AIR067: Mitchell Butler – High School All-American & eight-year NBA veteran | Podcast

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Mitchell Butler - Washington BulletsHigh School All-American and eight-year NBA veteran, Mitchell Butler.

 

High School: Oakwood, California

Mitchell reflects on his outstanding high school career. From 1987 to 1989, he was named the Southern Section Small Schools Division, Player of the Year. In 1988, he led Oakwood to the (Liberty League) Division Championship, notching an astonishing 47 points, 19 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks, in his team’s 61-60 victory. We talk about his 1988 quarterfinal game, where he tallied a staggering 50, of his team’s 55 points, in an eight-point win (55-47).

In November of 1988 – in the early-signing period ahead of his senior year at high school – Mitchell signed a letter of intent with the UCLA Bruins. He discusses how heavily he was recruited and what led him to ultimately choose the Bruins.

Mitchell also talks about his 1989 (Third Team) All-American selection.

 

College: University of California Los Angeles

Years: 1989-90 – 1992-93 | Coach: Jim Harrick

At the time of recording our conversation, Mitchell ranked sixth all-time, in total games played (130) for the UCLA Bruins. Whilst researching for our chat, I discovered that in the last warm-up game (November, 1989) prior to his freshman season, Butler’s Bruins played against my fellow countrymen, the Australian Boomers. UCLA defeated the Aussies, 80-68, at Pauley Pavilion.

Mitchell played in the NCAA Tournament, in each of his four seasons. We chat about his freshman campaign, where he made it to the Sweet Sixteen, against Duke – the eventual National Finalists (who lost to UNLV). As a sophomore, Butler started almost every game, before the Bruins were upset by Penn State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. We discuss how close Mitchell came to transferring from UCLA after that second season. UCLA made it to the Elite Eight, in 1992, before losing out to Calbert Cheaney and his Indiana Hoosiers. Though it was a disappointing end to the season, Mitchell won his team’s Player Improvement Award, due to his all-around play and positive mental attitude. As a senior, he was named team captain and also enjoyed (arguably) his best season as a Bruin, with 9.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. We cover UCLA’s near-upset of Michigan’s Fab Five, in a classic, second-round overtime game, in the 1993 NCAA Tournament.

 

1993 NBA Draft

Date: June 30 | Location: Auburn Hills | Pick: Undrafted

We talk about the circumstances behind Mitchell being overlooked on draft day, and how he made his way into the league, in the months that followed.

 

NBA / Euro / ABA / CBA career | Years: 1993-94 – 2003-04

Seasons: 1993-94 – 1995-96 | Team: Washington Bullets

Coaches: Wes Unseld & Jim Lynam

Individually, Mitchell’s best NBA seasons were his first two in the league, averaging almost eight points and three rebounds, in just 19 minutes per game. We cover his first stint with Washington and links to Australian legend – and former podcast guest – Andrew Gaze. Butler twice scored an NBA-career high of 26 points. Mitchell describes the feeling of being ‘on fire’.

 

Thanks to a tip-off from great friend of the podcast, Jim McIlvaine, I ask Mitchell about his acting career. We briefly discuss his roles in Blue Chips (1994) & Rebound: The Legend of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault (1996). Mitchell talks about his involvement with Space Jam (1996), however, his scenes were ultimately cut from the movie.

 

Season: 1996-97 | Team: Portland Trail Blazers

Coach: P.J. Carlesimo

Prior to the 1997 season, Washington traded Mitchell (along with Rasheed Wallace) to Portland, in return for Harvey Grant and Rod Strickland. We talk about Mitchell’s thoughts on the deal. Butler made it to the playoffs for the first time in his NBA career – playing limited minutes in a four-game series loss to the L.A. Lakers. He talks about how it felt to be part of a playoff team.

 

Seasons: 1997-98 – 1998-99 | Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

Coach: Mike Fratello

Mitchell signed as a free agent with Cleveland. Barely a month into the season, he suffered significant neck and shoulder problems, leading to surgery. He talks about the impact the injury had on his career, and how he dealt with news that he’d miss the rest of the season.

Following the lockout-shortened 1999 season, Butler wouldn’t return to the NBA until the 2001-02 campaign. During that gap in his NBA résumé, he headed overseas and played in Lithuania, before returning home and playing in the American Basketball Association (not related to the original ABA, I should add).

 

Season: 2001-02 | Team: Portland Trail Blazers

Coach: Maurice Cheeks

Mitchell returned to the Trail Blazers franchise, signing as a free agent. He discusses what it was like to be back in the NBA and how his second time with the team, differed so much to his 1997 season.

Prior to his final season in the NBA, Mitchell was a key member of the Continental Basketball Association’s (CBA) Yakima Sun Kings. His team won the 2003 Championship. He reflects fondly on his time in the league.

 

Season: 2003-04 | Team: Washington Wizards

Coach: Eddie Jordan

Butler closed out his NBA-playing career, returning to suit up for the Washington Wizards. We chat about his final season, what opportunities presented themselves and whether he could have played on, beyond 2004.

 

Mitchell featured in a number of Top 10 Plays on NBA Action. I asked him to choose his favorite move and he certainly didn’t disappoint.

 

I ask Mitchell to recall “The Game I’ll Never Forget”. In a first for the podcast, he shares three-memorable games – one each from high school, college and the NBA.

We discuss Mitchell’s career in basketball since he retired as a player. He’s been involved in various roles, most recently, accepting a position as a sports agent at Jackson Management Group (owned by Phil Jackson‘s son, Charles).

Our conversation rounds out with a quick chat about the significance of Mitchell’s jersey numbers.

People mentioned in this episode, include: Michael Adams, Tyus Edney, Darrick Martin, Chris Webber, Jim McIlvaine, Vernon MaxwellAllan Houston, Kenny Anderson, Tracy Murray, James Robinson & Ed O’Bannon.

 

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AIR054: Mario Elie – Three-time NBA Champion & Rockets’ 30-Year Team member | Podcast

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Mario Elie - moments before his 'Kiss of Death'Three-time NBA Champion and one of Houston’s Top 10 Players of all-time, Mario Elie.

We discuss Mario’s incredible journey from New York’s Power Memorial High School, through to becoming a three-time NBA Champion – a perfect example of hard work, determination and achievement. Many years before he joined the Golden State Warriors, Mario was teammates with future Hall of Famer, Chris Mullin. We reminisce about Mario’s HS career and decision to play for American International College. He had a stellar run and was named Conference Rookie of the Year (1982), three-time All-American and led his division II team to the Elite Eight in the 1985 NCAA Tournament. He was inducted into AIC’s Hall of Fame in 2005, and earlier this year, had his #41 jersey retired.


 

The Milwaukee Bucks selected Elie with pick 160 (7th round) in the 1985 NBA Draft. His first NBA game was more than five seasons later (Dec 28, 1990). In the interim, Mario played in numerous countries across Europe – Ireland, Argentina and Portugal, to name a few – further developing his game. He returned to home soil and played in developmental leagues across America, including the USBL, WBL & CBA (where he would become an All-Star).

In December, 1990, Mario’s NBA opportunity arrived, courtesy of then-76ers GM, Gene Shue. The countless miles of travel and perseverance paid off. After a brief stint with Philadelphia, Mario signed with Golden State, where he played alongside the famed ‘Run TMC’ (Hardaway, Richmond & Mullin). Two seasons later (1993), he was a Trail Blazer.

We chat about the moment Mario found out he was traded to the Rockets, and deep dive into his career with Houston, where he played five seasons and won two NBA Championships. In the do-or-die Game 7 of the 1995 Western Conference Semi-Finals, he made one of the biggest shots in NBA history – affectionately known as the ‘Kiss of Death’. He shares the details of how that famous show of emotion, came to be.


 

Prior to the (1999) lockout-shortened season, Mario signed as a free agent with San Antonio, where he won his third NBA title. He talks about his key role in Sean Elliott‘s Memorial Day Miracle and the leadership of Hall of Famer, David Robinson, and (future Hall of Famer) a young Tim Duncan. I even find a way to briefly talk about another teammate of Mario’s, Australian legend, Andrew Gaze.


 

Recently, the Houston Rockets celebrated the 20th anniversary of their back-to-back NBA Championships. Mario talks about that experience and the joy of re-connecting with many of his friends and former teammates, including Vernon Maxwell, Sam Cassell, Robert Horry, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, Otis Thorpe, Kenny Smith, Chucky Brown, Rudy Tomjanovich and more.


 

We round out the discussion, by chatting about Mario’s coaching background. He has worked as an NBA assistant coach for the best part of ten years. He discusses those experiences, his future ambitions at the highest level and the ultimate moment of his career, to date.

Editor’s note: sign-up for the monthly newsletter – receive exclusive details on upcoming podcast episodes and future, high-profile guests to appear on the show.

 

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AIR035: Mark Bradtke – Three-time NBL Champion, four-time Olympian and NBA player | Podcast

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Mark Bradtke

Three-time NBL Champion, four-time Australian Olympian and NBA player, Mark Bradtke.

Mark talks about his entry into competitive basketball and we discuss his quick rise into Australia’s basketball elite. We chat about his time at the Australian Institute of Sport and later, playing for the Adelaide 36ers, in Australia’s NBL.

We talk about Mark’s decision to move interstate, to play for the Melbourne Tigers – joining forces with Andrew Gaze and Lanard Copeland – helping the team win its first NBL title, in 1993. Recently, the Tigers celebrated the 20th Anniversary of that victory and Mark talks about the reunion and special bond he shares with those players and personnel.

We cover Mark’s outstanding Olympic career, where he represented Australia on four occasions. Mark talks about his opportunities to attend NBA training camps, plus, his 1997 season on the Philadelphia 76ers roster. He is open and honest about his time in the NBA and offers wonderful insight into the trials and tribulations of the experience.

In 1997, Mark returned home to Australia. We talk about the contrast of leaving a struggling NBA franchise, to resuming his career at home and winning a second NBL title, just months later. We look back at Mark’s 2002 MVP season and he also offers his opinion on the current state of basketball in Australia, plus, his future ambitions within the sport.

The conversation is scattered with references to the history of Australian basketball. Aside from his Tigers teammates, we talk about Shane Heal, Luc Longley, Andrew Vlahov and numerous other greats of Mark’s era.

 

Links to topics discussed (more added soon):

1993: NBL Championship, Game 3 | Tigers’ triumphant return | The Tigers Tale

Mark Bradtke online: WebsiteTwitter | Interview (Jan 2013)

 

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AIR031: Kenny Anderson – New York City royalty, NCAA legend and NBA All-Star | Podcast

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New York City royalty, NCAA legend and NBA All-Star, Kenny Anderson.

We talk about his childhood, playing basketball and how he handled the intense media spotlight in HS and college. He chats about his key role with Team USA, between his freshman and sophomore seasons at Georgia Tech. We delve into his NBA career, including the 1991 Draft, held in his native New York. Kenny talks about European legend and former teammate, Drazen Petrovic. We discuss his battles against Michael Jordan and Kenny provides ‘The Answer’, to a fan-submitted question. In 2014, Kenny is releasing a book – we chat about that, too.

Thanks to my friend and former guest on this podcast, Talani Goodson – he was instrumental in helping me connect with Kenny. Sincere thanks, Talani.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

1990 (NCAA): Anderson v HurleySE Regional Final | Georgia Tech v UNLV

1990 (FIBA World Championship): Bronze medal battle

1991 (NCAA): Kenny drops 50 | 1991: NBA Draft

1994: NBA All-Star Game | 1996: OT game-winner

2002: Celtics v Nets (ECF, Game 3)

Follow Kenny on Twitter

 

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

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AIR030: Bill Woods – Australian sports broadcaster, journalist and news-breaker | Podcast

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Bill Woods

Widely-respected Australian broadcaster, journalist and news-breaker, Bill Woods.

AdamTodd & Bill discuss the origin of the NBA (early 1990s) on Australian (commercial) TV – further, Bill’s key involvement as host of weekly, hoops-related programs, during basketball’s golden age of popularity. Bill talks fondly of his co-hosting memories with Steve Carfino, plus, his memorable interviews with NBA superstars, including Michael Jordan, on the set of Space Jam, in 1995. This wide-ranging conversation covers plenty of topics, including great stories about Shaquille O’Neal, the Phoenix Suns Gorilla and Australian hoop heroes, Shane Heal and Andrew Gaze.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Channel Ten: Saturday / Sunday Basketball | Tribute

1996: Team USA v Australia | [Olympics] Team USA v Australia

Bill Woods online: SportsFan Twitter

 

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AIR029: 1995 NBA Draft – complete recap | Podcast

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1995 NBA Draft

Adam and Reece discuss the 1995 NBA Draft – one of the strongest 1990s draft classes, in terms of player longevity. We break down the top 10 picks, notable players selected and all-things in between.

 
Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference

1993: Toronto Raptors | 1995: Vancouver Grizzlies

NBA Draft: Selections | Telecast

2000: Team USA v Australia

Hoops Podcast

 

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

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