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

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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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AIR062: Mike Brown – George Washington University star and 11-year NBA veteran | Podcast

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Mike Brown - Utah Jazz

Atlantic 10 Legend (George Washington) and 11-year NBA veteran, Mike Brown.

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.


 

You can follow Mike on Twitter.

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AIR061: Great NBA Games – Chicago Bulls vs Boston Celtics (March 31, 1991) | Podcast

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Reggie Lewis drives on Michael Jordan

AdamAaron and Todd discuss a classic double-overtime game featuring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird – March 31st, 1991 – the Celtics take on the visiting Bulls, at Boston Garden.

We discuss all the key aspects of the game. We talk about the NBC broadcast and its commentary team of Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Ahmad Rashad. We chat about the great regular season that each team was enjoying, as the Playoffs approached. We talk about each team’s roster and our memories and opinions on this exciting match-up.

Watch the Google Hangout below – recorded live on August 20, 2015 – or, should you prefer the audio-only version (above, or via your podcast app of choice), you’ll hear an edited version of the conversation.

 

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: Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, John Paxson, Reggie Lewis, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Brian Shaw, Kevin Gamble, Dee Brown, Ed Pinckney, Stojko Vrankovic & Cliff Levingston.

Statistics mentioned, are often courtesy of Basketball-Reference.

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AIR059: Cedric Ceballos – NBA All-Star, 11-year veteran & Slam Dunk Champion | Podcast

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Cedric Ceballos with the Van Exel-lent dunkNBA All-Star, 11-year veteran & Slam Dunk Champion, Cedric Ceballos.

Prior to delving into Cedric’s on-court prowess, we talk about his love for music and the famous album, ‘Basketball’s Best Kept Secret‘, featuring Dana Barros and many others.


 

Little-known fact: Cedric was a ball-boy at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Ceballos went on to star at Ventura College, before playing his junior and senior seasons at Cal State Fullerton – where he was scouted by Jerry West – averaging better than 22 points & 10 rebounds per game.

Cedric discusses the 1990 NBA Draft, and his flurry of emotions, waiting to hear his name called. He was selected 48th overall, by the Phoenix Suns. Ced talks about his transition from college, and learning the game from veterans like Tom Chambers, Eddie Johnson & Dan Majerle.

Our conversation also uncovers the fascinating truth behind Dee Brown‘s victory – punctuated by his memorable, pumping-up of the Reebok shoes, and ‘Blind Dunk’ – in the 1991 Slam Dunk Competition.


 

Cedric won the 1992 contest, finishing with his famous ‘Hocus Pocus’ jam, dedicated to Magic Johnson. Few people know, that Cedric & Dee competed in a college dunk contest, at the Orlando All-Star Classic. 25 years later, prepare to hear the inside story that will change most of what you know about the history of the NBA’s 1991 Dunk Contest.

 

We break down the 1993 season. Paul Westphal was named as coach, the Suns traded for Charles Barkley and Cedric led the league in field-goal percentage (57.6). Phoenix steamrolled the league, en route to 62 wins and the number-one seed in the Playoffs. The Suns survived their first-round series against the upstart Lakers, with an overtime victory in the fifth and deciding game.

 

Injury hit Cedric at the worst possible time. He broke his foot during the 1993 Western Conference Finals; missing the NBA Finals against Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the Chicago Bulls. He talks about the emotions of supporting his team from the sidelines.

We cover Cedric’s trade (September, 1994) from Phoenix to the L.A. Lakers, where he enjoyed NBA-career highs in scoring, rebounds and assists. Ceballos was named an All-Star, however, an incident with Dikembe Mutombo, days prior to the 1995 All-Star Game, led to Cedric missing the game due to injury. In a cruel twist of fate, Mutombo would receive his second All-Star nod.

 

Magic Johnson returned to the NBA during the 1996 season. Cedric talks about co-captaining the Lakers with Nick Van Exel, the impact of Magic’s return and how it felt to miss the opportunity to challenge for a title, playing alongside one of the all-time greats.

Cedric appeared in the iconic movie, Space Jam. We talk about his memories of the experience and the effect it continues to have on his life.

 

He also opens up about playing basketball inside The Jordan Dome – the purpose-built workout facility, constructed for Jordan’s use, during downtime around the filming of the movie.

 

During the 1997 season, Ceballos was traded back to Phoenix – the Suns were in turmoil, but Cedric and his (new) teammates turned the season around, steering the franchise into the Playoffs.

In the 1998 season, Cedric was traded to Dallas. He talks about the challenges of playing for a franchise that was fighting for relevancy. He speaks fondly of former-teammate, (Australia’s) Chris Anstey and a great victory the Mavs had over the rampaging Bulls, in March of 1998.

 

After his time with the Mavericks, he closed out his NBA career with stops in Detroit and Miami. He then played in various leagues around the USA, became a member of the Harlem Globetrotters and also headed overseas to play professionally.

You can follow Cedric online. Check him out on Twitter. Learn more about his other interests, including ShootersRev and The Stream World.

Thanks to Paul Corliss and the NBRPA team, for scheduling Cedric’s podcast appearance.

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AIR053: Luc Longley (three-time NBA Champion) talks Jordan’s, “I’m back”, Bulls and more | Podcast

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Luc and JordanThree-time Olympian / NBA Champion and Australia’s first ever NBA player, Luc Longley.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Michael Jordan‘s (first) NBA return. I’m delighted to welcome back Luc Longley to the podcast. We discuss his recollections of the hoopla surrounding MJ’s return to the Chicago Bulls, following Jordan’s 1993 retirement.

This conversation is much more than simply chatting about Jordan’s comeback. We also delve deeper into Luc’s career with the Bulls and reminisce about some of Chicago’s memorable playoff series’, versus:

– New York Knicks (1994: Toni Kukoc‘s game-winner and Scottie Pippen‘s monster dunk on Patrick Ewing)

– Orlando Magic (1995: Bulls’ shock exit and Horace Grant‘s post-series celebration)

– Orlando Magic (1996: Chicago’s four-game sweep and Luc’s match-up against Shaquille O’Neal).

Further, I share my story about meeting Luc in 1991 and he talks fondly about the friendships he developed playing alongside memorable teammates, including Bill Cartwright, John Paxson and B.J. Armstrong. We find time to talk about his assistant coaching role with the Australian Boomers, the future of basketball in Australia and the importance of players like Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and Dante Exum.

We also reference a great article that recently appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, titled, “Luc Longley – from running with the Chicago Bulls to falling in love with basketball again”. You can read the feature here (written by David Sygall).

Oh, and Luc totally tricks me into believing a ludicrous story about Jordan, that somehow I didn’t even bat an eyelid at. This is a really enjoyable chat.

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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

 

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