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.

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Subscribe: iTunesRSS | Website

Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail

 

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

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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

 

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

 

AIR041: Eddie Johnson – NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Illinois great, TV analyst and author | Podcast

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NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Illinois great, TV analyst and author, Eddie Johnson.

The timing of this episode is perfect. Eddie was recently honored, in a half-time ceremony, at Illinois, commemorating the 35th anniversary of his game-winning jumper, against Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans.

We learn about Eddie’s early sporting career and how he first became involved with basketball. He chats fondly of his playing days at Westinghouse High School, where he first appeared on the national radar. We discuss his great college career, where he was a four-year star at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Eddie talks about his return to Illinois, just last week, as mentioned above. We also touch on his collegiate link to future NBA star, Derek Harper.

We cover Eddie’s memories of 1981 NBA Draft day and the motivating factors that ensured his place within NBA history. Eddie chats candidly about his professional career, where he was a scoring machine with the Kansas City Kings (who became the Sacramento Kings, after the 1985 season). We chat about his three (full) seasons in Phoenix, where he won (1989) the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. We talk about his trade to the Seattle SuperSonics, his one season in Charlotte and decision to play overseas, in Greece (1994-95).

Eddie talks about his return to the NBA, for the 1996 season, as a free agent addition of the Indiana Pacers, before ultimately signing with the Houston Rockets in March of 1997. We talk about Eddie’s vital role on a Houston roster, loaded with future Hall of Fame players. I was also compelled to ask Eddie about his incredible buzzer-beating, game-winning three-point shot in the 1997 Western Conference Finals, too.

We round out this great conversation, chatting about his post-NBA career. Eddie has been as a TV analyst for well over 10 years and recently found time to publish a book – with a fantastic title: You Big Dummy – An Athlete’s “SIMPLE” Guide To A Successful Career. We even find time to chat about a guy named Michael Jordan, plus plenty more topics.

 

Links to topics discussed (more added soon):

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

Eddie Johnson online: WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | YouTube

 

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

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Subscribe: iTunesRSS | Website

Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail

 

AIR040: Jim McIlvaine (Part II) – Marquette star and NBA veteran | Podcast

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Marquette star and seven-year NBA veteran, Jim McIlvaine.

In part two of this special double-episode, I welcome back Marquette great and NBA veteran, Jim McIlvaine. If you missed part one, we discussed Jim’s college career in-depth, where he was a stand-out at Marquette. He talked about his selection in the 1994 NBA Draft and first three NBA seasons – including, a completely open and honest assessment of his free agent move from the Washington Bullets to the Seattle SuperSonics, in 1996.

This episode features part two of our chat – we continue discussing Jim’s playing days with Seattle, his relationship with George Karl and the coaching staff, plus, more great stories from on and off the court. Jim talks about his career-ending injury whilst a member of the New Jersey Nets.

We also talk about some of the radio and TV commentators he admires, and chat about his current role as a broadcaster at the university where he starred; Marquette. Towards the end of our mega-chat, Jim shares a wonderful, funny story about Gene Hackman – star of the excellent basketball movie, Hoosiers.

 

Links to topics discussed (more added soon):

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

Jim McIlvaine online: Twitter | Facebook

 

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

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Subscribe: iTunesRSS | Website

Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail

 

AIR039: Jim McIlvaine (Part I) – Marquette star and NBA veteran | Podcast

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Marquette star and seven-year NBA veteran, Jim McIlvaine.

In a first for the podcast, this conversation will be released in two installments. Our chat was almost two hours, in length – I’m pretty sure that Jim’s wife had the authorities on speed dial, ready to report him missing – however, all’s well that ends well – Jim returned to normality at its conclusion and I couldn’t be happier with the finished episode.

In part one, we discuss Jim’s early years playing basketball and learn a great deal about his college career, where he was a stand-out at Marquette. This includes a funny story about Marquette’s early 1990s exhibition series that touched down here in Australia, then onto New Zealand and Fiji – complete with a near international incident. Also, if you’re a fan of the great documentary, Hoop Dreams, you won’t want to miss this chat.

We talk about the 1994 NBA Draft and Jim’s two seasons in Washington, playing for the Bullets. He openly-discusses his free-agent move to Seattle – a contract widely debated at the time and still mentioned on occasion, to this day. On top of this, we learn about the importance and value of the National Basketball Retired Players Association (the NBRPA), of which Jim is a lifetime member.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more open, honest and engaging guy, than Jim – I’m confident you’ll enjoy this conversation as much as I did, recording it. Thank you, Jim, for your generous availability.

Part two of this conversation will examine Jim’s career in Seattle, his trade to the New Jersey Nets and injuries that ultimately led to his NBA retirement. We also discuss Jim’s broadcasting career, great basketball movies and his classic encounter with Gene Hackman.

We’re now in the final days of 2013, as this episode is released. I hope you thoroughly enjoy the holiday season and have a great New Year. Exciting plans are ahead for 2014 – I hope that you continue to join me on this podcast journey. Thank you very much for your support.

 

Links to topics discussed (more added soon):

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

Jim McIlvaine online: Twitter | Facebook

 

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

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Subscribe: iTunesRSS | Website

Feedback: e-mail (audio welcome) | Voicemail