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.

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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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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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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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AIR031: Kenny Anderson – New York City royalty, NCAA legend and NBA All-Star | Podcast

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New York City royalty, NCAA legend and NBA All-Star, Kenny Anderson.

We talk about his childhood, playing basketball and how he handled the intense media spotlight in HS and college. He chats about his key role with Team USA, between his freshman and sophomore seasons at Georgia Tech. We delve into his NBA career, including the 1991 Draft, held in his native New York. Kenny talks about European legend and former teammate, Drazen Petrovic. We discuss his battles against Michael Jordan and Kenny provides ‘The Answer’, to a fan-submitted question. In 2014, Kenny is releasing a book – we chat about that, too.

Thanks to my friend and former guest on this podcast, Talani Goodson – he was instrumental in helping me connect with Kenny. Sincere thanks, Talani.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

1990 (NCAA): Anderson v HurleySE Regional Final | Georgia Tech v UNLV

1990 (FIBA World Championship): Bronze medal battle

1991 (NCAA): Kenny drops 50 | 1991: NBA Draft

1994: NBA All-Star Game | 1996: OT game-winner

2002: Celtics v Nets (ECF, Game 3)

Follow Kenny on Twitter

 

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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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