By Reinis Lacis (@LamarMatic)
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.
Topics discussed in the podcast:
01:45 – The influence of competitive parents, playing golf at a high level while growing up, his father not allowing to pursue a golf scholarship at Florida State;
05:00 – Following the University of Kentucky basketball team in the late 1940’s, 1950’s, the character and Mennonite background of coach Adolph Rupp, his similarities with Rick Pitino;
12:30 – Representing players such as Dan Issel and Butch Beard, a significant dinner conversation with coach Rupp, coach revealing his regrets about not recruiting African American athletes;
20:55 – The happenstance of ending up in professional basketball after graduating from Vanderbilt University, taking the case of his first wife’s cousin Tommy Kron as he jumped from the NBA to the ABA, charging a fair fee and gaining more clients;
27:15 – A very exciting time to exist thanks to the very fun league that the ABA was, the type of cases he would land and clients he would represent;
37:00 – How hectic one’s life is while working on attracting an NBA team to the city of Louisville, relationship with David Stern, admittedly missing out by not getting into the NBA in the early 2000’s, currently having put together a group with the possible NBA expansion in mind;
45:40 – The book Airball’s purpose of how close Louisville actually was to the NBA, how it was received in Louisville;
48:25 – What Bruce learned about the importance of success when meeting each NBA owner in the late 1970’s, the etymology of the “Catbirds”, a 1980’s Louisville CBA team, a bright memory from the season with Vanderbilt’s freshman basketball team, overhearing during halftime how coach Rupp was blasting his Kentucky team about not passing the ball to Johnny Cox, Vanderbilt then adjusting their game plan.
The media related to the podcast:
The book Airball: The Complete and Unvarnished Account of Louisville’s 30-Year Odyssey to Acquire an NBA Franchise on Amazon.
Notable snippets of the interview: