AIR072: Michael Holton – NCAA Championship finalist, NBA / CBA veteran and broadcaster | Podcast


Michael Holton - Portland Trail BlazersNCAA Championship finalist, NBA / CBA veteran and broadcaster, Michael Holton.


High School: Pasadena, California

Michael was a great player in high school. As a senior (1979), he averaged 27 points per game. He discusses his fondest memories of playing high school basketball. Fifteen years later – when Michael entered the coaching ranks – he’d reunite with his high school coach, George Terzian. Michael also talks about his decision to sign with the UCLA Bruins.


College: University of California Los Angeles

Years: 1979-80 – 1982-83 | Coaches: Larry Brown & Larry Farmer

Michael was a starter as a freshman and was named the Bruins’ outstanding first-year player. He recalls his initial fear of perhaps not being good enough to succeed on the next level – that fear was quickly allayed. After winning only eight of the first 14 games, the Bruins caught fire at the perfect time; steamrolling through the 1980 NCAA Tournament, all the way to the Championship Game versus the Louisville Cardinals. For perspective, here’s the list of teams that UCLA defeated and some of the big-time players Michael encountered:

  1. Old Dominion (Mark West)
  2. DePaul (Terry Cummings & Mark Aguirre)
  3. Ohio State (Kelvin Ransey & Clark Kellogg)
  4. Clemson (Larry Nance & Mitchell Wiggins)
  5. Purdue (Joe Barry Carroll).

In the 1980 Championship game, UCLA lost 59-54. The Cardinals were littered with future-NBA players: Darrell Griffith, Derek Smith, Rodney McCray & Jerry Eaves. Michael reflects on that amazing run to the final.

Holton’s freshman season was the senior year for Kiki VanDeWeghe – who went on to star in the NBA, notching-up seven seasons of 20-plus points per game in the 1980s – Michael talks about the importance influence of the Bruins’ junior and senior players.

As a sophomore in 1981 (outright) and junior in 1982 (tied with Ralph Jackson), Michael was named the Bruins’ Outstanding Team Player. UCLA made the second round of the 1981 NCAA Tournament, but missed the post-season in 1982. Former guests and friends of the show, Mark Eaton and Nigel Miguel, joined the Bruins around this time, too. Michael talks about the transition from (coaches) Larry Brown to Larry Farmer.

As a senior, Michael was named captain and led the team in free-throw percentage. His college career ended (1983) with a second-round exit to the Utah Utes. After reaching the title game as a freshman, Michael contrasts his feelings about exiting the tournament early (as a senior).


1983 NBA Draft

Date: June 28 | Location: New York | Pick: 53 (Round 3) | Team: Golden State Warriors


NBA / CBA career | Years: 1983-84 – 1991-92

Season: 1983-84 | Team: Puerto Rico Coquis

Coach: Herb Brown (Larry’s older brother)

Michael’s opportunity to play in the NBA would have to wait one season. After Golden State waived him (October, 1983), he signed with the Coquis; the Continental Basketball Association’s (CBA) newly-minted expansion franchise. The Coquis made it to the playoffs, before bowing out to Phil Jackson’s Albany Patroons in the semi-finals.


Seasons: 1984-85 – 1985-86 | Teams: Phoenix Suns / Florida Stingers / Chicago Bulls

Coaches: John MacLeod / Bobby Bowman (CBA) / Stan Albeck

In late September of 1984, Michael signed with the Phoenix Suns as a free agent – joining former Bruins teammates, Mike Sanders and Rod Foster. Holton recalls the step-up from Puerto Rico to the Suns. His Suns met the would-be NBA Champion, L.A. Lakers, in the first round (0-3) of the 1985 Playoffs. As he displayed throughout our chat, Michael has a great sense of humor, regaling his first taste of playoff basketball.

After a 0-4 start to season, Phoenix waived Holton. He returned to the CBA and played a key role – scoring 13 points – leading his CBA All-Star team to a 110-108 win over defending champs, Tampa Bay, in Florida. That was February 11, 1986. Michael details the wonderful background behind his meeting with the Chicago Bulls’ VP of Operations, Jerry Krause, moments after the aforementioned CBA game. Holton signed the first of two 10-day contracts with the Bulls – he’d later sign with the team for the rest of the season.

Michael Holton joined the Bulls franchise at a fascinating time in its history. Michael Jordan had broken his foot in just the third game of the season; he hoped to make an on-court return before season’s end. Holton’s future with the Bulls was largely dependent on Jordan’s injury rehabilitation. He shares unique insight into his early interactions with not only his new teammates, but his practice-court battles with a young Air Jordan.

We discuss the details behind this incredible promotional poster – Raging Bulls – that Michael appeared on.

Raging Bulls - Michael Holton

When Michael was left off the Bulls’ (1986) post-season roster – to make way for Jawann Oldham – he accepted an offer to play overseas for the Great Taste Coffee Makers, in the Philippine Basketball Association. He enjoyed considerable success in a short span – including two 40-plus point games.


Seasons: 1986-87 – 1987-88 | Team: Portland Trail Blazers

Coach: Mike Schuler

Michael signed as a veteran free agent with the Blazers, in August of 1986. He joined the team for its Summer League games in Los Angeles. In one of those games, he scored 37 points against his former team, the Phoenix Suns.

The Trail Blazers’ Mike Schuler, replaced the legendary Dr. Jack Ramsay. In his first season (1987) at the helm, Schuler led the Blazers to a 49-33 record – the best effort for a Portland team since the 1978 campaign – and won Coach of the Year honors.

Holton’s second season with the Blazers resulted in an even-better regular season (53-29). His responsibilities also increased significantly as he became a trusted part of the rotation. Michael discussed his increased role with the team and some of the all-time Blazer greats that he played with, including Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter.


Seasons: 1988-89 – 1989-90 | Team: Charlotte Hornets

Coaches: Dick Harter & Gene Littles

As one of the (Blazers) players left unprotected for the (June 23, 1988) NBA Expansion Draft, Michael was picked by a new franchise – the Charlotte Hornets. He was selected sixth by the Hornets (12th overall), who alternated picks with the other new franchise – the Miami Heat. We chat about the build-up to the Hornets’ NBA debut and how the city at-large, immediately fell in love with the new franchise.

The new franchise’s amazing fans ensured that Charlotte Coliseum would be packed to the rafters. The Hornets led the league in attendance in eight of its first 10 seasons – they were in second place, the other two occasions.

Holton started at point-guard in Charlotte’s first 60 games and arguably had his best NBA season in 1989, averaging 8.3 points, 6.3 assists and one steal per game, in just over 25 minutes per contest.

Michael required back surgery prior to the start of the 1990 season. After an 8-32 start, Coach Harter was replaced by Gene Littles. He steered the team to an 11-31 finish, as the Hornets ended the season at 19-63. Holton only managed 16 games in total and didn’t return to the court until late February (1990). He talks openly about his recovery from surgery, watching from the sidelines as the team really struggled, and the franchise’s expectations of his return. Three days shy of the start to the 1991 season, Charlotte waived Michael.


Seasons: 1990-91 & 1991-92 | Teams: Tulsa Fast Breakers & Tri-City Chinook

Coaches: Henry Bibby (Breakers) & Steve Hayes (Chinook)

Michael finished his playing career with stops in the CBA. First, with the Tulsa Fast Breakers and then, the expansion Tri-City Chinook. He reflects on how his on-court career played out, including his last attempt to make it back to the NBA.

Michael transitioned into coaching, not long after retiring as a player. Following stints in high school and two seasons with Oregon-based colleges, he returned to UCLA – this time as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. The team enjoyed great success (1996 through 2001). Michael talks about what it was like to return to the Bruins, almost 15 years after he left the school as a player.

We also talk about Michael’s tenure as head coach at the University of Portland. He left the Pilots in 2006, after five seasons. He shares his thoughts on leading the team and highlights from the journey. NBA great, Terry Porter – Holton’s former teammate on the Blazers – was recently named head coach at the University of Portland. We briefly talk about the task ahead of Terry, as the upcoming season approaches.

These days, Michael works for the Portland Trail Blazers’ broadcasting team. Recently, he teamed up with his former (UCLA and NBA) teammate, Mike Sanders, for a camp in the Czech Republic – part of the Michael Holton Basketball Academy. He talks about the importance of giving back to the community.

I ask Michael to recall “The Game I’ll Never Forget”. Our conversation concludes with a brief discussion about the significance of the jersey numbers that Michael wore throughout his career.

People mentioned in this episode, include: Sidney Green, John Paxson, Kyle Macy & Gene Banks.


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AIR069: Great NBA Games – Indiana Pacers vs Chicago Bulls (May 31, 1998) | Podcast


Michael Jordan drives to the hoop

Adam and Jeff discuss Chicago’s must-win Game 7, to clinch the Eastern Conference and make a sixth trip to the NBA Finals – May 31st, 1998 – the Bulls take on the visiting Pacers, at the United Center.

We cover all the key aspects of the game. We discuss the NBC broadcast and its commentary team of Bob Costas, Doug Collins, Isiah Thomas, Ahmad Rashad and Jim Gray. We chat about Indiana’s rookie coach, the iconic Larry Bird, and his drive to give the Pacers their first-ever trip to the NBA Finals. Conversely, Phil Jackson dubbed this 1998 season, The Last Dance. Something had to give. We talk about each team’s roster and our memories and opinions on this do-or-die match-up.


As per usual, the conversation is scattered with humor and plenty of insight. A must-listen, for die-hard NBA fans, regardless of the team you support.

The most prominent players mentioned in this episode, include: Michael JordanScottie Pippen, Reggie Miller, Luc Longley, Mark Jackson, Toni Kukoc, Rik Smits, Steve Kerr, Dennis Rodman, Ron Harper, Travis Best, Chris Mullin, Jud Buechler & Jalen Rose.

Statistics mentioned, are often courtesy of Basketball-Reference.

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AIR065: Eddie Nealy – Kansas State standout & 10-year NBA veteran | Podcast


Eddie Nealy

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.

Eddie Nealy - Kansas State Wildcats


1982 NBA Draft

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

Coach: Bob Weiss

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

Coaches: Doug Collins / Cotton Fitzsimmons

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.


Season: 1989-90 | Team: Chicago Bulls

Coach: Phil Jackson

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

Coaches: Don Nelson / Phil Jackson

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”.

In 2014, Nealy was inducted to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. We talk about how he felt to receive that great honor.

Phil Jackson once said that having Nealy on his roster, was like having another coach. We discuss Eddie’s (possible) opportunities missed and future coaching ambitions.

Our conversation rounds out with a quick chat about the significance (if any) of Eddie’s jersey numbers.

People mentioned in this episode, include: Charles Barkley, LaSalle Thompson, Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, Chris Mullin & Tim Hardaway.


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NB85-20: Michael Jordan’s rookie NBA season – February 8 through 22, 1985 | Podcast


Jordan, Pacers Chicago

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


* NBA regular season – February 8 through 22, 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 five games in this span – one win and four losses.

We chat about the impending (majority) ownership of Jerry Reinsdorf and his (not-too-distant) personnel moves that would change the face of Chicago’s franchise. We also talk about the NBA’s best-performing players – including Larry Bird‘s astonishing, near quadruple-double – milestones reached 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, Magic Johnson, Bernard King, Isiah Thomas, Hakeem Olajuwon, Mark Aguirre, Sidney Green, Julius Erving, Ralph Sampson, Mark Eaton, James Worthy, Tim McCormick, Ron Harper & Phil Jackson.


Chicago Bulls games discussed:


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

Box Score: Feb 15, 1985 – Indiana Pacers @ Chicago Bulls

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

Box Score: Feb 19, 1985 – L.A. Lakers @ Chicago Bulls

Box Score: Feb 22, 1985 – Chicago Bulls vs Boston Celtics (at Hartford)


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AIR044: Great NBA Games – Michael Jordan 63 points (1986) – Bulls at Celtics | Podcast


Adam and Todd discuss Michael Jordan’s record-breaking Playoff game – April 20th, 1986 – MJ scored 63 points in the Chicago Bulls’ double-overtime loss to the Boston Celtics.

We discuss all the key aspects of the game. We talk about the CBS broadcast and its commentary team of Dick Stockton, Tom Heinsohn and Pat O’Brien. We chat about the contrasting nature of Boston and Chicago’s respective seasons, leading into their first-round Playoffs meeting. We talk about each team’s roster and our memories and opinions on this incredible match-up – arguably one of the top 10 NBA games ever played.

As per usual, the conversation is scattered with humor and plenty of insight. Todd also updates us on the status of his forthcoming book on the late, great, Drazen Petrovic. A must-listen, for die-hard NBA fans, regardless of the team you support.


Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference

April 20, 1986 | Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers [Box Score] [stat-sheet]

1986 NBA Season Summary

Sports Illustrated (1986): Bird; NBA’s all-time best player?

Greatest Sports Legends (1988): O.J. Simpson | Elvin Hayes

Bill Simmons’ Grantland (2014): George Gervin


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AIR043: Bill Cartwright – NCAA All-American, All-Star and five-time NBA Champion | Podcast


Bill Cartwright

NCAA All-American, All-Star and five-time NBA Champion, Bill Cartwright.

Bill discusses his early years, growing up in California and playing baseball – his first sporting love. He became a highly-recruited basketballer, but chose to remain in his home state, developing into a standout at the University of San Francisco. We also chat about Bill’s first memories of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. In his senior season, Cartwright was named 1st Team All-American.

Bill talks about the 1979 NBA Draft and his (very) underrated rookie season – where he was named an All-Star and All-Rookie 1st Team selection. He recalls some of the all-time greats he played with and against, including Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe, Darryl Dawkins, Julius Erving, Dave Cowens and many others. We learn about Bill’s career in New York, the legendary coaches he played for and the interesting details behind his trade to the Chicago Bulls.

We chat about The Jordan Rules and its impact on the Bulls’ unity. We break down Bill’s career in Chicago – including his role as team co-captain. He offers his thoughts on each of his three NBA Championships (as a player), the Bulls’ (1994) season without Michael Jordan and more.

We learn about Bill’s coaching career, too. He talks about his varied roles within the NBA, plus, his move to Japan, where he was Osaka Evessa’s head coach, in the Basketball Japan League. This conversation is wide-ranging and covers Bill entire career. We even talk about his future coaching plans and the chat concludes with a discussion of Australia’s own – and Cartwright’s former teammate – Luc Longley.


Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

Photos: USF | Pre-NBA Draft

NBA Finals: 1991 | 1992 | 1993

NBA: vs. Pistons | 1994

Sacramento Sports: Hall of Fame

TV: Celebrity Bucket List | Coaching: Teach, in Japan

Bill Cartwright online: Company | LinkedIn


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