AIR070: Rolando Blackman – Kansas State legend & four-time NBA All-Star | Podcast

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Rolando Blackman - Dallas Mavericks

Kansas State legend and four-time NBA All-Star, Rolando Blackman.

 

High School: William E. Grady Career and Technical, New York

As a young boy, Rolando moved from Panama to New York. We discuss his successful transition to a new country and how he managed to learn – then master – a second language, all from just the age of eight.

To this point, Rolando’s sporting love was football (soccer). After two years of struggling to find others who shared his love of the game, he began to take an interest in basketball, courtesy of his soon-to-be mentor, Ted Gustus. What followed was a transformation from “a kid who couldn’t play…a kid who was throwing the ball away”, to being named one of the city’s top high-school players. Perseverance, passion and focus was paramount. Three times (seventh, eighth and ninth grade) Blackman was cut from his high-school team, before making his breakthrough and fast becoming one of the state’s finest players.

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College: Kansas State University

Years: 1977-78 – 1980-81 | Coach: Jack Hartman

We chat about Rolando’s decision to attend Kansas State University. He had upwards of 200 offers from schools across the country. For three of his four college seasons, Rolando was teammates with friend of the show, Ed Nealy. As a junior, the Wildcats made it to the NCAA Tournament, before bowing out (second round) with a two-point loss to eventual champions, the Louisville Cardinals. Individually, Blackman had a fantastic season, being named Big 8 (now Big 12) Player of the Year and 3rd-Team All-American.

Following his junior season, Rolando was invited to the Olympic trials (May, 1980) in Kentucky. Upwards of 50 nations – USA included – boycotted the (July) Games, protesting the Soviet’s invasion of Afghanistan. Whilst researching for my conversation with Rolando, I discovered that (his) Team USA participated in exhibition games – dubbed the ‘Gold Medal Series‘ – against teams of NBA stars, culminating in a match-up against the 1976, gold medal-winning U.S. Olympians. Rolando reflects on the trials, the exhibitions that followed and the moment he realized he was one of the nation’s elite players.

Rolando Blackman - Team USA (1980)

 

As a senior at Kansas State, Rolando’s buzzer-beating, second-round heroics, helped advance his Wildcats, deep into the NCAA Tournament – ultimately making a trip to the 1981 Elite Eight. It’s widely agreed that his game-winner versus Oregon State – along with U.S. Reed and John Smith’s same-day buzzer beaters – solidified the term, ‘March Madness‘.

 

1981 NBA Draft

Date: June 9 | Location: New York | Pick: 9 (Round 1) | Team: Dallas Mavericks

We discuss Rolando’s first-round selection and he shares a fantastic draft-day story about fellow-1980 Olympian and future (Dallas) teammate, Mark Aguirre.

 

NBA / Euro career | Years: 1981-82 – 1995-96

Seasons: 1981-82 – 1991-92 | Team: Dallas Mavericks

Coaches: Dick Motta, John MacLeod & Richie Adubato

Rolando joined the expansion Dallas Mavericks, after just their first season in the NBA. They went 15-67 before he entered the scene. The team improved markedly in his first-two seasons with the Mavericks. He talks about the transition from being a college standout, to steering a fledgling team in the NBA.

I refer to my conversation with another friend of the show, Dale Ellis, when I ask Rolando to recall the franchise’s first (series) victory in the 1984 NBA Playoffs. It culminated in a crazy finish to the fifth-and-deciding first-round game versus the Seattle SuperSonics. The game was played at Moody Coliseum, due to Reunion Arena’s already-existing booking to host a WCT (tennis) tournament. Dallas won the game in overtime, not before both teams were ushered back from the dressing rooms, to play out the final second on the clock – which didn’t start, the first-time around. The game is known as ‘Moody Madness‘.

Rolando Blackman’s passion for life, is perhaps best demonstrated in the 1987 NBA All-Star Game. In the final three seconds of the fourth quarter, down two points, he drove strong to the hoop, as a contingent of Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan tried to stop him. A foul was called, just before the time expired. Blackman stood alone, needing to make both free-throws, to force an overtime session. Rolando details his mindset on the final moments of regulation, the ensuing shots from the charity stripe and how he dealt with the countless distractions – most notably, Magic Johnson‘s attempts to limit Isiah’s incessant trash-talking. As you may expect, we also deep-dive into Rolando’s famous exclaim – “Confidence, Baby, confidence!” – one of the NBA’s most-memorable moments ever.


 

2017 marks the 30th anniversary of that game. Rolando also discusses his opinion of Tom Chambers‘ All-Star Game MVP honors. Speaking of All-Star Games, we chat about the 1986 contest, played at Dallas’ Reunion Arena. Rolando talks about being the Mavericks’ sole on-court representative.

It wouldn’t be a conversation about the 1980s Dallas Mavericks, if we didn’t cover the team’s battles against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Mavericks extended the World Champion Lakers, to seven games in the 1988 Western Conference Finals.

From 1988 through 1992, the Mavericks were coached by John MacLeod and then, Richie Adubato. The franchise began a decline that would bottom out, the year after Blackman left the team. Rolando candidly discusses the series of events which led to the franchise’s lowest era to date.

 

Seasons: 1992-93 – 1993-94 | Team: New York Knicks

Coach: Pat Riley

In June of 1992, the Mavericks traded Rolando to New York. Instead of playing for Dallas’ 11-71 (1993) squad, he was a member of the mighty New York Knicks – a franchise set to seriously challenge the Chicago Bulls’ quest for a third-straight NBA title. We chat about Rolando’s move to New York and his thoughts on the trade.

The 1994 season is one of my all-time favorites. The league was in transition, with the then-retired Michael Jordan, playing baseball. The Houston Rockets and (Blackman’s) New York Knicks were poised to make the leap to the NBA’s elite. After disposing of the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, en route to the NBA Finals, the Knicks went to seventh-and-deciding-games, in the next-three series – versus, Chicago, Indiana & Houston. Rolando shares his thoughts on the end of his NBA career, plus, talks about his decision to finish his playing days with international stints in Greece and Italy.

After retiring as player, Rolando would return to Dallas. In the early 2000s, he was a Player Development Coach for the Mavericks. These were crucial years in the development of future Hall of Famer, Dirk Nowitzki. Rolando talks about how closely he worked – and scrimmaged – with a young Dirk.

Within the decade, Rolando also coached internationally. In the 2006 season, he was an assistant coach to Avery Johnson, as the Mavericks made it to the NBA Finals. We discuss his future ambitions within the sport of basketball.

In 2000, the Mavericks retired his famous #22 jersey. Then, in 2007, Kansas State retired his #25 jersey. In 2015, Blackman was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.


 

I ask Rolando – though it’s almost a certainty we’d know what he’d pick – to recall “The Game I’ll Never Forget”. Our conversation concludes with a quick chat about the significance of his jersey numbers.

People mentioned in this episode, include: Sam Bowie, Sam Perkins, Hubert Davis, James Worthy & Kurt Nimphius.

 

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AIR020: Ian Eagle – 2013 NBA season recap and NBA Playoffs preview | Podcast

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Ian Eagle

The voice of NBA Action, Ian Eagle, returns to the show. We talk about key regular season moments, including the rise of Stephen Curry, the ageless Tim Duncan, Carmelo Anthony’s MVP stock, the possibility of #TheReturn and arguably the season’s biggest story thus far – Kobe Bryant’s career-threatening achilles injury. We also discuss each NBA Playoffs match-up and offer our picks for the NBA Finals.

 

Links to topics discussed:

2013 NBA Playoffs

Stephen Curry: vs. Knicks | vs. Lakers

 

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AIR015: Ian Eagle – Emmy Award-winning play-by-play announcer and voice of NBA Action | Podcast

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Ian EagleEmmy Award-winning play-by-play announcer and voice of NBA Action, Ian Eagle.

We talk about the influence of Ian’s parents, on his path to becoming one of America’s most versatile commentators. He recalls great stories from the NBA Finals, his career to date and delivers stupendous impressions of Bill Raftery and Marv Albert. We talk New Jersey Nets (1990s), Jason Kidd’s impact (2002), the recent move to Brooklyn and plenty more. A free-flowing conversation injected with humor throughout.

 

Links to topics discussed:

“Send it in Jerome!”

Bulls v Nets – 1998 NBA Playoffs | Nets v Pacers – 2002 NBA Playoffs

Sports Broadcasting Camp | Bruce Beck & Ian Eagle

 

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AIR014: Bob Hill – NBA coaching great | Podcast

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Bob HillCoaching great, Bob Hill.

This wide-ranging conversation covers all aspects of Bob’s wonderful career to date. He discusses his teams’ battles against Michael Jordan and the Bulls and offers amazing insight into Hall of Famer, David Robinson. We break down his time with the Knicks, Pacers, Spurs and Sonics and cover his great contributions to the game internationally. Further, Bob describes being in Japan when the disastrous 2011 earthquake hit. Any basketball fan will relish this in-depth discussion.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Bulls v Knicks (1986) | MJ v Reggie Miller

Pacers v Celtics (1991) | David Robinson MVP (1995, with Bob Hill)

 

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

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Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail