New York City Player of the Year, LSU great and eight-year NBA veteran, Jerry Reynolds.
Jerry Reynolds talks about his childhood in Brooklyn and the crucial role that basketball has played in his life. His journey from high school – where he was cut from Alexander Hamilton as a freshman – to the NBA, is one of perseverance, hard work and tremendous talent. Jerry capped off his high-school career by being named New York City Player of the Year (1981) and leading his team to the NYC Public School Championship.
We discuss the circumstances behind Jerry’s decision that ultimately saw him play for three seasons at Louisiana State University. To this day, Reynolds’ name is still littered throughout the record books at LSU. We break down his great impact on the Tigers, matching Michael Jordan (point-for-point) in a performance for the ages at Chapel Hill, his final (collegiate) game against Navy’s David Robinson in the 1985 NCAA Tournament and more.
We round out our in-depth conversation by examining Jerry’s eight seasons at the highest level; including his three years as an original member of the (expansion) Orlando Magic – where he achieved his best-statistical seasons. Learn about the ups-and-downs of pro basketball, plus the unique details behind Jerry’s return to the NBA at age 33, after a three-year, forced retirement due to injury.
Topics / links discussed (include):
Jerry’s (1984) exciting match-up versus the phenomenal Michael Jordan
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”.
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.
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Adam and Aaron discuss the 1994 NBA season – the first, following Michael Jordan’s shock-retirement (October 1993). The in-depth conversation covers the entire season.
We talk about great games and memorable moments, including David Robinson’s all-time highest-scoring performance, that ousted Shaquille O’Neal, for the individual scoring title in The Admiral’s regular-season finale. We chat about the NBA’s only 60-win team – the Seattle SuperSonics – who, were ultimately stunned by the upstart Denver Nuggets in the first-round of the NBA Playoffs. We cover all the major award winners and reminisce about some of the notable retirees, including, three former-Bad Boys of the Detroit Pistons.
We delve into Scottie Pippen’s ascent as Chicago’s franchise player, plus, the incredible second-round Playoffs match-up between arch rivals, the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks. We also discuss other pivotal moments from the post-season – culminating with Olajuwon v Ewing in the 1994 NBA Finals.
Photos from my (Adam) 1994 NBA Tour, as mentioned in the episode. Also included, is Aaron’s photo with Bulls legend, John Paxson (Chicago, 2012).
High School All-American, University of North Carolina star and NBA veteran, Joe Wolf.
We discuss EuroBasket 2013, where Joe was an assistant coach to Mike Fratello, steering Ukraine to a sensational 6th place finish; earning the team a guaranteed spot in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. Joe talks about his amazing high school basketball career, where he was (2005) named Wisconsin’s greatest ever player. He discusses his career at North Carolina, playing alongside greats of game, including Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Brad Daugherty and Kenny Smith. We also learn Joe’s whereabouts, on the day he was drafted into the NBA, in 1987. We break down his 11-year NBA career, his years coaching in the (now defunct) CBA and NBA D-League and five seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks; culminating last season, as the lead assistant to Scott Skiles.
Thanks again, to former guest on this podcast, Bob Hill – he was pivotal is helping make this conversation come to fruition. Many thanks, Bob.
Our conversation covers the whole season – we discuss best / worst team records, all major award winners and notable retirees. We also focus on the 1991 NBA All-Star Weekend; Dee Brown’s ‘Blind Dunk’ and Craig Hodges’ amazing 3-point shooting. We chat random stats, fake player nicknames (incredibly, back by unpopular demand) and of course, the 1991 Playoffs – culminating with Jordan v Magic in the 1991 NBA Finals.