ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s baseball season, which means we’re going to start seeing more and more NBA-related folks throwing out the first pitches at games. And last night in Minnesota, new Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau took the mound for his shot at it. Now, we can assume that Thibs was probably, if anything, over-prepared for this moment. We don’t know if he threw a strike, because the video above cuts off just as the ball reaches the plate. But let’s just assume he did, because Thibs wouldn’t have it any other way.
Not sure what to make of this one, but when you’ve got a Hall of Fame coach (and former Bulls employee) and one of the better coaches in recent memory (and a former Bulls employee) watching a game, it’s pretty cool.
A fan at last night’s game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz snapped a photo of former Jazz coach and HOFer Jerry Sloan taking in a game at EnergySolutions Arena. Who was sitting next to him? None other than former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
Sloan, who coached the Bulls from 1979-82 before becoming a legend in Utah, often watches Jazz games and serves as a team consultant. Thibodeau coached the Bulls from 2010-15.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — President Barack Obama not only plays basketball, but he’s an NBA fan, particularly of the Chicago Bulls, where he lived before becoming President. So it’s no big surprise that with today’s news of the Bulls firing of coach Tom Thibodeau, President Obama was asked about it on Twitter. And he was happy to give his two cents on the matter…
.@apat246@chicagobulls love thibs and think he did a great job. Sorry to see him go but expect he will be snatched up soon by another team.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Plenty of NBA coaches were NBA players before becoming coaches — in the Western Conference Finals, for instance, both Steve Kerr and Kevin McHale are former players. There are also a lot of coaches who never played in the NBA, from Gregg Popovich to Tom Thibodeau.
But what would happen if all the NBA coaches played in the NBA. And not when they were young and in shape, but now, when they are, you know, old?
Well, a few months back someone decided to find out by using NBA 2K, so here are a bunch of coaches playing against the Eastern Conference All-Stars. This is ridiculous, sure, but it’s also hilarious…
Is it OK to say this was the sweetest moment for Derrick Rose since 2011? Yes, it appears so, because what could be more uplifting to a player who’s been to injury hell and back (three times) than sending a sucker punch to LeBron James and the Cavs here in what could be a tightly-contest second-round playoff series?
Over the last few years it has become customary, even tired, to proclaim “He’s Back!” whenever Rose did anything that remotely resembled his MVP season. To be honest, Rose will never be “back” until he displays the consistency of that season, but let’s put that aside for a moment. On this very play, with this very shot, he was “back” for a fleeting microsecond, even if the three-point buzzer beater than put the Bulls up 2-1 in the series required a kiss from the basketball Gods to bank off the glass.
As it is, Rose is being celebrated today in the same city that heckled him during his clumsy comeback from knee surgery a few years ago. Good for him, because if anyone needed a lift from a crazed crowd and a game-winning shot, it’s Rose.
Well, when you’re running to your right and need to shoot over a defender who has the wingspan of a prehistoric bird, then yeah, this shot was a bit tricky to pull off.
Rose took an in-bounds pass with three seconds left and after shaking free of ImanShumpert, found Tristan Thompson flying in his grill. Of course, with time of the essence, there really wasn’t any time to think. And maybe that was a good thing. Three times on the Bulls’ previous four possessions, Rose missed one of two free throws and went 0-for-2 on isolation plays. This time, Rose simply launched it and didn’t call bank.
Before Rose’s game winner, the Bulls were stunned by a desperate three-pointer by J.R. Smith just seconds earlier. In a bit of bad decision-making by the Bulls and coach Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls refused to foul Smith while leading by three. In that situation, it’s better to send a player to the free throw line than risk having him tie the game, and the Bulls lost that gamble.
With Pau Gasol on the bench dealing with an injured hamstring, the Bulls couldn’t afford to play into overtime, not against LeBron. Speaking of whom, he poked the ball away from Rose on the very next play. Lucky for LeBron, he wasn’t called for a foul. And lucky for Rose, the ball went out of bounds, giving the Bulls another shot with three seconds left.
Bulls are up 2-1 in the best of seven. And the next game’s at the United Center on Sunday. C’mon.
Rose was rather subdued, as though he knew a 30-foot bank shot was going in all the way. Anyway, he was immediately lifted into the air by Joakim Noah, who sprinted off the bench, and soon mobbed by teammates. Of course, the UC went nuts, as it should, given that all of Chicago has been waiting to see something like this from Rose for nearly four years. Wish granted. If the Bulls win this series, don’t you think this shot will be raised as one of the reasons why?
Five Horrys, because of the circumstances: Rose’s continued comeback from injuries, it was a playoff game, LeBron was on the floor, and the ball was banked in. Yes, this is the max number of Horrys, but just the same, this isn’t some game in February. Please, after all he’s been through, don’t you think Rose should get lots of Horry love?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — On the surface, this seems like a simple enough game: Second and third graders from a Chicago elementary school drew pictures of Chicago Bulls players. Then, the actual Chicago Bulls players looked at the pictures and tried to guess which player was featured in the drawing. Again, simple idea, although it’s safe to say the players struggled the right identifications.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — After a flurry of Horry Scale entries around the winter holidays, we went into a long slumber, with no game-winning buzzer-beaters since January 3, when Andre Iguodala last made an entry. But now, after a long day of NBA action, thanks to Taj Gibson and the Chicago Bulls’ 102-100 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, we have yet another GWBB to break down.
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.
With the groundwork laid, let’s do this, shall we?
DIFFICULTY With 0.9 left on the clock, the Bulls most likely had to run a play where the guy who caught the ball was heading toward the basket. If you watch closely, even before the ball is inbounded to Gibson, every Bulls player is streaking toward the rim, ready and able to get off a last-second shot. Jimmy Butler acts as sort of a bulldozer, moving Lakers guard Nick Young out of the lane. And as Gibson cuts to the basket, he manages to pin his defender, Lakers wing Manny Harris, behind him, basically creating a Taj-Gibson-sized target moving toward the rim. Yet with all seven-feet of Pau Gasol defending Mike Dunleavy, who was there to make the pass, Dunleavy had to resort to a bounce pass to get the ball to Gibson. Gasol spun around and ended up running at Gibson, nearly blocking the shot. But Gibson made a smooth catch and lefty layup (he shoots his jumpers righty), all in less than a second. If all that wasn’t enough, according to Bulls announcer Chuck Swirsky, Gibson said he’d never even made a game-winner before …
Post game interviews coming up shortly on bulls TV Taj Gibson told me just moments ago that was his first ever game-winning shot amazing
Since trading away Luol Deng and waiving Andrew Bynum, the immediate future of the Bulls — or at least their intentions — has been somewhat murky. Their roster may not be what we thought it would be at the start of the season, but Tom Thibodeau teams always play hard, and Monday night was no exception. Even after taking a three-point lead in overtime, which Nick Young erased via free throws with four seconds to go, these Bulls don’t know when to say when.
One of the problems endemic to GWBB’s is that often the players involved aren’t even sure whether or not the shot actually beat the buzzer, which can lead to some subdued celebrations. Still, the Bulls players were pretty excited, including a leaping chest/shoulder bump between Jo Noah and Gibson. But if there was an image that summed up how great the Bulls felt about the win, it was the shot of all-business Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau smiling and giving Gibson five as they left the court.
Lefty layup. Contested shot. Slick inbounds play. Overtime. Thibs smiling. Thibs smiling! I have been criticized in the past for being too tough on some shots, but the only thing I discount about this game/play is that it was a .500 team (Chicago) against a team 10 games under .500 (L.A.). If this was a playoff game I’d go five Horrys. But for now, I’m going four Horrys …
What say you? How many Horrys does Taj Gibson’s shot deserve?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Chicago Bulls might be in the midst of reconfiguring their roster, but that doesn’t stop the players still with the Bulls from being as consistent as ever. And that determination is displayed in this ad from a Chicago-area bank, where Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah show off what it must be like to have a Chicago Bulls bank card. Better than having Tom Thibodeau yell at you everywhere you go.