AIR041: Eddie Johnson – NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Illinois great, TV analyst and author | Podcast

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NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Illinois great, TV analyst and author, Eddie Johnson.

The timing of this episode is perfect. Eddie was recently honored, in a half-time ceremony, at Illinois, commemorating the 35th anniversary of his game-winning jumper, against Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans.

We learn about Eddie’s early sporting career and how he first became involved with basketball. He chats fondly of his playing days at Westinghouse High School, where he first appeared on the national radar. We discuss his great college career, where he was a four-year star at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Eddie talks about his return to Illinois, just last week, as mentioned above. We also touch on his collegiate link to future NBA star, Derek Harper.

We cover Eddie’s memories of 1981 NBA Draft day and the motivating factors that ensured his place within NBA history. Eddie chats candidly about his professional career, where he was a scoring machine with the Kansas City Kings (who became the Sacramento Kings, after the 1985 season). We chat about his three (full) seasons in Phoenix, where he won (1989) the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. We talk about his trade to the Seattle SuperSonics, his one season in Charlotte and decision to play overseas, in Greece (1994-95).

Eddie talks about his return to the NBA, for the 1996 season, as a free agent addition of the Indiana Pacers, before ultimately signing with the Houston Rockets in March of 1997. We talk about Eddie’s vital role on a Houston roster, loaded with future Hall of Fame players. I was also compelled to ask Eddie about his incredible buzzer-beating, game-winning three-point shot in the 1997 Western Conference Finals, too.

We round out this great conversation, chatting about his post-NBA career. Eddie has been as a TV analyst for well over 10 years and recently found time to publish a book – with a fantastic title: You Big Dummy – An Athlete’s “SIMPLE” Guide To A Successful Career. We even find time to chat about a guy named Michael Jordan, plus plenty more topics.

 

Links to topics discussed (more added soon):

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

Eddie Johnson online: WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | YouTube

 

I appreciate all feedback, FB Page ‘Likes’ and iTunes ratings / reviews.

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Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail

 

Da Kid, Michael and his Big Ticket – 1996 NBA Tour

Contributor: Michael - a fan and collector (eBay: baby-jordan) | A young NBA fanatic, travels to the USA – experiencing memories that will last a lifetime.

Hoops in Australia.

I’ll start with a quick back-story. Growing up in Australia, I was obsessed with all sports. In 1992 I discovered the NBA, but MJ was (soon) retiring. I started to obsessively collect everything I could, with the little money that I had and studied his (VHS) videos over and over. By the time he made his comeback from baseball, I was so excited. I finally got to see him play – although,  on TV – it was better than watching old videos.

I was convinced I was going to be in the NBA and would hit a buzzer-beater to defeat Team USA in the gold medal game at the Olympics. Everyone I met – I’d sign my autograph – for them, “it would be worth a fortune in the future.” Long story, for another time; I never made it.

Then, I worked professionally for five years in the music industry – promoting, producing and performing music. In 2009, I had a son, got a ‘real’ job and lived the life of an ordinary man. Throughout this time, I made a lot of contacts, met lots of amazing people and collected a lot of items.

 

I’m not a hoarder; am I?

Now, it has become my obsession. My partner calls me a hoarder. Like all hoarders, I say my items are valuable – many are and I’m sure you’ll agree. I’d have over 5000 items – signed items, game-worn items, other collectibles, memorabilia and sports history. I have a room in my house, stacked with boxes and cupboards full of items. Most weeks I can’t get in the door. I’ve been trying to sell items on eBay. Have sold a few hundred, however, I don’t seem to be making a difference to the never-ending piles.

I’d love to get my favorite pieces framed, but can’t justify the prices to do so, when I can spend that money on another Jordan autograph. Arrrgggh!! Adam asked for submissions of first-hand accounts – here are two…adventures, shall we say, that I can remember almost every detail of.

 

My NBA Tour.

November, 1996: I don’t usually mention names in stories; as I was 15 years-old at the time, I will. I went on an NBA Tour to Los Angeles and Chicago with a group of approximately 20 people, including former NBL legend, Bruce Bolden, and Jeff Van Groningen. To me, he was just Jeff; a cocky, confident and highly-driven young American man, living in Australia and trying to make a living off the game he loved. He later did some commentating and a lot of other NBL-related things. Jeff had my back while I was in America and we shared a room for two 2 weeks. He was always on the phone, trying to plan things. He was ringing the Clippers, ringing the Bulls. He seemed to know everyone.

Whilst in L.A., we stayed at the same hotel as the Atlanta Hawks and Minnesota Timberwolves. I saw a lot of things, the few days we were there. As a 15 year-old, obsessed with the NBA, I was completely in awe most of the time.

 

Heal Me, Shane.

The first day, Shane Heal knocks on my hotel door. He wanted to talk to Jeff. Shane played for the Timberwolves at the time. Oh my god, SHANE HEAL is in my room! Jeff was in the shower, so Shane entered the room and asked how I was enjoying my trip. I couldn’t answer. Was this a dream?! He talked to Jeff, through the door. I did what any kid would do (wouldn’t they?) and pulled out my (bulky) video camera. I pressed record and laid it on my bed, facing Shane. I had to prove this to my friends! I must have freaked Shane out; he left and all I have on tape is his voice.

I headed to the lobby. As I’m getting in the elevator, I see Tom Gugliotta. Damn, these guys are even staying on the same hotel floor. I say hi, to Tom; he says hi, back. He seemed a little freaked out. Did Shane already tell him there was a freaky kid around? Was it my accent? Was it that I was a kid, by myself? I don’t know. Now, I’m in the hotel lobby and see Dikembe Mutombo and other players, arguing at the counter. There were a bunch of nice cars outside; they must have hired them and the cars were too small or something. It was funny to watch.

 

Good camera? Negative.

I turn around and there is legendary coach, Lenny Wilkens, having a bite to eat. I just stare for a while, trying to take photos on my vintage 1980s wind-up camera (with no zoom). Next, Steve Smith walks in. I walk up and ask for a photo together. No worries. I then ask someone else to take the picture. Then, I go up to Christian Laettner and get a photo with him. I see this really huge guy, all by himself. He is wearing a Hawks top, so I go over to him. He couldn’t believe that I wanted a photo; he was so happy to do it. I never figured out who he was – Priest Lauderdale?

At this stage, I’m like a kid in a candy store; literally surrounded by 20 NBA players, in total awe. I’m trying to record them with my video camera. In walks Slam Dunk Champion, Brent Barry. He was playing for the Clippers, but visiting his brother, Jon. I got a photo with both of them, together.

Then, a different noise falls over the room – someone special was coming. He had a couple people walking by his side. He was wearing very dark glasses and big headphones. He looked like a giant. He exits the elevator, walks through the lobby and out the door; ducking, on his way out. He doesn’t talk to anyone. It was 19 year-old (Da Kid) Kevin Garnett. Oh my god! He just walked past me, less then a metre away.

We go to the Knicks versus Clippers game – seated in a box, about halfway up. You missed a lot of atmosphere, being in one of the boxes. There were a few TVs and some food, but, it didn’t excite me and the game was ugly! Ewing top-scored, with 20 points. Malik Sealy (RIP) top-scored for the Clippers, with 13 points.

That night, Googs and a few other players are eating at the same place we are. They had walked from the hotel, just like us. When we return, a few of the guys stop at the bar next to the lobby for a drink. As a 15 year-old, I managed to get one also – thought I was pretty cool – you had to be 21 years-old, in the United States.

Doug West, or Terry Porter, were there with a couple of ladies. A few other players left, with ladies. I was thinking to myself; I’ve read all about this. This is so sweet. It was all too much for me, so I called it a night. As I’m trying to swipe my door key, I hear a noise behind me. I turn, to see KG has just arrived, out of nowhere. He is in the room, two metres from mine. Directly across the hall! He looked at me – no glasses or headphones, this time. I looked back and then quickly shut my door and almost fainted like a girl who had just met One Direction. To this day, it is one of my biggest regrets. Why didn’t I say something? Maybe we could have played video games all night! haha…

The next day, a few of us go shopping and pick up some cool items, to hopefully get signed; jerseys you’d never find in Australia, etc. Jeff offers us a choice. He has hooked-up (for the following day) court-side seats to the Timberwolves versus Clippers; or, we could watch the Hawks take on the Lakers – a night game, but not as good seats. I chose the Lakers. This was Shaquille O’Neal’s first year in L.A. and Kobe Bryant’s rookie season. This was only the third home game of the season. Kobe’s third home game, ever!

 

Insert ‘Smitty Shimmer’, here.

In this game, Steve Smith was unstoppable; before spraining his ankle. He returned, but wasn’t the same. He scored 14 points in as many minutes, before the injury. The Hawks were up 14 point, at half time. The third quarter was all Eddie Jones. We went nuts, with the whole L.A. crowd, screaming “Edd-ie!”, all quarter-long. He led the Lakers to the win. Kobe scored 2 points in 8 minutes.

The next day, Eddie was at the Nike store – not one person went up to him, the whole time. On returning to the hotel, Smitty and Mutombo were in the lobby. Remember, Steve sprained his ankle during the game. A few of us sat down – Steve and a friend, joined us. I told him he was having an amazing game (before the injury). He modestly replied, “I was, wasn’t I?”

Smith sat and spoke with us for about 20 minutes. The whole time, Mutombo stood about 3 metres away, not engaging with us at all. He occasionally rang people and would say something to Smitty. Steve would then say to us, “Does anyone know what he is saying? I can’t understand him.” We all laughed, as none of us knew, either. I started feeling bad for him – as we were all laughing with Steve, getting photos and autographs from him. I walked over to Mutombo, with pen and paper, for an autograph. He didn’t look at me and it was totally like I wasn’t there; I went and sat back down with Steve.

We spoke a lot – one conversation I recall was about jerseys. I had a Kobe jersey on. He told me (in jest) to take it off before we got a photo. I told him we were in L.A. and I had to wear it. I then told him that his jersey wasn’t available at the time. He couldn’t believe it. We explained that the only jerseys you could buy in Australia were Jordan, Shaq, Grant Hill, Shawn Kemp & Larry Johnson. That then got us on to conspiracy theories about why some player’s jerseys sell the most – maybe they are all that is offered in certain places and countries.

The next day, we went to Hollywood. It was the day after the official Space Jam premiere. I bought a heap of memorabilia and saw the movie a few weeks before it was released in Australia.

Another L.A. highlight was playing ball at Venice Beach. Who happened to be there that day? None other than NBL Hall of Famer, Steve Carfino. He had retired from the NBL, five years prior, but was still killing it on these courts. It was also fun to play some ball against Bruce Bolden. He was taking it easy on everyone. Mostly, just shooting jumpers from the elbow that never seemed to miss. I did take it to Bruce, for a spectacular Jordan-like reverse layup – that had the crowd ‘oohing’ and me thinking, I was king. I tried the same move again; Bruce blocked it that hard, I thought my arm was going to break.

 

Chi-Town.

It was then time to fly to Chicago. I got to see my idol, Michael Jordan, live. Our seats were very high in the bleachers; so high, the players looked like ants in all my photos – maybe the size of my finger, in person. The atmosphere was amazing. They showed the Bulls players on the big screen, in the tunnel, for their famous chant, “What time is it? Game time!” During warm-ups, we did the (more famous) chant, “Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi”. A few of the players looked up at us, including Luc Longley – but, there was no chance they would see us – we were a post-code away. Still, amazing that they heard us. The player introductions sent shivers down my spine. “At guard, 6-6, from North Carolina!” – the crowd went into a frenzy and were so loud, you couldn’t even hear, “Number 23, Michaeeeeeel Jordan!”

Michael Jordan, shooting a free-throw (photo: Michael Simms)

MJ had a quiet 25 points, on this night. Quiet, in the fact that it was just so easy. Dennis Rodman was the star – the high-scorer at half-time, with 11 points; including a huge 3-pointer. Other highlights included viewing the banners and the 4 Championship trophies that were in a cabinet, inside the Bulls’ store.

Although Jeff tried hard, we didn’t get to meet Luc. Whether that was Luc’s decision, or the Bulls’, I’ll never know. (Jeff was dealing with the Bulls – it looked good, but then, they called back with the big N.O.)

My second-most memorable adventure, “Sydney 2000 Olympics”, coming soon…

AIR040: Jim McIlvaine (Part II) – Marquette star and NBA veteran | Podcast

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Marquette star and seven-year NBA veteran, Jim McIlvaine.

In part two of this special double-episode, I welcome back Marquette great and NBA veteran, Jim McIlvaine. If you missed part one, we discussed Jim’s college career in-depth, where he was a stand-out at Marquette. He talked about his selection in the 1994 NBA Draft and first three NBA seasons – including, a completely open and honest assessment of his free agent move from the Washington Bullets to the Seattle SuperSonics, in 1996.

This episode features part two of our chat – we continue discussing Jim’s playing days with Seattle, his relationship with George Karl and the coaching staff, plus, more great stories from on and off the court. Jim talks about his career-ending injury whilst a member of the New Jersey Nets.

We also talk about some of the radio and TV commentators he admires, and chat about his current role as a broadcaster at the university where he starred; Marquette. Towards the end of our mega-chat, Jim shares a wonderful, funny story about Gene Hackman – star of the excellent basketball movie, Hoosiers.

 

Links to topics discussed (more added soon):

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

Jim McIlvaine online: Twitter | Facebook

 

I appreciate all feedback, FB Page ‘Likes’ and iTunes ratings / reviews.

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Subscribe: iTunesRSS | Website

Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail

 

AIR039: Jim McIlvaine (Part I) – Marquette star and NBA veteran | Podcast

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Marquette star and seven-year NBA veteran, Jim McIlvaine.

In a first for the podcast, this conversation will be released in two installments. Our chat was almost two hours, in length – I’m pretty sure that Jim’s wife had the authorities on speed dial, ready to report him missing – however, all’s well that ends well – Jim returned to normality at its conclusion and I couldn’t be happier with the finished episode.

In part one, we discuss Jim’s early years playing basketball and learn a great deal about his college career, where he was a stand-out at Marquette. This includes a funny story about Marquette’s early 1990s exhibition series that touched down here in Australia, then onto New Zealand and Fiji – complete with a near international incident. Also, if you’re a fan of the great documentary, Hoop Dreams, you won’t want to miss this chat.

We talk about the 1994 NBA Draft and Jim’s two seasons in Washington, playing for the Bullets. He openly-discusses his free-agent move to Seattle – a contract widely debated at the time and still mentioned on occasion, to this day. On top of this, we learn about the importance and value of the National Basketball Retired Players Association (the NBRPA), of which Jim is a lifetime member.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more open, honest and engaging guy, than Jim – I’m confident you’ll enjoy this conversation as much as I did, recording it. Thank you, Jim, for your generous availability.

Part two of this conversation will examine Jim’s career in Seattle, his trade to the New Jersey Nets and injuries that ultimately led to his NBA retirement. We also discuss Jim’s broadcasting career, great basketball movies and his classic encounter with Gene Hackman.

We’re now in the final days of 2013, as this episode is released. I hope you thoroughly enjoy the holiday season and have a great New Year. Exciting plans are ahead for 2014 – I hope that you continue to join me on this podcast journey. Thank you very much for your support.

 

Links to topics discussed (more added soon):

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

Jim McIlvaine online: Twitter | Facebook

 

I appreciate all feedback, FB Page ‘Likes’ and iTunes ratings / reviews.

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Subscribe: iTunesRSS | Website

Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail

 

AIR038: 1988 NBA All-Star Game – complete recap | Podcast

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Michael Jordan - 1988 NBA All-Star Game MVP

Adam and Aaron discuss the 1988 NBA All-Star Game – one of the greatest ever. Michael Jordan scored 40 points, en route to Most Valuable Player honors.

We devote an entire episode to our favorite All-Star Game, ever. We cover a multitude of topics, including how and when we first watched this game – plus, its ongoing effect on our NBA-fandom. We talk about the CBS television coverage, pre-game player introductions and national anthem; Adam freely admits to choking up, before the game even commenced. We chat about the vast array of (future) Hall of Fame players, who competed in this game.

We break down Pat O’Brien’s, “At the Half” (TV segment), featuring a great story about then-coach of the Utah Jazz – and, regular funny-man – Frank Layden. There’s even brief discussion of the Legends Game, Three-Point Shootout and Slam-Dunk Competition. Controversy reigns supreme, when we answer a listener-submitted question. All this aside, we dissect the game’s key moments, great plays and all the statistics that matter and records that were flirted with, or broken. If you enjoy a laugh, the closing credits alone are definitely worth a listen, too.

To top it all off, Aaron’s dogs, Jasmine and (the appropriately-named) Wilkins, each contribute to the episode’s pre-music opener. Here’s a photo of Jasmine.

Jasmine Stehn

This may be the definitive topic-based episode, to date!

 

Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | 1988 NBA All-Star Game

1988 NBA All-Star Game: Part 1

Bulls on Parade | Above the Rim: Dominique Wilkins / Xavier McDaniel

Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr / Adam Howes (curator)

The Courtside Podcast: iTunes | Hank McCoy / Vince (aka Vinrok)

 

I appreciate all feedback, FB Page ‘Likes’ and iTunes ratings / reviews.

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Subscribe: iTunes | RSS | Website

Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail

 

AIR037: 1994 NBA season – complete recap | Podcast

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Copyright © Chris Creamer

Adam and Aaron discuss the 1994 NBA season – the first, following Michael Jordan’s shock-retirement (October 1993). The in-depth conversation covers the entire season.

We talk about great games and memorable moments, including David Robinson’s all-time highest-scoring performance, that ousted Shaquille O’Neal, for the individual scoring title in The Admiral’s regular-season finale. We chat about the NBA’s only 60-win team – the Seattle SuperSonics – who, were ultimately stunned by the upstart Denver Nuggets in the first-round of the NBA Playoffs. We cover all the major award winners and reminisce about some of the notable retirees, including, three former-Bad Boys of the Detroit Pistons.

We delve into Scottie Pippen’s ascent as Chicago’s franchise player, plus, the incredible second-round Playoffs match-up between arch rivals, the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks. We also discuss other pivotal moments from the post-season – culminating with Olajuwon v Ewing in the 1994 NBA Finals.

Photos from my (Adam) 1994 NBA Tour, as mentioned in the episode. Also included, is Aaron’s photo with Bulls legend, John Paxson (Chicago, 2012).

 

Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | 1994 NBA Season Summary

1993: Michael Jordan retires | Bulls v Magic – Christmas Day

1994: Reggie Miller – Take a bow | Don MacLean / Don McLean

1994 NBA Playoffs: The Upset | Bulls v Knicks: Game 3 / Game 5 / Game 6

1994 NBA Finals: Top 10Hakeem’s Top 10

Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr / Adam Howes (curator)

Hoops Podcast: iTunes | Reece Pedretti / James McKern

 

I appreciate all feedback, FB Page ‘Likes’ and iTunes ratings / reviews.

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS | Website

Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail