There are so many ways I could introduce Audie Norris. European basketball star with Barcelona, former Portland Trail Blazer, global ambassador of the NBA, even a certified backboard breaker. We talked about everything. From coaching kids to teaching Kristaps Porzingis the bank shot, his main influences in basketball and greats from different parts of the world. A packed episode of The Handle podcast.
Coach Hal Wissel came on the podcast to talk about a wide array of topics. From his humble beginnings as the head coach of Trenton State to working out Kobe Bryant as the Director of Player Personnel of the New Jersey Nets, there was a whole lot for me to ask as the host and so much was still left on the table (possible part two some time down the line). We chatted about him being a part of the first three-coach staff with the Atlanta Hawks, a whole lot of Hubie Brown, the numerous successes and victories of his career, and more.
"The jumpingest white boy I've ever seen" is how Wilt Chamberlain described two-time NBA All-Star Don Kojis. Kojis, after all, might have been the first basketball player to regularly throw down alley-oops when he did so with the Phillips 66ers. He also managed to have great success with Team USA before turning pro and enjoying a lengthy career in the NBA. All of that and some more discussed in this episode.
When Ron Grandison turned 30 in the summer of 1994, this was the list of his past basketball experiences: UC Irvine - Tulane - University of New Orleans - CBA - Boston Celtics - hiatus from basketball - Athletes in Action - CBA - Charlotte Hornets - CBA - Spain - CBA. With 75 NBA games under his belt during those years, you wouldn't exactly guess that this would be the player who Pat Riley would specifically pick up that summer. Or that he would start him a season later in Miami. Did I mention that he was Jeff Van Gundy's first signing as the Knicks head coach? A podcast episode of great stories by a man who worked his way to everything he achieved in basketball.
Glenn McDonald, the hero of the legendary 1976 NBA Finals Game Five! The former Boston Celtic revealed what persuaded him to play for the underdogs that were the Long Beach State 49ers, how veterans like John Havlicek took him under their wings at Boston and what followed in his life and career after that clutch showing at the Garden.
This episode could have been called "Coby Dietrick Steals the Show" if I actually did titles for each conversation. A 13-year pro in the ABA and the NBA, most notably with the San Antonio Spurs, and someone with experiences in Europe and the CBA, Dietrick had a lot to tell. Colorful teammates, wonderful times abroad and unique stories about games, contract signings and the business of basketball. All of that can be heard in this podcast episode.
Two-time ABA champion and All-Star Brian Taylor came on the podcast to take us through the significant stops he has had in his basketball career. From being quite the pioneer at Princeton and a New York Net in the ABA to fun times with the San Diego Clippers, Brian told many great stories throughout our conversation.
Whether it is the ABA's Kentucky Colonels or any of the attempts of bringing them back in the form of an NBA team, J. Bruce Miller has long been involved in Louisville's professional basketball scene. A conversation with him gave us the chance to explore his career as a sports lawyer, talk about the impact of Adolph Rupp and touch on several topics regarding basketball in the state of Kentucky.
When the 1961-62 Detroit Pistons made the Division Finals, Ray Scott was their impressive rookie forward. When the team first won 50+ games in 1973-74, he was their head coach. Thus we talked about the Pistons, yet also about the city of Philadelphia (and Wilt Chamberlain), fun with the Virginia Squires in the ABA and some of his teammates who were quite ahead of their time.
"Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis" is a recently released book which I enjoyed very much. Its author Mark Montieth joined me on the podcast to talk about the many topics concerning it. The first professional basketball teams in Indianapolis, accuracy of ABA stories and getting them factually correct in "Reborn", the storylines of Pacers players like Reggie Harding - all of that and more is discussed in this episode.
Steve Chubin is among the basketball pioneers in more than one way. We talked about him going overseas to play in Europe after his college career when few players did so, the first season of ABA basketball in 1966-67 during which he played with the Anaheim Amigos and plenty of other stops. The fun stories about ABA people overlap with memories from his own career and a beautiful tribute to Connie Hawkins.
An NBA lifer of 30 years in the league, Gar Heard had plenty of stories to tell on this episode of The Handle Podcast. From debuting in the NBA as a rookie on Lenny Wilkens's Seattle SuperSonics and being the glue guy for the fast-paced Buffalo Braves to making the Finals with the 1975-76 Phoenix Suns. The years he spent as a coach only gave us some more additional topics to tackle.
How many athletes have turned to a career in another field right after an All-Star season at the age of 27? Willie Somerset has. The 1969 ABA All-Star-turned-pharmacist explored the biggest influences in his life, the fun times he had during a short stint with the Baltimore Bullets, how the ABA's Dallas Mavericks managed to enjoy an otherwise difficult situation and the way an Eastern Basketball Association team operated (later known as the CBA).
NBA All-Star, champion and coach Butch Beard has had an unparalleled career. From death threats during a Kentucky vs. Louisville recruiting battle to being drafted in the army after his rookie NBA season and contributing to the 1974-75 Warriors, what could be the greatest upset in NBA Finals history. Butch took us through all of that and some more in an interview full of entertaining stories.
UTEP Miners great Dave Feitl joined the show and reminisced about the university's success under coach Don Haskins, remembered the difficulties the Houston Rockets faced after the 1986 Finals and told us his story about regaining confidence in Europe after being run into the ground with the Washington Bullets.
You can't tell the story of the ABA without multiple mentions of Mike Storen. The former general manager of the Indiana Pacers, the Kentucky Colonels and the one-time commissioner of the league joined the podcast to describe his career path, provide us with insight about his front office moves at Indiana and paint a picture of how the league operated.
Author Adam Criblez came on the podcast to talk about his book "Tall Tales and Short Shorts" on the 1970s NBA, Pete Maravich's struggles in the NBA, Julius Erving joining the Bucks as the best what if of the decade and plenty of other 70s basketball minutiae.
Two-time NAIA All-American Kevin Loder stopped by to talk about playing multiple sports while growing up, the cultural significance of Alabama State's success during his time there and remember his days with the early 1980s Kansas City Kings.
Idaho State Bengals legend Jeff Cook came on the podcast to relive the Bengals 1976-77 season in which they reached the Elite Eight, share memories from his time with the great 1980s Phoenix Suns and tell stories from teams and leagues like the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Western Basketball Association.
Gus Gerard -- one of the few ever Spirits of St. Louis -- joined the show to relive the days of the strong ACC in the 1970s, his time in the ABA with the Spirits and the Denver Nuggets, how underrated the Kansas City Kings were and to tell more about the secret life he lead during his play days, how he successfully recovered from his addiction.
Warriors legend Tom Meschery describes the early days of his life -- spending time in an internment camp in Japan during the war, being a Russian immigrant in San Francisco -- and how turning to basketball lead to a successful 10-year career with the San Francisco Warriors and Seattle Supersonics.
Uwe Blab joined The Handle Podcast to tell the story of him being noticed in a pub in Germany, remember how he improved under coach Bob Knight at Indiana and share memories from his stops with the Mavericks, Don Nelson's Run-TMC Warriors and the Germany national team.
13-year NBA veteran Fred Roberts joined the show to go through the various stops he had during his career which include playing for the 1980s Boston Celtics and the pressure that was there on bench players, the overachieving late 80s/early 90s Milwaukee Bucks and their great chemistry, as well as a few stops in Europe.
Mick Minas, the author of the book "The Curse: The Colorful & Chaotic History of the LA Clippers", came on the podcast to talk about Clippers history, Donald Sterling's ownership of the team and reveal unheard stories from the book.
Memphis Tigers legend Cedric Henderson hopped on the podcast to talk about the U of M, his days as a defensive-minded player for Mike Fratello's late 90s Cleveland Cavaliers and some of the peculiar stops he had during his professional career.