ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last week while I was on vacation, my intrepid colleague Jeff Case served up a link to a story about NBA-themed “ugly” sweaters, which you can order from the NBA Store. Yes, these sweaters are ugly, but intentionally so, as they mock/pay tribute to the tradition of wearing “festive” garb around the holiday season.
One team has decided to aggressively embrace the ugly sweater. The Sacramento Kings recently announced plans for an ugly sweater night when they host the Milwaukee Bucks a week before Christmas.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We’ve seen some quality flopping around these parts, but what happened in last night’s Kings/Nuggets game was truly inventive. Late in the game with the score close, the Kings’ Rudy Gay set a pin-down screen against Kenneth Faried to try and free up DeMarcus Cousins. Faried barreled into the screen, and, well, basically everyone went flying…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — And here we are again. Summer has officially given way to fall, which means many things, but really only means one thing that we care about around these parts: IT’S ALMOST TIME FOR A NEW NBA SEASON.
And when training camps convene around the country, that means it’s time for … wait for it … MUSCLEWATCH!
What, you may ask, is MUSCLEWATCH? It stems from my friend Matt and I noticing years ago that our 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 Thaddeus Young and Rudy Gay.
If you see MUSCLEWATCH info, tweet it and use the hashtag #MUSCLEWATCH to help us keep all this info straight.
MUSCLEWATCH has truly evolved from when it was Matt and I sitting around our apartment cracking jokes. I thought we’d come a long way a year ago when the official television network of the NBA was running promos for it…
And now actual NBA teams are referencing #MUSCLEWATCH…
I feel like we’ve got a movement on our hands. This is a wonderful thing.
WHEN WE LAST LEFT MUSCLEWATCH, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday were putting in work. Let’s get into the muscles…
• The biggest story in the NBA this summer was LeBron James leaving the Miami Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. But pretty soon after the dust settled from The Announcement, LeBron started posting photos online where he looked drastically thinner than he looked last season.
In an interview this week with CNN’s Rachel Nichols, LeBron talked about his weight loss. (Around the 2:45 mark here.) According to LeBron he’s around 250 pounds — even though he’s been listed at 249 for years — thanks to eating only fish, meat, fruits and vegetables for 67 days. He also said, “I had the Cookie Monster chasing me in my dreams a few times.
We don’t know exactly how much weight LeBron lost or even how much he weighed before, unless someone gets it out of him at Cleveland’s media day, which I’m afraid makes him ineligible to win the MUSCLEWATCH title this season.
Instead, LeBron, in recognition of your efforts, we will give you this GIF of Cookie Monster dancing …
• While we’re talking about the NBA’s bold names, how about Carmelo Anthony slimming down?
Score one for the little man’s attempt to democratize the jump ball playing field.
Last night, Nate Robinson, he of 5-foot-9, encountered a jump ball scenario with Rudy Gay, he who is about a foot taller and can really jump. So what’s a man to do with such a disadvantage? a
Was this thought of on the fly or premeditated? Does it matter? Either way, it’s something I’ve never seen before. The refs were more prepared (though not less amused, I imagine), immediately ruling his play illegal on the grounds that two people must actually jump for the ball in tip offs.
Quick story — when I worked for the Hawks, draft night was always a huge production. It was probably my busiest night of the year, between liveblogging, interviewing front-office types, owners, new draft picks, etc. All except for 2008, when the team, thanks to previous trades for Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby, had no draft picks at all. My God was that a boring night. Draft night is no fun when you are watching the entire thing from the sidelines.
Fortunately there are no teams that are completely sans draft choices this year, but there are seven squads without first-round selections at this point, which means the top half of the evening will be fairly uneventful for their fan bases.
With that in mind, here are some entertainment suggestions to help them bridge the gap between the start of the evening’s festivities and your team’s respective draft slot.
L.A. Clippers No picks until: 37th pick – also have 47th Entertainment suggestion: If I’m a Clips fan, all I am doing tonight and any other night is watching reruns of Blake Griffin highlights and thanking whichever gods I pray to that he’s on my team.
Though the Grizzlies fell in Game 2 last night in Oklahoma City, they shouldn’t hang their heads. They got Game 1, and a split is all they needed to grab control of homecourt advantage.
I doubt they are lacking in confidence right now, but just in case, Memphis GM Chris Wallace put together this montage on YouTube to inspire Hang Time’s favorites:
Wallace explains that this video was shown to the Grizz before the San Antonio series, so it must have been the catalyst for their amazing first-round upset. That or Zach Randolph. I give many bonus points for the splicing of the Rudy Gay hatin’ Raptors fan from earlier this season into the mix.
Can anything stop the Grizzlies now? We’ll see Saturday when the two teams meet in Game 3 in Memphis.
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The Spurs dominated the NBA for most of the regular season, starting the year 13-1 and reaching the midway point of the season at 35-6, halfway to the rarified 70-win plateau. And though they suffered some injuries and stumbled down the stretch (including a six-game losing streak), they still finished the season 61-21, good for the second-best regular season mark of the Popovich/Duncan Era.
Sounds like the recipe for a first-round sweep, doesn’t it? Except as we all know, that’s not what happened, as the Grizzlies dropped the Spurs in six games and became just the fourth 8-seed to topple a 1 since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1984. Not many people saw this coming this side of Sir Charles, but compared to the other 8-1 conquests, just how big of a surprise was it?
Here’s how I’d rank them:
1. 2007: Warriors (42-40) over Mavericks (67-15), 4-2
The “We Believe” Warriors flat-out embarrassed the heavily-favored Mavericks in 2007. Though the Mavs were nearly unbeatable in the regular season, they played right into Golden State’s hands by trying to go small in the series rather than using their height to their advantage. Some believe Dallas was a victim of a bad matchup (the Warriors won the season series 3-0) and might have won the NBA title had they faced any of the other 15 playoff teams. But the Mavs’ loss, coming on the heels of a collapse in the 2006 NBA Finals against the Heat, cemented their reputation as playoff chokers, a moniker they are still struggling to shed.
2. 1994: Nuggets (42-40) over Sonics (63-19), 3-2
Best remembered for Dikembe Mutombo‘s “I can’t believe it!” moment at the end of Game 5, this series marked the first time an 8 beat a 1. Making it all the more impressive, the Nuggets lost the first two games of the series before winning three straight to close out the Sonics, including the last one in Seattle. Amazingly, Denver would go on to nearly pull off the same feat in the next round, falling behind 3-0 to Utah before winning three straight to force Game 7, where they were finally eliminated.
3. 2011: Grizzlies (46-36) over Spurs (61-21), 4-2
Eerily similar in tone to the Warriors-Mavs series, the Grizzlies came out and won Game 1 of the series and never really looked back. From early on, it was obvious the Grizzlies were younger, faster, and more athletic, and the Spurs had absolutely no answer for Zach Randolph inside. Did injuries play a role? Perhaps. But Memphis didn’t have Rudy Gay either, so seems like that’s a wash at best.
4. 1999: Knicks (27-23) over Heat (33-17), 3-2
Uggh. I get tired just thinking about these two teams brutalizing each other on the basketball court. This was the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, so the disparity between the two teams may not have been much, and indeed they were only separated by six games in the standings. Allan Houston famously won the series for the Knicks with his runner in the lane with 0.8 seconds remaining in Game 5. New York would validate their win with two more upsets, eventually becoming the only 8-seed to make the NBA Finals, where they fell to the first of Tim Duncan‘s title-winning Spurs teams.
That’s how I see it. Which do you rank as the biggest upset?
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With the regular season behind us and the playoffs set to tip off this weekend, it’s the perfect time to do a little looking back at some of the fun we had during the past six months.
One of our favorite things to write about on All Ball has been the Horry Scale breakdowns of every GWBB (game-winning buzzer-beater) from the season, of which, in the end, there were 16 during 2010-11. Let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable:
Best Executed Horry
One of the most unlikely endings to a game all season, as Nic Batum scores four points in the last 0.9 seconds to beat the Spurs, the last two of which came on this picture-perfect lob off the inbounds pass from Andre Miller to ring up the Horry Scale breakdown. Portland’s Rose Garden would be my choice for where all GWBBs would take place, if I had my druthers. Where does one get druthers, I wonder? Runner-up: Andrew Bogut – really this should be a tie, I just love Portland celebrations.