Kendall Gill: Illinois great, All-American and NBA star | Interview

Illinois Fighting Illini great, All-American and NBA star, Kendall Gill.

Due to audio issues, our initial recording of Kendall’s podcast episode failed. Here is the transcribed interview of that conversation – featuring discussion topics that didn’t make it into the re-recorded episode. Thanks again Kendall for your great generosity.

 

Podcast: In all Airness – Jordan-era | NBA History

Guest: Kendall Gill | Record date: Jan 28, 2014 | Key: A = Adam / K =Kendall

 

A: Kendall Gill, thanks for joining me.

K: No problem. It’s a pleasure to be heard Down Under in Australia.

A: Have you ever been to Australia before?

K: Never been to Australia before – but someday, I plan on making it.

A: How do you compare the in-arena atmosphere of college basketball, to the support your Charlotte Hornets received in the NBA?

K: It was a little bit different, because an important thing to remember about the Illini players – each and every one of those players; even the walk-ons – was from the state of Illinois. All of us were home grown. It was special.

When I go to North Carolina and play for the Charlotte Hornets, it was great as well, because of the 22,000 fans they had there every night – they were basketball crazy. At that time, the Hornets were the only show in town. It seemed like a college atmosphere, but it was a little different playing pro basketball to college basketball, because players can get traded and you don’t get to form the special relationships as a pro player, that you can as a college player. The fan support was awesome in Charlotte.

A: How was it, playing with a unique team mate like Muggsy Bogues?

K: Well, with Muggsy, it was great playing with him, because he was a point guard that could deliver the basketball to you. That was his first priority. In today’s day and age, you have guys that shoot first. Muggsy was not at all like that – he pushed the basketball up the court. If you ran, he would give you the basketball. Defensively, people didn’t want to dribble the basketball up against Muggsy Bogues.

If you remember Rod Strickland, who is one of the great point guards – most underrated point guards that has ever played in the NBA – bringing the ball up against Muggsy, he never wanted to do that. He always passed the ball off to the two-guard and let him bring it up. That lets you know that even though Muggsy was 5’3”, he could change the game at any time.

A: True. Rod Strickland had great handle of the ball, so it’s a testament to how good Muggsy was. It must have been quite jarring to see someone of his (Bogues) stature, compete and be so good at NBA level, where players are much taller. Can you talk about his competitiveness?

K: Absolutely. He’s a big-time competitor and confident. Totally confident. Even though he was small, he used his speed to his advantage. He had a great ability to cause disruption on the defensive end. These are his strengths. We know he wasn’t the greatest scorer – he was great at other things and that is what he kept him in the league for so long.

A: Most listeners will know, as we record this chat, the Charlotte Bobcats will soon revert back to being named the Charlotte Hornets. As one of the Hornets’ best players in their franchise history, what’s your opinion of their name change?

K: I think it’s great. I think the fans were so hurt when the franchise left for New Orleans, that when the NBA brought them back, it still wasn’t the same – they were the Bobcats. I think the city identifies with the colors of purple and teal. They identify that with the Hornets name. Now, it seems like the real girlfriend is back (laughs) – so to speak.

I think the city will embrace it and with the name change, there will be more pride instilled in the franchise. Michael Jordan and Fred Whitfield and all those guys understand that. That’s why they wanted to bring the name-change back. It is going to be great for the franchise.

A: [Mutombo’s Nuggets defeated Gill’s Sonics: 1994 NBA Playoffs] After losing Game 5 and returning to the locker room, what happened behind closed doors?

K: Well, it was like a morgue. It was completely silent and like a train hit us. We didn’t know what happened. I don’t know if you saw, but I’m a big boxing fan. Manny Pacquiao fought Juan Manuel Marquez; in a fight in which he got knocked out. Manny was winning the fight and then, all of sudden – boom – one punch…he’s out. Exactly the feeling we had when we lost to the Denver Nuggets.

A: At what point in your career, did you increase your physical conditioning, with boxing and aerobic-type exercises?

K: About my 10th year in the league, I started to do mixed-martial arts – things you’d see on the UFC. I did that for extra conditioning in the summer time – being a 10th year player, you need something else to take it to another level, to keep you ahead of the younger players and that’s why I did it. My first love was always boxing. I used to box when I was a kid. I went back to my first love. I had four professional fights – I may have another one – I’m not sure right now. I’m trying to work out the details. However, that is my passion and I do it every day.

A: I know that recently you set a goal to get back to your ideal NBA game-shape. The physical conditioning that you’re talking about – is this one of the driving forces behind that decision?

K: It is. My brothers actually bet me that I couldn’t get into that type of shape again. At Christmas, at my parents’ house, my brothers actually bet me that I couldn’t do it. I said, ‘OK’. It’s a challenge – I always look for challenges – I’m going to do it. I’ve already been in a month of training and I’ve got about a month and a half to go. We’ll see. I’m half way there (laughs).

A: Who did you get amped up for and look forward to playing, when you read your NBA schedule?

K: Well, I’ll tell you what. I used to get amped up to play against Drazen Petrovic. He always brought the best out in me. He and I had some terrific battles. I loved playing against Michael, because…one thing, Michael had the Mike Tyson effect. He had the other guys beat before they even got to the arena. They were afraid of him, you know. That never worked on me. I was never afraid and I relished playing against him – even though he was the greatest to ever play the game. I’m not going to stop him; but, I’m going to make it hard for him. I made it very hard for him to score, but, he still scored. He also had the best offense – the Triangle.

You know, we can go back to Kobe Bryant and how great he was. Shaquille O’Neal. Scottie Pippen. Another guy I loved playing against, even though I didn’t guard him – Hakeem Olajuwon. I think he was the second best player I’ve ever played against. Players like that…you know, Glen Rice and I had a lot battles. Also, Grant Hill. A lot of people don’t know; had Grant Hill never been injured, we’d be talking about one of the greatest players to ever play this game. He was one of the most difficult guys to cover as well.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

NCAA: Retrospective | Flyin’ Illini1989: Elite Eight

NBA: Draft | Dunk Contest | Highlights | Nuggets v Sonics | Kendall v MJ

Boxing: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Fight Night

Kendall Gill online: Twitter | Instagram | The Backcourt Online

 

I appreciate all feedback, FB Page ‘Likes’ and iTunes ratings / reviews.

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Subscribe: iTunesRSS | Website

Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail

 

AIR042: Kendall Gill – Illinois great, All-American and NBA star | Podcast

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Illinois Fighting Illini great, All-American and NBA star, Kendall Gill.

Kendall talks about growing up in the city of Chicago – where he played baseball and took up boxing – before his family moved to the suburbs and he started playing basketball. Kendall starred at Rich Central High School and played four seasons at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was named 3rd Team All-American, his senior season.

We chat about Kendall’s memories of the 1990 NBA Draft, where the Charlotte Hornets selected him with the fifth overall pick – he was named All-Rookie 1st Team, in 1991. We discuss his three seasons in Charlotte and his involvement in the 1991 All-Star Weekend.

Kendall talks about his trade from Charlotte to Seattle, where he played two seasons on one of the most exciting and up-tempo franchises of the 1990s. He discusses his trade back to Charlotte – where he played a further 36 games – before learning the shock news that he was traded to New Jersey. Kendall played six seasons with the Nets. We cover his final four seasons in the NBA. Kendall talks about playing for his hometown Chicago Bulls and the experience of playing with – rather than, against – Scottie Pippen.

Kendall discusses his post-NBA career, where he spent seven seasons as a studio analyst for the Chicago Bulls – he candidly reflects on the (2013) altercation that led to Comcast SportsNet (CSN) Chicago, not renewing his contract.

This is a conversation packed with great discussion topics. A little teaser, too – Kendall offers up an awesome story, relating to one of the NBA’s biggest trades of the 1990s.

Note: due to audio issues, the first recording of this podcast episode failed. I then planned to feature – as a transcribed interview – our conversation, here on my website. However, Kendall generously offered for us to re-record the chat, the following day. I was most grateful for the opportunity. A transcription of parts from our first chat, that didn’t make it into this re-recorded episode, will appear here on this page, in the coming days. If you enjoy this chat, I’d be most appreciative if you take a moment to drop Kendall a line and thank him for his generosity.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

NCAA: Retrospective | Flyin’ Illini1989: Elite Eight

NBA: Draft | Dunk Contest | Highlights | Nuggets v Sonics | Kendall v MJ

Boxing: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Fight Night

Kendall Gill online: Twitter | Instagram | The Backcourt Online

 

I appreciate all feedback, FB Page ‘Likes’ and iTunes ratings / reviews.

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Subscribe: iTunesRSS | Website

Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail

 

AIR029: 1995 NBA Draft – complete recap | Podcast

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1995 NBA Draft

Adam and Reece discuss the 1995 NBA Draft – one of the strongest 1990s draft classes, in terms of player longevity. We break down the top 10 picks, notable players selected and all-things in between.

 
Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference

1993: Toronto Raptors | 1995: Vancouver Grizzlies

NBA Draft: Selections | Telecast

2000: Team USA v Australia

Hoops Podcast

 

I appreciate all feedback, FB Page ‘Likes’ and iTunes ratings / reviews.

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS | Website

Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail

 

Top 5: Favorite Jordan-era NBA guards

Mitch Richmond

It’s important to distinguish, these are my favorite players – clearly, subjective. A host of past players resonate with me for many reasons; a select moment in time, a well-played, yet under-appreciated career, or merely happenstance.

In no particular order, here are my favorite guards of the Jordan-era [obviously MJ-excluded; must have played at least 4 seasons against MJ’s Bulls]:

Lafayette Lever (1983-1994) | Player profile

Notable: 2-time All-Star (1988, 1990) | 6th all-time, steals per game

Opinion: criminally underrated player, deserving of much higher recognition. He had a stunning six season span (1985-1990) averaging 17.0 pts, 7.6 rbs, 7.5 ast and 2.5 stl per game. Oh, and he’s only 6’3″.

Kevin Johnson (1988-2000) | Player profile

Notable: 3-time All-Star (1990-1991, 1994) | 6th all-time, assists per game

Opinion: an outstanding player, mere percentage points from averaging 20 pts / 10 ast for nine consecutive seasons (1989-1997). I loved his exuberant celebrations on court, plus his fearless penetration in the lane. This resulted in assists to open team mates, or an attack on the rim.

Here, KJ gives The Dream, his own night-Mayor (see what I did there?):

Rex Chapman (1989-2000) | Player profile

Notable: UK (Wildcats) standout, turned pro as a sophomore | Flair for the dramatic

Opinion: an acrobatic and entertaining player, confident in his ability. He has career averages of almost 15 pts / 3 rbs / 3 ast / 1 stl, in under 30 minutes per game. Rex could light up a scoreboard, had a sweet shooting stroke and was a maestro of dunk. I even had his photo on my high school diary (too much information?)

John Starks (1989-2002) | Player profile

Notable: All-Defensive (2nd) Team (1993) | All-Star (1994) | Sixth Man of the Year (1997)

Opinion: whilst never beating Jordan in the Playoffs, Starks is a first-ballot nominee, for the role of MJ’s nemesis. I admired his tenacity, in-your-face style of play and all out hustle. Plus, John’s road to the NBA is a fascinating tale in itself.

Mitch Richmond (1989-2002) | Player profile

Notable: Rookie of the Year (1989) | 6-time All-Star (1993-1998) | NBA Champion (2002)

Opinion: part of the famed ‘Run TMC’ [part 1 / part 2] at Golden State. He was All-Star MVP in 1995 and Sacramento’s franchise player for seven seasons (1992-1998), averaging 23.3 pts, 3.7 rbs, 4.1 ast and 1.3 stl per game. A consummate professional, lauded as MJ’s toughest defender, by none other than Jordan himself.

Honorable mentions:

Daron Blaylock (Hawks), Kevin Gamble (Celtics) Tyrone Bogues (Hornets), B.J. Armstrong (Bulls), Craig Ehlo | Mark Price (Cavaliers), Jay Humphries | Ricky PierceAlvin Robertson (Bucks), Mark Jackson | Trent Tucker (Knicks), Anfernee Hardaway (Magic), Hersey Hawkins (76ers), Rod Strickland (Bullets).

Tim Hardaway (Warriors), Vernon Maxwell (Rockets), Ron Harper (Clippers) Sedale Threatt | Nick Van Exel (Lakers), Jerome Richardson | Tony Campbell (Timberwolves), Terry Porter (Trail Blazers), Gary Payton (SuperSonics).

Obvious omissions: clearly, the following players are all-time greats at their position. They didn’t make the cut as they’re not my favorites of the era – due to team/s played for or rivalries against MJ’s Bulls – imagined or otherwise…

Isiah Thomas (Pistons), Reggie Miller (Pacers).

Earvin Johnson (Lakers), Jason Kidd (Suns), Clyde Drexler (Trail Blazers), John Stockton (Jazz).

Did I miss anyone? Comments welcome. Who are your favorite Jordan-era guards?

 

AIR007: Dennis Hopson – Ohio State Buckeyes legend and NBA Champion | Podcast

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Dennis Hopson

Ohio State Buckeyes legend and NBA Champion, Dennis Hopson.

Our chat covers his whole career – playing at OSU, being a top 3 NBA draft pick and adjusting to life as a New Jersey Nets player. We talk about his championship season in Chicago, playing as a backup to none other than Michael Jordan. We also discuss his season with the Sacramento Kings, playing professionally in Europe, the importance of completing his college degree and his current role as Assistant Coach at Bowling Green State University. We even squeeze in some talk about the 2013 NBA season.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Hopson becomes OSU’s all-time leading scorer | 1987 NBA Draft

20th Anniversary of Chicago Bulls’ first NBA Championship

Online movement for OSU to retire Dennis’ #32 | Follow Dennis on Twitter

 

I appreciate all feedback, FB Page ‘Likes’ and iTunes ratings / reviews.

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Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail

 

AIR006: Cliff Robinson – Portland Trail Blazer great and NBA Iron Man | Podcast

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Portland Trail Blazer great and basketball Iron Man, Cliff Robinson.

Our chat spans his entire career – playing at the University of Connecticut, two NBA Finals appearances, Sixth Man of the Year and emergence as an All-Star. We also discuss his memories of ‘The Shrug’ – Michael Jordan’s history-making performance in Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals – plus plenty more.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Spurs v Blazers – 1990 NBA Playoffs (part 1 / part 2)

1994 NBA All-Star Game – player introductions

The Robinson Network / follow Cliff on Twitter

 

I appreciate all feedback, FB Page ‘Likes’ and iTunes ratings / reviews.

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Subscribe: iTunesRSS | Website

Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail