The Michael Holley Podcast: Bruce Arena on why he nearly turned down Revolution job

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The Michael Holley Podcast: Bruce Arena on why he nearly turned down Revolution job

Bruce Arena led the New England Revolution to their first playoff appearance since 2015 after taking over a team that had the worst record in MLS when he was hired in May. 

That turnaround under Arena nearly didn't happen because, as the former US men's national team and veteran MLS coach told Michael Holley on the latest edition of The Michael Holley Podcast, he was initially reluctant to take the job.

"Believe it or not, I wasn't going to take the job here," Arena told Holley. "The Krafts just convinced me. To me, it was an interesting project, it was a unique opportunity. 

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"I said, 'The New England Revolution? What have they done lately? Are they really committed to winning? I said [to team owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft], 'If you're committed to winning, I'm willing to listen. I listened a little bit but didn't listen that well...They kept coming back and over a couple of days I was persuaded to come here."

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Arena said the Krafts' commitment to the Revs that convinced him to come to New England has him hopeful for sustained success here. 

"I've had a lot of situations where I had teams near the top and they're demanding to win championships right away. I thought this would be a great challenge to build a team toward a championship," Arena said. "The Krafts have been great for me. They're building a great training facility. We're eventually going to have a [soccer-only] stadium in the city [of Boston]. They convinced me that they were going to support this team and we were going to make it happen in Boston."

Arena said the key to the turnaround last season was building confidence in his players and the playoff appearance has raised the stakes for this season. 

"Certainly, we had to get confidence back in the players. I felt in a short period of time, I thought the talent level was better than most people thought...I think we're putting together a good team, both on and off the field. We're going to turn up the expectations this year and try and be a better team than what we were last year."

And bout that stadium, Arena said, "I think it's going to happen during my tenure. I'm that confident about it. My wife and I are going to be moving to a condominium in the seaport. So, I'm hopeful that one day, I'm going to say, maybe I'll kiss my wife goodbye and I'm going to travel real quickly to the stadium for our match...I know it's a personal goal for Robert and Jonathan Kraft and they're working real hard to get that done." 

"I think in the near future we can get some news about the potential for a stadium here."

Arena also touches on his friendship with Patriots receiver Julian Edelman and ex-Pats receiver Danny Amendola, his New York roots and fandom of a certain baseball team to the south being put the test, the changing impact of MLS and soccer in the US, his passion for coaching and more in this edition of the podcast, presented by Night Shift Brewing.

 

Antoine Walker: Michael Jordan is NBA's greatest player of all time, 'Hands down'

Antoine Walker: Michael Jordan is NBA's greatest player of all time, 'Hands down'

There will always be a big debate about the greatest player in NBA history. That's part of the reason that the idea of an "NBA Mount Rushmore" exists. It distracts from the difficult debate that many get into when discussing Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James vs. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Bill Russell ... and so on.

But if you ask former Boston Celtics star Antoine Walker, he doesn't think it's particularly close.

On the latest episode of The Michael Holley Podcast, Walker told Holley that his good friend Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time. Here's what he said in that interview:

I mean, you got to look at Michael's body of work. I played against Michael, I played against a lot of these guys. He was second to none. He's the greatest player to ever play the game. Hands down. Nobody's even close to him. His competitive drive.

I mean, could you imagine if Michael was talking about load management? Guys sitting out games? Michael would get you 82 games. He played every game. I mean, there's just so many things that separate him from the rest of these guys that you want to mention.

When Holley asked Walker how close LeBron might be to Jordan, Walker shrugged it off, insisting James would be "a top-five player" but that he didn't come close to matching Jordan.

He's not at Michael's [level]. He's not a closer. LeBron [sought] out big talent to play with. Well, Michael didn't do that. Michael developed his talent. They drafted Scottie [Pippen], Horace Grant, made those guys winners. Made those guys champions.

While Walker noted that Dennis Rodman joined Jordan in Chicago, he also pointed out that LeBron had to go join other talents to create a super team in Miami. As Walker said, "The way he did it was totally different."

It's always going to be difficult to compare two players from different eras, but Walker certainly has a strong stance, as many have in this debate over the course of the years.

For more of Walker's thoughts on Jordan, James, and the NBA, check out the latest episode of "The Michael Holley Podcast."

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pistons, which tips off Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Tommy have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Michael Holley Podcast: Antoine Walker on financial ruin and rebound

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Michael Holley Podcast: Antoine Walker on financial ruin and rebound

Antoine Walker made $108 million playing in the NBA. By 2008, most of that was gone. 

The former Boston Celtics star, who averaged 17.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game during his career, found himself in financial trouble during the Great Recession, as his Chicago-based real estate company started to have problems.

And Walker, as the personal guarantor of the real estate company, ended up being responsible for that financial burden.

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As a result of this, Walker would go on to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the goal of getting a "clean slate" and getting out of debt quickly.

In a recent episode of the "Michael Holley Podcast", Walker detailed the reason he chose to take this path. He thought getting out of debt quickly would pay off, as he still believed he'd be playing in the NBA.

I honestly thought that I was going to continue to play basketball. I thought that I still had a couple of years left in me where I could play, at worst, at the league minimum and be able to start over and rebuild my life. It never happened.

I continued to try to play, I played in the G League - at that time, it was the D League. I tried to work out for a couple of teams but I never got back in. I never envisioned myself not getting back in.

Walker also spoke about how his financial situation was misinterpreted at the time of his bankruptcy. Some stories believed he had gambled his money away, and he called that "disheartening."

People were like 'Oh, he gambled his money away.' And that was disheartening to hear that. And obviously, did I gamble? Yes. Was I a competitive gambler where I gambled big money? Yeah. But that was very small in me losing my fortune. And people didn't understand that.

Hear more of Antoine Walker's story, who he thinks is the NBA's greatest, and his thoughts on this year's Celtics team on the latest episode of the "Michael Holley Podcast", part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.

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Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pistons, which tips off Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Tommy have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.