Posts Tagged ‘Phil Jackson’

Taboo Topics with Coach Pop

There are certain things you just don't talk about with Gregg Popovich.

There are certain things you just don’t talk about with Gregg Popovich.

ALL BALL NEW JERSEY — Note to all NBA reporters: Gregg Popovich knows nothing about the team you cover, unless that team is the San Antonio Spurs.

Before the Spurs played the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Monday, one Knicks reporter asked Popovich what he thought of New York’s first few games.

The response: “Nothing. I don’t watch film on other people at this point in the season. I don’t even know what I’m doing yet, so it’s kind of a waste of time to watch other people. We’ve got enough work to figure out how we want to play and how we want to put it together. That’s the honest truth.”

When he says “at this point in the season,” he means “in the regular season.” Ask Popovich about the opponent in January or February and you’re likely to get a similar response.


Other NBA teams aren’t the only sports that Popovich doesn’t watch. The World Series ended in rather dramatic fashion on Sunday night, but Pop couldn’t be distracted from one of the few times he gets to have dinner in New York.

“If it’s nighttime, it’s dinner time,” Popovich said in response to a question about Mets pitcher Matt Harvey convincing manager Terry Collins to leave him in the game for the ninth inning of Game 5. “Dinner and wine. No baseball, no football. Sports are boring.”

That brought a few laughs from the media scrum.

“I’m serious,” Popovich continued. “Why would I want to watch a baseball game when I could go to dinner and relax with friends and enjoy.”

Of course, that transitioned into a great story about Manu Ginobili convincing Popovich that he should play at MSG on Monday, instead of sitting out the second game of a day-night back-to-back. And if you ask Popovich about his own players, he’ll usually give you good stuff. On Monday, he provided terrific quotes on integrating LaMarcus Aldridge and David West into the Spurs’ system, about the development of Kawhi Leonard, and about Danny Green being a decent defender, which you couldn’t have foreseen when the Spurs waived him back in 2010.


Still, though Popovich has helped turn Leonard into one of the best two-way players in the league, he may not have watched much of the forward before the Spurs acquired him in the 2011 Draft.

In one of those answers about Leonard’s development, Popovich said this:

“He was basically a big man in college. He didn’t play on the perimeter. When he came, he couldn’t shoot a three until Chip Engelland got a hold of him. So all of this is new to him as a perimeter player, defensively, offensively, his development with some of the moves he has that Chad Forcier works with him on. All of that has been an education for him.”

Asked about that after the game, this was Leonard’s response:

“I don’t think he’s seen me play a lot. I’ve always played on the wing. I don’t think a lot of people watched me play at San Diego State. Just because I averaged 10 rebounds, they thought I was a power forward. I always played on the wing and this is nothing new to me.”

So don’t ask Popovich about college basketball, either.


Oh yeah, there’s one more taboo topic with Popovich. His name is Phil Jackson.

Question: “How do you think Phil did in free agency? He didn’t get the star like LaMarcus, but he got a lot of other pieces…”

Popovich: “I can just top you right there. I don’t evaluate Phil Jackson.”

Question: “Or just how the Knicks did in free agency, and the pieces…”

Popovich: “That would be Phil.”

Kristaps Porzingis understands social media

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Incoming Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis hasn’t even played an NBA game, but it seems he understands how to use social media to keep his bosses are happy. After receiving a care package from our friends at Stance, the official sock of the NBA, who make socks featuring various NBA legends. But which pair of socks did Porzingis make sure he posted to Instagram? Why that sure looks like Knicks president Phil Jackson

Gotta say thank you to my guys at @stancehoops for the care package. These are my favorites 🔥🔥

A photo posted by Kristaps Porzingis (@kporzee) on

Carmelo Anthony narrowly misses world record for high fives

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The New York Knicks may be rebuilding under Phil Jackson, but they already have one key element in place: A superstar. Carmelo Anthony can score the ball at an elite level, this we know, but what about his ability to amass high fives? At the recent Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards, Melo took a shot at breaking the world record for high fives…

VIDEO: Melo High Fives

This whole effort seems a little casual — apparently Melo was too fast? — but perhaps falling just short will give Melo the motivation to try, try again…

(via FTW)

The Breakdown: The Shrug

VIDEO: The Shrug

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The 2015 NBA Finals begin tomorrow night, but 23 years ago today was Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers, which marks one of the great moments of Michael Jordan‘s career: The Shrug.

If you don’t remember The Shrug, the video is above. Let’s go to the tape for a moment-by-moment breakdown…

0:18 — We see fans streaming into the building, let by a screaming young man wearing a tank top and shorts, who may or may not be dressed to actually play in a basketball game instead of watch it.

0:30 — The Portland Trail Blazers are taking the court, which apparently entails them walking up a few flights of stairs in an old stairwell with wires and cables hanging poking out. Which is quite a juxtaposition to what we normally see these days, with refined architecture and squeaky-clean arenas.

0:36 — The Bulls huddle up and just in front of the camera, Cliff Levingston puts his left hand over Michael Jordan‘s right ear. At first I thought he was just messing with MJ, but Jordan didn’t recoil, which suggests this is something he’s used to. Suddenly, it all makes sense, when Levingston barks out, “WHAT TIME IS IT??” right in Jordan’s ear. So the hand over the ear move is purely practical. This may be one of Levingston’s most important contributions to the Bulls.

1:28 — The Blazers open the game red-hot, making their first seven field goal attempts and jumping out to a 21-15 lead. It is here we get our first glimpse of a younger and sleeker Phil Jackson, looking like a crooked politician in one of the Michael Keaton “Batman” movies.


1:42 — The Bulls players circle up, and while several players are talking, there’s one Bull who isn’t saying a word: Michael Jordan. He comes out of that huddle focused, chomping his gum so hard. You just know bad things are about to happen to the Blazers.

1:47 — Oh man. Danny Ainge tries to get the ball to Clyde Drexler in the post. Jordan jumps the entry pass, steals it, dribbles directly up the court at Ainge, then he avoids Ainge while somehow making him sail into the scorer’s table. No wonder the Celtics won’t make any trades with the Hornets.

1:57 — This is just a peak ’90s moment. These may be the male leads from a Paul Reiser vehicle. (Also, one high five wasn’t enough. GIVE ME TWO HIGH FIVES FOR THAT FADEAWAY JUMPER. Also, my man in the background has an awesome mustache.)


2:09 — Jordan is starting to cook. Meanwhile, Ainge is sooooooo mad. How mad? Mad enough to pound his fist! That’s really, really angry, you guys!

2:25 — OK, game reset: The second quarter is beginning, with the Bulls leading 33-30.

2:37 — Welp, Drexler isn’t giving in. He get a steal and goes coast to coast, and finishes with a nasty dunk in traffic. Drexler was always a much more spectacular dunker than I felt he got credit for. I kinda feel like this Bulls fan after seeing that dunk…


3:05 — Jordan hits a couple of threes, which leads to a shot of Levingston on the bench waving a towel and screaming, “He. Is. Hot. Whooo!” If there were a spiritual successor to Levingston in this year’s Finals, I’d have to go with Draymond Green.

3:11 — Love this from Johnny Bach, Bulls assistant coach: “I said to Phil, ‘Phil, do you sees what’s happening?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ (laughs) We couldn’t believe it.”

3:36 — This is how you know MJ is cooking: Scottie Pippen misses a layup on the break and MJ’s right there for the follow-dunk. The Blazers are also leaving him room to shoot, which is probably a topic for a different day.

3:49 — Cover that man! I mean, look at this…


On this play, Jerome Kersey‘s actually pulling up his shorts to prepare to defend MJ as Jordan is sticking a three in his face…

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4:08 — And then right after we hear that MJ has set an NBA Finals record with 5 three-pointers in a half, he goes and hits his sixth three pointer — again, wide open — and as he runs back down the court next to Cliff Robinson, Jordan throws up The Shrug.


Why is he shrugging? Because he can’t believe all of these shots are going in? Or because he can’t believe they aren’t really defending him, much less double-teaming him and making him give up the ball?

Anyway, it’s all downhill from there, mostly literally for the Blazers. Jordan had 35 in the first half, and finished with 39 in a 122-89 blowout win. The Bulls went on to win the series in Game 6, their second consecutive Finals win (and second of six).

Michael Jordan made a career out of giving us moments. But this one may have been his greatest moment of all of them.

Phil Jackson uses Twitter to respond to critics

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In years past, a frequent criticism of the New York Knicks was that they weren’t transparent enough with fans and the media. New Knicks president Phil Jackson, however, doesn’t seem to be having any problems with that, thanks to his Twitter account. Early in the day on Thursday, after Sheridan Hoops founder and veteran NBA writer Chris Sheridan tweeted a link to a piece criticizing the Knicks’ off-season trade of Tyson Chandler, the Zen Master himself responded with a series of tweets…

Then, during last night’s Knicks/Bulls game on TNT, analyst Charles Barkley was repeatedly critical of the Knicks, saying at one point the best thing they had going for them “is Philadelphia.” So Phil went to Twitter once again…and this time he even broke out the emojis!

The NBA on Christmas Day: Talking with Anna Chlumsky


ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The holidays are not only a time of being with friends and family, they also bring about one of the marquee moments on the NBA calendar: Christmas Day, when the NBA is giving us five big match-ups to keep you glued to your couch all day long.

To celebrate the upcoming day, we’re talking with a few famous NBA fans about what the NBA and the Christmas Day games mean to them. We’ve already talked to John Leguizamo and Mario Batali, and today we check in with one of our favorite actresses, Anna Chlumsky. You know her from all sort of projects, from the big screen (movies like My Girl to, more recently, In The Loop) to her current role on HBO’s hilarious “Veep.” In January she will make her Broadway debut in “You Can’t Take It With You.” What you may not know is the Chicago native-turned-Brooklyn resident loves the NBA, as well, so it was great to exchange emails with her about the upcoming NBA Christmas Day slate…

ME: You grew up in Chicago but live in Brooklyn. Which team gets the bulk of your allegiance right now?

Christmas2014ANNA: The Nets. Once the ’90s Bulls disbanded with Phil Jackson‘s leaving for L.A., I went through a long mourning period. Fast forward to Barclays being built blocks from my old apartment. The Nets fever just came over me.

ME: Your time in Chicago aligns with when the Bulls were in the midst of their dynasty. Other than Michael Jordan, who was your favorite Bulls player?

ANNA: I had a B.J. Armstrong poster on my wall. And you couldn’t be of Croatian descent in Chicago and not adore Toni Kukoč. He was our hero! Three-pointers for days, man!!

ME: You play a character running a presidential campaign on Veep. Which NBA player would be great at running for president?

ANNA: Hmmm…Bleacher Report likes Tim Duncan‘s poker face, and I’m inclined to agree. Good for debates.

ME: All-Star Weekend in New York City is a few months away. Any don’t-miss stops you have for people visiting town?

ANNA: A Broadway show, the Highline… and Rockefeller Center at this time of year can’t be beat. And be sure to get a pastrami from Katz’s.

ME: What Christmas gift would you give to the Nets?

ANNA: Cookies. I’m taking orders, fellas.

ME: What Christmas Day traditions do you and your family share?

ANNA: We usually spend Christmas in Chicago with my side of the family, so someone’s inevitably in full Bears garb. We’ll watch football and basketball, and we’ve been known to pull out our own board games. My mother has a tradition where she gives my Uncle Kenny the seasonal loud, obnoxious, animatronic toy from Walgreens (think singing snowman), but I think he’s ready to move on and just get gloves again. Ha!

ME: How does the NBA fit into those traditions (will you watch games on Christmas Day)?

ANNA: We sure will. Go Bulls.

ME: What’s your go-to snack/food to eat when watching game on Christmas Day?

ANNA: Tortilla chips are never far away during the games. And at my father’s, (he’s a retired chef), we’ve always got a paté or two he’s steamed up for the holidays.

ME: Last thing: Give us your predictions for the Christmas Day lineup. Washington Wizards at New York Knicks?

ANNA: Wizards

ME: San Antonio Spurs at OKC Thunder?

ANNA: Spurs

ME: Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat?

ANNA: Cleveland

ME: Los Angeles Lakers at Chicago Bulls?

ANNA: Bulls

ME: Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors?

ANNA: Warriors

The NBA on Christmas Day: Talking with John Leguizamo

Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The holidays are not only a time of being with friends and family, they also bring about one of the marquee moments on the NBA calendar: Christmas Day, when the NBA is giving us five big match-ups to keep you glued to your couch all day long.

To celebrate the upcoming day, we’re talking with a few famous NBA fans about what the NBA and the Christmas Day games mean to them. Today we check in with the multihyphenate (writer-actor, producer-director, and on and on) John Leguizamo. Though he was born in Colombia, Leguizamo’s family moved to New York soon after, and a lifelong love affair with basketball and the New York Knicks began. His latest project is the loosely-autobiographical film Fugly!, out now on demand and on iTunes.

ME: I’ve seen you at lots of Knicks games through the years. Did being a fan of the Knicks start as soon you and your family moved to New York?

LEGUIZAMO: Yeah, definitely. I love basketball — that’s what I played growing up. You know, the sport you play is the sport you end up loving to watch. Somehow, it’s reliving the childhood and the life you never had. So yeah, I was a big Knicks fan back in the day — Clyde and up to Patrick Ewing, Sprewell, Starks, LJ, and up to now, the triangle offense, I’m here.

ME: Even these days, when the franchise is rebuilding, are you still fully invested?

LEGUIZAMO: It’s tough. The triangle offense is a tough thing to figure out. I mean, I guess it worked for Phil Jackson in Chicago and L.A., but how is it going to work on these cats who’ve played so differently all their lives, man? I don’t know, it’s a tough thing to watch. It’s like…(laughing) sending troops into war without weapons. I don’t know. It’s like, “Try and use your fist this time instead of a bayonet!”

ME: Also, to be fair, Phil had Jordan and Pippen in Chicago and Shaq and Kobe in L.A. So there may be a bit of a personnel issue with this Knicks team.

LEGUIZAMO: You mean you don’t think Carmelo is Kobe Bryant? (laughs) I mean, who was Michael Jordan anyway? No athlete will ever equal the excellence of that cat, but Kobe was pretty close, man.


ME: Let’s get your predictions for the Christmas Day games. First up is your Knicks hosting the Washington Wizards.

LEGUIZAMO: Aw man. I mean, the Knicks will surprise you out of nowhere man, and maybe this is the time they’ll all come together — J.R. Smith and Shumpert — and maybe they’ll still come together for that. So I’ll give it to the Knicks. I mean, they come out of nowhere sometimes and they figure it out, and somehow the triangle offense comes together and somehow they’re loose and free. Or they get totally shut down, I don’t know.

ME: Right, sometimes it’s more like the Bermuda Triangle offense.

LEGUIZAMO: (laughs) Definitely the Bermuda Triangle. I think the Aztecs used The Triangle when they fought the Conquistadores. And what happened to the that empire?

ME: Yeah, didn’t work out so well. What do you do on Christmas Day? Will you watch games, or what’s your plan?

LEGUIZAMO: Well, we travel far. Our families are gypsies, so last year we went to Peru, and this year I’m going to be in Africa on a safari, not a shooting safari but shooting with my camera.

ME: Sounds amazing. OK, next up is the San Antonio Spurs at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

LEGUIZAMO: Thunder didn’t show up the other night. I mean, Kevin Durant is back, but I’m gonna go Spurs.

ME: Yeah, it’s hard to pick against them. Cleveland Cavaliers at the Miami Heat.

LEGUIZAMO: Aaahhhhhh! Oh dear, that’s gonna be wild. I love LeBron now that he went to the Cavs; somehow he regained my respect and love. But that’s gonna be tough, Look at Dwyane who came in the other day with crazy points. I don’t know, I’m gonna go with the Heat.

ME: Two more. Lakers at the Bulls.

LEGUIZAMO: Bulls. Derrick Rose. That’s all I gotta say, two words: Derrick Rose.

ME: Last one, Los Angeles Clippers at maybe the surprise team of the season, the Golden State Warriors.

LEGUIZAMO: Wow, that’s a tough one. I mean, I love the Clippers, man, I love CP3, and after all they went through, I’m going to do the emotional choice instead of the smart choice (laughing), I’m going to go Clippers.

Horry Scale: Trey Day


ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Knicks finally scored 100 points in a game this season. Unfortunately for them, Trey Burke and the Jazz weren’t quite finished.

Tonight’s Jazz/Knicks game presented two teams with similar journeys ahead of them. The Jazz have a young roster with a young coach and expectations bubbling. The Knicks have a superstar forward (Carmelo Anthony) and president (Phil Jackson) but have a way to go as they implement the triangle offense.

The Knicks entered the night having lost six straight, for a 2-7 record, and had yet to score 100 points in a game this season. The Jazz had a similarly sub-par record, coming in at 3-6, and in the midst of a five-game road trip. All of which culminated in tonight’s big finish by Burke.

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 only 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 last season, 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 inbound play was terrific. Basically, everything matters.

Let’s get to the game-winner…

With 2.3 seconds left on the clock, the Jazz didn’t have to rely on a catch-and-shoot. Two-plus seconds is enough time for at least a dribble, maybe even a pass.

But it looked as if the play wasn’t even drawn up for Burke to get the shot. Burke began in the far corner and set a screen for Gordon Hayward, who already had 33 points on the night. Hayward popped to the top of the key and looked to receive a pass. But Knicks forward Quincy Acy denied the look to Hayward, just as Burke flashed to the ball around the free throw line. Burke caught the ball, dribbled left into the corner, and fired up a fadeaway jumper over J.R. Smith, who was all over Burke and contested the shot well. But Burke cleared just enough space with a step-back move to release the jumper, and he drilled the shot as the buzzer was ringing.

Smith actually defended fine on the play — he went under three separate screens and stuck to Burke on the shot. Burke had to make a perfect play just to clear room for the shot. And Burke played it perfectly.

After squandering a last-second attempt earlier in the week, when J.R. Smith eschewed a pass to Carmelo Anthony to fire up a three, tonight the Knicks cleared out for Anthony, who banked in a three to tie the game at 100 with 2.3 left. Anthony finished with 46 points for the Knicks, who were without Amar’e Stoudemire, and Anthony was brilliant all night.

But Utah called a timeout after Anthony leveled the game and calmly came up with the play. A shoutout to Jazz coach Quin Snyder, who came up with a play that had multiple options; and a shoutout to inbound passer Joe Ingles, who calmly went to Burke after not being able to get the ball to Hayward.

It was big, for both teams. Yes, we’re still early in the season, but after losing six straight, the Knicks needed a win, especially at home. And Melo had put them on his back and carried them throughout the game.

The Jazz entered this season in rebuilding mode, and though they’re below .500, they’ve looked promising as they’ve tried to implement Snyder’s pace and space offense. Also, it’s worth noting that this is already Utah’s second appearance on the Horry Scale this season. So not only are they competing, but they’re giving themselves opportunities to win games (and taking advantage of those opportunities).

It was fortuitous that Burke popped the shot directly in front of the Utah bench. Because as soon as the shot went in, he was swarmed by his teammates. The Jazz couldn’t give an all-out celebration because they were on the road, so they didn’t get that awesome crowd reaction like they did at home against Cleveland. Still, the team huddled around Burke and let him have it (including a towel over the head) while Smith looked up in disbelief to check the replay.

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Also, we can’t ignore Carmelo’s reaction. After such a big game, all he could do was grimace with the realization that better days are ahead. Hopefully sooner than later.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 10.37.18 PM

It was a great play, a great shot, and an important result for a team that needed a win. But being pragmatic, this was a regular season game between two teams under .500. And considering we gave Hayward’s previous Horry Scale entry rated four Horrys, I don’t feel like this one quite matches that one, particularly on the celebration matrix. So I’m giving Trey Burke’s game winner 3 Horrys.


What say you? How many Horrys would you give Trey Burke’s GWBB?

adidas welcomes Phil Jackson to Knicks

By Lang Whitaker,

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 both available in the NBA Store…

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Knicks fans ready for Phil Jackson to “come home”

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…

VIDEO: Phil Jackson Coming Home

(via Extra Mustard)