The sports world, and especially the South Beach faithful, held their collective breath momentarily Thursday night for Mr. Miami Heat. After taking a hard shot to the face on a drive (WHICH HE STILL FINISHED WITH A HIGHLIGHT DUNK DESPITE GETTING WHACKED!!!), LeBron James lay writhing in pain amidst a puddle of his own blood.
It was so bad that he left the game, heading for the locker room during the biggest game of the Heat’s season so far — done for the night. Uh oh.
Fans, King James wants you to exhale … and laugh a bit while doing it.
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. Suggestions are always welcome!
Today’s TBT topic: James and Durant
By Jonathan Hartzell, NBA.com
For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we look back at the careers of LeBron James and Kevin Durant before the Oklahoma City Thunder visit the Miami Heat tonight on TNT at 8 p.m. ET.
(NOTE:Click the “caption” icon below the photo for details about each moment.)
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Sometimes, when an argument occurs, the only way to settle it is to take to the athletic field. Or in this case, the court.
Yesterday in Oklahoma City, where the Miami Heat were practicing in the run-up to tonight’s showdown on TNT against the Thunder, a footrace broke out between the 33-year-old James Jones and the 25-year-old Michael Beasley. Luckily Ray Allen had his phone at the ready to preserve the results on social media. As Allen noted in his caption, “Chalk one up for the old guys”…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Throughout this season, perhaps you’ve seen our ongoing series, The All Ball Posterized Poll. In those posts, we examine which NBA players have been victims of the most vicious dunks.
We are proud to continue the tradition of highlighting the best of the best (and worst) with the new All Ball Crossover Contest. From time to time, we will check in and look at some of the best ankle-breaking dribbling exhibitions we’ve seen. We want to see the greatest moves, of course, but we also want to take note of who got shook.
So who broke out the best crossover in this edition of the Crossover Contest? We culled this selection of videos, and NBA.com’s Zettler Clay is providing the written commentary to accompany what you see.
Check out the videos below and vote at the bottom of the post …
NORRIS COLE ON DERRICK ROSE Zettler Says: I know, Derrick Rose was only minutes into his first game back from an ACL tear. Still, as Avon Barksdale accurately summed it up, the game is the game. Norris saw an opportunity and made a quick decision. We’re rooting for a full recovery for Rose, if only for a chance at redemption, because this move is nasty.
JOHN WALL ON TERRENCE ROSS Zettler Says:John Wall hits Terrence Ross with the double. If you were to ask for defining Wall plays to teach to youngsters, this would lead the reel. A stutter step to freeze Ross, then a crisp crossover followed by another, followed by speed to the cup. Great read, timing and execution.
STEPHEN CURRY ON REGGIE JACKSON Zettler Says: There’s nobody else in the NBA that could pull this move off, save for Jamal Crawford and Kevin Durant. Curry’s ability to quickly set his feet after a move combined with his deadly deep aim gives his crossover another element. No spot on the court is safe for any Steph defender.
DERON WILLIAMS ON CHRIS PAUL Zettler Says: Classic end of half isolation clash between two of the league’s best. What gives this play flair is the stealthy rivalry between these two players since they entered the NBA in 2005, one pick behind each other (D-Will was the third pick, Paul fourth). On this night, multiple times, the third pick had the upper hand.
J.R. SMITH ON TRISTAN THOMPSON Zettler Says: This is just Earl Joseph Smith III doing his thing. Thankfully Tristan Thompson took an unnatural fall, which not only made the play pop, but saved his ankle. If he doesn’t hit the deck, his talus is broken. Believe.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — And we’re back. Not even five weekdays since Randy Foyeroused us on a quiet Monday evening, and the Horry Scale has been awakened by a rim-rattling dunk from Orlando’s Tobias Harris.
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.
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.
OK, so you understand? For our records, this is the fourteenth GWBB this season, so our record-setting pace continues unabated. for now, let’s break this shot down…
It was an undefended dunk, the kind of dunk Tobias Harris has probably converted hundreds or even thousands of times in his life. But I doubt he’s ever put one down with literally no time left on the clock. After Kevin Durant missed his jumper that would have put Oklahoma City up 3, Victor Oladipo out-fought Thabo Sefolosha and Reggie Jackson to corral the ball, and by the time Oladipo had it and was heading up court, there were just under 4 seconds remaining. Even though they had a timeout remaining, the Magic played on and took advantage of the numbers. In the next four seconds, Oladipo dribbled the length of the court and got into the paint, where Jeremy Lamb stepped up to cut off his drive. Lamb left Maurice Harkless alone on the baseline, and Oladipo hit him with a bounce pass. Harkless caught the ball with 1.5 seconds remaining, and immediately dished it back to a trailing Tobias Harris, who dunked it home with no time remaining. It was a terrific pass by Harkless, but it was as gutsy as it was fundamentally sound — with such a miniature amount of time left, this game was pretty close to ending with Harris a couple of inches away from a GWBB. But he made it, and the Magic won in thrilling come-from-behind fashion.
The Thunder had an 8-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the Magic outscored them 23-14 in the fourth to get the W. There were two things about the situation around this particular play that stuck out to me: 1. Durant shot the ball with about 3 seconds left on the shot clock. I know he was able to get to one of his preferred spots on the court, at the free throw line extended, which is a shot he makes more often than not. But if he’d been able to wait just a second longer, the Magic wouldn’t have had the time to grab the board and do what they did. 2. The Thunder had a small lineup in at the time, and when Durant’s shot went up, Serge Ibaka was the only member of the Thunder anywhere near the rim in a rebounding position. And the long bounce from the miss then took him out of contention for the rebound.
Now that’s a celebration. With no time on the clock, the Magic players knew they could celebrate, so the bench guys rushed the court. The camera work became shaky, like something out of a movie. Harris received a trio of chest bumps, ending with a thunderous hug from Big Baby Davis. Also, you want to see what disbelief looks like? Check out the Thunder bench…
As I wrote above, and I hope you remember this, IT ISN’T ONLY ABOUT THE SHOT. It’s about the entire play, and the accumulated circumstances surrounding the shot. As a dunk, in a vacuum, for an NBA player it wasn’t the most difficult shot. But put everything together, including a lottery team playing the best team in the West, and making a shot while down a point to win the game, and it was a pretty epic play for the Magic. I can’t give this 5 stars, only because this is a regular season game and I have to be able to still go up from here once we reach the playoffs. So instead, I’m giving this 4 Horrys, the same grade to which I retroactively rated Jeff Green’s season-opening shot.
What say you? How many Horrys would you give Tobias Harris’s GWBB?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — If there’s one thing I’ve learned from attending a dozen All-Star Weekends, it’s that at its core, All-Star Weekend is about the fans. The fans actually select the starting line-ups, and fans travel from near and far to hit up Jam Session and All-Star Saturday Night and the Rising Stars Challenge and, of course, all the parties.
In some broader sense, the All-Star Game is about recognizing the best players from each conference. Sure, there are a couple of rim-rattling dunks and the occasional long-range shot that falls. And if you’re lucky, really lucky, the game is close down the stretch, and then everyone’s competitive juices kick in and you might just get a memorable finale. The main purposes of most participants in the actual All-Star Game? They wear funky uniforms, get a little run in, hang out with their buddies, and then they go back to their own teams for the stretch run and the Playoffs.
But that’s not why I’m watching the All-Star Game. And I think most people tuning in or even attending All-Star are looking to have a similar question answered: Are we not entertained? No matter what the Fun Police tell you, at All-Star weekend, nobody is looking at efficiency stats or plus/minus ratings. We want to see Shaq playing point guard. We want to see Gilbert Arenas joining the Elvis impersonators and dunking off of a trampoline. Simply put: We want the All-Star Game — and the entire weekend, really — to be fun.
So you can argue all you want about who does and who doesn’t deserve to be named to the actual Eastern and Western Conference All-Star teams. Instead, I present to you my annual YOLO All-Stars. (If you didn’t know, YOLO is an acronym for You Only Live Once.) These are the guys who deserve to be All-Stars based on my own vague All Ball Blog criteria. I considered all of the following elements: hilarity; social media proficiency; general swag; likelihood the player will do something memorable; dunking/dribbling/shooting ability; previous Shaqtin’ A Fool appearances; mentions on the All Ball Blog.
To be clear, those categories are listed in no particular order, with no importance or weight to any given specific category. These are just the players I think it would be fun to see in an All-Star Game. If we want to be entertained, these are the players that will give it to us. Meet your 2013-14 NBA YOLO All-Stars…
EASTERN CONFERENCE Starters
C – Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers — Always a blast on Twitter, and a man who appreciates good humor.
F – Chris Bosh, Miami Heat — Will be in charge of all videobombing.
F – LeBron James, Miami Heat — Not only is he a force on Twitter, which is good enough to qualify for the YOLO All-Stars, but he’s also the reigning MVP, so that wins him an invite.
G – J.R. Smith, New York Knicks — In the YOLO All-Star Game, untying shoes will be encouraged.
G – Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers — UNCLE DREW!
Bench Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks — The Greek Freak is perhaps the most unconventional athlete in the league, so you never know what he’s going to pull off next. He also loves smoothies, and with the All-Star Game being played in the newly-named Smoothie King Center, what could be more perfect? Amir Johnson, Toronto Raptors — One of my favorites on social media. Andray Blatche, Brooklyn Nets — Eurostep! Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons — Will be in charge of Vine videos throughout the weekend. Metta World Peace, New York Knicks — Still the best. Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers — He may not have made the actual All-Star Game, but I can’t knock his hustle. Besides, he dunked on a ref, which is awesome. Kevin Seraphin, Washington Wizards — Anyone with a pet snake named Snakey and a skeleton that rides a Segway is a lifetime YOLO All-Star.
WESTERN CONFERENCE Starters
C – Robin Lopez, Portland Trail Blazers — He’s a nerd and he’s proud of it.
F – Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves — We’ll have him making coffee for everyone.
F – Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder — If LeBron is on the East, we might as well put KD on the West.
G – Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers — My favorite dribbler in the NBA.
G – James Harden, Houston Rockets — The beard is fun on its own, but Harden’s also made a heavy push into social media the last few years. Maybe he can perform at halftime.
Bench Nick Young, Los Angeles Lakers — You can’t have a YOLO game without Swaggy P. Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers — Founder of #4BarFriday. Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies — Perhaps my favorite NBA player to challenge his team owner to a game of one-on-one. Matt Bonner, San Antonio Spurs — Broken nose and all, Bonner is always entertaining. Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors — Always a candidate to dunk on someone. Or to review an episode of “Breaking Bad.” DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings — Hard not to select someone who’s nickname is “Boogie.” JaVale McGee, Denver Nuggets (Injured) — Really the perfect player for this game. Nate Robinson, Denver Nuggets (Injured) — Go long, Nate will throw you the pineapple.
So there’s my YOLO All-Stars. Who would you put on your YOLO All-Star team? Let us know below in the comments!
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Minnesota Timberwolves were hoping that this season would be when their young core would finally come together and establish themselves as contenders in the Western Conference. Instead, while they’ve been competitive, they’ve struggled to win close games, taking just one game all season that was decided by four points or fewer.
Part of that has been due to struggles to score down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Another pat of that might be scoring baskets for the wrong team. Last night against the Thunder, as the third quarter wound down, Oklahoma City’s Derek Fisher fired up a contested three-pointer from the corner. Rookie Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng went up for the rebound, but somehow ended up accidentally tapping the ball in to the wrong basket, just before the halftime buzzer. I think there’s not much to say here other than #shaqtin.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Here at the All Ball Blog, we like to recognize whenever someone makes a game-winning buzzer beater (GWBB) by breaking out something we call the Horry Scale to try and give each shot some perspective. I’ve taken my lumps from you guys this season, as I’ve tried to figure out just how many Horrys to dole out for each shot, but that’s fine: What I love about the Horry Scale is that you, our readers, love these shots as much or more as we do. You understand how improbable and how exciting they are, and you like celebrating them along with us.
That said, Horry Scale shots have to be game winners with 0.0 remaining on the clock. Which is why some last-second shots this season have not qualified — I think Russell Westbrook has made two shots to win games, but both times there were fractions of a second remaining.
The other rule that is not explicitly stated but clearly implied, is that Horry Scale entries have to be NBA game winners. Otherwise I’d be over here writing about high school and college games all day and night.
With that stated, the following shot does not qualify for the Horry Scale, since it took place in a Euroleague game between Anadolou Efes Istanbul and EA7 Emporio Armani Milan. But it was a former NBA player, ex-Nets point guard Zoran Planinic, who took the incredible shot. Anadoulou Efes Istanbul was down 2, with about 2 seconds left when Planinic launched from three-quarter court. And, well, check it out… -
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There is no player in the NBA these days more flammable than Kevin Durant. With his running mate Russell Westbrook out injured, Durant is averaging 37 points per game in January, the Thunder have reeled off five straight wins, and Durant has established himself as a legitimate MVP candidate. With some downtime on the plane as the Thunder travel to Boston, Durant held an impromptu Q&A on Twitter…
I'm gonna answer a few questions..haven't been on twitter in a while so go ahead, look forward to hearing from everyone— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) January 23, 2014
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — On Saturday night in a game against the Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder rookie big man Steven Adams sprained his ankle. Now, a sprained ankle has kept many NBA players out of many games, but less than 24 hours later, Adams was ready to go for the Thunder against the Celtics. And as Thunder coach Scott Brooks said before the Celtics game, Adams has a unique brand of toughness.
Scott Brooks on Steven Adams' toughness: "Nothing phases him. All he cares about is eating a lot of food and playing basketball."— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 05, 2014
We knew basketball was important to Adams — he’s a professional basketball player, after all — but the food stuff is worth exploring. Perhaps we should’ve known Adams had a predilection for preparing food when we spoke to him back at the Rookie Transition Program, and I asked all the rookies what they would make if they were on Iron Chef. While I got a lot of ramen and cereal answers, Adams came with Beef Wellington and creme brulee.
And digging deeper, we learned from a long feature this summer in The Oklahoman that for Adams, really just any food is important …
Food is one of his biggest fetishes.
“He loves food,” said Liggins. “He goes crazy about food. Any food. He wants food.”
Less than three minutes after Liggins revealed that information, Adams walked around the corner with a plate piled high with food. He was the only Thunder player to emerge from the locker room with a plate.
“Food is amazing,” Adams said. “I love food. It’s good. It’s from my family, I guess. My family is quite big and we all eat a ton so I think that’s where it came from.”
In the days leading up to the draft, Adams devoured a 48-oz steak. He had his first hot dog last Saturday in Orlando. He didn’t see the big deal.
During the draft combine, former Louisville center Gorgui Dieng, now with Minnesota, suggested Adams get a shirt that reads “Eating Never Stops,” a play off of Nike’s slogan “Basketball Never Stops.”