#32: Kendall Gill

My first memories of Kendall Gill came when I saw the lone season of Nickelodeon’s family show “My Brother & Me”.

I loved that show. It was down-home, it was natural, and I could relate to it being a young, middle-class African-American kid who loved being a kid. Also, the stars of the show loved basketball – I LOVED BASKETBALL! And so when I saw a young Kendall Gill, decked out in Nike and a pair of Air Jordan IXs for a guest spot (set in North Carolina, his former basketball home with the Charlotte Hornets), I was amazed by him and his presence. For a guy that ended up being a former top pick in the 1990 NBA Draft and pretty Jordanesque in stature, I took to the 25-year-old Gill pretty quickly.

I knew Kendall best, at first, from basketball cards, in Charlotte teal with purple, white, and green pinstripes on his jersey, but the Kendall that I authentically grew to know was a New Jersey Net. New Jersey Net Kendall was interesting because that was where I saw him flourish individually.

He was bright and shining in his first stint with the Hornets, but he was later marginalized. He got traded to the Seattle SuperSonics (rest in peace) and couldn’t get along with George Karl (as many other players seemed to find difficulty in doing), only to be marginalized again. After another difficult stint as a role player in Charlotte, Kendall came to New Jersey.

Kendall spent a total of 5½ seasons in New Jersey, the bulk of his career. He didn’t do much for their playoff chances, but to be fair, his teams were “less-than,” and he was supremely limited in carrying a basketball team.

He came from the “Next Jordan” generation, a thought-to-be-elite squadron of various basketball players whose individual and collective essence emitted a scent that seemed reminiscent of the Greatest Of All Time, but in actuality was far off. Kendall was one of those guys. He had the height and build at 6’5” & 205 pounds, but he honestly lacked the intangibles to make any team better on his own. Make no mistake — he had talent — but not otherworldly. Coupled with being in New Jersey, a team wrought with peril and disappointment, the mix was not as I wanted it to be, which would’ve been with him as an All-Star and the Nets being playoff participants.

I remember Kendall being “that guy” in those 5½ seasons, and as a stylish player. He was more of the guy who Larry Hughes wishes he could’ve been; Kendall personified “Silky Smooth.” He grew his hair out a little and had this pompadour-like hightop fade with a blond streak in his hair. He also wore these different basketball shoes that weren’t one of the traditional name. They were white with an all-red bottom, and other times, white with an all-navy bottom. What he lacked in consistent three-point range and alpha-dog leadership, he tried to make up for in a smooth, “easy-does-it” cool, often expressed when he did Jordanesque things like putting his hands on his hips, cutting to the basket off screens and taking jump stops, and gliding through the air with relative ease.

New Jersey Net Kendall was a loser in terms of wins and losses, but the manner in which he attacked the court made him a winner in my eyes.