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: First round series to go seven games
The NBA Playoffs are a magical time in the basketball universe as every game matters and each player gives it their all.
To honor the playoffs, this Thursday we look back at the 14 first-round series to go the full seven games (the first round expanded from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven format in 2003). Hopefully this year’s playoffs provide similar dramatics.
(NOTE:Click the “caption” icon below the photo for details about each moment.)
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In the world of Foot Locker commercials, famous athletes randomly hang out together like it’s an everyday occurrence. In this new spot from Foot Locker, we find Portland’s Damian Lillard sitting around a mod house chatting on his phone, when he offhandedly mentions he would like to win a championship ring at some point in his career. This is a perfectly acceptable feeling to have, unless perhaps you express that feeling aloud within earshot of Barry Sanders, LaDanian Tomlinson, Chris Webber and Karl Malone.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Utah’s Jeremy Evans has won a Slam Dunk championship and spent some time with the Utah Jazz, but his artistic background might not be as well known. (Even though he referenced it in the Dunk Contest.)
So to help spread the word about his art, Evans put together an exhibition inside the arena before last night’s Jazz game. “I’m excited, just so everybody can see it,” Evans told the Deseret News. “Hopefully from here, I can do some work for other people.”
Jody Genessey from the Deseret News tweeted several photos of Evans and his work…
Whenever Jeremy Evans’ name is mentioned around these parts, it’s because of his deft ability to defy gravity and complete jams no human has a right to complete.
He is tall (6-foot-9), so he’s supposed to be able to dunk, right? Fair point. But Friday night against the Pelicans, he might have outdone himself on a feed from Ian Clark. Regardless of his height, this took a deal of hand-eye coordination, body control and flexibility to pull off.
With all due respect to the Lob Brothers in L.A., Evans might have given us the best alley-oop of the season:
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — So here’s a quick story: A few years ago I wrote a story for GQabout the Dream Team. While I was reporting the story, I wanted to speak to as many Dream Teamers as I could, obviously, so I basically left messages with my cell phone number for everyone. Some calls were returned, but more were not. So I kept digging and calling and trying.
One weekday morning at 7:00 A.M., my cell phone rang, waking me from a deep sleep. I rolled over and checked the screen, and didn’t recognize the number, but I answered anyway. It was Karl Malone. While I appreciated him returning my call, even if it was at 7:00 A.M., I asked if I could call him back in five minutes, after I had a chance to grab my recorder and my notes (and my clothes). The Mailman said sure, but cautioned me to be quick about it because he was about to go out hunting. I rolled out of bed, got my stuff together and went into my office. I sat down and called the number he’d called me on, and after one ring a fax machine answered. As the machine screamed and whirred into my ear, in the background I heard NBA legend Karl Malone yelling over it: “Lang…hold on…I just…hang on a minute…” Eventually he got the fax stopped and we had a great conversation. (And we were later able to joke about his early-morning calls.)
Anyway, point being, Karl Malone may be one of the greatest NBA players of all-time, but that doesn’t mean he has to be great with technology. If there were any doubt, during last night’s Hawks/Jazz game, my main man Andre Aldridge caught up with the Mailman and found that he’s still using a flip phone in 2014…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There was a delay during the third quarter of last night’s Wolves/Jazz game in Salt Lake City. And as officials and ballboys worked to get the halfcourt area cleaned up, Jazz mascot Bear brought a young girl who was sitting courtside out onto the floor. She wandered over near the Minnesota bench, and next thing you know she’s practicing bounce passes with none other than Ricky Rubio as her coaching partner. Not sure if that’s included in the ticket price or what, but it’s a nice perk.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just because NBA players may become friendly with one another, that doesn’t mean they can’t find the motivation necessary to get fired up when taking on an opponent…particularly if it’s an old friend. When the Jazz took on the Bobcats over the weekend, it meant a return match-up for former Jazz big Al Jefferson, who signed as a free agent with the Bobcats this summer.
To make sure everyone was in the proper frame of mind, Jazz center Enes Kanter left a trash-talking note in Jefferson’s locker (complete with a reference to Jefferson’s super-sized bed) to ensure he was properly motivated.
After much speculation, when it was finally time for Kobe Bryant to make his return for the Los Angeles Lakers, he announced his return via a Facebook video that showed his jersey enduring through various elements in an appropriately epic video called “Seasons Of Legend” … -
Last night marked the return from injury of another NBA player, Utah’s Marvin Williams. Kobe missed months with a torn Achilles. Williams missed a few games with inflammation in his foot. Kobe has scored over 31,600 career points. Marvin has just over 6,200. So, obviously, we’re talking entirely different levels of impact here. But this didn’t stop one Utah Jazz fan from making his own video touting an epic return from Williams, who went for eight points and five boards in a win over the Kings last night. -
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — If you’re into the NBA’s most devastating dunks, we’ve got you covered over at the new and improved Dunk HQ. But because we’re the All Ball blog and we like to look at the NBA from nontraditional angles, we will focus on the flip side of the NBA’s best dunks: Who got got?
So welcome to volume one of The All Ball Posterized Poll. We will check in from time to time and examine the worst of the best, and use a highly scientific polling method to determine which NBA player got dunked on (a.k.a. posterized) the most egregiously. And at the end of the season we will determine who it is that most belongs on a poster.
To start us off, we have four nominees from the first few weeks of the season, and we checked in with NBA.com’s own slam dunk specialist, LeMont Calloway, for his informed perspective on the matter. “What I’ll say most about these defenders is that at least they’re trying to show help-side D,” LeMont notes. “There’s a defender or two around the league who wouldn’t even dare, let alone probably couldn’t even make the proper rotation. (Calling you out Boozer!) But, it’s like Bill Walton used to say: What are big men doing trying to take charges anyway?”
1. Marvin Williams (as nominated by JJ Hickson) LeMont’s Take: “Personally, if you ask me, is this the one? This is the one! The way Marvin falls reminds me of a video game animation. Hands down, one of the nastiest falls after getting dunked on that I’ve seen in a while.” -
3. Jeff Withey (as nominated by Xavier Henry) LeMont’s Take: “I’m always going to be a fan of any dunk where the ball is cocked back. Like LeBron’s go-to dunk from his Cavs days. Whether with one or two hands, it doesn’t matter. Those dunks always signify bad intentions to me. Especially with a defender in the way. But what sets Xavier’s apart from the rest is he’s a lefty. It just gives it that added unusual flair and bang to it.” -
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A few months ago we learned that the Jordan XII’s Michael Jordan wore during the famous “Flu Game” — also known as Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals — were going up for auction. At the time, there weren’t many details known, other than Jordan gave the shoes to a Utah Jazz ballboy after the game, and that ballboy had hung onto the shoes for nearly two decades now.
But in a piece in today’s Salt Lake Tribune, that ballboy, named Preston Truman, is sharing his side of the story of how he ended up with the iconic kicks, a tale that involves applesauce, graham crackers and being in the right place at the right time.
It’s a fun read, and reveals some cool details from behind the scenes of one of the most memorable NBA games of all-time. From the article…
[Truman] was one of the first in the building to know that Jordan would play that night when, as Bulls coach Phil Jackson gathered the team to go onto the court, Jordan finally got up and put his jersey on. He watched Jordan struggle back to the bench during timeouts; he ran Jordan a spoon for three small cups of applesauce at halftime; he heard Jordan tell doctors “F— no” when they suggested he sit out for a while.
Truman’s parents would later tease him because the broadcast showed him — a lifelong Jazz fan — patting MJ on the shoulder after he wrapped him in a towel.
When Jordan hit the clinching shot and leaned into Pippen’s arms, barely able to stand, Truman estimates he was 5 feet away.
“I was like ‘I think I’m going to see this again and again.’”