AIR047: David Bridgers – Michael Jordan’s childhood friend | Podcast

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David Bridgers

L to R: David Bridgers, Michael Jordan & Derek Betts | Copyright © Sports Illustrated

Michael Jordan’s lifelong friend and confidant, David Bridgers.

A unique episode. Ross Franco is a North Carolinian friend of mine. We connected, through my podcast – one of the many great outcomes I’ve experienced, since creating the show. Ross is a great friend of David Bridgers. Ross and I have previously discussed the possibility of inviting David on the podcast, as a guest. When the opportunity presented itself, we were both very pleased. The three of us had a great chat.

Prior to speaking with Ross and David, I wasn’t sure if our conversation would necessarily make for an interesting podcast episode. However, five minutes into proceedings, that all changed. This is simply three guys, talking all-things Michael Jordan, from a perspective you’d be very hard-pressed to top. You’ll learn the origins of Bridgers’ relationship with Jordan. The two first met, at just seven years of age! We cover David’s enduring friendship with Michael and his experiences with the Jordan family, plus, David’s close bond with Ross.

Ross tried his best to not be involved in this audio recording. He suggested that David should speak solely with me. From my point of view, that was never going to happen. Thanks again Ross, for making this conversation possible. I hope you – the listener – enjoy it.

 

Links to topics discussed (photos will be added):

SI Vault: The Unlikeliest Homeboy

In all Airness: Brush with Greatness – Michael Jordan

Ross Franco online: Twitter

 

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Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail

 

AIR046: Rick Barry – One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History | Podcast

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RickBarry

One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, Rick Barry.

Rick discusses his first sporting love of baseball – he talks fondly of his hero – the reason behind his choice to wear the iconic jersey number 24. Incredibly, as a high-school senior, Rick almost gave up on his future Hall of Fame career, due in large-part to his then-coach.

We chat about the origins of his unique, underhanded free-throw shooting technique and its impact on his overall game. Rick talks about his passion for basketball and his immense desire to win. We talk about his outstanding college career at the University of Miami and how it prepared him to make an instant impact at the next level. We discuss the 1965 NBA Draft, where Rick was one of 10 future All-Stars selected.

We cover Rick’s NBA Rookie of the Year triumph, playing against Wilt Chamberlain in the 1967 NBA Finals and Barry’s decision to join the fledgling ABA (he won the 1969 ABA Championship) for its inaugural season. Rick talks candidly about being forced to sit out the entire 1968 season, when he was arguably in the prime of his career. We chat about his All-Star Game memories (eight in the NBA, four in the ABA) and his 1975 NBA Championship glory.

We talk about Rick’s last two NBA seasons in Houston and how injury prematurely halted his career; interestingly, an NBA rule-change possibly denied Rick’s plan to join the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers.

Rick discusses his Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement, his foray into coaching (1990s) and the opportunities missed at NBA level. We round out the conversation, learning about Rick’s current-day interests, including a love of fly fishing and his business pursuits.

We run the gamut of discussion topics that shed light on the competitive nature of a true basketball great.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

1967: “Super Soph”Rick leaves NBA

1975: NBA Finals - Game 3 | NBA Finals recap

Circa-1976: Rick Barry & Red Auerbach

1987: Basketball Hall of Fame (profile)

2011: ABA Round-table | 2014: The Charity Stripe

Rick Barry online: Website | Ektio

Courtside Jones: Rick Barry from courtsidejones.com on Vimeo.

 

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AIR045: Jeff Ruland – HS All-American, NCAA great and NBA All-Star | Podcast

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Copyright © Jeff Ruland

Copyright © Jeff Ruland

High School All-American, NCAA great and NBA All-Star, Jeff Ruland.

Jeff discusses his early sporting life and the major growth-spurt that coincided with his decision to focus on basketball. He was named High School All-American in the same class as Magic Johnson and was heavily recruited across the country. We chat about his decision to remain in New York and commit to Iona College, led by future luminary, Jim Valvano.

Jeff opens up about the 1980 NBA Draft and why he opted to head overseas and play in Spain, before commencing his rookie season in 1982. We talk about Jeff’s excellent first three full seasons, that resulted in NBA All-Star selections in 1984 and 1985. Jeff recalls Michael Jordan’s debut game in the NBA and the rude awakening that MJ would receive on his first dunk attempt in Chicago Stadium.

We chat about the impact of the Showtime Lakers and Boston’s Big Three, plus, the onset of injury issues that began to halt Jeff’s career. We also talk about one of the most memorable trades in NBA history; the Bullets’ decision to trade Jeff to Philadelphia, in exchange for Moses Malone. Jeff details his (first) retirement from the NBA in 1987 and how he went back to college to complete his degree, before making his remarkable comeback attempt in the 1992 season.

We also learn about the successes of Jeff’s coaching career, that are also mixed with trials and tribulations you need to hear to fully comprehend. Our conversation covers a broad-range of interesting topics and is an open and engaging look at one of basketball’s most underrated – in my opinion – careers, ever.

 

Links to topics discussed (more added soon):

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

 

 

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AIR044: Great NBA Games – Michael Jordan 63 points (1986) – Bulls at Celtics | Podcast

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Adam and Todd discuss Michael Jordan’s record-breaking Playoff game - April 20th, 1986 – MJ scored 63 points in the Chicago Bulls’ double-overtime loss to the Boston Celtics.

We discuss all the key aspects of the game. We talk about the CBS broadcast and its commentary team of Dick Stockton, Tom Heinsohn and Pat O’Brien. We chat about the contrasting nature of Boston and Chicago’s respective seasons, leading into their first-round Playoffs meeting. We talk about each team’s roster and our memories and opinions on this incredible match-up – arguably one of the top 10 NBA games ever played.

As per usual, the conversation is scattered with humor and plenty of insight. Todd also updates us on the status of his forthcoming book on the late, great, Drazen Petrovic. A must-listen, for die-hard NBA fans, regardless of the team you support.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference

April 20, 1986 | Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers [Box Score] [stat-sheet]

1986 NBA Season Summary

Sports Illustrated (1986): Bird; NBA’s all-time best player?

Greatest Sports Legends (1988): O.J. Simpson | Elvin Hayes

Bill Simmons’ Grantland (2014): George Gervin

 

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AIR034: Steve Lipofsky – NBA Photographer (formerly, 23 years with the Boston Celtics) | Podcast

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Professional photographer (formerly, 23 years with the Boston Celtics), Steve Lipofsky.

Steve has been a professional photographer in excess of 25 years. We talk about his entry into photography as a youngster, the early years spent honing his skills, plus, his wide-ranging experiences, including, working with former and current Presidents (Clinton and Obama).

Steve’s work has appeared in numerous publications worldwide, including Sports Illustrated and TIME – we talk about those opportunities, too. It’s also interesting to learn about Steve’s technical skills; he opens up about the pros and cons of pre-digital photography and the challenges of taking memorable photos.

We discuss Steve’s 23-year tenure as the official Boston Celtics photographer, starting (full-time) in 1982. He was also official photographer for the newly-crowned, 2013 World Series Champion, Boston Red Sox.

There’s also plenty of discussion about Boston’s ‘Big Three’; Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Plus, we talk about Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, Magic Johnson and of course, the great Red Auerbach.

 

Links to topics discussed (more added soon):

Steve Lipofsky online: WebsiteFacebook Page

 

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Water Heater Game – Erving and Bird

Contributor: Greg - a fan, collector and researcher (Dr. J. Memorabilia) | A perfect example of how ‘your story’ can become a great part of NBA Narratives.

April 6, 1986 | Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers [Box Score]

In small-town Canada, the NBA on CBS was the only television pipeline to NBA games. For me, it was religion. This spring Sunday, the Sixers and Celtics were playing their last of six regular season match-ups. The Celts had won four of the previous five and would be collecting another NBA title, a couple of months later. The Sixers were no longer title contenders and Julius Erving would begin his final season in the fall of this same year. Regardless, it was still Sixers / Celtics.

My friend and I were die-hard Sixers fans and would often watch the games together. We’d usually watch at his house, because his cable TV clarity always trumped my rural antenna reception. All games were recorded on VHS. This day was no different.

A third friend joined us and we settled in to enjoy what was once, one of the greatest rivalries in sport. There was no Moses Malone or Andrew Toney that day for the Sixers. Instead, we saw unfamiliar players like Terry Catledge, Greg Stokes and Perry Moss. But Cheeks, Erving, Barkley and Clemon Johnson (off the bench), kept the Sixers in the game.

With only 20 seconds left in the 4th quarter, the Sixers trailed 94-92, with Boston about to inbound the ball in the Sixers’ end. Philadelphia inexplicably let the clock wind down to seven seconds, before fouling Larry Bird – the leading FT-shooter in the league. We needed Larry Legend to miss one. These were Bird’s only two FTs of the day and he shockingly missed them both. Barkley grabbed the rebound, called timeout and promptly flashed the choke sign.

Barkley 'choke' sign

Barkley ‘choke’ sign

From half-court, Erving in-bounded to Barkley, outside the arc. His drive for the tying basket ended with Kevin McHale tying him up. Jump ball, with just three seconds left.

McHale ties up Barkley

McHale ties up Barkley

This play was the breaking point for my friend and he stormed out of the room, marched over to the hot water tank and gave it a good kick. The two of us still watching the game, could hear hissing and the sound of water hitting the floor. Pleas for assistance were ignored as there was still 3 seconds left in the game. So, as my friend frantically searched for the water shut-off, we watched Barkley win the jump and tip the ball to Erving, just outside the 3-point line.

"...he's got a crack at it!"

“…he’s got a crack at it!”

Doc’s buzzer-beater was good and the Sixers won the game, 95-94. Our pal had no idea why we were screaming with delight – he was still battling the flood. Good thing we recorded the game.