Calvin Murphy was the perfect candidate to showcase the Planet Hollywood Basketball Hall of Fame exhibit last weekend. After all, he is a Hall of Famer and his Houston Rockets were playing a Game 7 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I spent some 38 years in that organization," said Murphy, who’s still in basketball shape at age 61. "I was born in Connecticut and went to college at Niagara so mom wanted me to play for either Boston or New York. But I never had any regrets playing for Houston."
Murphy likes to go against the odds, such as picking Houston as a 13-point underdog to top LA in Game 7. And though wrong in that case, the 5-foot-9, Murphy likes challenges so his move into the talk show arena in Houston was a perfect fit.
"I do like being outspoken," Murphy said. "Older people know me as Calvin Murphy the basketball player. My show targets the 18-35 age group and they know me as a radio host."
So it was natural that Murphy held court at PH on how he sees the NBA.
"There’s no question that good players pay attention to the Vegas lines and are motivated by them," he said. "There’s not much talk about it, but they know. I sure did when I played."
It would be easy to say that Murphy’s choice of the Rockets over Los Angeles was one of bias since he is an icon in Houston. But, he really should be carrying a grudge since ownership fired him without even a phone call during a celebrated court trial where he was eventually acquitted of child molestation charges.
"The owner (Les Alexander) has never said a word to me to this day," Murphy said. "Sure it hurt. Me and Rudy Tomjanovich built this franchise. But I’m not bitter. My faith has allowed me to move on."
And moving on means not being bashful about saying:
• "LeBron James still has a lot to learn about the game of basketball."
• "The Lakers look worn down."
• "The NBA has become soft."
"I’m old school," Murphy said. "They (the league) made it a soft game. What is this flagrant foul 1 and 2 stuff? We really need to go back to yesterday and let talent win. They’ve taken a great game and made it a marshmallow. At 61, I can still take a step and draw a foul."
As for the NBA playoffs Murphy believes Denver will go all the way, beating Cleveland in the final.
"LeBron is the future of the NBA, but it’s more about athleticism than basketball with him," he said. "Cleveland has Delonte West, Mo Williams and role players. Denver is a different team with Chauncey Billups. They now have five guys who can beat you."
Murphy said he would like to see Vegas get an NBA franchise and see that gambling stigma removed.
"The league still has a thing about gambling in Las Vegas even though they really want to be here," Murphy stated. "Even though they had problems when the All-Star Game was here, I think the NBA wants to come back. I know I like it here."
Rangers at Tigers: Two hot pitchers (Matt Harrison and Justin Verlander) in Motown. UNDER.
Pirates at Nats: John Lannan is suddenly winning. NATIONALS.
Angels at M’s: Santana easier to say than Jakubauskas. ANGELS.
NOTE: A $50 bet on the NBA title series conference finals gets $5 off on PH’s Hall of Fame Basketball Exhibit and up to 40 percent savings on NBA apparel. A $150 Kobe or LeBron jersey is reduced to $90.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Mark Mayer