ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Sixers almost ended it last night. Coming in to their game with Chicago, the Sixers had lost 21 games in a row, a franchise record. Down three with about four minutes left, the Sixers had a shot at the win, but the Bulls managed to wake up and close them out, extending their losing streak to 22 games. The Sixers are now just 4 losses from tying the all-time NBA record of 26 consecutive losses.
And while the Sixers coaches and players have talked about keeping a level head and not getting frustrated, this GIF of a Michael Carter-Williams play from last night’s game from SBNation seems to pretty much encapsulate the way they’re feeling right now…
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!
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — While most of the NBA has been focused on last weekend’s All-Star Game and this upcoming week’s trade deadline, the Philadelphia 76ers spend the time making a local fan’s dreams come true.
Kevin Grow, who was born with Down syndrome, spent the last four years as the manager of the basketball team at Bensalem High School, just outside of Philadephia. As his senior year drew to an end, Grow suited up and played in a few games. His first time out, he scored three points on a bucket and a free throw. But Grow saved his biggest performance for Senior Night, when he checked in with a few minutes remaining and turned into Steph Curry, draining threes from everywhere …
The video even made its way to Sixers President and General Manager Sam Hinkie, who decided to sign Grow to a two-day contract.
“What do you say?” said Sixers head coach Brett Brown. “You just walk away and have a little bit more appreciation for a bunch of things. It’s a grounding effect when you see something like that.”
Kevin arrived at the team’s training facility Monday night for his first practice as a member of the Sixers. He received a practice jersey, ate a pre-practice meal with his new teammates, and then took to the court to go through drills with the coaching staff.
“It’s great to be with the Sixers,” Kevin said.
When the Sixers host the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night, Grow will have a customized uniform waiting for him in the locker room. He and his family will then head out on the floor to watch pregame warmups from the team’s bench, take part in the high-five tunnel during introductions, and stand alongside his teammates during the national anthem.
Kevin’s inspirational story is a reminder of all the good that sports can do, and it’s a reminder of all the good that we can do when we work together.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — And we’re back again. While large swaths of the country still trying to thaw out from this bitter winter, Evan Turner turned up for his second GWBB this season — here’s the first — and cajoled us into firing up the Horry Scale tonight.
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.
Got it? By the way, this is the twelfth GWBB this season, so we’re on a record pace. OK, let’s do this…
Strictly speaking, this was not the most complex of plays. With Jerryd Bayless guarding him one-on-one, Turner went to his right with three dribbles, before crossing over to his left hand with one dribble, and then taking one more dribble with his left hand and taking the shot with his right. With those five dribbles, Turner was able to penetrate from the perimeter into the lane. Jared Sullinger (Turner’s college teammate at fellow former Ohio State Buckeye, by the way) stepped up for the Celts to play some help defense on the shot, and his minor collision with ET managed to make Turner’s release more awkward than it would have been otherwise. Still, Turner essentially had a 7-footer for the win.
Coming into this game, both teams were riding three-game losing streaks, so you can argue that while the game may not have been a must-win for either team, both teams could have used the W. As for this particular play, the Celtics were sitting on a one-point lead with the game and shot clocks both running down. Kris Humphries missed a 15-footer from the wing, and Michael Carter-Williams grabbed the board with about 11 seconds remaining. After dribbling up court (and perhaps committing a palming violation, as you can might hear Tommy Heinsohn argue in the clip above), with about 6 seconds left, Carter-Williams handed off to Turner at half court, and everyone cleared out to let him work against Bayless. The story here, to me, is that even though the Sixers had two timeouts remaining, they elected not to use them, which gave them the chance to attack a Boston defense that hadn’t had a chance to set up.
In the clip above you see the Sixers involved all sprint to the their bench on the other end of the court, a perfectly acceptable reaction and celebration to a GWBB on the road. What you don’t see in that clip is an extended celebration at half court before they headed to the locker room. I also enjoyed the reaction of the folks sitting courtside next to the Sixers bench. It doesn’t get much more anguished than this, as you can hopefully see in my this screenshot below…
It wasn’t a wide open shot — Turner had to create that for himself and make something happen. And Turner did get bumped on the release, making him twist to get the shot off. I also did have to consider the reactions, from both the players and the fans. All told, I’m giving this a solid three Horrys…
What say you? How many Horrys would you give Evan Turner’s GWBB?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The greatest single-game scoring performance in NBA history is Wilt Chamberlain‘s 100-point night, when the Philadelphia Warriors defeated the New York Knicks, 169-147, in a game played in Hershey, PA. But like many of the older bits of NBA history, this game exists only on paper — there was no video recorded of Wilt’s unbelievable night.
Or was there? In an interview this weekend with The 700 Level, University of Memphis coach Josh Pastner mentioned some incredible details. Pastner noted that his father, Hal, apparently video taped Wilt’s historic night…
“My father was the ball boy for the 76ers for many, many years, and he and Wilt Chamberlain were very close. … And Wilt Chamberlain always felt somebody was trying to get him on timeouts with assassination through drinking. And he drank 7-Up or Sprite, one of the two. And my dad always had to taste it before Wilt — He made my father drink it before [he] would taste it to make sure my dad didn’t conk out. But Wilt took care of my father. They always went around. Like my dad said, he never had a front seat; Wilt sat in the back when he was driving because his legs were so long.
“And in fact, my father and his father taped the game reel-to-reel in the second quarter when it was in Hershey, Pennsylvania in the 100-point game. They started when he had like 30-something; they thought it was going to be a special night. They gave it to Wilt — the 100-point game — and Wilt gave it back to my dad and my dad’s dad. He gave it back to them, they boxed it up, and he’s still trying to find it. He’s got all kinds of boxes, and he doesn’t know if he lost it. He’s trying to find the sucker. … I mean he’s got jerseys of Wilt, pictures.”
Until his Dad finds the tape, though, we’re still missing a big chunk of NBA history.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — You may have heard Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are co-starring in a new movie called “Ride Along”. As part of their indefatigable promotional tour, the duo stopped by Sixers practice yesterday to get some shots up. Hart looks like he’s aiming for a 10-day contract out there …
Evan Turner didn’t make many friends in Los Angeles with this 180-degree dunk at the end of Sunday night’s game.
The Sixers led the Lakers 109-104 with less than ten seconds left when James Anderson grabbed a long-rebound to seal the win for Philadelphia. Instead of holding the ball for the final four seconds, Anderson passed it ahead to Turner, who didn’t think twice before throwing down the monster dunk to act as an exclamation point on their win. As you can see towards the end of the video, the Lakers’ Nick Young – and probably the rest of the Lakers team — did not take too kindly to Turner breaking an unwritten NBA rule.
Turner attempted to apologize for the dunk to Young and other Lakers after the game. But they didn’t seem too keen to accept it.
A similar situation occurred last season between the Portland Trail Blazers and Chicago Bulls when a rookie Damian Lillard couldn’t help but add some emphasis to his team’s win. His action quickly drew displeasure from Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — And the hits just keep on coming. It feels like it was just yesterday that I wrote about this flurry of game-winning buzzer-beaters (GWBBs) that we’ve seen of late. (That’s because it was just yesterday that I wrote about this flurry of game-winning buzzer-beaters (GWBBs) that we’ve seen of late.) The news never stops, you guys.
Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain: 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.
With the rules in place, tonight we look to the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, where Evan Turner doesn’t care how many Horry Scale entries it takes to get a win for the Sixers…
In terms of the shot itself, it goes down in the game log as “Turner Driving Layup Shot.” But in actuality it was so much more. Evan Turner is actually the player who inbounded the ball on this play. Sixers C Spencer Hawes released away from the basket and caught the lob pass, at which point Turner took off on a sprint. He ran to Hawes for a dribble hand-off and basically used Hawes as a pivot point, U-turning back in toward the rim. At this point the Nets had two guys on Turner — Brook Lopez and Shaun Livingston. Turner adroitly gives a little hesitation and then fires down to the left block for a layup. Just as Turner leaves his feet, Paul Pierce slides in and takes the contact from Turner. Is this a charge? Is it a block? We’ll leave that for Joe Borgia, because in this case it’s officially neither: No call is made. Turner releases the ball with about 1.4 seconds remaining. The ball then bounces around the rim, kissing the iron three different times as the clock expires, before finally dropping through for the 121-120 Sixers win. It wasn’t a long shot, but there were many things that broke Philly’s way on the play.
Not only was the game in overtime, but Pierce had hit a three-pointer a few seconds earlier to put Brooklyn ahead 120-119. With six seconds left to play in overtime, the Sixers had to inbound the ball under their own basket. Inbounding the ball under the basket is always tough — the backboard itself limits several passing angles that would be available from any other spot on the court. The play the Sixers came up with, which we broke down above, was pretty great — the Nets obviously didn’t expect Hawes to be the target on the play, and once Hawes had the ball, the Sixers used a sneaky backscreen to free Turner. Also worth noting is that the Sixers had lost seven straight games coming into this one and are about to leave on a six-game road trip to the West Coast. So not only did they need the win, but losing their eighth straight in an overtime game would have made things even more difficult to stomach.
I counted nine members of the Sixers who get involved in the initial celebration, mobbing Turner. That’s seventy-five percent of the night’s active roster, an important threshold to hit for our grading purposes. I feel like the celebration was also a bit subdued because whenever there’s a GWBB where the shot is released so close to the buzzer, there’s always that moment of indecision where you’re not sure whether or not the shot will actually count until the referees review the replay. In this case it was rather obvious, but it’s not official until it’s official.
I’m trying to go more with my gut on these, after I had to admit I underscored Jeff Green‘s season-opening shot. So for this shot, with the creative inbounds play, the contact on the shot, the dramatic bounces on the rim, the game being in overtime and the Sixers ending the seven-game L streak, I’m going with Four Horrys.
What say you? How many Horrys would you give Evan Turner’s game-winning buzzer-beater?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Making it to the NBA is usually not only the culmination of a lifetime of hard work, it can also be something of a financial jackpot. Which then opens the Pandora’s Box of, How do you deal with becoming rich beyond your wildest dreams, overnight?
The problems with professional athletes holding on to their new-found wealth has been well-documented. But one method for dealing with this seems to be adhering to a strict budget, at least early in your career. There’s an interesting profile of 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams in the Philadelphia Inquirer which not only details his family background, but explains how his family has set up his financial arrangements early on…
Nowadays, Carter-Zegarowski and her best friend, Tracie Tracy, are running his management team. They are taking a proactive approach to make sure he doesn’t spend all his money in a couple of years.
His rookie contract guarantees him $4.5 million over his first two seasons. He could make a total of $10 million if the Sixers pick up the final two seasons of his contract.
But his salary is deposited into a trust he can’t touch for three years. Carter-Williams is living off endorsement deals with Nike and Panini trading cards.
That’s just one of the benefits of having caring parents.
This isn’t exactly a novel concept: Shaquille O’Neal has said repeatedly that he never cashed his NBA checks and instead lived off his endorsement deals. When Brandon Jennings was a rookie in Milwaukee, instead of splurging on a luxury car, he went for a more economical Ford. It may not be the most exciting lifestyle, but in the long run, perhaps it’s the wisest way to go.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The best NBA referees know how to take control of all aspects of a game. And as veteran ref Joey Crawford showed us the other night during a Cleveland/Philly game, sometimes that means taking a stern tack beyond even the players and coaches, all the way down to…the ballboys? -