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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AIR068: Nigel Miguel – High School All-American, NIT Champion, Film Producer & Actor | Podcast

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Nigel Miguel and Michael JordanHigh School All-American, NIT Champion, Film Producer & Actor, Nigel Miguel.

 

High School: Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks), California

As a child, Nigel moved from Central America to California. We talk about his role models as a youngster, before transitioning into his high-school career, where, as a senior, he led his team to a 19-5 record, en route to winning the Del Rey League Championship. He was named a 1981 McDonald’s All-American, in the famous class that included Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin. He discusses the tremendous opportunities that afforded him, including a crucial role in the USA’s gold-medal win at the 1981 Albert Schweitzer Tournament (often referred to as the Mini-Basketball World Cup, or Junior Olympics).

1981 High School All-American Basketball Team

 

College: University of California Los Angeles

Years: 1981-82 – 1984-85 | Coaches: Larry Farmer & Walt Hazzard

Nigel played four seasons at UCLA. As a freshman, he was teammates with future Utah Jazz great – and friend of the show – Mark Eaton. In his sophomore season, Nigel’s Bruins made it the NCAA Tournament. He talks about the joy of making it to the tournament, coupled with the disappointment of a first-game exit.

In his junior and senior years, Nigel paired with all-time great, Reggie Miller. Prior to his last season with the team, Walt Hazzard – a player on John Wooden’s first NCAA Championship team – took the helm as UCLA coach. We discuss his lasting impact on Nigel and the team.. Miguel ended his Bruins career in style, scoring an equal game-high, 18 points, as UCLA won the 1985 NIT Championship, at the famed Madison Square Garden.

Nigel Miguel - UCLA Bruins

 

1985 NBA Draft

Date: June 18 | Location: New York | Pick: 62 (Round 3) | Team: New Jersey Nets

We talk about the lead-up to the draft, including team interviews that Nigel undertook, and, his one-on-one workout with the legendary Jerry West, on the court at the Great Western Forum.

 

CBA / NBA career | Years: 1985-86 – 1986-87

Season: 1985-86 | Team: La Crosse Catbirds

Coach: Ron Ekker

After being the last player cut from the New Jersey Nets’ training camp, Nigel signed with Wisconsin’s new CBA franchise, the La Crosse Catbirds. He talks about his fondness for that season, where he was named to the league’s All-Rookie team, averaging more than 17 points per game. Miguel was runner-up to future NBA All-Star, Michael Adams, for Rookie of the Year. The Catbirds made it to the 1986 CBA Championship series, before losing out to (former podcast guest) Ed Nealy and his Tampa Bay Thrillers.

Continued interest from the New Jersey Nets (and L.A. Lakers), led to Nigel’s return to (Nets) training camp, in anticipation of a roster spot for the 1986-87 NBA season. He talks about the seemingly-innocuous ‘tweak’ of his ankle, during a lead-up game. That quickly led to an inner-monologue: “My foot is on the ground…but I don’t feel anything”. He’d fractured his heel bone and damaged his Achilles tendon.

NBA veteran, Buck Williams, helped Nigel put his injury into context – offering suggestions on how to overcome the disappointment of having his professional career, seemingly reach an abrupt end.

 

Entertainment: Commercials, television, movies and more

After commencing rehabilitation for the 1987-88 NBA season, Nigel lost the desire to compete at the highest level, making a conscious decision to pursue other opportunities. His love for the entertainment industry, went as far back as high school – he attended classes with peers who had connections (family and otherwise) with the entertainment industry.

Miguel’s attorney helped connect Nigel with an agent and key members of the entertainment industry. Not long after, Dennis Hopper – recognizing the former-Bruins player – struck up a conversation with Miguel. Within an hour, Nigel was offered his first movie role, in Colors (1988). Future roles included the TV series, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper (1992) and movies, White Men Can’t Jump (1992), Blue Chips (1994) and the iconic Space Jam (1996), where Miguel appears on-screen and off; he was Basketball Technical Advisor.

We chat about his crucial involvement in the behind-the-scenes running of the legendary Jordan Dome, where Michael Jordan took part in amazing pick-up games – including Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Larry Johnson, Dennis Rodman & Jack Haley – during production of the film.

Nigel Miguel and Michael Jordan - The Jordan Dome

Green with envy - Nigel Miguel is an OG Monstar!

 

Nigel also details what it was like to be Michael Jordan’s ‘body double’ for seven years.

We chat about Nigel being named Belize’s ‘Goodwill Ambassador‘ (1994) and ‘Film Ambassador’ (2008), along with what the prestigious positions mean to him. Nigel also talks about creating II Jam Casting & Production.

I ask Nigel to recall “The Game I’ll Never Forget” and round out the conversation with a chat about the significance of his jersey number.

Nigel Miguel: IMDb | Media: Ardomi | Twitter: @FilmBelize

People mentioned in this episode, include: Cedric Ceballos, Pearl Washington & Gail Goodrich.

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AIR067: Mitchell Butler – High School All-American & eight-year NBA veteran | Podcast

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Mitchell Butler - Washington BulletsHigh School All-American and eight-year NBA veteran, Mitchell Butler.

 

High School: Oakwood, California

Mitchell reflects on his outstanding high school career. From 1987 to 1989, he was named the Southern Section Small Schools Division, Player of the Year. In 1988, he led Oakwood to the (Liberty League) Division Championship, notching an astonishing 47 points, 19 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks, in his team’s 61-60 victory. We talk about his 1988 quarterfinal game, where he tallied a staggering 50, of his team’s 55 points, in an eight-point win (55-47).

In November of 1988 – in the early-signing period ahead of his senior year at high school – Mitchell signed a letter of intent with the UCLA Bruins. He discusses how heavily he was recruited and what led him to ultimately choose the Bruins.

Mitchell also talks about his 1989 (Third Team) All-American selection.

 

College: University of California Los Angeles

Years: 1989-90 – 1992-93 | Coach: Jim Harrick

At the time of recording our conversation, Mitchell ranked sixth all-time, in total games played (130) for the UCLA Bruins. Whilst researching for our chat, I discovered that in the last warm-up game (November, 1989) prior to his freshman season, Butler’s Bruins played against my fellow countrymen, the Australian Boomers. UCLA defeated the Aussies, 80-68, at Pauley Pavilion.

Mitchell played in the NCAA Tournament, in each of his four seasons. We chat about his freshman campaign, where he made it to the Sweet Sixteen, against Duke – the eventual National Finalists (who lost to UNLV). As a sophomore, Butler started almost every game, before the Bruins were upset by Penn State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. We discuss how close Mitchell came to transferring from UCLA after that second season. UCLA made it to the Elite Eight, in 1992, before losing out to Calbert Cheaney and his Indiana Hoosiers. Though it was a disappointing end to the season, Mitchell won his team’s Player Improvement Award, due to his all-around play and positive mental attitude. As a senior, he was named team captain and also enjoyed (arguably) his best season as a Bruin, with 9.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. We cover UCLA’s near-upset of Michigan’s Fab Five, in a classic, second-round overtime game, in the 1993 NCAA Tournament.

 

1993 NBA Draft

Date: June 30 | Location: Auburn Hills | Pick: Undrafted

We talk about the circumstances behind Mitchell being overlooked on draft day, and how he made his way into the league, in the months that followed.

 

NBA / Euro / ABA / CBA career | Years: 1993-94 – 2003-04

Seasons: 1993-94 – 1995-96 | Team: Washington Bullets

Coaches: Wes Unseld & Jim Lynam

Individually, Mitchell’s best NBA seasons were his first two in the league, averaging almost eight points and three rebounds, in just 19 minutes per game. We cover his first stint with Washington and links to Australian legend – and former podcast guest – Andrew Gaze. Butler twice scored an NBA-career high of 26 points. Mitchell describes the feeling of being ‘on fire’.

 

Thanks to a tip-off from great friend of the podcast, Jim McIlvaine, I ask Mitchell about his acting career. We briefly discuss his roles in Blue Chips (1994) & Rebound: The Legend of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault (1996). Mitchell talks about his involvement with Space Jam (1996), however, his scenes were ultimately cut from the movie.

 

Season: 1996-97 | Team: Portland Trail Blazers

Coach: P.J. Carlesimo

Prior to the 1997 season, Washington traded Mitchell (along with Rasheed Wallace) to Portland, in return for Harvey Grant and Rod Strickland. We talk about Mitchell’s thoughts on the deal. Butler made it to the playoffs for the first time in his NBA career – playing limited minutes in a four-game series loss to the L.A. Lakers. He talks about how it felt to be part of a playoff team.

 

Seasons: 1997-98 – 1998-99 | Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

Coach: Mike Fratello

Mitchell signed as a free agent with Cleveland. Barely a month into the season, he suffered significant neck and shoulder problems, leading to surgery. He talks about the impact the injury had on his career, and how he dealt with news that he’d miss the rest of the season.

Following the lockout-shortened 1999 season, Butler wouldn’t return to the NBA until the 2001-02 campaign. During that gap in his NBA résumé, he headed overseas and played in Lithuania, before returning home and playing in the American Basketball Association (not related to the original ABA, I should add).

 

Season: 2001-02 | Team: Portland Trail Blazers

Coach: Maurice Cheeks

Mitchell returned to the Trail Blazers franchise, signing as a free agent. He discusses what it was like to be back in the NBA and how his second time with the team, differed so much to his 1997 season.

Prior to his final season in the NBA, Mitchell was a key member of the Continental Basketball Association’s (CBA) Yakima Sun Kings. His team won the 2003 Championship. He reflects fondly on his time in the league.

 

Season: 2003-04 | Team: Washington Wizards

Coach: Eddie Jordan

Butler closed out his NBA-playing career, returning to suit up for the Washington Wizards. We chat about his final season, what opportunities presented themselves and whether he could have played on, beyond 2004.

 

Mitchell featured in a number of Top 10 Plays on NBA Action. I asked him to choose his favorite move and he certainly didn’t disappoint.

 

I ask Mitchell to recall “The Game I’ll Never Forget”. In a first for the podcast, he shares three-memorable games – one each from high school, college and the NBA.

We discuss Mitchell’s career in basketball since he retired as a player. He’s been involved in various roles, most recently, accepting a position as a sports agent at Jackson Management Group (owned by Phil Jackson‘s son, Charles).

Our conversation rounds out with a quick chat about the significance of Mitchell’s jersey numbers.

People mentioned in this episode, include: Michael Adams, Tyus Edney, Darrick Martin, Chris Webber, Jim McIlvaine, Vernon MaxwellAllan Houston, Kenny Anderson, Tracy Murray, James Robinson & Ed O’Bannon.

 

Editor’s note: sign-up for the monthly newsletter – receive exclusive details on upcoming podcast episodes and future, high-profile guests to appear on the show.

 

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AIR049: Mark Eaton – Utah Jazz great, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and NBA All-Star | Podcast

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Mark Eaton

Utah Jazz great, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and NBA All-Star, Mark Eaton.

Few players have ever experienced a rise from near-obscurity to NBA All-Star, like Mark Eaton. We discuss Mark’s incredible transition from auto-mechanic to NBA-draftee and ultimately, Defensive Player of the Year (twice) and All-Star honors.

We chat about Mark’s two seasons at Cypress Junior College, that led to him accepting a scholarship at UCLA. During his time with the Bruins, Mark had a brief, yet crucial encounter with all-time great, Wilt Chamberlain. The future-impact of that meeting forever changed Mark’s focus on the game of basketball.

We cover Mark’s early years in the NBA and how he adapted to playing at the highest level. He details his strong relationship with coaching great Frank Layden – the man who coined the phrase, “You can’t teach height” – Layden coached Mark in his first six-plus seasons with Utah.

Mark talks about his defensive-prowess that led to him being named a two-time Defensive Player of the Year. We also discuss the 1989 All-Star Game, where Mark was honored by the coaches and named as a reserve.

No conversation with a Utah Jazz great would be complete, without discussing John Stockton and Karl Malone – two Hall of Fame players that Mark was teammates with for almost ten seasons.

We also chat about Mark’s post-NBA career and his involvement with the television, radio and restaurant industries. Since 2006, Mark has been a sought-after business and motivational speaker.

Learn more about the life of one of the greatest defensive centers in NBA history.

 

Links to topics discussed:

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference | Profile

1985: Season highlights

1988: Jazz versus Lakers

Frank Layden: Retrospective

2014: Westminster High School | Cypress Junior College

Mark Eaton online: Website | YouTubeTwitter

 

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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

 

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

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