Kendall Gill had a 15-year career in the NBA. Gill averaged 13 points, four rebounds and a shade under 2 steals while suiting up for the Seattle Sonics, Charlotte Hornets, New Jersey Nets, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Honestly, Gill’s best career came in the 1999 season where he was the NBA’s steals leader, averaging 2.68 per game. In that season, he locked down all types of players from Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Grant Hill, Allen Iverson, Alan Houston and Larry Johnson.
Gill was a man on a mission that year, for real. He took joy in guarding players from positions 1-3 and he sometimes even guarded tweeners like now retired power forward, Kevin Garnett, who later was his teammate with the T-Wolves.
”If I asked Kendall to play power forward, he would do it,” former Nets coach John Calipari once said about Gill after practice. ”Look at him. He is still at it.”
Gill relished in playing against a young Kobe Bryant. “Kobe didn’t reinvent the wheel,” Gill told me in a recent interview. “He studied a lot of what Michael did and put a little bit of his own spin in it and became one of the greatest players that played the game. You can’t argue with that. Then when he leaves the game with 61, I mean who does that? He really put a stamp on his legacy when he did that.”
Gill’s name surfaced recently when former NBA coach George Karl released his book, Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection.
The book garnered much attention presumably because of the excerpts detailing his relationship with his former players, J.R. Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and retired NBA player Kenyon Martin. Karl also included Gill. Karl said that Gill was a bad teammate. Gill played for him in Seattle from 1993-95. “I was always a good teammate,” Gill told CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Always, always played within my team. As a matter of fact, George Karl himself said I was too unselfish to become a superstar. He told me that. And now, what you’re telling me – that he said I was a bad teammate – I take that personally. You can ask anybody that I’ve ever played with. Was I selfish? I was never any of those things. For him to come out and say that about me is simply wrong.”
As a member of the press, I’ve always had good dealings with Kendall Gill. Retrospectively my Scoop B Radio series chronicles some of my best interviews done from past and present. Kendall Gill made the cut. He always talked reverently about Muhammad Ali and Walter Payton being his role models growing up and enjoying reading Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God book.
On a slow news Monday, take a listen.