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

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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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NB85-1: Michael Jordan’s rookie NBA season – UNC Tar Heels / 1984 USA Olympic Trials / pre-draft | Podcast

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

 

* Michael Jordan’s final season (1984) with the North Carolina Tar Heels

* Team USA 1984 Olympic Trials (including a chat with Roosevelt Chapman)

* Lead-up to the 1984 NBA Draft

 

A wide-array of players are mentioned in this episode. The most-prominent, include: Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, Sam Bowie, Terry Porter, Danny Manning, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, Wayman Tisdale and Sam Perkins.

 

Topics / articles discussed (every effort has been made to confirm exact dates):

 

Mar 14, 1984 – AP All-America

Mar 14, 1984 - Victoria Advocate
Mar 22, 1984: Jordan’s final game for North Carolina

Jordan’s UNC career stats (per game)

 

Mar 28, 1984 – Jordan player of year

Mar 30, 1984 - Sumter Daily Item

 

 Mar 31, 1984 – Michael Jordan: Final Four – in 1985

Mar 31, 1984 - Lewiston Daily Sun
 

Apr 4, 1984: Olympic Trials

Apr 4, 1984 - Gainesville Sun

 

Apr 14, 1984 – Bowie, Turpin won’t attend Olympic trials

Lakeland Ledger

 

Apr 18, 1984 – Olympic cagers begin practice

Apr 18, 1984 - Wilmington Morning Star

 

Apr 21, 1984 – U.S. Olympic basketball tryouts a sports fan’s delight

Apr 21, 1984 - Deseret News

 

 Apr 21, 1984 – Point’s Porter fights for berth

Apr 21, 1984 - Milwaukee Journal

 

Apr 21, 1984 – Knight to make first cut of Olympic hopefuls

Apr 21, 1984 - Wilmington Morning Star

 

Apr 22, 1984 – Jordan, Barkley Pace White To Victory

Apr 22, 1984 - Spartanburg Herald Journal

 

Apr 22, 1984 – Olympic trials characterized by rugged play

Apr 22, 1984 - Eugene Register Guard

 

Apr 23, 1984 – Olympic Team Aching

Apr 23, 1984 - Victoria Advocate

 

Apr 23, 1984 – Tisdale Paces White Win

Apr 23, 1984 - Spartanburg Herald Journal

 

Apr 23, 1984 – Ewing, Jordan on list of final 20 on Olympic team

Apr 23, 1984 - Arizona Courier

 

Apr 23, 1984 – Knight assesses survivors

Apr 23, 1984 - Spokesman Review

 

Apr 24, 1984 – Knight Cuts Olympic Squad Down to 20

Apr 24, 1984 - Palm Beach Post

 

Apr 24, 1984 – Knight’s basketball boot camp ends

Apr 24, 1984 - Lodi News-Sentinel

 

Apr 24, 1984 – Men’s pre-Olympic schedule

Apr 24, 1984 - St. Petersburg Times

 

Apr 25, 1984 – A Golden Team

Apr 25, 1984 - The Dispatch

 

Apr 28, 1984 – No fooling: Akeem to turn pro

Apr 28, 1984 - St. Petersburg Independent

 

May 6, 1984 – Michael Jordan to turn pro; Wayman Tisdale to stay in school

May 6, 1984 - Gainesville Sun

 

May 6, 1984 – Smith wants best for players

May 6, 1984 - Star News

 

May 6, 1984 – Jordan awaits pro future

May 6, 1984 - Star News

 

May 7, 1984 – Jordan follows advice

May 7, 1984 - Sumter Daily Item

 

May 8, 1984 – NBA postpones draft coin flip

May 8, 1984 - Wilmington Morning Star

 

May 10, 1984 – Pullout won’t dim Jordan’s desire

May 10, 1984 - Wilmington Morning Star

 

May 14, 1984 – Knight enjoying mini-camp

May 14, 1984 - Daily News

 

May 14, 1984 – Porter among 4 cut from Olympic cage team

May 14, 1984 - Milwaukee Sentinel

 
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AIR019: 1990-1994 NBA All-Star Games – complete recap | Podcast

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Michael v Magic

Adam and Aaron recap the 1990 through 1994 NBA All-Star Games. We discuss rosters, coaches, leading vote getters, memorable moments and Most Valuable Players. Controversy reigns supreme, when true feelings about a Hall of Famer bubble to the surface. The chat is filled with plenty of insight, mixed with a healthy dose of good humor.

 

NEW! Blooper reel: (audio) [click below]

 

Links to topics discussed:

All-Star Games: 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 [links courtesy of Basketball Reference]

Top 10 plays: ’90 | ’91 | ’92 | ’93 | ’94

1990: Karl Malone | 1992: Magic Johnson | 1994: Scottie Pippen

 

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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?

 

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

 

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