Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma City Thunder’

OKC Thunder players inhale helium, sell cars

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The players on the Oklahoma City Thunder are not only very good at basketball, they’re apparently great at selling cars. Last year we saw several of them doing their best to get you in a new vehicle, and this year’s version of the ad has a new wrinkle: Helium.

Now, officially, I strongly discourage you from sucking helium from a balloon, because it’s probably a bad idea or something, but it’s pretty funny to hear these guys talking like Smurfs…


VIDEO: Thunder helium

NBA Players in Halloween costumes

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Halloween has come and gone, which means it’s time once again to see what some NBA players went dressed as this year. We already checked in on the Oklahoma City Thunder, but let’s check out the costumes of some other NBA players…

LeBron James went as Flo from the Progressive Insurance ads…

Carmelo Anthony was…I don’t know what this costume is…

Paul Pierce was Captain America…

Deron Williams and his wife went as Khal Drogo and Khaleesi from “Game of Thrones”…

(more…)

Russell Westbrook dressed to impress last night

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — First of all, let’s make one thing clear: Russell Westbrook was incredible last night. Leading a Thunder team riddled with injuries, Westbrook was nearly unstoppable, finishing with 38 points and 6 assists against Portland in a losing effort.

But that performance was a bit overshadowed by his style performance off the floor, including this Mylar jacket Westbrook wore to the game.

And as often happens, Twitter went in on Westbrook’s gear…

Talk Show: Ernie Johnson

Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat - Game Two

NEW YORK CITY — Tonight’s tip-off of the NBA on TNT marks not only the 31st year that Turner Sports has been involved with the NBA, but also the 25th year that Ernie Johnson has been the man in the middle of it all. As the host of “Inside the NBA,” TNT’s award-winning studio show, Johnson maintains a semblance of control over a panel featuring Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal, during what usually turns into a free-wheeling free-for-all at the end of a long night of games. With the TNT crew in New York City for their season tip-off show tonight live from Times Square, I sat down with EJ yesterday to talk about Inside’s wild ride.

ME: I saw a clip the other day of Charles and you together in the studio, maybe for the first time, back in the early ’90s.

JOHNSON: Yeah, when he was still playing.

ME: Right. And his voice was completely different …

JOHNSON: Oh, I know! “These two teams have some hostility …” He wasn’t The Chuckster.

ME: When he started regularly on “Inside” 15 years ago now, was he closer to what we see now than what we saw in that old clip?

JOHNSON: Yeah, I thought so. Back then, when he was a player, and I think you see this a lot, players aren’t going to say anything while they’re still playing that might get to somebody. If we’re showing video of somebody in a fight and he says, “Those are two guys who couldn’t break a pane of glass,” then he’s going to hear it next he’s playing against them. I think by the time he got to us — that was probably ’92 or ’93 that first time — he had become the most quotable guy in the league, all-interview team. So all of that built up to when he’s done playing, he had to be on TV and hopefully he would be with us. He’s closer to this than he was to that at the start, if that makes any sense.

ME: Whenever I come by the studios in Atlanta, you’re there in your office hours ahead of being on the air. What is a day like for you? How do you prepare?

JOHNSON: I try to be there 6-7 hours before we go on the air. And I think it’s all because after this many years you get a repetition and you know what a game day is like. It’s not unlike a player’s game day ritual. A player’s going to eat at this time and get to the arena by this time. Like Alex Gordon of the Royals, he’s got this game day regimen where he’s at the ballpark by noon, and he’s working out until this time, he’s got a stopwatch, he’s doing this, doing this, doing this. And I kind of have that same deal, where I use this time to recap last night for my files, I need this time to read the articles from around the country about the teams that are playing tonight, then we have the production meeting, so … it all falls out from that. To me it’s always been about the preparation, and if the day comes when you don’t want to do all the prep work, it’s time for me to say, later. But that hasn’t happened. I still love that. That’s the work. The show is fun, the prep is all the work, and if that prep ever gets to the point where I don’t feel like doing it, I need to check out.


VIDEO: NBA Rookies: Inside Inside

ME: I read an interview with you recently where you said your role on the show is basically being a rogue traffic cop.

JOHNSON: That was that Rolling Stone interview.

ME: Right. You’re usually the one asking the questions of the analysts and the players, but you have opinions yourself and you’ve been doing this 25 years, so, let me ask you, who do you think wins the West and the East this season?

JOHNSON: I think Chicago would be the favorite right now, and I think San Antonio would be the team to beat in the West right now, but again, so many things happen. You know, Kawhi Leonard has played one preseason game and now he’s got this eye thing, so, you don’t know. And Kevin Durant, does he come back 100-percent, or is that something that nags him? So that’s why it’s hard to do that. And you know what? I will share my opinions on that show when I feel like I need to. I got three guys here who have been in every conceivable NBA situation. They’re the ones who fans want to hear from. Sometimes you can tell how I feel because I’m going to throw a question out there that reflects where I’m coming from. But then like in a league-wide situation, I wasn’t hesitant at all to speak out on the Donald Sterling thing last year. That first day I said, “Look, if those are his words, the league has no place for him.” I think knowing your role is a big part of that, and knowing how to get these guys where they want to be, and knowing that if I ask Shaq this, Charles is going to broadside him, that’s where the rogue traffic cop comes in.

ME: How has it changed through the years about working with these three guys?

JOHNSON: I don’t think it’s changed very much. The first night that we ever did a show, Kenny and Charles walked out, and Charles asked Kenny what he was going to say about something, and Kenny said, “You’ll find out.” And that hasn’t changed. That’s been the way we do business. We’ve never said, like, “Hey this year why don’t we have everybody in the production meeting and rehearse each segment twice so we know exactly how long it’s going to last.” That would kill the show. It’s continued in what it does well, and that’s spontaneous, off-the-cuff, unrehearsed, unpredictable. And so no, I don’t think we’ve changed a whole lot.

ME: I guess the most obvious change was when you added Shaq a few years ago.

JOHNSON: You bring Shaq into that dynamic, and he’s the world’s biggest kid. I think what got his attention about the show is all the fun that we have, all the laughs, and that’s what he likes to do. As soon as got a grip on the fact that he had to do some homework. And I told him that the first couple months we all worked together. I said, “As much funny stuff as Chuck says and as outrageous as some of the stuff might be, he comes to the studio every night with at least five things he wants to unload before the night’s over. So do the same thing. Have a take on this team or that team.” And he’s done that. The three guys are so different and come at it from different perspectives, and it’s up to me to move it around.

ME: Charles said he doesn’t know how much longer he’ll do this. How long do you think you guys can keep this up?

JOHNSON: I didn’t think we’d be here today. Because what was it, 2000 when we started? I thought, you know what, when the novelty wears off for Charles, whatever time we can get and have the chance to work together, it’ll be fun. I never thought that coming into the 2014-15 season, we’d be talking about, “Here comes another year with all of us.” And then adding Shaq the last few. In this business you never have the next show guaranteed. And so, I always think whatever we’ve done has been a blessing to do it. Believe me, when we sit out there to get ready to do a show, there’s not a time you don’t look around at these guys and say, “Do you know how many people would like to be sitting in my chair?”

Kevin Durant coaches a blindfolded James Harden

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden have reunited since their conscious uncoupling in a commercial for BBVA, the Spanish banking company. But this new ad starring the duo is a doozy. In it, Harden faces off against three defenders, while blindfolded, inside a cage atop the BBVA building in Madrid, while Durant coaches him from a command center in Oklahoma City. It’s a little like a fight scene from a movie — why don’t all three defenders just attack the ball at once? But at the same time, it sure is fun to watch…


VIDEO: Harden Durant

Oklahoma City Thunder players love Halloween

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Every year around Halloween, it seems as if we see a lot of pictures of members of the OKC Thunder in full costume, ready to go door to door for candy. I’m sure many teams do it, but the Thunder sure seems to have a high rate of participation, as we saw last year. We’re still a week away from Halloween, but the Thunder started getting dressed up early, as a bunch of Thunder players posted pics from a Halloween party on social media this weekend.

Russell Westbrook as Officer Mendez from Orange Is The New Black

Steven Adams as Tom Hanks in Castaway

Nick Collison and Andre Roberson as Ghostbusters…

Mitch McGary as Bane and Lance Thomas as Finn…

(via NewsOK)

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