SLAM Debut

Picture Me Writin’

SLAM Debut

Kobe Bryant gracing SLAM #175 and #24, side by side.

The SLAM issue currently on sale is #175. Before I got my copy in the mail, I went in to the office to get a rundown of some new content I’d be responsible for compiling. Not too long into my mini-training session, Sir Ed-in-Chief handed me a copy of the latest mag with a closeup of Kobe Bryant’s face.

Inside was what he termed my “debut,” in a section titled Picture Me Ballin’ featuring some 200 words about a pair of under-the-radar players and my byline. I think my eyes lit up a bit as I took the copy.

Before flipping through the pages to see, I refocused on the task at hand: learn to navigate Getty Images and a tiny bit of Photoshop resizing to put together some new content on SLAMonline. Every Friday, you can now expect the 10 Best NBA Photos of the Week and the Top 15 NBA Tweets of the Week, God-willing. Click the links for the first round of posts.

It’s always on the train ride home that everything hits me. I sat by the window and tried to take a picture of #mySLAM. Realizing I couldn’t get the perfect angle, I stopped and let it soak in. I’m still letting it soak in now—after each sentence I type, I pause and stare at my laptop screen.

There’s nothing left to say really, except الحمد لله.

The NBA’s Vote-Via-Social-Media Method

2013 NBA All-Star GameEven though the 2012-2013 NBA season started less than a month ago, voting for the All-Star Game has already begun.

The NBA All-Star Game is a star-studded event in which the best players from each conference sport either the East or the West jersey. The game is scheduled for Feb. 17, 2013 (oh my God…2013) in Houston, Texas this season.

Ah, the All-Star Game. It’s what got me into basketball seven years ago. I was taking a break from television and hadn’t watched in maybe six months or so. I turned it on the night of the 2006 All-Star Game because I was casually keeping up with the Knicks record that season, and I figured the game with all the stars would be fun to watch. When the light from the screen flashed before my eyes, I didn’t know where to look. If that doesn’t tell you how much of a rookie fan I was, then I don’t know what will. However, I wasn’t completely ignorant. I knew some of the names I was hearing, like Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and–actually, that may have been it. Every fan needs to start somewhere, right?

Each year, fans get the privilege of voting on NBA.com for their favorite players to start the All-Star Game. Fans vote in five players for Team East and five players for Team West by position. This year, the center position has been removed, so a fan votes for three forwards and two guards for each conference from a list of nominated players. Write-in votes are also an option. Fans usually don’t care about statistics, they’ll simply pick their favorite players to start the game. The League’s coaches select the bench players.

With a little research, I discovered the All-Star voting used to take place on paper ballots distributed at games and bars. Well now, the Internet has made things a lot more convenient, hasn’t it?

Ever since I began voting for the NBA All-Star Game, well before I was 18 (this isn’t the presidential election here, anyone can vote once per day until voting closes–plus there are loopholes to that rule too, just grab a different computer), I would simply type in NBA.com into my web browser and select my favorite players on the ballot. After voting, the head-shots and names of the players would be lined up, and a voter could share his/her picks with friends via email and social networking sites.

This year, for the first time ever, fans can vote through Twitter and Facebook. It’s as simple as tweeting a player’s first and last name and hashtagging #NBABALLOT.

It’s easy to see why the NBA would decide to do this: more publicity! Social media is HUGE. Fans will watch a game with their laptops and smartphones beside them logged into Twitter and Facebook to share their opinions with their followers and friends–whether or not anyone cares. I’m doing that right now watching the Knicks play the Spurs, attempting to go 6-0. Numerous times, I’ve seen phrases trending on Twitter related to NBA games and other events that successfully tempt me to turn on the television and see for myself what’s happening. For some reason, keeping a trend going is fun. Getting people to talk about something–whether spoken word or typed word–stirs up more interest.

The NBA is doing exactly that with its new Vote-Via-Social-Media Method, and I think it’s a smart move. Get more people to talk about voting, and you get more people to vote. Get more people to vote, and you get more people watching the winners perform on Feb. 17.

“And Of Course…Social Media.”

One of the accounts I follow on Twitter is @NBAGuru, a user whose description reads, “Bringing you insightful observations about the NBA game.”

This user as far as I know is anonymous. He does not have the little verified blue check mark next to his name, and he lists NBA.com as his website. He changes his display pictures with whatever is the most recent big news stories in the NBA. For example, currently he has a picture of Miami Heat’s Big Three holding their Larry O’Brien championship trophy.

NBA Guru takes the liberty of live-tweeting games during the regular and post-season and definitely crowded up my feed April through June, which I was not disappointed about. Recently, he has not been tweeting as much, which makes sense considering the NBA is not currently in season.

However, last Thursday morning, NBA Guru tweeted:

And of course…I found NBA Guru’s wording particularly interesting in that tweet.

Sept. 28 was Media Day for four NBA teams–the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Miami Heat–marking the first day back to work after summer. Their practices began the following day. The remaining teams’ Media Day took place on Oct. 1.

Perhaps, if not likely, NBA Guru is a media professional, which would explain his presence at the broadcasting meeting and the different inside-the-gym-warm-up pictures he puts up.

NBA Guru’s mention of social media as an obvious focus for a national sports league was pretty darn cool. Here I am, a regular basketball fan on Twitter, while the NBA, a world-famous sports league, has a Twitter account too. Many NBA players also have accounts where they practice the art of tweeting. We’re all sharing the same platform, and I find that amazing.

According to Twitter’s Year In Review, last year in June, users were tweeting 5,531 tweets per second during the NBA Finals. In 2010, LeBron James was the highest Twitter trending topic in sports.

This past February, names like Jeremy Lin became famous, due to his explosive and impressive performances on the basketball court and the explosive and many mentions of him on the “Linternet” (Laird).  In just the few days of his heightening popularity, he gained more than 130,000 followers (Laird), and many nicknames including but not limited to, Linsanity, Super Lintendo, Yellow Mamba, and Lin Dynasty. A headline on NBA.com calls him “perhaps the biggest story of the 2011-12 regular season.”

I like to believe stories like that of Lin, which perhaps I will discuss in more detail in a future blog post, are the reasons why NBA Guru mentioned “and of course…social media” in his tweet about what the NBA wants to be focusing on this year. No one can deny that Twitter helps businesses reach out to and interact with their consumers or fans, and no one can deny that Lin was good for the NBA.

NBA First Annual Social Media AwardsLin even won an award at the NBA’s first annual Social Media Awards. Yes, the NBA has an award show concerning social media, and you better believe Lin won “The EPIC Award” for his performance against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Feb. 12, 2012. He also helped then-teammate Landry Fields take home the “Snap Shot Award” when Fields tweeted a picture of the couch Lin was sleeping on when he first started in New York. Interestingly enough, Fields is now a member of the Toronto Raptors, and Lin is down in Houston, Texas as a member of the Rockets.

2012 NBA All-Star Weekend

All-Star Weekend has officially come to an end. (Well, there’s an encore presentation playing on TNT right now…but that’s a replay)

So, let’s break it down.

Friday

BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. MVP Kyrie Irving (who is MY AGE…mind blown) and Team Chuck got the win. Not much defense–but that’s a commonality every year when All-Star Weekend comes around. Still, an entertaining game that gave fans the opportunity to witness the great youngsters in the L. Check out the awesome mini-movie by NBA covering the players’ good times:


Saturday

  • Haier Shooting Stars Competition: Team New York consisting of Allan Houston, Landry Fields, and Cappie Pondexter brought the trophy to the Big Apple.
  • Taco Bell Skills Challenge: Tony Parker, who commentators called the most underrated point guard in the NBA, proved his veteran worth against all the fresh, young talent.
  • Foot-Locker Three-Point Contest: Big man Kevin Love brought home the trophy.
  • All these All-Star Saturday events build up to the most anticipated event of the night, the Sprite Slam Dunk Competition.

Sprite Slam Dunk Competition

This year, the rules for the Dunk Contest were a little different. In the past, a panel of judges would score the four contestants on their first two dunks–the two players with the highest scores would move onto the next and final round. The finalists would perform two more dunks, and then fans would start texting and clicking in their votes for the winner. However, for 2012 in Orlando, each contestant performed three dunks, judges were completely eliminated, and fans voted throughout the competition for the final winner. Fans have a bad reputation for screwing up results when it comes to voting.

The Contestants

  • Chase Budinger of the Houston Rockets: dressed up like Billy from White Men Can’t Jump, Budinger rehearsed a dunk with P. Diddy. He also slammed a reverse dunk completely blindfolded.
  • Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz: Last-minute replacement for New York Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert who had to pass on the competition to tend to an injury. Evans wasn’t a favorite of mine, but I give him mad props for completing the dunk with two balls passed to him by teammate Gordon Haywood. He ended up winning with 29 percent of the votes.
  • Paul George of the Indiana Pacers: seemed to be the favorite. I thought he was the most creative– jumping over two men, one a 7-ft, 2 in. teammate & performing a dunk with all the lights off in a glow-in-the-dark uniform. George Legacy; The Human Glow-Stick.
  • Derrick Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves came onto the court riding a motorcycle and continued to dunk over it. On his second, he took the pass from teammate Ricky Rubio off the side of the backboard, slightly reminiscent of Andre Iguodala’s dunk from 2006.

The NBA uploaded another praiseworthy video summing up Saturday’s moments to remember:


Sunday

The mid-season break means All-Stars put on a show sharing the same court. The 61st annual NBA All-Star Game was a high-scoring one per usual, but Team East, who had been trailing the entire game cut it close in the fourth quarter. They were unable to overcome Team West however who was led by MVP Kevin Durant, who scored 36 points.

Kevin Durant 2012 NBA All-Star MVP

Kevin Durant, 2012 NBA All-Star Game MVP
Credit: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant, although suffering a bloody nose from a foul committed by D-Wade, moved ahead of Michael Jordan to claim the title of all-time leading scorer in All-Star Game history.

LeBron James led the East, also with 36 points, and Melo along with 19 points and 9 boards showed off some of his defensive skill:

It’s been a great weekend, Alhamdulillah. Time for the Knicks and the rest of the NBA teams to head back home and prepare for the second half of the season.

Turn on the Jeremy Lin Show. It’s Good.

I love it when it’s fun being a true Knicks fan. The good times are the best when you’ve been through the tough times. If you’ve been following the up-and-down Knicks in just this shortened season, you’ve already got the taste of the endless roller-coaster ride that is New York basketball. 

Jeremy Lin took the city by storm the Saturday night before the New York Giants won the Super Bowl as the Knicks battled Deron Williams and the New Jersey Nets, putting up career-highs across the board. It was Linsane, but people thought there was no way this could keep happening. The Knicks simply lucked out Saturday playing a sub-par team, right?

Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak

Photo cred: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Come Monday, Lin did his thing again–this time as the starting point guard, updating his career-highs for the second game in a row. As I’ve written in my previous post linked above, the Knicks were without Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Nevertheless, Lin led the Knicks to their second consecutive win over Devin Harris and the Utah Jazz.

Two games, two great performances by Lin. Bring on the next game.

Wednesday night, the Knicks visited John Wall’s Washington Wizards on a short road trip south to D.C. I missed this game, but heard the Knicks started out a little slow. By the time I tuned in, New York was comfortably ahead. They grabbed the road win with a final score of 107-93. Lin had 23 points and a new career-high 10 assists.

People had to be convinced now! Well…

Last night, the Knicks hosted Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden. Critics were not so sure Lin would be able to have another outstanding performance. Michael Kay of ESPN Radio New York tweeted his prediction that Lin would score under 25 points.

Boy, were those critics wrong.

Twitter exploded as the starting guard Super Lintendo finished with yet another new career-high 38 points. Not just chants of “Jeremy,” but MVP chants were heard throughout the stands, again, as the Knicks beat the Lakers 92-85. The Knicks were all smiles as Lin led them to their fourth consecutive win.

Tonight, the Knicks take on the Minnesota Timberwolves and their Spanish rookie sensation, Ricky Rubio. Rubio went pro in Spain at age 14. FOURTEEN. He was drafted by the T-Wolves two years ago, and made his way over to the states for his first NBA season this year. Rubio is looking to get his team back to .500 tonight at home in Minnesota, and Lin is looking for that fifth straight win.

I can’t wait to see what The Lin Show has got in store for us tonight.

Season’s Greetings!

My winter break just got a billion times more exciting, and I was already counting down the days. Alhamdulillah.

CHRISTMAS DAY it all ends, if God wills. The Boston Celtics vs. the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden will open up the 2011 (a whole 7 days of it) – 2012 season.

YAY! The NBA IS BACK. And I have no schoolwork to distract me from the amazing that can happen on Dec. 25, Insha’Allah.

The Knicks game will be followed by an NBA 2011 Finals rematch with Miami at Dallas. The third game of the triple header features last year’s MVP Derrick Rose and the Bulls visiting Kobe and the Lakers in L.A.

I was getting tired, sad, and hungry for the past 140-something days of being locked out. But finally, FINALLY, I’m relieved and pumped up. Motivated too, because now I can fill up another category on this blog besides “Lockout.”

WHAT Is Going On?

Photo cred: Layup Line

I had a lot of things mixed up when I was trying to wrap my head around this Lockout business.

FIBA has officially allowed players to sign with international teams during the NBA Lockout. Deron Williams signed with Besiktas, while still under his contract with the Nets because of the lockout. So, he’s not ditching N.J. just yet. In a previous post I mentioned he left the Nets to play in Turkey, and I thought for some reason this had nothing to do with the lockout situation, but that was wrong.

Kobe is scheduled to talk with the Turkish club on Saturday, but now I realize these guys are going to play overseas while the Lockout is in effect, unless they’re free agents, to make up for the games they’ll miss (& money) from the NBA regular season.

This makes more sense now. Basketball players’ dreams are to play for the NBA. It’s an American sport. Why would they leave the NBA, while at their prime to play in a different league, unless there is a lockout?

WELL, there is a lockout. So, players are talking to other teams. They love playing basketball, and they get paid for it. Why sit around waiting when you could explore a foreign country, play your favorite game, and make money all at the same time? Can’t think of many reasons I would refuse an offer like that.

I’m still confused about this though. If these players do end up on international teams, and play there a couple months, what happens when the NBA Lockout ceases? Do they just fly back to the states and return to their respective teams? What about the contracts, the money? When will the Mavs get their rings? Will the schedule of games change? I learned from Wikipedia that this is the fourth lockout in the NBA, but I’ve never experienced one before as a fan– so that’s why I’m having a hard time understanding.

I saw a headline earlier today that players and owners are meeting up soon, and apparently Amar’e is starting a fashion line. The Detroit Pistons hired the former head-coach of the Nets, Lawrence Frank…waiting to see how that turns out.

And the NFL Lockout ended, too. Things Remembered wants us to celebrate by congratulating NFL fans by giving them new glasses with their name engraved, or something. I can’t remember when I gave the store my e-mail address to receive these notifications…

Lockout lockout lockout lockout. Lockout?

I apologize, (if there is anyone reading this–let me know if you are in the comments). This post is all over the place, and so am I. Trying to gather myself and my thoughts right before prayer, bed, work, and a holy month of fasting just days away.

Blogs I’ve come across that are helping me figure out this lockout stuff: NBA Overtime. Addicted to Ballin’.

-H2

82 Games in a Season

Photo cred: Knicks.com

Yesterday, the 2011-2012 NBA season schedule was released. November 1st marks the first day of the regular season with the reigning champs, Dallas Mavericks playing host to the MVP, Derrick Rose’s team, the Chicago Bulls. To air live on TNT, with game two of the double header etched in as LAL vs. OKC, Kobe vs. KD. Perhaps.

The Knicks have graced the second night of the NBA season, sharing the national screen-stage with the Miami Heat, the team that stole all the hype last season and the team  the Mavs decided to “turn off” in the Finals. The New Yorkers in orange and blue landed 29 nationally televised games. I would be more delighted when and if: (1) the lockout ceases to exist, and (2) I didn’t have MSG Network.

The excitement of the ’11-’12 season has been contained due to the Lockout, no doubt. And with one of the latest Real GM headlines reporting negotiations between players and owners have been postponed until August, I’m becoming more distraught. I need my NBA games. All 82 of them.

-H2

Stars Look to Sign Elsewhere

Besiktas logoA total failure can lead to something that’s not utter humiliation. No one witnessed my fail at typing “NBA.com” a few minutes ago, except for Google. I clicked on the first search result that came up, and was surprised that there were actually headlines about the current players on the site. Then I realized it wasn’t NBA.com I stumbled upon, but rather this nifty website, which I hadn’t visited since 2003. After quickly skimming headlines, I checked Real GM and Yahoo! Sports to see if everyone was talking about the same thing.

And, indeed, they were. My typing fail led me to a newsworthy story: NBA players are considering taking their talents to South Beach international leagues. While Deron Williams has already signed with Beşiktaş, a part of the Turkish Basketball League (though this story was in the headlines before the Lockout as another woe to the Nets), other big name players like Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard have confirmed rumors of their possible relocation if the NBA Lockout doesn’t end soon.

I agree with Kobe, it is great that the sport is becoming global, but I’m not ready to see my favorite players move overseas.

-H2