Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma City Thunder’

MUSCLEWATCH 2014 (Update 2)

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s a Friday in the fall, which means it’s time for…wait for it…MUSCLEWATCH!

What, you may ask, is MUSCLEWATCH? I really hope by now you’re not still asking that question. But basically, it stems from my friend Matt and I noticing years ago that our local paper would always report that players had gained 15 pounds of MUSCLE in the offseason. No matter the sport, it was never 12, never 16, never 9, never 18, always 15 pounds of muscle. So we began keeping an eye on the papers looking for references to the magic 15 pounds of MUSCLE. I started chronicling this each season in my blog over at SLAM, and eventually MUSCLEWATCH became about more than just the 15 pounds of muscle and more about guys who had either gained or lost a lot of weight. Previous winners include Thad Young and Rudy Gay.

If you see MUSCLEWATCH info, please tweet it and use the hashtag #MUSCLEWATCH to help us keep all this info straight.

One question I saw on Twitter that’s worth addressing…

No. Despite my best efforts, it’s impossible to tabulate a precise number. Has anyone counted all the stars in the sky? Do we know how many broken dreams line Broadway? No, no we don’t. It’s better to just understand that there are thousands if not millions of pounds won and lost out there and keep it moving.

WHEN WE LAST LEFT MUSCLEWATCH, there was a lot of sound and fury and MUSCLE, but not a lot of detail. Let’s get into the MUSCLE…

• Once again, actual NBA teams are using the #MUSCLEWATCH hashtag, as we saw in this tweet from the Toronto Raptors regarding Terrence Ross

That tweet was welcome, if a bit vague, so we also appreciate this clarification from Holly McKenzie, from which we learn Ross actually put on the MUSCLEWATCH gold standard of 15 pounds…

HOWEVER! Nobody actually specified if it’s 15 pounds of MUSCLE. And it matters, believe me, it matters.

• Last week we saw a few MUSCLEWATCH names in Minnesota, and we get more detail this, as Anthony Bennett, Ronny Turiaf and Shabazz Muhammad got into some, frankly, really weird workout stuff. Just read the beginning of this story

The children are slipping down Shabazz Muhammad’s back, inches away from falling into a pit of whitewater rapids and fire.
As Muhammad gropes for another handhold, his entire weight and an additional 100 pounds of helpless youth suspended above the perils below, he falters. A pair of guiding hands help steady him but only for a moment. Regaining his balance and summoning some interior-laden surge of strength, he climbs his way to safety while the kids on his back remain unharmed.

They worked out using HELPLESS YOUTH! Children were SLIPPING DOWN HIS BACK INTO A DEATH TRAP WHIRLPOOL! OK, OK, this was all imaginary, but still, this is extreme MUSCLEWATCH. No wonder they call their guy Hell’s Trainer.

Despite the insane workout, Muhammad said he came into camp at 224, which is two pounds more than he supposedly weighed a year ago before the draft. And Bennett, according to the story above, lost “about 10 pounds.” So while they each may be in much better shape, for MUSCLEWATCH purposes they still have some work to do.

Kobe Bryant has had a love-hate relationship with MUSCLEWATCH through the years, and this year is no different. A few months ago, paparazzi photos seemed to suggest that Kobe had put on, well, a few pounds. But then Kobe showed up in camp looking svelte, and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak suggested Kobe had lost 10-12 pounds.

How did Kobe do it? By eating “clean.”

I guess that means a lot of hand washing?

• We need to send a shoutout to Utah Jazz beat writer Jody Genessy from the Deseret News, who has been all over MUSCLEWATCH, including several tweets…

And since we’re talking Jazz, we’ve had our first-ever announcer appearance on MUSCLEWATCH, as Jazz radio voice David Locke was reported to be in phenomenal shape…

I caught up with David this week and he confirmed that he is feeling good, although he noted that once the season begins his bicycling regimen will likely fall by the wayside. Still, a terrific showing all around in Utah. We salute you!

• Bonjour, Monsieur Diaw! Spurs forward Boris Diaw has had some ups and downs with his weight through the years. At Spurs media day this season, coach Gregg Popovich acknowledged Diaw’s struggle…

Boris used social media to respond, as one should, with the following photo and this caption: “No worries pop only one glass of wine and daily workouts!”

Also, thanks to the San Antonio Express News, which put together a 117-photo gallery about which players are and are not arriving in shape in San Antonio.

• WE HAVE A CONTENDER! Add Kendrick Perkins to the long list of guys who have dropped weight this summer, and with Perk, unlike with LeBron and Melo, we actually have a concrete number…

• Up in Boston, Celtics forward Jeff Green has put on some MUSCLE…

And Kelly Olynyk is “definitely stonger,” with a #MUSCLEWATCH in the story!!

• And finally, in Phoenix, Alex Len has apparently added “10-15 pounds.” Of MUSCLE? Well, that’s unclear.

See you next week. Keep MUSCLING!

Denver Nuggets mascot makes unsanctioned political appearance

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Sports mascots are, at their core, a conduit for fun. They are their team’s common denominators, a representative of every fan, from the front row to the cheap seats. But out in Denver, longtime Nuggets mascot Rocky the mountain lion made an off-court appearance this week that caught some people by surprise, apparently including his employers.

Earlier this week, Rocky made an appearance at a Colorado Republican rally. As the Denver Post reports

Nuggets marketing manager Graham Wincott, who handles Rocky and his appearances, said the team’s mascot showing up at the GOP event was “an unsanctioned, unpaid appearance that we had no knowledge of.”

Denver sports figures have been to political events in the past, but sports teams and organizations typically stay away from any kind of political endorsements or appearances, which is why the Kroenke brass was surprised by the appearance.

“As a sports team, we want to be apolitical,” Wincott said. “Two things we never touch on are politics and religion.”

The Nuggets’ mascot was bouncing around at the Colorado Republican Party rally Monday at Heritage High School. Top players on the Colorado GOP ticket were at the event, which included 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Wincott said the KSE management team met Tuesday “with the actor who plays Rocky to figure out exactly how it happened and what transpired and get to the bottom of how all this occurred.”

If nothing else, this gives us a chance to check out some of Rocky’s greatest hits, like his recent dust-up with Russell Westbrook or, as in the video below, a classic run-in with his longtime nemesis, Charles Barkley


VIDEO: Rocky vs Lakers/Barkley

Kevin Durant likes good apples

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In a Sports Illustrated story a little over a year ago, Kevin Durant talked about the importance of picking apples. As he said at the time…

To Durant, basketball is an orchard, and every shot an apple. “Let’s say you’ve got 40 apples on your tree,” Durant explains. “I could eat about 30 of them, but I’ve begun limiting myself to 15 or 16. Let’s take the wide-open three and the post-up at the nail. Those are good apples. Let’s throw out the pull-up three in transition and the step-back fadeaway. Those are rotten apples. The three at the top of the circle — that’s an in-between apple. We only want the very best on the tree.”

Nike has run with that thought with a new colorway of Durant’s signature shoe, the KD7. The colorway is called Good Apples, and has hits of red and green. In this new spot below, Durant explains his philosophy. Also, he eats an apple. A good one, I suppose.


VIDEO: Good apples

Who does Kevin Durant play as on NBA 2K?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTERKevin Durant is arguably the best player in the NBA right now, but to hear him talk, he is inarguably the best NBA player when it comes to playing the NBA 2K video game. Last night on “The Tonight Show,” Durant noted he’s been playing the game for 15 years, so he’s understandably “really good” at it.

However, Durant said he doesn’t play NBA 2K as himself. Meaning when he plays the game, he doesn’t control the Oklahoma City Thunder. So what player does he use to ensure his winning streak stays alive?

See for yourself…


VIDEO: Durant Fallon

Steven Adams Does His Best LeBron James

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last season, as a rookie with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Steven Adams established himself as a rough and tumble center, unafraid to do dirty work in the post. He was not, however, known for his ability to, say, take guys off the dribble. But as we see in the video clip here, when Adams is matched up against someone much smaller, he can not only put the ball on the floor and get to the rim, but he can perform his best LeBron James celebration after the basket…


VIDEO: Adams LeBron

(via TNLP)

NBA 2K15 evolves beyond a video game

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com

Reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant dons the cover of the new “NBA 2K15″ video game that impressively elevates its standard of insanely realistic graphics and now unveils a first-of-its-kind technological breakthrough: a live TV show within the game.

Wrap your brain around that for a minute.

“NBA2K TV” is a live highlight and interview show designed to bind the NBA 2K community like no other video game has or can by delivering game news and community-driven content through a live studio television show. In many ways, says Jeff Thomas, Visual Concept’s executive vice president of development, the game is built around the weekly program that features as its host former Old Dominion star and sports broadcast personality Rachel A. DeMita.

Kevin Durant talks about NBA 2K15 during a media event last month.

Kevin Durant talks about NBA 2K15 during a media event last month.

The real-life DeMita — not an animated replica — will greet you every time you put on the game. She’ll provide a brief update on the latest happenings in the NBA 2K community. She might be back later with highlights of your game and ask you how you did it.

You getting this? In the game’s slickly produced trailer, a mesmerized Durant mutters, “Whoa, man, that’s sick.”

The actual show will be streamed into the game once a week and is planned to last about 15 minutes. It will feature fast-paced segments from highlights of actual NBA 2K games played by users who allow 2K to access their systems through the DVR function, plus highlights of NBA 2K tournaments and other large-scale events and interviews with actual game users and tournament winners and exclusive interviews with NBA players, coaches and experts.

NBA2K will be released on Oct. 7, which is also when the first live show will debut. The game will be released internationally on Oct. 10.

“There’s so many ‘wow’ moments as you play the game, as you’re experiencing things with your buddy,” Thomas said. “It may have come down to a last-second buzzer — we really do try to replicate the real NBA. You know how highlights are, how exciting that can be. Well, we really do try to replicate those moments and for our users and game players to share that with the world is what we’re really trying to capture. That’s one part of the content.”

Additional show content will include game news, behind-the-scenes looks at how NBA 2K was made, interviews with the game’s developers, plus NBA player cameos and basketball lifestyle.

“One of my favorite parts of this is I was a former Division I basketball player and to me the point of playing basketball and the point of playing video games is the same thing: to have a really amazing time competing,” DeMita said. “With the show, we always want to have a good time and show all of the culture and the entertainment value that surrounds the NBA, that surrounds NBA2K and that surrounds our gaming community. Everybody is coming there for essentially the same reason. Being able to bring these guys access to some of the things they couldn’t have access to before, for instance they wouldn’t know necessarily that someone in Maryland is at the top of the leader board, but I’ll be able to let the rest of the community know that.

“At the same time someone may not know that Kevin Durant loves to play NBA 2K, and also likes to play with other NBA players. So when I do interviews with him, the whole community will get to watch that and enjoy in those aspects of the culture.”

It is a brave new world. Game on.


VIDEO: NBA 2K15 cover boy Kevin Durant shows off the NBA2K TV feature

 

Kevin Durant Supports The Washington Nationals

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — This hurts me more than you know. After all, I’m a fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I was watching the Braves play the Nationals in Atlanta the other night when the Nationals won, clinching the National League East on the Braves’ own field. The Nationals have now won two of the last three division titles, and their fans are rightfully excited. Fans such as DC-area native Kevin Durant, who goes by the nickname Easy Money Sniper, and who took to Instagram to celebrate the Nationals division title by showing off his own custom Nationals jersey…

Are The Spurs The Ultimate Team?

San Antonio Spurs Championship Celebration

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The San Antonio Spurs won last season’s NBA championship, but are they the ultimate team in all of the major North American sports leagues? A new poll from ESPN the Magazine says yes, they are.

According to ESPN, they surveyed over 1,000 fans to form 25 areas of criteria, then polled over 100,000 fans and asked them to rate their hometown teams in each of those categories. From there they created a weighted average and incorporated “bang for the buck” and…well, you can read all the criteria for yourself.

As it turned out, out of the 122 teams considered, the San Antonio Spurs finished first overall. And they weren’t the only NBA team to rate highly: the Memphis Grizzlies finished fourth, the Oklahoma City Thunder finished seventh, and the Dallas Mavericks ninth. If you want to dig deeper, check out the entire poll here.

This guy really likes Kevin Durant’s Nikes

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A rumor built over the last week or so that Kevin Durant was considering leaving Nike to wear Under Armour sneakers. UA had made a huge offer, and it was up to Nike to match that offer. After a few days of considering the options, Nike matched KD’s deal, which made KD happy…

By now, Kevin Durant has had seven different signature shoes, and almost every shoe has come in not only a colorway that matches the Thunder’s uniforms, but then also several other colorways. Last year’s shoe, the KD VI, came in a bunch of colorways. And one man in Oklahoma City, Chris McCord, bought them all. Twenty-five designs released, twenty-five pairs purchased. Check the video below to see how it all came about, and read the full story here.

Can he kick it? Yes, he can…

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