By Reinis Lacis (@LamarMatic)
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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.
The Ronnie Grandison Basketball Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio. Find Ronnie on Twitter @RonnieGrandison as well!
Topics discussed in the podcast:
01:10 – Transferring to Tulane, practicing with Hot Rod Williams, learning about the sanctions and moving on to the great fit of University of New Orleans, the talent of Ledell Eackles;
10:20 – His agent trying to convince him to go to Israel, being stubborn about the NBA, training camp with the Denver Nuggets as the toughest thing in his life, guarding Alex English;
13:50 – Graduating from school during season in the CBA, the Boston Celtics inviting him to camp, making the team, memorable moments from a season of 72 games played like Larry Bird introducing himself;
19:35 – The talent of Saint Bernard High School in Playa del Rey, California, playing against Corey Gaines in the NBA,
21:30 – Being left off the playoff roster so the team could make a spot for Bird, Jackie MacMullan knowing that she would find Ron at the gym the next day;
23:40 – BYU’s Michael Smith taking his place on the team, just taking a year off from basketball, joining Athletes in Action, making his return to the NBA with the Charlotte Hornets, putting up numbers in little minutes;
30:30 – Playing on the CBA’s Rochester Renegade team which finished 6-50 and the reasons for such results, the experience of leaving mid-way season to play in Spain for Lliria, duel citizen Howard Wood helping him get accustomed;
38:30 – Bill Musselman taking over Rochester and instituting his approach, Ron, Clinton Wheeler and Rodney Monroe being the only ones to survive the 54 player changes, winning the CBA MVP award, the financial problems of the league;
46:00 – Pat Riley selecting him for the New York Knicks summer camp thanks to that award, being inspired by him, a story of Riley taking the team to see the Robert De Niro and Al Pacino movie “Heat”;
52:15 – Starting three games for the Miami Heat, playing 39 minutes against the Phoenix Suns and holding Charles Barkley to 13 points, the meaning of that opportunity;
54:45 – Relationship with Jeff Van Gundy, his first move as a coach being to sign Ron, role with the Van Gundy’s Knicks to be the 13th player, the few contract oddities during those years, understanding DeMar DeRozan;
1:01:20 – Not a single guaranteed contract in his NBA career, life after retiring from professional basketball, now having his own facility where he teaches kids how to play basketball.
The media related to the podcast:
The last minutes of UNO’s First Round victory against BYU. Plays by Ronnie can be found at 1:22 (jumper in the post), 8:11 (catch in the paint and drawn foul) and 11:56 (crucial steal):
Notable snippets of the interview:
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Thanks to Ronnie for coming on the show and painting a vivid picture of what his career was like!