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!
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.
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.
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‘.
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
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.
Terence starred at Temple, leading his Owls to the 1984 NCAA Tournament. At that Tourney, he hit a game-winning buzzer-beater, to defeat the might of St. John’s, led by Chris Mullin, Bill Wennington & Mark Jackson. That victory setup the last game of Terence’s college career, against Michael Jordan and the North Carolina Tar Heels. We discuss both games – the latter, Stansbury more than held his own, against Jordan.
Stansbury trialed for Team USA’s 1983 Pan-American Games squad, then, in 1984, was one of the select group, invited to participate in Team USA’s Olympic Trials. Terence details great moments from both experiences, including his first (in person) meeting with Charles Barkley and rooming with another future Hall of Famer, John Stockton.
We chat about the famous 1984 NBA Draft, where the Dallas Mavericks selected Terence with the 15th overall pick. We cover his brief, yet intriguing, tenure with the Mavs, before the trade that sent him to the Indiana Pacers, where he played two of his three NBA seasons.
One of the Google searches that I did, whilst researching Terence’s career, led to the below photo of Paul Mokeski. As luck would have it, there’s a classic story behind this, that began with a foul, and ended, many years later, close to five thousand miles away.
Terence remembers former teammate, Dwayne McClain, a guy with links to my home country of Australia. They were teammates during the 1986 NBA season. The ‘D-Train’ was a standout at Villanova University, later, starring in the National Basketball League.
It’s impossible to chat with Terence Stansbury and not talk about his three-consecutive, third-place finishes in the Slam Dunk Competition (1985-87). I ask Terence about the origin of his famous ‘Statue of Liberty 360’ jam and the involvement of his family and friends, in the 1985 and 1986 contests, particularly.
We also discuss the circumstances behind Terence’s trade to Seattle. After the 1987 season, Terence briefly played in the Continental Basketball Association, before being presented with an opportunity to play in Europe (early 1988). From there, he played at the highest level, traveling to places such as Holland, Belgium, France – where he’s a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame – Israel and Greece.
We round out the conversation by covering Terence’s current-day involvement with basketball.
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Two-time All-American (Tennessee), All-Star and 17-year NBA veteran, Dale Ellis.
We discuss Dale’s high school basketball days, followed by his outstanding four seasons with the Tennessee Volunteers, where he was twice named All-American.
Dale talks about his whereabouts on NBA Draft Day, 1983, when he was selected ninth overall by the Dallas Mavericks. We cover his three seasons with the Mavs, playing alongside fellow draftee Derek Harper, including these memorable finishes to games against the mighty Los Angeles Lakers.
Here’s the wild finish – aka ‘Moody Madness’ – that I asked Dale about (1984 Playoffs).
Dale discusses his trade from Dallas to Seattle, where he set the NBA record for highest, single-season scoring increase – from 7.1 (1986, Dallas) to a staggering 24.9 points per game (1987, Seattle). Ellis also won Most Improved Player and in that year’s Playoffs, dominated his former team, helping steer the Sonics to the Western Conference Finals.
Of course, with Dale Ellis as my guest, I had to ask about his incredible three-point shooting prowess. Dale was the first player in NBA history, to make 1000 three-point field goals. He competed in numerous Three-Point Shootouts, too, including the iconic match-up with Larry Bird, in 1988 at Chicago Stadium.
When Dale mentioned Michael Jordan, I didn’t need to be told twice, to ask more about their battles over the years. He recalls some funny stories and talks about MJ’s greatness.
Dale reminisces about his fantastic 1989 season. Aside from averaging a career-high 27.5ppg and being named to the All-NBA 3rd Team, he had an All-Star Weekend for the ages, winning the Three-Point Shootout and then scored 27 points the following day, for the Western Conference All-Stars. Dale also shares a great All-Star story, talking about his idol, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, plus, playing with future Hall of Famer, John Stockton.
We also discuss his seasons spent with the Milwaukee Bucks, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and his return to Seattle in 1998, where he would lead the NBA, connecting on a staggering 46.4% of his three-point field goals.
Last year (2014), Dale became just the fourth player to have his jersey retired, by the University of Tennessee. He discussed memories of his teammates, and how graduating from college (1985) was the hardest thing he has ever done in his life.
We talk about the Inaugural 2015 Breakthrough Atlanta Celebrity Basketball Game, where Dale will lead his squad against former teammate, Dikembe Mutombo. Click here to learn more about this game.
Our conversation also covers Dale’s modern-day involvement with basketball, his future ambitions and online presence: SportsBlog | Twitter | Facebook.
Two-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year, All-Star and basketball great, Ricky Pierce.
We discuss Ricky’s early years and when he first fell in love with the game of basketball. He chats about his great collegiate career and the many future links to players from his 1982 NBA Draft class. We talk about his battles against Michael Jordan’s Bulls and rise to becoming one of the most elite sixth men ever. You’ll also learn that Ricky is a published author and in 2012, completed his degree (BA in Kinesiology) at Rice University.
Adam and Todd go head-to-head, in the debut of Retro GM. We assume the role of General Manager, to assemble the best team of players from 1987-1993. We discuss our memories of each player, plus, offer up stats and NBA chatter associated with the era.