NBA legend Earl “The Pearl” Monroe joined the show Monday to talk about his new book, Earl the Pearl: My Story.
What does he like about the current NBA, and what does he wish would change?:
“I like the pace of the game. You know, it’s a little more ferocious, so-to-speak… And I think the other thing is the fact that you don’t have a lot of real centers in the game so you’re playing mostly forwards, your 3 forward and 2 guard, 3 guards and 2 forwards a lot of times. And the pace of the game picks up when you have it like that. I think that if I was to say something that I didn’t like about the game, I don’t like the fact that the guys are coming out of college now with one year experience of college. I think only a few guys will be able to make that. Other guys will be falling by the wayside when they get into the league because they can’t keep up.” In his book, he talks about basketball being his “refuge”
Was it his release from a troubling racial time?:
“Well, yeah, because it was about camaraderie and the guys that you played with and whatnot. But even in that instance, even in Philadelphia, we had so many race riots and whatnot… But even after that, going into Western Salem, you know, that was down south… we had to watch ourselves down there as well. And I think one of the things when you think about racism in that era in time, what you don’t really think about is the fact that this is just rampant, and it was something that was just isolated in any way. We understood that we couldn’t go certain places, that we couldn’t do certain thing, we couldn’t eat in certain restaurants. And it was just a way of life.”
On his own creativity and who reminds him of his game:
“For me, it was all trial and error… I was really a novice when I started, so everything I did was, if it worked I kept it. If it didn’t work I discarded it…One of my nicknames is Thomas Edison because I was inventing shots as I came down, inventing moves and things like that, and that just came to be a trademark of mine… When I look at the game today, I look pretty much at a lot of the stuff that I was doing just on a different level… I look at the game, and I see my game, just a little bit higher.”
Which past opponents stand out to him?
“Big Oscar Robertson was one of those guys, and I guess because as a guy that just started playing when Oscar got into the league, I kind of looked up to him… He was a big guard, and it was a chore to try and play against him. It was a load.… And also you mentioned him earlier, Bobby Dandridge. Bobby is probably one of the most underrated players that’s played in the NBA. And we played against each other in college, and we always battled, and he wound up with 2 rings.”
Order Earl the Pearl: My Story starting Tuesday, April 23.
Milwaukee Buck Larry Sanders joined the show on Friday to preview the playoff series against the Miami Heat.
What is like to see LeBron James coming down the court at you?:
“He’s unpredictable, he’s so skilled, he’s fast, strong. He’s such a smart player, you just don’t really know what he’s going to do, you don’t really know how to prepare for whatever action he’s going to throw you. You just have to be on your toes. Wrap him up if he gets too close to the basket. If not, everything is really instincts from there. You can’t really go into it with a set game plan; he does so many things well.”
What type of opportunity does this present for the Milwaukee Bucks?:
”It’s a huge one, like you said, (they’re) the defending champions. It’s a huge day, it’s the
biggest day of our career... it’s a huge opportunity, we just have go out and play hard and try to take advantage of it.”
What are your thoughts on Chris Bosh?:
“He’s going to move around a lot… just stay attached to him a little bit more… he does like to pitch and pop and shoot those jump shots.”
It certainly has been a rough time for you guys lately losing 15 of 21 games, how nice is it to get into the playoffs and start a new season?:
“It feels good; it’s a goal we set for ourselves, just to make it into the situation. We are here
now, and the season is in the hole, it’s all finished with, all 82 games. It just kind of feels good, to get refocused at the task at hand, which is the playoffs.”
What needs to be different for the team starting Sunday night?:
“You just have to erase the past; you don’t win the next game because you won the last game. You have to win the next game because it’s the next game, and that’s what’s facing
us. This is what’s in front of us and the past is what’s behind us. We can’t dwell on what we could have done and what we should have done, our record this last month. We just have to be refreshing ourselves; the record starts all over now.”
You are averaging 2.8 blocks per game, what makes a good shot blocker?:
“You just have to have a passion for defense. Look at all the guys who are really good at
defense throughout history, and now still in the league. They want to play defense, they have a passion for it, they pride themselves on getting stops, they now how effective that is in helping their team get the win.”
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Vander Blue’s formerhigh school basketball coach, and current Madison Memorial basketball coach, Steve Collins joined the Mike Heller Show on Tuesday.
Did you think Vander Blue would go to the NBA Draft this year?:
“If you had asked me a year ago, I probably wouldn’t have thought this was going to happen, but after watching him help take his team to the Elite Eight, I definitely thought it was a possibility.”
Is he ready for the NBA?:
“He can defend with the best of him, I was telling a reporter during the NCAA (Tournament) that he got a couple steals there, I think it was against Butler, I don’t think there are many people in the country that can do, so defensively I think he’s there. His shot has gotten so much better than when we walking our hallways. He was hitting threes like they were going out of style in the tournament, so if he can do that in the NBA, I think he’ll have a great career.”
Another former player from Madison Memorial, Wesley Matthews, has had success in the NBA. How does Blue compare to Matthews?:
”I hope Vander gets drafted first of all, but their games are a little bit different. I think he’s
been a mentor for Vander, obviously being a Marquette grad, and loving the Marquette team that Wesley’s been able to help him, but I hate comparing players, it’s like comparing kids. They’re similar and they’re in a lot of ways.”
What are his weaknesses?:
“I think (shooting) is one spot he can work on. I don’t think it’s a weakness. Wesley was a good three point shooter, but he’s become a great one. I think that’s something (Blue) can work on, but he can definitely neutralize that by being able to take it to the rack so well. He can play with anybody that’s playing in the NBA athletically for sure.”
Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press Gazette joined the show on Tuesday to talk about the Green Bay Packers.
What are the chances that the Packers take a running back with their 26th pick in the draft?:
"I think it's going to be pretty high percentage that they're going to be looking at defensive side again. I know the positions I'm looking at specifically are defensive line and safety, just based on how deep both of those positions are. I'm sure you guys have already heard with safeties, Rick Spielman from the Vikings came out at the Combine saying that's a positions where they think six guys could be right away starters from that safety class, and looking at the defensive line I think the Packers have a big need there and they don't know what's going to be happening with Jerel Worthy and what his situation is going to be coming off that ACL. Even when he was healthy, he really wasn't the big key contributor I think they hoped he would be right off the bat."
Would the Packers go with an offensive player if tight end Tyler Eifert from Notre Dame or running back Eddie Lacy from Alabama is available?:
"Tight end is something that Ted Thompson hasn't drafted that high yet in his eight years now. Could they look there, you have two great prospects. There in the kid from Standford and Notre Dame, and both of those guys fit a need, but at the same time they have a lot of different needs, and there is a lot of different scenarios that they want to sure up looking forward. As far as running back, it will be interesting to see what happens, because Lacy does project to be the bell-cow back, it's kind of a dying breed right now in the NFL, but I think that right now a lot of GMs would love to have, so I would still be surprised if they went offensive right off the bat, but with (GM) Ted Thompson you really can never really count out anything."
“Will the Packers defense be better with the guys they currently have?:
"I think on paper it does guys, even when you look at last year, it wasn't perfect, and
obviously if you look at how things ended in the playoffs, it was still a shade of what its been the last few years when they got knocked out. But the thing is for me that I really look at all those guys really are young, they’ve invested young, so when you have young players like that, you are looking for that growth…looking at Nick Perry specifically, he is the biggest question mark I do have because there’s questions of whether or not he’s an outside linebacker, or if he really does belong as a down lineman in the 4-3 (defense). That’s going to be a test there, but considering they are only one year removed from drafting him, I think you have to give him that chance again.”
Badger running back James White joined the show on Friday to talk about the Wisconsin football team.
How has the transition gone with the transition of the coaching staff?:
“The coaching transition has been pretty smooth; we are all just trying to get on the same page, just getting to know each other. Getting to know the coaching staff. Our coaching staff’s really personable, they want to know as players, so it’s very easy to talk to them. It’s been pretty smooth so far.”
What’s the hardest thing to learn about a coach?:
“Just getting a feel for your coaches and the way they coach and how to approach them and things like that. I’d say it’s been pretty smooth so far, everybody likes the new coaching
staff and we’re just getting ready to hit the ground running come fall.”
What’s your mental approach as you get ready for the Spring Game?:
“Just keeping practicing hard, every practice matters whenever you go out and take the field you want to give it 100 percent and you want to become a better player, especially with a new coaching staff you want to gel with the offense, gel with the defense, gel with the special teams. That (helps) smooth the transition come fall time. I try to attack each day, give it
a full 100 percent, and try and make the team. It’s sort of a new role for everybody, we have a big group of seniors, and we have a lot of game experience. We have a lot of leadership going on, and it’s important for me to step up both mentally and physically out there.”
What’s it like to be a running back for Wisconsin?:
“When you come to Wisconsin as a running back, you know the great tradition behind it, and you want to be a part of that tradition. We all want to: me, Melvin (Gordon), Jeff (Lewis), Vonte (Jackson), and same as Corey Clement when he comes in, so we’re all out here competing trying to make each other better players. Everybody’s fighting for the starting job,
and it’s a hell of a competition.”
How has Melvin Gordon’s role changed?:
“He’ll definitely carry the ball more and be in on 3rd downs and things like that. He’ll probably still do some of those jet sweeps and things like that, but he steps up as a leader as well
because he has a lot of game experience under his belt now. People are looking up to him, so he’s just like me. We need to go out there and lead by example and say things when things need to be said.”
How difficult has it been to have such an injured offensive line?:
“It’s a little difficult, but you just have to believe in them. They’re working hard and just with the rest of the team we’re all just trying to get on the same page. I know they’ll get it together; they’re pushing themselves each day working with what they have. They have a great o-line coach in Coach Woods, he’s pushing them. I have no worries, I believe in my offensive line, in order to be a great running back you have to trust in your offensive line
Who is the dancer away from the football field?:
“I’d definitely have to say either Isaiah Williams or Warren Herring one of those two.”
Matt Yaloff of MLB Network joined the show Thursday to talk about the Brewers’ slow start and MLB news.
On the Brewers’ slow start to the 2013 season:
“I think that there’s been a little bit of a disappointment because I know that a number of us really believed that… if things go right, this could be a Wild Card team. I don’t think many people believed they would win the division. But I have to just say this – it’s a week and a half. This is a good team. I just feel that this team has to have everything go right. There’s not a whole lot of room for mistake, in my view, with this club, especially with the starting pitching, and they have to have their health.” He later added, “Brewers will be fine. I think they’re going to be a fun team this summer.”
What would help make Brewers fans believe that the team could be successful even with poor performances by John Axford?
“The life of a reliever, especially a closer, is so fickle. I point to last year when I say ‘Wow, John Axford was terrible early”, and look how close the Brewers came to making the playoffs. I look at what happened in the last few days, and I say ‘Good for Ron Roenicke’ because they’re not going to live with this and find themselves 10, 11, 12 games out and have to climb that mountain. They’re saying ‘No, it’s not good enough. We’re better than this. We have to make the change.’… They could have been a playoff team if they didn’t blow as many games as they did early in the season.”
On the Biogenesis story out of Miami:
“I know Major League Baseball is doing their part. They want to get to the bottom of this… Whether or not Ryan Braun and/or others who have been linked to that clinic in south Florida eventually get suspended, I could not tell you that. However, the latest reports we have from a couple of weeks ago, reports that have come out, indicate there’s a lot more than a dozen or two players with links to that clinic. I don’t think we’ve heard the end of it. When we would hear the next chapter… it could be today, and it could 5 months from now.”
What has been the best story so far this year in the MLB?
“The number one story that intrigues me is the Oakland A’s. I personally did not believe that this team was going to come out looking like the team that finished off the Rangers last year and put up a good fight against the Tigers in the playoffs… They’re starting off hot in a division that you have to. We learned that last year. The other story that I think is very impressive is the Braves. I did not think that the Braves starting pitching could be this dominant… I thought they’d have a nice offense. I thought the offense would go through slumps with a lot of strikeouts, but I wasn’t buying the starting pitching as matching up with some of the other powerhouses in the National League.”