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: Best Teams of 1990s
This week we continue our Throwback Thursday: Best Teams of Each Decade series by looking at the best teams to play in the 1990s.
Make sure to check back next week for our look at the best teams of the 2000s!
(NOTE:Click the “caption” icon below the photo for details about each moment.)
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just yesterday we saw video of Minnesota rookie Zach LaVine putting on an incredible dunking exhibition at the Seattle Pro-Am. Not to be outdone, Orlando rookie Aaron Gordon posted the following video on Instagram with his own highlight reel of dunks. Your move, LaVine…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There are still a few months until NBA training camps begin, so NBA players still have time to get in the weight room and add 15 pounds of muscle, the amount they always seem to add, and make an appearance on MUSCLEWATCH. Once camps start up we’ll launch our official MUSCLEWATCH 2014, but right now with plenty of guys playing in summer league, we can make an initial check-in and see how MUSCLEWATCH is shaping up.
What, you may be asking, is MUSCLEWATCH? It stems from my friend Matt and I noticing years ago that out local paper used to always say 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, tweet it and use the hashtag #MUSCLEWATCH to help us keep all this info straight.
• In the video above, AD’s teammate Jrue Holiday talks about adding muscle and strengthening the leg he had surgery on. We don’t get any concrete numbers, but he still has months to go.
• One of the big stories from summer league has been the newly-slimmedAnthony Bennett, who looks much different. According to our man Steve Aschburner, Bennett has lost 15 pounds from his playing weight last season. I also love this quote from Bennett so much: “It wasn’t really that tough. My body is kind of weird. I can gain weight fast, I can lose weight fast. So it was just me maintaining it. Watching what I eat at night.”
• Bulls forward Tony Snell arrived for summer league not only with his braids gone, but with 10 pounds of muscle added. “I’ve been in the weight room a lot and I’m eating right,” Snell said. That’ll do it, Tony.
• Victor Oladipo is dropping weight this summer. Might want to slow the pace a bit, Vic, considering we have a few months to go…
Victor Oladipo says he's down 20 pounds from the end of the season
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — After a decade as a member of the Orlando Magic, a run that included an All-Star appearance in 2009, yesterday the Orlando Magic waived point guard Jameer Nelson. This was largely seen as a cost-cutting move for Orlando, as the Magic are firmly entrenched in a rebuilding project. But that doesn’t mean the Magic and Nelson are leaving on bad terms. Nelson now has the chance to sign with a contending team, and as he told the Orlando Sentinel, he appreciates the fans in Orlando: “The people, the way they embraced me there in Orlando over the last 10 years, were phenomenal. Not too many players can say they played in the same place in any sport for 10 years.”
And to make sure the people of Orlando know they valued Nelson’s contributions, the Magic posted the video above, and have put up several billboards in Orlando to show their thanks…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” is airing shows taped in Orlando all week, and when you’re in Orlando, you best pay respect to STUFF, the Magic’s all-caps mascot. Dancing in a mascot costume must be a tough thing to do, and here we see just how tough, as STUFF goes toe-to-toe with Fallon’s mascot, Hashtag. I have to say I disagree with Fallon’s ruling — the belly-shake move from STUFF put him/her over the top as far as I was concerned.
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 Topic: First round series to go seven games
The NBA Playoffs are a magical time in the basketball universe as every game matters and each player gives it their all.
To honor the playoffs, this Thursday we look back at the 14 first-round series to go the full seven games (the first round expanded from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven format in 2003). Hopefully this year’s playoffs provide similar dramatics.
(NOTE:Click the “caption” icon below the photo for details about each moment.)
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of the signature comedy bits on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” is having celebrities read mean tweets about themselves. The Orlando Magic took a page from Kimmel’s playbook and had Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless and Kyle O’Quinn read a few things that had been tweeted about them…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Dwight Howard may currently be a member of the Houston Rockets, but before Houston (and Los Angeles before that), Dwight spent the first eight seasons of his career playing for the Orlando Magic. Wednesday marked Howard’s first return trip to Orlando as a member of the Rockets, and despite the bad feelings surrounding Howard’s departure, the Magic paid tribute to Dwight for his contributions to the organization …
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — For all the travails that accompany being a world-famous supermodel, I’m guessing fending off marriage proposals is just another part of the job. Particularly for a supermodel like Kate Upton, who has become perhaps the preeminent supermodel the last few years, and even more so when you’re out in public at, say, an NBA game, and there’s a mascot on the lookout for love.
Kate Upton took in an Orlando Magic game over the weekend. She was with her boyfriend, Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander, but when Verlander took a brief wander around the arena, that quick opening was apparently all Orlando mascot Stuff the Magic Dragon needed to make his move.
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?