Adam & Aaron celebrate the 30th anniversary of Michael Jordan‘s second season in the National Basketball Association. This episode covers:
* NBA regular season – January 23 through February 6, 1986
* Insightful minutiae, all but lost to the annals of basketball history
In this episode, we discuss numerous happenings from the next 15-day block of the 1985-86 NBA season. The Chicago Bulls played eight games in this span – two wins and six losses.
The Michael Jordan-less Chicago Bulls were struggling to keep its head above water. Could they weather the storm, prior to the on-court return of the franchise cornerstone? The Bulls had some great individual performers – the talented (rookie) Charles Oakley; the sporadic brilliance of (troubled) Quintin Dailey; and ageing star, George Gervin, to name a few – yet couldn’t string together more than three-consecutive wins since Jordan injured himself in just the third game of the season.
In other NBA news, the Los Angeles Clippers had their first win – since moving from San Diego – over the cross-town Los Angeles Lakers. On the topic of historical achievements, Manute Bol recorded an astonishing (equal career-high) 15 blocks, in his Washington Bullets’ win versus the Atlanta Hawks.
Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics continued to steamroll opponents, en route to a 13-game winning streak; remarkably, it wouldn’t be the longest such streak the team enjoyed during this season. Tune in to hear this and plenty more, as we uncover some hidden gems from the NBA’s golden era.
This episode continues our coverage of the 1985-86 NBA season. We encourage your interaction. Feel free to suggest specific games, moments and events from within the season, for us to cover in future episodes of the series. Thanks for taking the time to listen to the show. If you enjoy the content, please share it with your friends!
We cover a wide range of topics. You’ll soon learn why Adam is a true Phoenix Suns ‘Super Fan’. When he was a young boy, the Suns were Phoenix’s only professional sports team. We chat about the 1976 season and the Suns’ improbable first trip to the NBA Finals. That 1976 team was lovingly referred to as the ‘Sunderella Suns’. Earlier this year, Tom Leander released a fantastic documentary – of the same name – devoted to the 40th anniversary of that iconic squad [Part I | Part II].
Our main topic of discussion, focuses on how the Suns franchise was rebuilt from the ground-up, throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, culminating with their 1993 NBA Finals appearance. We cover some of the off-court issues that plagued the team during the 1980s, then discuss the tragic death of promising Suns center, Nick Vanos. Plus, Adam has a great story about the 1988 NBA Draft and the aftermath of the Suns selecting Dan Majerle. It wouldn’t be a conversation about the Phoenix Suns, if we didn’t chat about Tom Chambers‘ insane jam over Mark Jackson.
In November, 1990, Adam sat next to photographers, near the basket support at Memorial Coliseum, to watch the visiting Chicago Bulls – who went on to win the 1991 NBA Finals – take on the Phoenix Suns. He talks about his unique view and memories of that game. The Suns continued to strengthen their roster and all the pieces fell into place, when they traded for Charles Barkley, not long after the 1992 NBA Finals. We talk about the 1993 post-season. Phoenix narrowly escaped a first-round humiliation to the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. Paul Westphal boldly predicted the Suns would win in five games, which they did. We then discuss the 1993 NBA Finals and how the Suns worked their way back into the series, after losing their first two (home) games at America West Arena.
As per usual, the conversation is scattered with humor and plenty of insight. A must-listen, for die-hard NBA fans, regardless of the team you support.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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”.
Little-known fact: Cedric was a ball-boy at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Ceballos went on to star at Ventura College, before playing his junior and senior seasons at Cal State Fullerton – where he was scouted by Jerry West – averaging better than 22 points & 10 rebounds per game.
Cedric discusses the 1990 NBA Draft, and his flurry of emotions, waiting to hear his name called. He was selected 48th overall, by the Phoenix Suns. Ced talks about his transition from college, and learning the game from veterans like Tom Chambers, Eddie Johnson & Dan Majerle.
Our conversation also uncovers the fascinating truth behind Dee Brown‘s victory – punctuated by his memorable, pumping-up of the Reebok shoes, and ‘Blind Dunk’ – in the 1991 Slam Dunk Competition.
Cedric won the 1992 contest, finishing with his famous ‘Hocus Pocus’ jam, dedicated to Magic Johnson. Few people know, that Cedric & Dee competed in a college dunk contest, at the Orlando All-Star Classic. 25 years later, prepare to hear the inside story that will change most of what you know about the history of the NBA’s 1991 Dunk Contest.
We break down the 1993 season. Paul Westphal was named as coach, the Suns traded for Charles Barkley and Cedric led the league in field-goal percentage (57.6). Phoenix steamrolled the league, en route to 62 wins and the number-one seed in the Playoffs. The Suns survived their first-round series against the upstart Lakers, with an overtime victory in the fifth and deciding game.
Injury hit Cedric at the worst possible time. He broke his foot during the 1993 Western Conference Finals; missing the NBA Finals against Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the Chicago Bulls. He talks about the emotions of supporting his team from the sidelines.
We cover Cedric’s trade (September, 1994) from Phoenix to the L.A. Lakers, where he enjoyed NBA-career highs in scoring, rebounds and assists. Ceballos was named an All-Star, however, an incident with Dikembe Mutombo, days prior to the 1995 All-Star Game, led to Cedric missing the game due to injury. In a cruel twist of fate, Mutombo would receive his second All-Star nod.
Magic Johnson returned to the NBA during the 1996 season. Cedric talks about co-captaining the Lakers with Nick Van Exel, the impact of Magic’s return and how it felt to miss the opportunity to challenge for a title, playing alongside one of the all-time greats.
Cedric appeared in the iconic movie, Space Jam. We talk about his memories of the experience and the effect it continues to have on his life.
He also opens up about playing basketball inside The Jordan Dome – the purpose-built workout facility, constructed for Jordan’s use, during downtime around the filming of the movie.
During the 1997 season, Ceballos was traded back to Phoenix – the Suns were in turmoil, but Cedric and his (new) teammates turned the season around, steering the franchise into the Playoffs.
In the 1998 season, Cedric was traded to Dallas. He talks about the challenges of playing for a franchise that was fighting for relevancy. He speaks fondly of former-teammate, (Australia’s) Chris Anstey and a great victory the Mavs had over the rampaging Bulls, in March of 1998.
After his time with the Mavericks, he closed out his NBA career with stops in Detroit and Miami. He then played in various leagues around the USA, became a member of the Harlem Globetrotters and also headed overseas to play professionally.
In this episode, we discuss the forty-seventh and fiftieth games of MJ’s professional career. We were fortunate to have access to the game DVDs, giving us plenty of topics and moments to talk about. In our first game for discussion, Jordan’s Bulls visit Philadelphia to take on the 76ers. Then we cover what is often referred to as the ‘Revenge Game’. (Allegedly) spurned – following his treatment in the 1985 NBA All-Star Game – Michael Jordan explodes for a season-high 49 points.
Aside from a focus on Jordan’s burgeoning career, we cover numerous sub-plots, individual milestones, amusing moments and minutiae from both games.
This episode continues our coverage of the 1984-85 NBA season. We encourage your interaction. Feel free to suggest specific games, moments and events from within the season, for us to cover in future episodes of the series. Thanks for taking the time to listen to the show. If you enjoy the content, please share it with your friends!
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.
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.
I appreciate all feedback, FB Page ‘Likes’ and iTunes ratings / reviews.