AIR072: Michael Holton – NCAA Championship finalist, NBA / CBA veteran and broadcaster | Podcast

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Michael Holton - Portland Trail BlazersNCAA Championship finalist, NBA / CBA veteran and broadcaster, Michael Holton.

 

High School: Pasadena, California

Michael was a great player in high school. As a senior (1979), he averaged 27 points per game. He discusses his fondest memories of playing high school basketball. Fifteen years later – when Michael entered the coaching ranks – he’d reunite with his high school coach, George Terzian. Michael also talks about his decision to sign with the UCLA Bruins.

 

College: University of California Los Angeles

Years: 1979-80 – 1982-83 | Coaches: Larry Brown & Larry Farmer

Michael was a starter as a freshman and was named the Bruins’ outstanding first-year player. He recalls his initial fear of perhaps not being good enough to succeed on the next level – that fear was quickly allayed. After winning only eight of the first 14 games, the Bruins caught fire at the perfect time; steamrolling through the 1980 NCAA Tournament, all the way to the Championship Game versus the Louisville Cardinals. For perspective, here’s the list of teams that UCLA defeated and some of the big-time players Michael encountered:

  1. Old Dominion (Mark West)
  2. DePaul (Terry Cummings & Mark Aguirre)
  3. Ohio State (Kelvin Ransey & Clark Kellogg)
  4. Clemson (Larry Nance & Mitchell Wiggins)
  5. Purdue (Joe Barry Carroll).

In the 1980 Championship game, UCLA lost 59-54. The Cardinals were littered with future-NBA players: Darrell Griffith, Derek Smith, Rodney McCray & Jerry Eaves. Michael reflects on that amazing run to the final.

Holton’s freshman season was the senior year for Kiki VanDeWeghe – who went on to star in the NBA, notching-up seven seasons of 20-plus points per game in the 1980s – Michael talks about the importance influence of the Bruins’ junior and senior players.

As a sophomore in 1981 (outright) and junior in 1982 (tied with Ralph Jackson), Michael was named the Bruins’ Outstanding Team Player. UCLA made the second round of the 1981 NCAA Tournament, but missed the post-season in 1982. Former guests and friends of the show, Mark Eaton and Nigel Miguel, joined the Bruins around this time, too. Michael talks about the transition from (coaches) Larry Brown to Larry Farmer.

As a senior, Michael was named captain and led the team in free-throw percentage. His college career ended (1983) with a second-round exit to the Utah Utes. After reaching the title game as a freshman, Michael contrasts his feelings about exiting the tournament early (as a senior).

 

1983 NBA Draft

Date: June 28 | Location: New York | Pick: 53 (Round 3) | Team: Golden State Warriors

 

NBA / CBA career | Years: 1983-84 – 1991-92

Season: 1983-84 | Team: Puerto Rico Coquis

Coach: Herb Brown (Larry’s older brother)

Michael’s opportunity to play in the NBA would have to wait one season. After Golden State waived him (October, 1983), he signed with the Coquis; the Continental Basketball Association’s (CBA) newly-minted expansion franchise. The Coquis made it to the playoffs, before bowing out to Phil Jackson’s Albany Patroons in the semi-finals.

 

Seasons: 1984-85 – 1985-86 | Teams: Phoenix Suns / Florida Stingers / Chicago Bulls

Coaches: John MacLeod / Bobby Bowman (CBA) / Stan Albeck

In late September of 1984, Michael signed with the Phoenix Suns as a free agent – joining former Bruins teammates, Mike Sanders and Rod Foster. Holton recalls the step-up from Puerto Rico to the Suns. His Suns met the would-be NBA Champion, L.A. Lakers, in the first round (0-3) of the 1985 Playoffs. As he displayed throughout our chat, Michael has a great sense of humor, regaling his first taste of playoff basketball.

After a 0-4 start to season, Phoenix waived Holton. He returned to the CBA and played a key role – scoring 13 points – leading his CBA All-Star team to a 110-108 win over defending champs, Tampa Bay, in Florida. That was February 11, 1986. Michael details the wonderful background behind his meeting with the Chicago Bulls’ VP of Operations, Jerry Krause, moments after the aforementioned CBA game. Holton signed the first of two 10-day contracts with the Bulls – he’d later sign with the team for the rest of the season.

Michael Holton joined the Bulls franchise at a fascinating time in its history. Michael Jordan had broken his foot in just the third game of the season; he hoped to make an on-court return before season’s end. Holton’s future with the Bulls was largely dependent on Jordan’s injury rehabilitation. He shares unique insight into his early interactions with not only his new teammates, but his practice-court battles with a young Air Jordan.

We discuss the details behind this incredible promotional poster – Raging Bulls – that Michael appeared on.

Raging Bulls - Michael Holton

When Michael was left off the Bulls’ (1986) post-season roster – to make way for Jawann Oldham – he accepted an offer to play overseas for the Great Taste Coffee Makers, in the Philippine Basketball Association. He enjoyed considerable success in a short span – including two 40-plus point games.

 

Seasons: 1986-87 – 1987-88 | Team: Portland Trail Blazers

Coach: Mike Schuler

Michael signed as a veteran free agent with the Blazers, in August of 1986. He joined the team for its Summer League games in Los Angeles. In one of those games, he scored 37 points against his former team, the Phoenix Suns.

The Trail Blazers’ Mike Schuler, replaced the legendary Dr. Jack Ramsay. In his first season (1987) at the helm, Schuler led the Blazers to a 49-33 record – the best effort for a Portland team since the 1978 campaign – and won Coach of the Year honors.

Holton’s second season with the Blazers resulted in an even-better regular season (53-29). His responsibilities also increased significantly as he became a trusted part of the rotation. Michael discussed his increased role with the team and some of the all-time Blazer greats that he played with, including Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter.

 

Seasons: 1988-89 – 1989-90 | Team: Charlotte Hornets

Coaches: Dick Harter & Gene Littles

As one of the (Blazers) players left unprotected for the (June 23, 1988) NBA Expansion Draft, Michael was picked by a new franchise – the Charlotte Hornets. He was selected sixth by the Hornets (12th overall), who alternated picks with the other new franchise – the Miami Heat. We chat about the build-up to the Hornets’ NBA debut and how the city at-large, immediately fell in love with the new franchise.

The new franchise’s amazing fans ensured that Charlotte Coliseum would be packed to the rafters. The Hornets led the league in attendance in eight of its first 10 seasons – they were in second place, the other two occasions.

Holton started at point-guard in Charlotte’s first 60 games and arguably had his best NBA season in 1989, averaging 8.3 points, 6.3 assists and one steal per game, in just over 25 minutes per contest.

Michael required back surgery prior to the start of the 1990 season. After an 8-32 start, Coach Harter was replaced by Gene Littles. He steered the team to an 11-31 finish, as the Hornets ended the season at 19-63. Holton only managed 16 games in total and didn’t return to the court until late February (1990). He talks openly about his recovery from surgery, watching from the sidelines as the team really struggled, and the franchise’s expectations of his return. Three days shy of the start to the 1991 season, Charlotte waived Michael.

 

Seasons: 1990-91 & 1991-92 | Teams: Tulsa Fast Breakers & Tri-City Chinook

Coaches: Henry Bibby (Breakers) & Steve Hayes (Chinook)

Michael finished his playing career with stops in the CBA. First, with the Tulsa Fast Breakers and then, the expansion Tri-City Chinook. He reflects on how his on-court career played out, including his last attempt to make it back to the NBA.

Michael transitioned into coaching, not long after retiring as a player. Following stints in high school and two seasons with Oregon-based colleges, he returned to UCLA – this time as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. The team enjoyed great success (1996 through 2001). Michael talks about what it was like to return to the Bruins, almost 15 years after he left the school as a player.

We also talk about Michael’s tenure as head coach at the University of Portland. He left the Pilots in 2006, after five seasons. He shares his thoughts on leading the team and highlights from the journey. NBA great, Terry Porter – Holton’s former teammate on the Blazers – was recently named head coach at the University of Portland. We briefly talk about the task ahead of Terry, as the upcoming season approaches.

These days, Michael works for the Portland Trail Blazers’ broadcasting team. Recently, he teamed up with his former (UCLA and NBA) teammate, Mike Sanders, for a camp in the Czech Republic – part of the Michael Holton Basketball Academy. He talks about the importance of giving back to the community.

I ask Michael to recall “The Game I’ll Never Forget”. Our conversation concludes with a brief discussion about the significance of the jersey numbers that Michael wore throughout his career.

People mentioned in this episode, include: Sidney Green, John Paxson, Kyle Macy & Gene Banks.

 

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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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NB85-13: Michael Jordan’s rookie NBA season – Bulls at Trail Blazers (Nov 24), Clippers (Nov 30) – 1984 | Podcast

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Michael Jordan and Derek Smith

Adam & Aaron celebrate the 30th anniversary of Michael Jordan‘s (1984) arrival in the National Basketball Association. This episode covers:

 

* Chicago at Portland – November 24, 1984

* Chicago at L.A. Clippers – November 30, 1984

 

In this episode, we discuss the fifteenth and eighteenth 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 Portland and partake in a high-scoring contest, which also doubled as the first professional meeting between the second and third picks of that year’s Draft. The next game under the nostalgia microscope, is highlighted by one of MJ’s most-incredible moves ever, against the L.A. Clippers.

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!

The most prominent players mentioned in this episode, include: Michael Jordan, Sam Bowie, Derek Smith, Clyde DrexlerDave Corzine, Jim Paxson, Kiki VanDeWegheQuintin Dailey, Orlando Woolridge, Ennis Whatley, Marques Johnson, Bill Walton, Norm Nixon, Junior Bridgeman, Steve Johnson, Caldwell Jones, Michael Cage, James Donaldson, Charles Barkley, Jerome Kersey, Fat Lever, Steve Colter, David Greenwood, Harvey Catchings & Steve Jones.

 

Topics / articles discussed (every effort has been made to confirm exact dates):

 

Box Score: Nov 24, 1984 – Chicago Bulls @ Portland Trail Blazers

 

Nov 26, 1984 – Loss to red-hot Blazers fails to burn the Bulls

Nov 26, 1984 - Chicago Tribune

 

Box Score: Nov 30, 1984 – Chicago Bulls @ L.A. Clippers

 

Dec 1 – Jordan rescues Bulls – Desperate shot stuns Clippers

Dec 1, 1984 - Chicago Tribune

Dec 1, 1984 - Chicago Tribune

 

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NB85-12: Michael Jordan’s rookie NBA season – November 25 through December 9, 1984 | Podcast

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The Dream gives Bowie a nightmare

Adam & Aaron celebrate the 30th anniversary of Michael Jordan‘s (1984) arrival in the National Basketball Association. This episode covers:

 

* NBA regular season – November 25 through December 9, 1984

* Insightful early-season 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 1984-85 NBA season. The Chicago Bulls played seven games in this span – five wins and two losses – continuing their run of hot and cold streaks.

We talk about an incident at a Bulls training session, involving David Greenwood and Sidney Green; each fighting – literally and figuratively – for on-court minutes. We also unveil a new ‘NBA Trivia’ feature. How strong is your basketball knowledge?! We chat about the NBA’s best-performing players, milestones reached and much more. Further, you’ll learn about a bizarre, in-game promotion that received a very ‘chili’ reaction. The episode is punctuated by a whirling dervish of high-scoring performances, from two superstars with contrasting offensive prowess; Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins.

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!

The most prominent players mentioned in this episode, include: Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bernard King, Orlando Woolridge, Quintin Dailey, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Derek Smith, Clyde DrexlerMichael Cage, Otis Thorpe, Terry Cummings, Charles BarkleyPurvis Short, Fat Lever, Jack Sikma, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Clark Kellogg & John Lucas.

 

Topics / articles discussed (every effort has been made to confirm exact dates):

 

Nov 27, 1984 – Fight adds punch to Bulls’ forward battle

Nov 27, 1984 - Chicago Tribune
 

Box Score: Nov 27, 1984 – Chicago Bulls @ Golden State Warriors

 

Nov 29, 1984 – Fans can’t stand to see Jordan sit

Nov 29, 1984 - Chicago Tribune
 

Nov 29 – Hawks’ spicy freebies draw a chili reception

Nov 29, 1984 - Milwaukee Journal

 

Nov 29 – Malone reaches a milestone or 2 as 76ers defeat Pacers

Nov 29, 1984 - Milwaukee Journal

 

Box Score: Nov 29, 1984 – Chicago Bulls @ Phoenix Suns

 

Box Score: Nov 30, 1984 – Chicago Bulls @ L.A. Clippers

 

Dec 1 – Jordan rescues Bulls – Desperate shot stuns Clippers

Dec 1, 1984 - Chicago Tribune

Dec 1, 1984 - Chicago Tribune

 

Dec 2 – Suns give MacLeod 500th win

Dec 2, 1984 - Chicago Tribune

 

Box Score: Dec 2, 1984 – Chicago Bulls @ L.A. Lakers

 

Dec 4, 1984 – Bucks considering action against airline

Dec 4, 1984 - Milwaukee Journal

Dec 4, 1984 - Milwaukee Journal

 

Box Score: Dec 4, 1984 – New Jersey Nets @ Chicago Bulls

 

Dec 6, 1984 – Jumping the gun

Dec 6, 1984 - Milwaukee Journal

 

Dec 7, 1984 – NBA’s tough times are over

Dec 7, 1984 - Milwaukee Journal

Dec 7, 1984 - Milwaukee Journal

 

Box Score: Dec 7, 1984 – New York Knicks @ Chicago Bulls

 

Box Score: Dec 8, 1984 – Dallas Mavericks @ Chicago Bulls

 

Dec 9, 1984 – Celtics Slip By Atlanta

Dec 10, 1984 - Ocala Star-Banner

 

Dec 9, 1984 – Keeping watch

Dec 9, 1984 - Milwaukee Journal

 

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AIR041: Eddie Johnson – NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Illinois great, TV analyst and author | Podcast

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NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Illinois great, TV analyst and author, Eddie Johnson.

The timing of this episode is perfect. Eddie was recently honored, in a half-time ceremony, at Illinois, commemorating the 35th anniversary of his game-winning jumper, against Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans.

We learn about Eddie’s early sporting career and how he first became involved with basketball. He chats fondly of his playing days at Westinghouse High School, where he first appeared on the national radar. We discuss his great college career, where he was a four-year star at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Eddie talks about his return to Illinois, just last week, as mentioned above. We also touch on his collegiate link to future NBA star, Derek Harper.

We cover Eddie’s memories of 1981 NBA Draft day and the motivating factors that ensured his place within NBA history. Eddie chats candidly about his professional career, where he was a scoring machine with the Kansas City Kings (who became the Sacramento Kings, after the 1985 season). We chat about his three (full) seasons in Phoenix, where he won (1989) the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. We talk about his trade to the Seattle SuperSonics, his one season in Charlotte and decision to play overseas, in Greece (1994-95).

Eddie talks about his return to the NBA, for the 1996 season, as a free agent addition of the Indiana Pacers, before ultimately signing with the Houston Rockets in March of 1997. We talk about Eddie’s vital role on a Houston roster, loaded with future Hall of Fame players. I was also compelled to ask Eddie about his incredible buzzer-beating, game-winning three-point shot in the 1997 Western Conference Finals, too.

We round out this great conversation, chatting about his post-NBA career. Eddie has been as a TV analyst for well over 10 years and recently found time to publish a book – with a fantastic title: You Big Dummy – An Athlete’s “SIMPLE” Guide To A Successful Career. We even find time to chat about a guy named Michael Jordan, plus plenty more topics.

 

Links to topics discussed (more added soon):

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

Eddie Johnson online: WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | YouTube

 

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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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