ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Greg Ostertag was always something of a conundrum. Big, strong, with touch and skill, he was equally goofy (I mean, he had a Fred Flintstone tattoo) and great. Ostertag retired in 2006, and other than a brief return to the D-League in 2012, we haven’t heard much from the other Big O.
Perhaps because he’s been playing hockey? According to a recent story in USA Hockey magazine, Ostertag is currently scraping the ice in Arizona, where he spends two nights each week playing rec league ice hockey.
I don’t know a lot about hockey, but I bet you don’t see a lot of 7-2, 280-plus pound hockey players. As USA Hockey magazine writes…
“One day, I just decided to go find something to do besides playing golf every day,” says the 41-year-old Ostertag. “I was lucky to have a guy in Utah send me a pair of skates. Then I went to a rink, started skating around, and, once I got my feet under me again, I got into a league. I’ve been doing it ever since.
“I don’t do it to stay in shape. I do it because it’s fun. I love playing hockey, and I love being around the guys. I’d do it five days a week if I could and if I had time.”
Ostertag, who plays both forward and defense, takes pride in his ability to win faceoffs and set up wingers with better wheels than his. And, of course, after years of playing college and pro basketball, he understands how to use his massive frame to his advantage.
“I don’t handle the puck great, but I know how to get into position, and sometimes I get lucky,” Ostertag says. “I try to be a screen as much as I can and get out of the way at the last second. I don’t know if I’m man enough to get hit by that little rubber sucker all the time. Some of the guys I play with can shoot the puck pretty hard.”
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 Topic: Karl Malone’s milestones
When he walked off the court for the last time after the 2004 NBA Finals, Karl Malone left the game as a two-time MVP, the No. 2 scorer in NBA history, the game’s all-time leader in free throws and forever changed the power forward position.
But back on this date in 2000, Malone added to his lore as an all-time great scorer. With a layup with 8:53 left in the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves, he passed the 30,000-point plateau and thus took his place in NBA annals alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 career points) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419).
Two years and one day later, he further etched his name in the all-time scoring books. With his 18 points in a 90-78 win over the Chicago Bulls at the then-Delta Center, Malone became the second player in NBA history to register 34,000 career points, trailing only Abdul-Jabbar.
Today, we take a look back at Malone’s storied career:
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Earlier this week we took a look at Trevor Booker‘s incredible buzzer-beating shot, and watched as several humans tried to recreate the shot. But we didn’t see a bear try to recreate the shot, not until now.
Here’s Utah Jazz mascot Bear not only giving The Booker a shot, but also calling out Trevor Booker and challenging him to sink one of Bear’s trademark over-the-head-from-halfcourt shots. Your move, Booker…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The craziest shot of the season thus far in the NBA came a few days ago, when Utah took on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Utah had the ball out of bounds with 0.2 seconds on the shot clock, which is not enough time for a catch-and-shoot situation. With the Thunder defending the rim, the Jazz threw a bounce pass to the baseline, which Trevor Booker basically tapped it up and over his head and directly in the basket. Check it out in the video above.
Booker later claimed he’s been practicing this shot for years. And after seeing it go down, other people have started giving it a shot, as well. Here’s a video of the Suns trying it after practice, where TJ Warren and Zoran Dragic eventually got it to go down…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I’ve watched this video three times now and I’m still not quite sure what to make of it. A woman is putting anti-aging cream on her face, and then all of a sudden a couple of little kids have appropriated the bottle and are putting it all over the face of former jazz coach Jerry Sloan, who seems to be in the midst of a very deep nap on the couch. Then he wakes up and thinks he’s being pranked by the Utah Jazz bear mascot. But then, upon further reflection — like, actual reflection, looking in a mirror — he decides maybe the benefits of using anti-aging cream outweigh any potential downsides? Anyway, I think that’s what’s happening here.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The holiday season is upon us, which means NBA teams and players are doing things out in the community and with kids to help make the season bright. And it’s not just for the kids — take this video from the Utah Jazz, for instance, where center Enes Kanter takes a group of kids to a Build-A-Bear Workshop and seems to get as much or more out of the experience as any of the kids. #FatSanta
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Besides being teammates on the Utah Jazz, Dante Exum and Joe Ingles have something else in common — they are both Australian. As such, they both would seem to be experts at Australian Rules Football. At least, I assume they are, because they’re Australian. I don’t really know anything about it, not because I don’t want to know, but because I just didn’t grow up watching it and even now I’m not sure when/where it’s on TV. (Holla at your boy, Leigh Ellis!)
Anyway, at a recent Jazz rehearsal in Salt Lake City, Exum and Ingles met up with a few members of the North Melbourne Football Club and found out what happens when you take an AFL ball to an NBA court.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — When we last checked in with Utah coach Quin Snyder, despite it only being the preseason, we found Snyder rather unhappy with something happening on the court. We warned you: Don’t make Quin Snyder unhappy. You won’t like him when he’s angry.
Apparently someone didn’t listen. Last night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, someone on the Jazz apparently had a concentration lapse, and that was enough to push Snyder from mild-mannered coach into HULK MODE.
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.
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.
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?
It’s not quite Thanksgiving yet here in the United States, but that hasn’t stopped some retailers and other folks from already busting out the Christmas decorations and such already. Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter apparently found one of the biggest gingerbread houses around and took a photo next to it. Keep in mind that Kanter is 6-foot-10 and this thing — even if it were taken off its platform — would be AT LEAST as tall as Kanter is (if not taller) …
"Catch me if you can l'm the gingerbread man" lol
First time l have seen a gingerbread house that big .
Pretty cool pic.twitter.com/BeGkd7uiXP