AIR063: Clay Johnson – NBA Champion, two-time Junior College All-American and Missouri star | Podcast

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Clay Johnson - Los Angeles Lakers

Two-time Junior College All-American, Missouri star and NBA Champion, Clay Johnson.

Clay discusses his childhood love of multiple sports – including three years playing soccer (football) – where he developed skills that he would use to his advantage, on a basketball court. His journey to the NBA almost didn’t happen. Following high school, Clay contemplated a career as a plumber, before being convinced to attend junior college, where he became a two-time All-American at Penn Valley Community College. He still ranks (see pages 26 & 58) Top 10 for ‘Rebounds in a Season’ and ‘Rebounds in a Career’. Atop these lofty achievements, he’s also a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA Region XVI) Hall of Fame.

Johnson was recruited to the University of Missouri, by Coach Norm Stewart. As a junior, Clay scored a career-high 39 points, in a game against Colorado. In his senior season, he was a team captain, hitting a game-winning jump shot, to advance Mizzou to the second round of the Big Eight Postseason Tournament. Remarkably, with a losing record (14-15), the team (also featuring Larry Drew) qualified for the 1978 NCAA Tournament. In his final game as a Tiger, Clay torched Utah for 30 points.

We talk about the 1978 NBA Draft, where Clay was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in the fifth round. Clay recalls his experiences playing in the Summer Pro League and some NBA preseason games. He was waived by Portland, before the regular season commenced.

Clay took his considerable skills to the Western Basketball Association and Continental Basketball Association, where he displayed his talents for a few seasons – primarily with the Billings Volcanos – determined to make his way back into the NBA.

Clay Johnson - Billings Volcanos

 

In August of 1981, Clay signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers. He had to wait until April of 1982, to make his NBA debut – as fate would have it – against Portland, the team that first drafted him, back in 1978.

We chat about Jeff Pearlman‘s excellent book, Showtime, where Clay is quoted on his dislike of (Lakers) Coach Paul Westhead. He contrasts that, with the high esteem he holds for Coach Pat Riley, who Johnson played under, during his two seasons with the Lakers. Clay was a member of the Lakers’ 1982 NBA Championship squad. We talk about his experiences on that team and playing alongside (future) Hall of Famers, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy.


 

Clay’s last NBA season was 1984, as a member of the Seattle SuperSonics. After failing to come to terms with Coach Lenny Wilkens, Johnson returned home to Missouri, joining the CBA’s Kansas City Sizzlers.

Family aside, Clay’s energy and passion – since his playing career ended – revolves around his Clay Johnson Foundation, where he mentors youth in the Kansas City area and around the country.

 
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NB85-28: Michael Jordan’s rookie NBA season – 1985 Playoffs – Conference Finals | Podcast

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Dave DeBusschere and David Stern - 1985 NBA Draft Lottery

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

 

* 1985 NBA Playoffs – Conference Finals (May 11 through 22)

* 1985 NBA Draft Lottery – “The Patrick Ewing Sweepstakes”

* Insightful minutiae, all but lost to the annals of basketball history

 

In this episode, we discuss numerous happenings from the 1984-85 NBA season. This time, the Conference Finals and 1985 NBA Draft Lottery.

East: Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers

West: L.A. Lakers v Denver Nuggets

 

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 people mentioned in this episode, include: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Dave DeBusschere, Fat Lever, Byron Scott, James Worthy, Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks, Calvin Natt, Julius Erving, Charles BarkleyAlex English, Kareem Abdul-JabbarDan Issel & Mark Aguirre.

 

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NB85-27: Michael Jordan’s rookie NBA season – 1985 Playoffs – Round 2 | Podcast

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Fat Lever and Darrell Griffith

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

 

* 1985 NBA Playoffs – Round 2 (April 27 through May 10)

* Insightful minutiae, all but lost to the annals of basketball history

 

In this episode, we discuss numerous happenings from the 1984-85 NBA season. Whilst the Chicago Bulls were eliminated in the first round, we continue our coverage of the Playoffs. This time, the Conference Semifinals.

East: Philadelphia 76ers v Milwaukee Bucks Boston Celtics v Detroit Pistons

West: L.A. Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers | Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz

 

The episode also includes a great conversation that Aaron had, with ESPN Chicago’s Marc Silverman (of Waddle & Silvy). Recorded, in-person, in Chicago (February, 2015). Marc discusses his memories of growing up in Chicago, attending Bulls games – pre-Jordan and beyond. Thank you, Silvy, for indulging us.

Marc Silverman and Aaron Stehn

The Orlando Woolridge Show 

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 people mentioned in this episode, include: Michael Jordan, Larry BirdTerry Cummings, Paul Pressey, Magic Johnson, Darrell Griffith, Sidney Moncrief, Fat Lever, Alex English, Kareem Abdul-JabbarMark Eaton, Thurl Bailey, Michael Cooper, Don Nelson & Rod Thorn.

 

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NB85-26: Michael Jordan’s rookie NBA season – 1985 Playoffs – Round 1 | Podcast

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Rookie Michael Jordan

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

 

* 1985 NBA Playoffs – Round 1 (April 15 through 28)

* Insightful minutiae, all but lost to the annals of basketball history

 

In this episode, we discuss numerous happenings from the 1984-85 NBA season. The Chicago Bulls took on the Milwaukee Bucks – Jordan’s first foray into the postseason. The Bucks prevailed, winning in four games (3-1). We also cover each and every series, across both conferences.

East: Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers | Philadelphia 76ers v Washington Bullets | Detroit Pistons v New Jersey Nets

West: L.A. Lakers v Phoenix Suns | Denver Nuggets v San Antonio Spurs | Houston Rockets v Utah Jazz | Dallas Mavericks v Portland Trail Blazers

We reference this image (April 18, 1985) from the Chicago Tribune.

Rookie Michael Jordan defies gravity

 

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, Terry Cummings, Paul Pressey, Sidney Moncrief, Fat Lever, Alex English, Rolando BlackmanMark Eaton, Hakeem Olajuwon, Sidney Green, Thurl BaileyBilly Paultz, Audie Norris, Lewis Lloyd & Charles Pittman.

 

Chicago Bulls games discussed:

 

Box Score: Apr 19, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ Milwaukee Bucks

Box Score: Apr 21, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ Milwaukee Bucks

Box Score: Apr 24, 1985 – Milwaukee Bucks @ Chicago Bulls

Box Score: Apr 26, 1985 – Milwaukee Bucks @ Chicago Bulls

 

We also refer to this classic, fifth and deciding game, from the Western Conference. The visiting Utah Jazz, stun the Houston Rockets – a franchise-defining victory.

 

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NB85-25: Michael Jordan’s rookie NBA season – March 25 through April 14, 1985 | Podcast

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Jordan Pacers Bulls

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

 

* NBA regular season – March 25 through April 14, 1985

* Insightful minutiae, all but lost to the annals of basketball history

 

In this episode, we discuss numerous happenings from the 1984-85 NBA season. The Chicago Bulls finished the regular season with ten games in nineteen days – four wins and six losses.

We chat about Bernard King‘s arthroscopic – a week later, reconstructive – knee surgery and its implications on his career. Then, cover the changing hierarchy of the Bulls’ franchise – particularly the arrival of Jerry Krause, coupled with the departure of Rod Thorn. We also talk about the NBA’s best-performing players – including Dave Corzine‘s season-high 23 points – milestones reached – Moses Malone surpassing 10,000 career rebounds, Stan Albeck registering his 300th win as coach, John Bagley (team; Cleveland) & Isiah Thomas‘ (league) records for assists in a single season – and much more.

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, Larry Bird, Calvin Natt, David Greenwood, Derek Smith, Dan Issel, Bill Laimbeer, Hakeem Olajuwon & Micheal Ray Richardson.

 

Chicago Bulls games discussed:

 

Box Score: Mar 26, 1985 – Indiana Pacers @ Chicago Bulls

Box Score: Mar 28, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ Cleveland Cavaliers

Box Score: Mar 30, 1985 – Philadelphia 76ers @ Chicago Bulls

Box Score: Apr 2, 1985 – New Jersey Nets @ Chicago Bulls

Box Score: Apr 3, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ Washington Bullets

Box Score: Apr 5, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ Philadelphia 76ers

Box Score: Apr 6, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ Atlanta Hawks

Box Score: Apr 8, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ Indiana Pacers

Box Score: Apr 12, 1985 – Atlanta Hawks @ Chicago Bulls

Box Score: Apr 13, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ New Jersey Nets

 

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NB85-24: Michael Jordan’s rookie NBA season – March 10 through 24, 1985 | Podcast

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Jordan takes aim, versus Bullets

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

 

* NBA regular season – March 10 through 24, 1985

* 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 1984-85 NBA season. The Chicago Bulls played yet another, schedule-stuffing nine games, in this span – four wins and five losses.

We chat about Jerry Reinsdorf becoming the Chicago Bulls’ majority owner. Then, cover Bernard King‘s very serious, career-altering knee injury. We also talk about the NBA’s best-performing players – including Larry Bird‘s astonishing 60-point explosion versus Atlanta – milestones reached – George Gervin passing Jerry West, to become the then-ninth all-time highest scorer in league history – and much more.

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, Jawann Oldham, Alvan Adams, Bill Laimbeer, Dave Corzine, Jeff Malone, Steve Johnson, Darrell Griffith, Robert Parish, Manute Bol & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

 

Chicago Bulls games discussed:

 

Box Score: Mar 11, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ Washington Bullets

Box Score: Mar 12, 1985 – Detroit Pistons @ Chicago Bulls

Box Score: Mar 14, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ New York Knicks

Box Score: Mar 15, 1985 – Phoenix Suns @ Chicago Bulls

Box Score: Mar 17, 1985 – Milwaukee Bucks @ Chicago Bulls

Box Score: Mar 19, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ Houston Rockets

Box Score: Mar 20, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ San Antonio Spurs

Box Score: Mar 23, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ Dallas Mavericks

Box Score: Mar 24, 1985 – Chicago Bulls @ Utah Jazz

 

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.

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Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail