ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — When you’re a rookie in the NBA, you have certain duties to perform. Buying donuts? Carrying luggage? Taking care of the veterans? These are all things NBA rookies are regularly charged with doing.
Covering “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5? That’s something that isn’t required as regularly, but at the recent Phoenix Suns JumpBall charity fundraiser, a trio of Suns rookies (Alex Len, Dionte Christmas and Archie Goodwin) were charged with performing the Jackson 5 classic. Little pitchy?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Phoenix Suns recently posted a series of photos on their website from an event where several Suns players and coaches spent a day working for Southwest Airlines at the Phoenix Airport. So if you happened to fly Southwest out of Phoenix this week and your bag is missing a wheel or a handle, you might be able to blame point guard Ish Smith or coach Jeff Hornacek. And give it up for Goran Dragic, rocking the neon vest on the runway…
But when I went to Suns.com to see if any video existed of this event, I instead found myself taking a wonderful trip in the internet wayback machine. It seems having the Suns work at the airport isn’t the first time the Suns have found secondary jobs, because here’s a video of former forward Tom Gugliotta, who played for the Suns from 1998-2004, putting in work at a Phoenix-area car wash for a bit called Suns Hidden Camera. Nice cargo jorts, Googs.
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: Milwaukee and Phoenix are granted expansion teams in 1968
By Jonathan Hartzell, NBA.com
Prior to the 1968 All-Star Game in New York on January 22, 1968, the NBA Board of Governors awarded franchises to Milwaukee and Phoenix to join the league in the 1968-69 season. These franchises, later nicknamed the Bucks and Suns, pushed the number of teams in the NBA to 14. Since then, each franchise has enjoyed periods of great success during their 45-plus seasons in the NBA. The Bucks, in fact, became the fastest expansion team to win a championship in any major professional sport when they were crowned after the 1970-71 season. The Suns have made two NBA Finals (1976 & ’93) and, in their 46 seasons, have had 50 or more wins 19 times (the Bucks, by comparison, have had 13 50-plus win seasons and also have made two Finals).
The photo gallery below details the five best players in the history of the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. (NOTE:Click the “caption” icon in the gallery for details about each player.)
So recently in Houston, the Rockets used their inflatable version of their mascot, Clutch, to stand sentry in a hallway and suddenly and terrifyingly come to life as various Rockets players left practice. The best part of this video is probably the slow motion replays spliced in, showing the players leaping into the air with genuinely frightened looks plastered across their faces.
The game winning buzzer beaters are coming fast and furious now. So yeah, we’re on the third Horry Scale entry of the last seven days, as last night Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets went to Phoenix, and their game drifted into overtime before JJ managed to end it with a dagger. NBA players obviously can not resist the allure of making Horry Scale appearances.
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, let’s check out last night’s game-winner.
I’ve long held that Joe Johnson is one of the most underrated offensive players in the NBA. I watched nearly every Hawks game he played, and saw him night after night carry the load offensively. It wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t always the most efficient offense, but it was more often than not effective. Johnson can score in so many ways, and that versatility was on display last night. Joe’s GWBB was a runner in the paint with two defenders coming after him. Joe put a slight hesitation dribble on PJ Tucker and watched him soar past, then went up and lofted the ball high over Channing Frye for the bucket, just in time. On first glance it wasn’t particularly spectacular, but the more I watch it the more impressive it becomes — going the length of the court in four seconds, being patient enough to let Tucker take himself out of the play, and then getting the shot off cleanly over a seven-footer before the clock trickled out of time.
So here we are, game tied at 98 in overtime, 8 seconds remaining on the clock and about 2 on the shot clock, and Frye misses a three from the wing. Johnson ends up with the rebound, and the rest is history. You often hear coaches debate whether or not to use a timeout in those circumstances. Do you stop the game to set up a play, but also potentially allow the defense to get set? Or do you take advantage of the chaos and let them play? Another potential subplot for the Nets is, Who takes the final shot in a close game? All of these issues were avoided by Coach Kidd by just letting the game play out in the moment. (Worth noting: Deron Williams had sprained his ankle earlier and was out, so perhaps that played into Kidd’s decision as well.)
The Nets have been struggling this season, starting off 2-5, one loss away from the basement in the Eastern Conference, and not looking anything like the contending team most experts projected them to be. Conversely, the Suns have been surprisingly good, beginning 5-3 and making people wonder if talk of tanking was premature. It’s still early in the season, but a W for the Nets could help them start to turn things around. As Johnson said after the game, “It was big. There could be a domino effect.” The Nets better hope so: They play the Clippers in Los Angeles tonight.
The jubilation was there, if a bit muted until Kevin Garnett arrived and shook up the huddle a bit. To be fair, Joe Johnson has never been accused of being demonstrative. (Also, check out Tucker in the background on his knees, head to the court, literally floored by the loss.) “I couldn’t even celebrate, I was so tired,” Johnson told the New YorkPost. (He logged almost 45 minutes between regulation and overtime.) “But I was just ready to get out of there. [My teammates] are trying to celebrate and I’m ready to go… I’m like, ‘Let’s go into the locker room and shower and let’s get out of here. … We’ve got a tough game tomorrow.’”
Sneaky difficult shot, pretty important game for the Nets, a team excited to get the win. There have been tougher and more important game winners, for sure, but I feel like this a GWBB that will overlooked by some. Anyway, for the reasons outlined above, I’m giving this one three Horrys.
That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give Joe Johnson’s game-winner?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Imagine that you’re on your way to work, minding your own business, when a gorilla leaps from a trash can. That would be scary enough, right? But what if this was not just a gorilla, but a gorilla wearing a sweatsuit, armed with a compressed air horn. And not just a gorilla wearing a sweatsuit and armed with a compressed air horn, but also clutching what appears to be the skin from a gigantic alien head.
This is exactly what several members of the Phoenix Suns organization were faced with on their way to work earlier this week. Poor Goran Dragic nearly falls out right there in the hallway… -
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — With teams gathering for media days and the 2013-14 season just around the corner, we’re also getting our first looks at some of the new uniforms we’ll see in the NBA this season. We’ve already seen some sneak peeks, and some teams — such as the Suns and Pelicans — have had press events to display their new looks. But there are even more unis that have dropped, including over the last few days. For instance, the Warriors have debuted new white short-sleeved jerseys, and most recently the Clippers are showing off their “Back in Blue” uniforms, which features a light-blue color for the first time since the team was based in San Diego in 1985. (Also, I love the three nautical flags on the shorts which represents each of the team’s letters – L-A-C.)
We’ve gathered them all for you in a photo gallery below. Which is your favorite new uniform? -
There is something special about the way music, basketball and fashion intersect. While artists and actors have long been affiliated with different fashion houses and ever-changing looks, athletes are starting to consciously build and shape their brands. The tunnel from the locker room to the court functions more and more like a runway; off the court, players are exploring different avenues to showcase their personalities and style. Rajon Rondo has interned at GQ, Dwyane Wade has taken in top fashion shows from the front row, and LeBron James has graced the cover of Vogue, just to mention a few.
NBA.com recently caught up with Monica and Shannon Brown, a couple that perfectly represents the fusion of high fashion with entertainment and sports.
NBA.com: Fashion, music, and sports seem to intersect constantly in both personal and professional realms. Monica, can you talk about the role of fashion in music, and Shannon, can you talk about the role of fashion throughout your NBA career?
Monica: In music, fashion is almost just as important as the music because the imagery is something that people look at, sometimes more than they do the actual music or talent part of it. Sometimes, it makes it more complicated because as an artist, when we’re in a specific zone, you’re not thinking about the clothing and the hair and the makeup. But they all work hand-in-hand.
Shannon: Throughout my career, now looking back, the players could wear whatever they wanted to. Guys would come in with jeans, t-shirts, sweat suits, jerseys, whatever was fashionable from whatever part of the world or country or city, wherever you were from. Now, everybody is trying to keep their fashion game up. You see guys on the runways, overseas, when they are showing the new styles and the new clothes, and what’s trending and stuff like that. So you see guys in suits, you see guys with the tight clothes, you see guys with the loose clothes. Me personally, I like something that fits. I don’t really like the tight couture look, I need some wiggle room…I just like anything that looks good and feels good to me and on me.
NBA.com: Monica, as a musician and actress, you are always ‘on’ even when you are not on camera. Can you talk about that aspect of being an entertainer and do you think that is now extending to more industries, as we see the players representing their own brands off the court and participating in high fashion?
Monica: I think it’s pretty cool to see the players represent high fashion and the things that they love off the court, because you get to know them as individuals. When they’re on the court, they’re in one uniform, they’re in sync, the goal is to play as a team. But when you get a chance to learn these guys separately, I think it’s pretty interesting because they’re all completely different as far as athletes go. With us in music, I think that it speaks for us when we can’t really speak. When we’re performing, you have on the clothes, you have all these different things you put together, but that’s what says the most about you outside of the performance in itself. I think the fashion speaks for the individuality of the artist and the athlete, because that’s the only time we get to show how different we may be from the other. (more…)
Each Thursday here on the All Ball blog, we will take a look at an NBA player and the way his style has evolved through the years. Today we check in with New York Knicks F Amar’e Stoudemire. Check the gallery below, and remember to use #nbastyle to further the conversation on Twitter.
In the two seasons we’ve had the Horry Scale up and running, we’ve never encountered a game-winning buzzer-beater quite like the one we saw in Houston last night.
As a refersher, here’s the rules on what makes an Horry Scale shot:
For those that 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.
All well and good, the rules above, but they don’t quite address how to handle James Harden‘s shot last night, which ended up being good … only because the Suns’ Jermaine O’Neal reached up and goal-tended it at the last second. Technically, Harden gets credit for the 3-pointer and the game-winning shot, but it’s definitely one of the more odd Horry Scale entries we’ve ever encountered.
We’ll attempt to break this puppy down and give it a fair shake on the Scale, but be warned … this isn’t your usual ending to a Horry Scale, so the rating might not be what you think it is.
How does Harden’s finish Tuesday night stack up? Without further ado…
Not exactly a tough shot for Harden. Fellow backcourt-mate Jeremy Lin inbounds the ball to Harden with 9.1 seconds left and he dribbles the clock down to 1.9 seconds before hoisting a 3-pointer over a decent contest by second-year forward P.J. Tucker. The Suns play this shot pretty well, as Tucker gives Harden space early on and closes out on the shot while teammate Jared Dudley leaves his man to provide an additional hand in Harden’s face. The jumper caroms high off the back iron and looks like a brick. But then, Jermaine O’Neal — a 16-year veteran and former six-time All-Star — goes up to get the ball on its second bounce. The only problem? The ball hit the rim when it fell and O’Neal swats if off there, constituting a goaltending call and a win for Houston.
To expound on why O’Neal went up and batted the ball away, The Arizona Republic‘s Paul Coro caught up with the Suns big man after the game, who explained his actions thusly:
Suns center Jermaine O’Neal has played in the NBA for 17 seasons and never has seen a team lose like how his team did Wednesday night.
…After a Suns timeout, O’Neal was blocked by Omer Asik inside and Scola missed a scoop shot to set up Harden for the buzzer 3. It hit back rim and then the front rim before O’Neal hit it after the buzzer.
“Jermaine O’Neal touched it while it was in the cylinder,” official David Jones said. “The ball was on the rim and in the cylinder. He doesn’t go up through the net.”
O’Neal said he thought the ball had come off the rim and he was trying to prevent a Rockets tip-in. Coach Lindsay Hunter said he will need to re-examine the rule after the explanation he received.
“But there were a lot of other calls that were quite questionable leading up to that,” O’Neal said. “So I guess you put that with the rest of them. Especially in the fourth (quarter), there were some calls that I’m not quite sure about.”
Can’t say that makes what O’Neal did any clearer. When does preventing a tip-in require goaltending a shot? Isn’t that the same (or worse) than allowing a tip-in in this situation?
Greg Smith rebounded Luis Scola‘s missed jumper with 16.9 seconds left — a shot that would have given Phoenix a 100-98 lead — and calls timeout to set up the Rockets’ play. The score is tied at 98 when the wild sequence between Harden and O’Neal happens.
Heading into Tuesday night, the Suns had already tied the 1987-88 squad for the second-most losses in the single season in team history. Another defeat would move this current iteration of the Suns into sole possession of the second-worst season in team history. You can almost hear Suns fans cheering over that one. But a loss keeps Phoenix in the running with Orlando and Charlotte for a good chance to land the No. 1 pick in the 2013 Draft, which is perhaps what the Suns need more now than victories.
The Rockets had a chance to lock up their first playoff berth in four seasons on Saturday in Denver, but got waxed by the Nuggets. A return to the Toyota Center, where Houston was 27-11 entering last night, and a win over Phoenix would realize Houston’s playoff dream. While Houston is the No. 7 seed in the West, it remains a game behind Golden State for No. 6 and a chance to avoid either the Thunder or Spurs in the first round. In short, a win is something Houston needed for more than one reason.
After the officials review the play, the Rockets get to celebrate, but there isn’t much video proof of it. There are a couple of great Getty Images of Houston celebrating with Harden once his shot is ruled good, but the whole review of the last shot kind of sucks the fun out of any happy time.
1 Horry. The last time we had a 1-star shot on the Horry Scale? It was back on March 27, 2011, when Jameer Nelson hit a pretty boring game-winner against the Nuggets in Orlando. Much like that shot, Harden’s was a mediocre-at-best shot that had just as good of a chance of rimming out (had O’Neal not helped out unintentionally) as it had of going in. Still, the Rockets will take the win (and the playoff berth) that comes with the game-winner no matter how it happened.