AIR076: Don Casey – High school, college and NBA coaching great | Podcast

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Don Casey readies Terence Stansbury and the OwlsHigh school, college and NBA coaching great, Don Casey.

 

To say that Don Casey is an important figure to the game of basketball, is to massively undersell his contributions. His head-coaching journey began in 1958, when he was just 21 years old. Almost by accident, Don found basketball; perhaps, basketball found Don. He enjoyed great success, leading Bishop Eustace High School to two state championships (Class B and A in successive seasons) in six years.

We discuss Don’s transition to the college ranks, where he spent nine seasons as the head coach of Temple University. We also chat about his long-time mentor, the legendary Harry Litwack.

The NBA came calling for the 1983 season. Don remained at the highest level (as an assistant and/or head coach) for almost 20 years. We talk about his memories and experiences from that stage of his life. He went from the sleepless nights and frustrations of leading the L.A. Clippers (through 1990), to joining Chris Ford‘s coaching staff on the Boston Celtics (1991). We reflect on Don’s memories of Boston, including his links to the great Jack McCallum, who at one time, lived with Don whilst researching Unfinished Business. Don would move to New Jersey after the 1996 season, to work for John Calipari, before finishing his NBA (coaching) career as head coach of the New Jersey Nets.

The conversation concludes with a brief discussion about Don’s post-NBA interests.

Topics / links discussed (include):

  • Boston Celtics versus Indiana Pacers (1991 NBA Playoffs)

  • New Jersey Nets versus Chicago Bulls (1998 NBA Playoffs)

People mentioned in this episode, include: Terence Stansbury, Chuck Person, Jim McIlvaine, Kendall Gill, Bob Hill, Jim Lynam, Larry Bird, Red AuerbachReggie Miller, Sherman Douglas, Ernie GrunfeldGene Shue, Don Chaney & John Bagley.

 

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AIR064: Bill Hazen – Broadcast veteran / play-by-play man during Michael Jordan’s rookie NBA season (1984-85) | Podcast

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Bill Hazen

Veteran broadcaster of more than 50 Michael Jordan rookie games (1984-85), Bill Hazen.

Hazen previously appeared on the finale of our #NB85 series. However, that was an edited-down version, relating solely to the 1985 Chicago Bulls. This is the entire conversation, covering Bill’s whole career, to date.

Hazen was born and raised in Chicago. We briefly discuss the city’s history of professional basketball; leading to the expansion Bulls’ entry, in the NBA’s 1966-67 season.

Bill discusses his broadcasting career. His journey began in Columbus, Indiana – working as a disc-jockey and producing commercials – before he landed “the break of a lifetime” and moved to Milwaukee, becoming Sports Director for WISN Radio. This also gave Bill the opportunity to call play-by-play for the Marquette Golden Eagles, surrounded by luminaries Al McGuire, Hank Raymonds and Rick Majerus.

Later, Bill took a job as a sports broadcaster and talk-show host, at Houston’s KTRH. As circumstance would have it, when the talk show was not on the air, the station broadcast Houston Rockets games. Bill then worked play-by-play on TV games, for the Rockets’ late-1970s teams, calling names like Moses Malone, John Lucas and Rudy Tomjanovich, to name a few.

You’ll hear some amazing accounts of Michael Jordan’s first season in the NBA. Hazen was in attendance at Angel Guardian Gym – the Bulls’ practice facility for Jordan’s rookie season – he watched Michael shake hands with new coach, Kevin Loughery, before training camp had even commenced.

We reminisce about some of the great moments during Jordan’s first season as a pro, including this remarkable piece of commentary that Bill exclaimed, in November, 1984.


 

Another stellar piece of Bill’s commentary, was later used in the iconic advertising campaign, ‘America’s Game / NBA Action: It’s FANtastic’.


 

We also discuss Bill’s early use of computer technology to prepare for games and the dismantling of numerous personnel – coaches, executives and broadcasters – following the Bulls’ 1985 season.

In the mid-1990s, Bill worked for ESPN International, recording live audio to accompany ‘Game of the Week’ packages, distributed overseas. Also at this time, Bill called games for the NFL and produced live audio for the 1995 MLB World Series.

We conclude our wide-ranging conversation, chatting about Bill‘s production company.

The most prominent people mentioned in this episode, include: Michael Jordan, Kevin Loughery, Johnny Red Kerr, Paul Westhead, Orlando Woolridge, Jerry Sloan, Sidney MoncriefJawann OldhamDave Corzine, Rod Thorn & Vernon Maxwell.

 

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NB85-30: Michael Jordan’s rookie NBA season – Special guest, Bill Hazen (broadcaster) – 1985 series finale | Podcast

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Bill Hazen and Michael Jordan

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

 

* Bill Hazen‘s broadcasting career with the Chicago Bulls (1983-85)

* Never-before-told accounts of Michael Jordan’s rookie NBA season

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

 

The ultimate episode of #NB85. We finish our series with an in-depth interview, inviting Bill Hazen on the show, to talk about his experiences covering the Chicago Bulls (1983-85). Bill was the play-by-play man for more than 50 of Michael Jordan’s rookie games.

Hazen was born and raised in Chicago. We briefly discuss the city’s history of professional basketball; leading to the expansion Bulls’ entry, in the NBA’s 1966-67 season.

You’ll hear some amazing accounts of Michael Jordan’s first season in the NBA. Hazen was in attendance at Angel Guardian Gym – the Bulls’ practice facility for Jordan’s rookie season – he watched Michael shake hands with new coach, Kevin Loughery, before training camp had even commenced.

We reminisce about some of the great moments during Jordan’s first season as a pro, including this remarkable piece of commentary that Bill exclaimed, in November, 1984.


 

Another stellar piece of Bill’s commentary, was later used in the iconic advertising campaign, ‘America’s Game / NBA Action: It’s FANtastic’.


 

We also discuss Bill’s early use of computer technology to prepare for games, the dismantling of numerous personnel – coaches, executives and broadcasters – following the 1985 season, Bill‘s production company and much more.

This episode concludes our coverage of the 1984-85 NBA season. Thanks for taking the time to listen to the series. If you enjoyed the content, please share it with your friends!

Make sure you keep an eye on my website. Research is already under way for #NB86. A new series, devoted to 1985-86 – Michael Jordan’s tumultuous second year in the NBA – also, a season highlighted by a stunning Boston Celtics championship team.

The most prominent people mentioned in this episode, include: Michael Jordan, Kevin Loughery, Johnny Red Kerr, Paul Westhead, Orlando Woolridge, Jerry Sloan, Sidney MoncriefJawann OldhamDave Corzine, Rod Thorn, Fred Carter, Dick Motta, Bill Blair, Vernon Maxwell & Phil Johnson.

 

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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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.

 
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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