BTM: Dale, we already talked. You´ve been on my show a couple of months ago and it was incredible. The fan response was huge. You´ve still got so many fans who still love you for your game back in the days. How much does it mean to you being that popular with the fans?
Dale: It means a lot to me. I´ve been out of the game for 20 years now. It doesn’t take a lot of time for people to forget you, you know? And with the internet and social media everyone´s just trying to stay relevant that way. It´s flattering that people still recognize me. So, yeah, it´s a beautiful thing.
BTM: We´ve got a pretty huge list of questions from your fans, so I´m going to start with the first one: Let´s say we´re back in the 1980´s, let´s say we´re in the year 1986 or 1987. Who would you rather play with – Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics or Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers?
Dale: Oh, I´d love to play/ I loved to play with Magic. I always thought that Byron Scott had the easiest job in the NBA all he had to do is run the floor. Magic was such a floor general. You´re gonna get wide open shots for anyone with Magic and the group of guys that he was associating with. So, the game was easier for Byron Scott. I would love/ I loved to play with Magic. I had an opportunity to play with Magic once at the All-Star Weekend.He elected not to participate. He gave up his spot to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of all people. It was Jabbar´s last year in the league. Jabbar was my hero growing up and it just so happened that his locker was right next to mine. It´s a funny story. I was so at awe of Kareem that I didn’t say two words to him. ‘Where you from? How you doing?’ He got a lot of attention. I was actually looking forward to playing with Magic. Running up and down the floor – to see what that was like. But it was a honor just to play with Kareem.
BTM: So, that sounded like a very easy Question for you. What about the next one: The toughest player you ever had to guard that doesn’t look unstoppable to the average fan, so a player that is tough to guard but the usual fan wouldn’t know about.
Dale: Oh, God! Chris Mullin! Chris Mullin on the Golden State. You know, he wasn´t very fast. He was a left hander so he threw you off a little bit. It seemed awkward guarding him. His movement and the way he smooth. And he could shoot it! He didn’t need a lot of space, he knew how to create the space that he needed to get his shots up (…).
BTM: Well at one point, especially during the Run TMC time that guy was averaging like 25 Points. He definitely knew how to score. But he looked super slow. What do you think still made him so efficient?
Dale: When Chris played the game he was the student of the game. He loved the game. Just his touch. He could handle the basketball, he didn’t have a problem with bringing the ball up the floor, he could shoot it – he had range – and the fact that he was a left hander. Trying to mirror that was a little difficult also.
BTM: You played with the San Antonio Spurs at a time when not only David Robinson was the man with the Spurs but also Dennis Rodman. What was it like playing with Dennis Rodman?
Dale: It was Fun! Dennis to me was the hardest working player in the NBA. He may not show up for practice on time and he might miss practice but you knew exactly what you were going to get from him every single night. He was going to grab up all the loose balls, he was going to do all the dirty work, he was going to play unselfish basketball and he was going to play hard from beginning to the end. He was going to play to win. He was going to give. You an opportunity to win the game. It was fun to play with. It´s nice knowing when you get to the rim what you´re going to get. Not as a coach but as a teammate, a player it was really fun playing with Dennis.
BTM: “Who of all NBA players that you´ve played with is your best NBA friend until this day?”
Dale Ellis: “I came into the league with Derek Harper out in Dallas. We were Rookies together. I don’t talk very much with Derek. I played with Moses Malone – he´s passed away. I would go to All-Star Weekends every year just to see Moses and talk with him. I enjoyed being around him, being in his presence. When he passed I didn´t go to All-Star Games for a couple years. Gary Payton the quickest guy to pick up a phone call for me. I loved talking to Gary. Gary should never change, he´s a good guy.”
BTM: “Is he as crazy off the court as he is on court – trash talking 24/7?”
Dale Ellis: “Gary is Gary! *laughs * Some people think he talks trash. But he doesn´t initiate it. He´s not one of those guys. But if you say something that’s incorrect to him then you just opened up something… then he´s not going to quit. And if you´re on the court and you say something crazy he´s just not going to quit. You just woke up a sleeping giant. He´s going to be on you until the end of the game. ”
BTM: “A name that always get mentioned with Gary Payton is Shawn Kemp. When you were playing for the Seattle SuperSonics and Shawn Kemp arrived you guys already had a very interesting team at that time. What was your first impression when you saw Shawn for the first time ?”
Dale Ellis: “I really didn´t know what to think with Shawn. I just didn´t understand how gentlemen and coaches could take decisions of kids coming out of high school thinking ‘I´m going to a basketball player’. I didn’t know what to think. You could see that he had some talent. But I didn’t know that he was going to develop the way he did . I only had the opportunity to play with Shawn for one year. But I followed his career. When you´re playing with guys like Gary Payton or Shawn Kemp it´s going to be easy to play the game as a shooter ´cause so much attention is focused on Gary pushing the ball down the floor and Shawn getting wide open dunks. So, Coaches will have their teams sprint back to the baseline which allows shooters to be wide open. So, it´s been interesting playing with Shawn.”