the sideline to save the loose pill to the hands of Kirk Hinrich, things got a bit tricky for Jimmy.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s been a rather eventful season for Knicks guard J.R. Smith, a designation that has pretty much nothing to do with his play on the court. If anything, we’ve learned that if you’re not on your toes, J.R. might untie your shoes, or pull your headband down over your eyes. And if you fall asleep around J.R., like a bunch of the Knicks players did yesterday on the team plane, leaving J.R. with nothing else to do, he might post photos of your sleeping on Instagram.
To wit, Iman Shumpert (wearing leather pants) and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Tyson Chandler and Amaré Stoudemire (with the hat on)
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A few weeks back, Knicks guard J.R. Smith was caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar, as he distracted a few opponents by untying their shoes. Last night against the Mavs, Smith unveiled a new diversionary tactic versus Vince Carter…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Juuuust when you thought we were out, they go and pull us back in. The season may be just past the halfway mark, but our record-setting pace is continuing, as tonight Dirk Nowitzki did his dagger-shooting thing to beat the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
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.
One thing I’d like to clear up: The Horry Scale does not measure a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater. So we’re talking about not only the shot, but also the play that creates the shot, the situation and the drama, the celebrations … basically, everything surrounding and including the shot. So when I gave Randy Foye a 3 Horry rating, that wasn’t only a reflection of his shot, which was admittedly remarkable, as I wrote, but also the play, which was awful. Taj Gibson’s lefty layup wasn’t the toughest shot, but that inbounds play was terrific. Basically, everything matters.
We all clear? OK, let’s break this shot down…
DIFFICULTY I feel like this is the part of this play that will be most overlooked. Yes, it was just a jump shot, and as far as play designs go, it wasn’t exactly the most complex play Rick Carlisle has ever inked out. But man was that a hard shot. I mean, if Carmelo Anthony was any closer to Dirk he could have untied his shoes. Dallas got the ball in to Dirk at top of key with the score tied at 108 and just 7.3 seconds left to play. Dirk caught the ball with his back to the basket, singled up against ‘Melo. Using his left foot as a pivot, Dirk rotated a full 360 degrees while ‘Melo sniped at the ball. He finally dribbled one time with his left hand, and jabbed his right foot forward just a bit to create a few inches of space. And with Carmelo basically chest-to-chest, Dirk raised up and released that textbook jump shot over ‘Melo with just under 2 seconds remaining. The ball hit the glass, the front of the rim, popped up into the air, and then gently settled back into the bucket. Again, not the most aesthetically pleasing play, but good grief what a tough shot.
GAME SITUATION This was perhaps an even tougher pill for Knicks fans to swallow because of the game situation. After being a mostly back-and-forth affair all evening, the Mavs seized the lead down the stretch. But give the Knicks credit for clawing back, mostly behind 44 points from ‘Melo. Down 6 with 1:12 to play, the Knicks got a three-point play from Chandler, a steal, and a three from Melo to tie the game at 108. Dallas had won 9 of 12 coming in, including two straight on the road. With the Knicks still clinging to hopes of getting into the playoffs, tonight was the kind of game they really had to win. To lose on a shot that bounced all over the rim before dropping in must be tough. But then, the Knicks have been on the other side of a similar situation before, right Allan Houston?
CELEBRATION Dirk seemed to mostly keep his cool, because this ain’t Dirk’s first time at the big shot rodeo. I loved the way Jose Calderon took off on a sprint up the court as the shot went through, and he grabbed Dirk in a bear hug to celebrate. Also, of late I’ve tried to incorporate fan reaction into the ratings, and Knicks fans did not disappoint, as you can see several of them with their hands to their heads in the background as the shot drops through.
So it may not have been the best play design, but it was still a tough shot. It may not have been the most momentous game, or the most spirited reaction, but all together it was a pretty good play. So I’m going to go with three Horrys for this one…
What say you? How many Horrys would you give Dirk Nowitzki’s GWBB?