And here’s Gerald Green with the most underrated contest dunk in All-Star history, The Birthday Cake. It’s clear why it was unappreciated in its time; live, it was hard to see what exactly Green was doing. But on the replay, you can’t help but be impressed by the delicacy of Green’s move - he blows out the candle and dunks so gently that the cupcake stays on the back of the rim. In a contest that was ultimately won by Dwight Howard in a Superman cape throwing the ball in from a few feet away - not technically dunking at all - Green’s dunk was a true artistic statement. Of course, he didn’t even make the finals.
Ukiyo-e Heroes: Donkey Kong Visits 17th-Century Japan
Mario racing a rickshaw, Kirby wielding a katana, and Donkey Kong bounding past cherry blossoms. In his fantastical Ukiyo-e Heroes series, 29-year-old illustrator Jed Henry reimagines classic video game characters in the style, setting, and medium of traditional Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e). Growing up in Indiana in the 1980s, Henry learned to draw by copying the art in his video game manuals. It was an exciting time to be a gamer, as companies like Nintendo and Sega raced to create the best systems and graphics. A decade later, with a degree in animation and living in Utah, the illustrator and children’s book author is working with Canadian (by way of Tokyo) printmaking master Dave Bull to to create fine art prints of his characters. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign — Henry raised $290,000 more than his original goal — his illustrations are celebrating Japan’s vibrant pop culture, both then and now. We talked to him about his craft.
How do you choose which video games to feature?
I’m a big retro gamer. I played a lot of games as a kid, and my heart is really stuck on those games — a lot of Nintendo, Konami, and Capcom titles. So, that’s how I choose, it’s just my favorites from when I was a kid.
In my opinion, a good NBA coach is one that gets the best out of their players. Lots of coaches have systems. Lots of coaches are fundamentally sound when it comes to scheme. But only a select few have all those things and still manage to get the best out of all of their players. I’m going to list my top 5. Feel free to disagree.
5. George Karl - He is very good at adapting to the personnel he has on his rosters. He has made the Denver nuggets a team to beware of despite having no elite players on the roster. He encourages every player on the floor to be a playmaker of some sort and doesn’t overly depend on any one player.
4. Tom Thibodeau - Probably the best defensive coach in the league today. He was instrumental on the most recent Celtics championship run and has turned the Chicago Bulls into a contender despite it being only his first coaching gig. He needs to be a little more creative offensively. But I can’t say his players have underachieved in any sense. He’s made the best out of what he’s had.
3. Rick Carlisle - His work, especially in the 2011 NBA Playoffs has provided the blueprint on how to succeed in the current NBA without a constellation of superstars on your team. Preaches defense and can coach an uptempo or half court style. To me, he is very underrated and was just what the ‘11 mavs needed to get past the juggernaut that is the Miami Heat.
2. Doc Rivers - He’s probably my favorite coach in the league. He consistently gets the best out of his players and has the uncanny ability to get stars to buy into his way of doing things. I hope he becomes the next coach of Team USA. Just look at the Boston Celtics in the past few years and you can say they are arguably the best coached team in the league. No wasted movement and highly efficient on offense, while high pressure and committed to defense. Can’t argue with that.
1. Greg Popovich -Pop, as he is fondly called has been the epitome of optimization in the NBA. Guys seem to go to San Antonio and just work out. Every project seems to work for him (see: Dejuan Blair, Danny Green, Stephen Jackson, Gary Neal), and the few that don’t cant blame him (see: Richard Jefferson, Tiago Splitter). He’s had the luxury of stability around Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. But he’s been able to plug in role players and change playing styles seamlessly as the years go by. Popovich has made a small market team in San Antonio a basketball powerhouse.