AIR065: Eddie Nealy – Kansas State standout & 10-year NBA veteran | Podcast

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Eddie Nealy

Kansas State Wildcats standout and 10-year NBA veteran, Eddie Nealy.

[Note: whilst mostly known as ‘Ed’, I refer to him throughout, as Eddie]

 

High School: Bonner Springs, Kansas

Eddie’s father was his high school basketball coach. He describes what it was like to have his dad calling the shots. The main focus was an emphasis on developing the fundamentals of his game. This would prove vital, as Nealy’s longevity at the highest level was due in no small part, to his tireless work ethic and mastery of hustle.

 

College: Kansas State University

Years: 1978-79 – 1981-82 | Coach: Jack Hartman

Nealy was a two-time Academic All-American, largely recruited by two schools – Yale and Kansas State. He talks about the reasoning behind his decision to play for the Wildcats. We also chat about a major role that he played in a fantastic game, in his freshman season. He hit crucial free throws to seal victory in the closing seconds.

Eddie’s Wildcats made it to the NCAA Tournament, in three of his four college seasons. In 1981, they advanced to the Elite Eight. I ask Eddie to talk about some key memories from his time at Kansas State, which also included an oversea tour to Japan, prior to senior season. Nealy left college with averages of 10.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. For three of those seasons, he was teammates with the great Rolando Blackman. We cover his recollections of teaming with the future, four-time NBA All-Star.

Eddie Nealy - Kansas State Wildcats

 

1982 NBA Draft

Date: June 29 | Location: New York | Pick: 166 (Round 8) | Team: Kansas City Kings

We talk about Eddie’s draft-day whereabouts and how he first heard the news that he was an NBA draftee. He also reflects on what it meant to be selected by his home-state team.

 

NBA / CBA career | Years: 1982-83 – 1992-93

Seasons: 1982-83 – 1984-85 | Team: Kansas City Kings

Coaches: Cotton Fitzsimmons, Jack McKinney & Phil Johnson

Along with (former podcast guest) Eddie Johnson, Nealy played all 82 regular-season games in his rookie season. He recalls some memories from his first year in the league.

The following year – his first trip to the post-season – Eddie’s Kings lost to eventual NBA Finalists, the L.A. Lakers. Nealy talks about his experiences playing the might of the L.A. Lakers.

After missing most of the Kings’ (1984-85) training camp, Eddie was released, signing on with the Continental Basketball Association’s (CBA) Sarasota Stingers – for part of the 1984-85 season – before signing as a free agent and returning to the Kansas City Kings, in late February, 1985. Following the Kings’ off-season relocation to Sacramento, Nealy was released by the team. He returned to the CBA and was a member of the 1986 CBA Champion, Tampa Bay Thrillers, led by Bill Musselman. Eddie fondly recalls his experiences playing in the CBA.

 

Seasons: 1986-87 – 1987-88 | Team: San Antonio Spurs

Coach: Bob Weiss

In mid-July, 1986, Nealy signed as a free agent with the San Antonio Spurs. He played with the team for two seasons. These days (2015), Eddie resides in Texas. We talk about his playing days in San Antonio and what it could have been like to play with David Robinson. Eddie also reflects on some former San Antonio teammates.

 

Season: 1988-89 | Teams: Chicago Bulls / Phoenix Suns

Coaches: Doug Collins / Cotton Fitzsimmons

Prior to the 1989 season, Nealy signed as a free agent with the Chicago Bulls. He played 13 games in his first stint as a Bull, before Chicago traded him to Phoenix (mid-December), in exchange for Craig Hodges. Eddie talks about the move to Chicago and how he responded to hearing news of a trade to the Valley of the Sun. He also recalls a great story from the Bulls’ practice court, involving him and Michael Jordan.

 

Season: 1989-90 | Team: Chicago Bulls

Coach: Phil Jackson

In October, 1989, Phoenix traded Eddie back to Chicago. He was a Bull for the second time. We discuss what he was thinking, when he learnt he was headed back to the Windy City. Nealy played a pivotal role in Chicago’s playoff run. We reminisce about Game 4 of the 1990 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals – Chicago at Philadelphia. Eddie had a terrific performance, scoring 9 points and pulling down 9 rebounds. Jordan torched the Sixers for 45 points. Nealy and Jordan were interviewed by Jim Gray (CBS), post-game.


 

Season: 1990-91 – 1991-92 | Team: Phoenix Suns

Coach: Cotton Fitzsimmons

Before the 1991 season, Eddie signed with Phoenix as a free agent. He played with the Suns for two seasons – an exciting team, with a very-promising future. We talk about his return to Phoenix.

 
Season: 1992-93 | Teams: Golden State Warriors / Chicago Bulls

Coaches: Don Nelson / Phil Jackson

Nealy was waived by Phoenix (early November, 1992), signing with the Warriors, later that same month. He played 30 games in Golden State, before – with the help of Don Nelson – they traded him back to Chicago, for his third stay as a member of the Bulls. After the regular season, the Bulls placed Eddie on the inactive roster. We discuss his memories of the 1993 season, his involvement with the team and how he felt, watching from the sidelines – particularly, when John Paxson launched his famous three-point shot that sealed Chicago’s 1993 NBA Championship.


 

I ask Eddie to recall “The Game I’ll Never Forget”.

In 2014, Nealy was inducted to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. We talk about how he felt to receive that great honor.

Phil Jackson once said that having Nealy on his roster, was like having another coach. We discuss Eddie’s (possible) opportunities missed and future coaching ambitions.

Our conversation rounds out with a quick chat about the significance (if any) of Eddie’s jersey numbers.

People mentioned in this episode, include: Charles Barkley, LaSalle Thompson, Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, Chris Mullin & Tim Hardaway.

 

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AIR028: Ricky Pierce – Two-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year, All-Star and basketball great | Podcast

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Two-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year, All-Star and basketball great, Ricky Pierce.

We discuss Ricky’s early years and when he first fell in love with the game of basketball. He chats about his great collegiate career and the many future links to players from his 1982 NBA Draft class. We talk about his battles against Michael Jordan’s Bulls and rise to becoming one of the most elite sixth men ever. You’ll also learn that Ricky is a published author and in 2012, completed his degree (BA in Kinesiology) at Rice University.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

Ricky: vs. MJ | Bucks’ 40th Anniversary Team | Rice University

Single-season scoring | SuperSonics v Suns – 1993 NBA Playoffs (Game 7)

Accushot22 | Bouncing Billy

Ricky Pierce online: Facebook Twitter

 

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

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AIR025: 1984 NBA Draft – complete recap | Podcast

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1984 NBA Draft

Adam and Aaron discuss the 1984 NBA Draft – arguably, the greatest draft class in NBA history. We break down the top 10 picks, notable players selected and all-things in between.

 
Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference

NBA Draft: Selections | Telecast

Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr / Adam Howes (curator)

 

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AIR018: 1996 NBA season – complete recap | Podcast

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Chicago Bulls

Adam and Aaron recap the 1996 NBA season.

Our conversation covers the whole season – we discuss best / worst team records, all major award winners and notable retirees. We also focus on the Bulls’ historic 72-10 record. We chat random stats, fake player nicknames (amazingly make a return) and of course, the 1996 Playoffs – culminating with Jordan v Payton / Kemp in the 1996 NBA Finals.

 

Links to topics discussed:

1996 NBA Season Summary | Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr / Adam Howes (curator)

Damon Stoudamire (1995) | Bulls v Grizzlies | Bulls v Lakers | Chicago’s 70th win

1996 NBA Finals: Game 1 | Game 3

 

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

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Top 5: Favorite Jordan-era NBA guards

Mitch Richmond

It’s important to distinguish, these are my favorite players – clearly, subjective. A host of past players resonate with me for many reasons; a select moment in time, a well-played, yet under-appreciated career, or merely happenstance.

In no particular order, here are my favorite guards of the Jordan-era [obviously MJ-excluded; must have played at least 4 seasons against MJ’s Bulls]:

Lafayette Lever (1983-1994) | Player profile

Notable: 2-time All-Star (1988, 1990) | 6th all-time, steals per game

Opinion: criminally underrated player, deserving of much higher recognition. He had a stunning six season span (1985-1990) averaging 17.0 pts, 7.6 rbs, 7.5 ast and 2.5 stl per game. Oh, and he’s only 6’3″.

Kevin Johnson (1988-2000) | Player profile

Notable: 3-time All-Star (1990-1991, 1994) | 6th all-time, assists per game

Opinion: an outstanding player, mere percentage points from averaging 20 pts / 10 ast for nine consecutive seasons (1989-1997). I loved his exuberant celebrations on court, plus his fearless penetration in the lane. This resulted in assists to open team mates, or an attack on the rim.

Here, KJ gives The Dream, his own night-Mayor (see what I did there?):

Rex Chapman (1989-2000) | Player profile

Notable: UK (Wildcats) standout, turned pro as a sophomore | Flair for the dramatic

Opinion: an acrobatic and entertaining player, confident in his ability. He has career averages of almost 15 pts / 3 rbs / 3 ast / 1 stl, in under 30 minutes per game. Rex could light up a scoreboard, had a sweet shooting stroke and was a maestro of dunk. I even had his photo on my high school diary (too much information?)

John Starks (1989-2002) | Player profile

Notable: All-Defensive (2nd) Team (1993) | All-Star (1994) | Sixth Man of the Year (1997)

Opinion: whilst never beating Jordan in the Playoffs, Starks is a first-ballot nominee, for the role of MJ’s nemesis. I admired his tenacity, in-your-face style of play and all out hustle. Plus, John’s road to the NBA is a fascinating tale in itself.

Mitch Richmond (1989-2002) | Player profile

Notable: Rookie of the Year (1989) | 6-time All-Star (1993-1998) | NBA Champion (2002)

Opinion: part of the famed ‘Run TMC’ [part 1 / part 2] at Golden State. He was All-Star MVP in 1995 and Sacramento’s franchise player for seven seasons (1992-1998), averaging 23.3 pts, 3.7 rbs, 4.1 ast and 1.3 stl per game. A consummate professional, lauded as MJ’s toughest defender, by none other than Jordan himself.

Honorable mentions:

Daron Blaylock (Hawks), Kevin Gamble (Celtics) Tyrone Bogues (Hornets), B.J. Armstrong (Bulls), Craig Ehlo | Mark Price (Cavaliers), Jay Humphries | Ricky PierceAlvin Robertson (Bucks), Mark Jackson | Trent Tucker (Knicks), Anfernee Hardaway (Magic), Hersey Hawkins (76ers), Rod Strickland (Bullets).

Tim Hardaway (Warriors), Vernon Maxwell (Rockets), Ron Harper (Clippers) Sedale Threatt | Nick Van Exel (Lakers), Jerome Richardson | Tony Campbell (Timberwolves), Terry Porter (Trail Blazers), Gary Payton (SuperSonics).

Obvious omissions: clearly, the following players are all-time greats at their position. They didn’t make the cut as they’re not my favorites of the era – due to team/s played for or rivalries against MJ’s Bulls – imagined or otherwise…

Isiah Thomas (Pistons), Reggie Miller (Pacers).

Earvin Johnson (Lakers), Jason Kidd (Suns), Clyde Drexler (Trail Blazers), John Stockton (Jazz).

Did I miss anyone? Comments welcome. Who are your favorite Jordan-era guards?