AIR070: Rolando Blackman – Kansas State legend & four-time NBA All-Star | Podcast

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Rolando Blackman - Dallas Mavericks

Kansas State legend and four-time NBA All-Star, Rolando Blackman.

 

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.

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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.

Rolando Blackman - Team USA (1980)

 

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‘.

 

1981 NBA Draft

Date: June 9 | Location: New York | Pick: 9 (Round 1) | Team: Dallas Mavericks

We discuss Rolando’s first-round selection and he shares a fantastic draft-day story about fellow-1980 Olympian and future (Dallas) teammate, Mark Aguirre.

 

NBA / Euro career | Years: 1981-82 – 1995-96

Seasons: 1981-82 – 1991-92 | Team: Dallas Mavericks

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

Coach: Pat Riley

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.

People mentioned in this episode, include: Sam Bowie, Sam Perkins, Hubert Davis, James Worthy & Kurt Nimphius.

 

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NB85-21: Michael Jordan’s rookie NBA season – Lakers at Bulls (Feb 19), vs Celtics (Feb 22) – 1985 | Podcast

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Young Mike

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

 

* L.A. Lakers at Chicago – February 19, 1985

* Chicago vs Boston (at Hartford) – February 22, 1985

 

In this episode, we discuss the fifty-third and fifty-fourth 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, the visiting Lakers make their one and only trip to the Windy City. Next, we chat about the Bulls’ visit to Hartford – Boston’s home-away-from-home – to take on the might of the Celtics.

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, Magic Johnson, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Orlando Woolridge, Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson, Bob McAdoo, Kevin McHale, Jawann Oldham, Robert Parish, Dave Corzine, Scott Wedman & Greg Kite.

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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AIR038: 1988 NBA All-Star Game – complete recap | Podcast

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Michael Jordan - 1988 NBA All-Star Game MVP

Adam and Aaron discuss the 1988 NBA All-Star Game – one of the greatest ever. Michael Jordan scored 40 points, en route to Most Valuable Player honors.

We devote an entire episode to our favorite All-Star Game, ever. We cover a multitude of topics, including how and when we first watched this game – plus, its ongoing effect on our NBA-fandom. We talk about the CBS television coverage, pre-game player introductions and national anthem; Adam freely admits to choking up, before the game even commenced. We chat about the vast array of (future) Hall of Fame players, who competed in this game.

We break down Pat O’Brien’s, “At the Half” (TV segment), featuring a great story about then-coach of the Utah Jazz – and, regular funny-man – Frank Layden. There’s even brief discussion of the Legends Game, Three-Point Shootout and Slam-Dunk Competition. Controversy reigns supreme, when we answer a listener-submitted question. All this aside, we dissect the game’s key moments, great plays and all the statistics that matter and records that were flirted with, or broken. If you enjoy a laugh, the closing credits alone are definitely worth a listen, too.

To top it all off, Aaron’s dogs, Jasmine and (the appropriately-named) Wilkins, each contribute to the episode’s pre-music opener. Here’s a photo of Jasmine.

Jasmine Stehn

This may be the definitive topic-based episode, to date!

 

Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | 1988 NBA All-Star Game

1988 NBA All-Star Game: Part 1

The Courtside Podcast: iTunes | Hank McCoy / Vince (aka Vinrok)

 

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AIR032: Mike Fratello – NBA Coach of the Year, TV Broadcaster and The Czar of the Telestrator | Podcast

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NBA Coach of the Year, TV Broadcaster and The Czar of the Telestrator, Mike Fratello.

We discuss EuroBasket 2013, where Mike coached Ukraine to a fantastic 6th place finish; securing the team a spot in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. We then revisit Mike’s high school years, where he was a star athlete. He talks about his foray into coaching and the opportunities that would lead him all the way to the NBA. We talk about his intrinsic links to Hall of Fame legend, Hubie Brown.

Mike opens up on the re-building process that led the Hawks’ to four-consecutive 50-win seasons. We chat about his 1986 Coach of the Year season and he tells a fascinating story about how he helped motivate Dominique Wilkins, to reach even greater heights (literally and figuratively) as a player. We talk about the 1988 NBA All-Star Game, where he coached the Eastern Conference squad to victory.

Mike discusses his entry to the world of TV broadcasting, the origin of his classic nickname and relationship with the great Marv Albert and former guest of this show, Ian Eagle. You’ll also learn how Mike received a pair of game-worn, Shaquille O’Neal shoes, in unusual circumstances. We get the inside scoop on Mike’s experiences with Michael Jordan, including his time alongside MJ, as a coach at the Michael Jordan Senior Flight School.

We talk about Mike’s six seasons coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers and his stint with the Memphis Grizzlies. Plus, we somehow find time to talk about the 2014 NBA season. An incredible array of topics are covered. Thank you, Mike Fratello!

Thanks to former guest on this podcast, Bob Hill – he was key to making my chat with Mike, happen. Many thanks, Bob.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

EuroBasket 2013: Tournament Wrap | Formula of Success

1984: Bench-jockeying, NBA Style

1988: NBA All-Star Game | Hawks v Celtics – NBA Playoffs (Game 7)

1993: O’Neal collapses Shaqboard | 2002: NBA on NBC | 2012: Mike Fratello & Ian Eagle

Mike Fratello online: WebsiteTwitter

 

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AIR019: 1990-1994 NBA All-Star Games – complete recap | Podcast

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Michael v Magic

Adam and Aaron recap the 1990 through 1994 NBA All-Star Games. We discuss rosters, coaches, leading vote getters, memorable moments and Most Valuable Players. Controversy reigns supreme, when true feelings about a Hall of Famer bubble to the surface. The chat is filled with plenty of insight, mixed with a healthy dose of good humor.

 

NEW! Blooper reel: (audio) [click below]

 

Links to topics discussed:

All-Star Games: 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 [links courtesy of Basketball Reference]

Top 10 plays: ’90 | ’91 | ’92 | ’93 | ’94

1990: Karl Malone | 1992: Magic Johnson | 1994: Scottie Pippen

 

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AIR012: Sedale Threatt – NBA veteran and L.A. Lakers great | Podcast

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NBA veteran and L.A. Lakers great, Sedale Threatt.

We begin by talking about the sad loss of Lakers owner, Dr. Jerry Buss. Sedale discusses his rise to the NBA and being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers. Our chat covers his days playing with Michael Jordan and the Bulls, including a great MJ story. We talk about his three full seasons playing for the SuperSonics, his trade to the Lakers and the players-only meeting, prior to Magic Johnson’s shock retirement in 1991. He speaks about his post-NBA playing career, his thoughts on the 2013 Lakers and his passion for teaching the game – having established the Australian Basketball College.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Sedale’s last Bulls game, before Sonics trade

Magic’s retirement speech | Lakers-era highlights (career-high game at 8:26 into clip)

Australian Basketball College | Sedale Threatt Junior – ‘Unguardable’

 

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