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!
Mike discusses his multi-sport childhood and his decision to focus on basketball. His path to the NBA began at Clifford J. Scott High School. We chat about his tremendous tenure at George Washington University, where he starred academically (Criminal Justice) and athletically. Mike led the Colonials in scoring and rebounding, in each of his four seasons with the team. Between his junior and senior seasons, he participated in the 1984 US Olympic Trials at Indiana University. He shares his memories of those famous trials. We also talk about Mike’s relationship with Patrick Ewing, who played for the Georgetown Hoyas, just miles away from the George Washington campus.
We talk about the 1985 NBA Draft, one of the most talent-laden in the history of the game. The Chicago Bulls selected Mike in the third round (69th-pick overall). Following a season overseas (Italy), Brown returned to the Bulls, and played the 1987 and 1988 seasons with the team, alongside Michael Jordan and (a young) Scottie Pippen.
I also asked Mike about his memories of this famous move – he didn’t disappoint.
In June of 1988, the expansion Charlotte Hornets, selected Mike in the Expansion Draft, trading him to the Utah Jazz, for Kelly Tripucka.
The next five years of Mike’s career (1989-1993), were spent in Utah. The Jazz advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 1992, and we talk about the opportunities that opened for Mike, both on and off the court. He talks fondly about his time with the franchise and being teammates with John Stockton and Karl Malone. We also discuss the 1992 Olympic Games, where Mike traveled to Barcelona to watch four of his teammates (Jordan, Pippen, Stockton & Malone) win the gold medal for Team USA.
After the 1993 season, Mike was traded to Minnesota, in exchange for Felton Spencer. He talks about the adjustment of leaving a winning culture in Utah, to a franchise that was still searching for its identity. The last few seasons of Mike’s career, were with the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns. He also returned overseas for a second stint in Europe.
Mike also reflects on some of the great coaches he played for, including Doug Collins, Frank Layden and Jerry Sloan, to name a few.
Since his playing career ended, Mike has been involved in coaching at various levels, and is currently working for the NBA, in a player-development role. We round out the conversation, talking about Mike’s (Las Vegas) radio show, The Embracing Project and finally, his gold-medal success at the World Masters Games, here in Australia.
We didn’t get to cover this, however, it’s very cool and definitely worth a look. Mike is clearly a fan of vintage cars.
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.
High School All-American, NCAA great and NBA All-Star, Jeff Ruland.
Jeff discusses his early sporting life and the major growth-spurt that coincided with his decision to focus on basketball. He was named High School All-American in the same class as Magic Johnson and was heavily recruited across the country. We chat about his decision to remain in New York and commit to Iona College, led by future luminary, Jim Valvano.
Jeff opens up about the 1980 NBA Draft and why he opted to head overseas and play in Spain, before commencing his rookie season in 1982. We talk about Jeff’s excellent first three full seasons, that resulted in NBA All-Star selections in 1984 and 1985. Jeff recalls Michael Jordan’s debut game in the NBA and the rude awakening that MJ would receive on his first dunk attempt in Chicago Stadium.
We chat about the impact of the Showtime Lakers and Boston’s Big Three, plus, the onset of injury issues that began to halt Jeff’s career. We also talk about one of the most memorable trades in NBA history; the Bullets’ decision to trade Jeff to Philadelphia, in exchange for Moses Malone. Jeff details his (first) retirement from the NBA in 1987 and how he went back to college to complete his degree, before making his remarkable comeback attempt in the 1992 season.
We also learn about the successes of Jeff’s coaching career, that are also mixed with trials and tribulations you need to hear to fully comprehend. Our conversation covers a broad-range of interesting topics and is an open and engaging look at one of basketball’s most underrated – in my opinion – careers, ever.
We break down all key aspects of the game. We discuss TNT’s broadcast, the commentary team of Bob Neal and Doug Collins and the Cleveland newspaper article that possibly led to Michael Jordan’s explosive, all-around excellence. We dissect important moments throughout the contest and offer our opinions on relevant players from each roster. Winston Bennett fan? This podcast episode is made for you.
We also touch on the 1990 NBA season as a whole, plus, talk about how each of the two teams fared in the Playoffs. 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.
Three-time NBL Champion, four-time Australian Olympian and NBA player, Mark Bradtke.
Mark talks about his entry into competitive basketball and we discuss his quick rise into Australia’s basketball elite. We chat about his time at the Australian Institute of Sport and later, playing for the Adelaide 36ers, in Australia’s NBL.
We talk about Mark’s decision to move interstate, to play for the Melbourne Tigers – joining forces with Andrew Gaze and Lanard Copeland – helping the team win its first NBL title, in 1993. Recently, the Tigers celebrated the 20th Anniversary of that victory and Mark talks about the reunion and special bond he shares with those players and personnel.
We cover Mark’s outstanding Olympic career, where he represented Australia on four occasions. Mark talks about his opportunities to attend NBA training camps, plus, his 1997 season on the Philadelphia 76ers roster. He is open and honest about his time in the NBA and offers wonderful insight into the trials and tribulations of the experience.
In 1997, Mark returned home to Australia. We talk about the contrast of leaving a struggling NBA franchise, to resuming his career at home and winning a second NBL title, just months later. We look back at Mark’s 2002 MVP season and he also offers his opinion on the current state of basketball in Australia, plus, his future ambitions within the sport.
The conversation is scattered with references to the history of Australian basketball. Aside from his Tigers teammates, we talk about Shane Heal, Luc Longley, Andrew Vlahov and numerous other greats of Mark’s era.