John Salley

Last updated

John Salley
John Salley LF.JPG
Salley in 2007
Personal information
Born (1964-05-16) May 16, 1964 (age 56)
Brooklyn, New York
Listed height6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
High school Canarsie (Brooklyn, New York)
College Georgia Tech (1982–1986)
NBA draft 1986 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11th overall
Selected by the Detroit Pistons
Playing career1986–2000
Position Power forward / Center
Number22, 16
Career history
19861992 Detroit Pistons
19921995 Miami Heat
1995–1996 Toronto Raptors
1996 Chicago Bulls
1996 Panathinaikos
1999–2000 Los Angeles Lakers
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points 5,228 (7.0 ppg)
Rebounds 3,356 (4.5 rpg)
Blocks 983 (1.3 bpg)
Stats at

John Thomas Salley (born May 16, 1964) is an American former professional basketball player and talk show host. He was the first player in NBA history to win championships with three franchises (the only other being Robert Horry), as well as the first player in the NBA to win a championship in three different decades.


After being drafted in the first round out of Georgia Tech in 1986, the 6'11 (2.11 m) Salley played both power forward and center for the Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, Panathinaikos and Los Angeles Lakers. He was a long-time host of the former Fox Sports Net show The Best Damn Sports Show Period . He is a vegan activist, chef, and wellness entrepreneur. [1] [2]

Early life and college career

Salley was born in Brooklyn, New York. Salley played high school ball at Canarsie High School in Brooklyn. [3] He is a 1988 graduate of Georgia Tech's College of Management. [4] He helped the Yellow Jackets win the 1985 ACC Championship, they also advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. He left in 1986 as Tech’s all-time leader in blocked shots. He holds Georgia Tech's personal fouls record, and has had his jersey number 22 retireda very rare honor in college basketball. [5]

Professional career

Detroit Pistons

Salley was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 1986 NBA draft out of Georgia Tech. After joining the Pistons, he became close friends with Adrian Dantley, who taught him proper nutrition, how to exercise, and how to conduct himself off the court. Salley, for his part, called Dantley "The Teacher". Salley would become good friends with comedian Eddie Murphy and made several appearances at comedy clubs in the off-season. In 1989 and 1990, he played on two Pistons NBA championship teams. He is among the Pistons' all-time leaders in blocked shots.

Under the coaching of Chuck Daly, Salley was part of the Pistons era that featured three consecutive NBA finals appearances. The team's defense oriented style of play earned them the nickname of the NBA's "Bad Boys", with Salley playing alongside Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, James Edwards, Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas, Rick Mahorn and Dantley. After losing the 1988 NBA Finals in 7 games to the Lakers, the Pistons turned it around to sweep the Lakers in 4 games in 1989. Salley and the Pistons repeated in 1990 defeating the Portland Trail Blazers in 5 games. The Pistons' run came to an end when the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls swept them in 4 games in the 1991 Eastern Conference finals; following game four, while most of the Pistons players chose to return to the locker room rather than congratulate the new Eastern Conference champions, Salley was one of the few who stayed on the court as the game ended to congratulate the Bulls.

Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors

Salley was traded to the Miami Heat in 1992. In the 1995 NBA expansion draft he was selected by the inaugural Toronto Raptors team after being made available by the Heat.

In February 1996, he negotiated a buyout of his contract and was waived thus ending his stint with the Raptors during which he averaged 19.3 minutes and 6 points per game.

Chicago Bulls

Free of his Raptors contract, in early March 1996, Salley signed a 10-day contract with the Chicago Bulls, where he played with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoč, and former Pistons teammates Dennis Rodman and James Edwards. Following another 10-day contract right after the first one ended, the Bulls signed Salley as a free agent and he spent the rest of the season with the team. The 1995-96 Bulls achieved a record-breaking 72-win season, the best-ever regular season record at the time, later surpassed by the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors at 73-9.

One month with Panathinaikos

In September 1996, thirty-two-year-old Salley came out of what turned out to be only a three-month retirement and went to play in Greece, where he joined the Greek Basket League team Panathinaikos on a one-year US$1 million contract. [6] Before accepting the offer from the Božidar Maljković-coached Panathinaikos, Salley had reportedly consulted with recent Bulls teammate Toni Kukoč who knew Maljković well having spent four trophy-laden seasons anchoring his late 1980s KK Split teams. [7]

Salley made his Panathinaikos debut on 25 September 1996 in EuroLeague away at FC Barcelona, a 77-58 loss during which he scored 5 points before fouling out in only 12 minutes of action. [7] Right away, Salley got on the bad side of coach Maljković who refused to modify his disciplinarian approach in order to accommodate a veteran player with a notable NBA career behind him. [7] Though Salley's performances somewhat improved over the following three EuroLeague outings — 10 points in a home loss versus ASVEL, 9 points and 11 rebounds in a blowout home win versus KK Split, and 21 points and 8 rebounds in a win away at minnows Bayer Leverkusen — as he seemingly adjusted to European referees and managed to stay out of foul trouble, he continued to butt heads with coach Maljković. After flying back to Athens with the team the morning after the Leverkusen game, Salley refused to go to practice and as a result, got dropped by Maljković for their Greek League game the following day. [8] He then flew back to the United States for meetings with TV executives over a new talk show he had been planning to host for Disney, returning to Athens an hour before the club's Greek Cup game versus P.A.O.K. on 22 October 1996 — a trip that included Salley renting a private Lear jet in Paris for US$20,000 out of his own pocket in order to make it back to Athens in time for the game after having his connecting flight delayed and then even renting a helicopter once he landed at Athens' Ellinikon Airport to take him right to Panathinaikos' OACA Hall in the city's Marousi neighbourhood. [8] However, Maljković still refused to include him in the lineup and in response, Salley decided to leave Panathinaikos unilaterally two days later after only a month at the club.

Salley appeared in seven games for Panathinaikos and ended up getting paid about €300,000. [7]

Los Angeles Lakers

In 1999, Salley joined a Lakers team led by superstars Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant and also reunited with his former Bulls coach, Phil Jackson. He saw little action for the Lakers en route to their first of three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. In 2000, he retired again following the first Lakers championship season after proudly proclaiming that he had won "four championship rings, with three different teams, in three different decades and two different millenniums". [9] 14 years later, Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs became the second player to achieve this (sans the requirement of different teams) by leading his Spurs to five championships between 1999 and 2014.

Post-basketball career

Salley in 2008 2008-1206-USC-UCLA-001-JohnSalley.jpg
Salley in 2008


In 1995, John Salley had a role in Bad Boys as a thick-glassed computer hacking nerd who gets out of jail because he helps crack files for the Miami Police Department. In 1996, Salley appeared as a veteran basketball player alongside Whoopi Goldberg in the film Eddie , about a fan who takes over as coach of the New York Knicks.

In 2003, Salley reprised his role of Fletcher in Bad Boys II and appeared in the Showtime TV film Coast to Coast alongside actress Selma Blair.

He also appeared in the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic in 2009 as a member of the shopaholic help group (playing a retired NBA player) and had a bit role as a pimp in the blaxploitation spoof Black Dynamite . [10]

Salley appeared in the Disney Channel original movie, The Ultimate Christmas Present , as a tall elf.

In 2018, Salley appeared in the Netflix original movie, Nappily Ever After , starring Sanaa Lathan.


In the fall of 1998, Salley hosted the game show I Can't Believe You Said That , which aired on the Fox Family Channel. During that time, he also guest-starred as a panelist on Hollywood Squares .

In 2005, he appeared in the television series Noah's Arc as Victor.

He was one of the hosts of The Best Damn Sports Show Period on Fox Sports Network. Salley hosted The John Salley Block Party, a radio morning show on Los Angeles station 100.3 The Beat from 2005 - 2006.

For a short time, Salley provided analysis for NBC's NBA Showtime .

Salley has also hosted VH1's Basketball Wives (2010-2012) & Basketball Wives LA (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015) Reunion Specials. [11]

Guest appearances

In 2001, he made an appearance in the Luther Vandross music video, "Take You Out". He also appeared on a celebrity episode of Weakest Link that same year and was voted off in the first round.

In 2004, he was part of the panel of celebrity judges in the TBS Superstation show He's a Lady .

In 2006, Salley was named the Commissioner of the American Basketball Association.

In 2007, Salley appeared in the ABC reality television series Fast Cars and Superstars: The Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race , featuring a dozen celebrities in a stock car racing competition. In the first round of competition, Salley matched up against professional wrestler John Cena and tennis star Serena Williams. Salley also became the host of the BET show Ballers.

Salley joined the cast of the reality competition show I'm a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here! , which premiered on June 1, 2009. [12] He came in third place behind winner Lou Diamond Phillips and runner-up Torrie Wilson.

Salley hosted a podcast on Adam Carolla's ACE Broadcasting Network with sportswriter Kevin Hench entitled Spider and the Henchman . [13] The show was canceled on March 18, 2011.

In 2012, he appeared as a celebrity judge on RuPaul's Drag Race (season 4, episode 2).

On an episode of Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker ("The NFL Kicker and the Workaholic", aired March 12, 2013), he acted as a consultant to Patti Stanger to help one of her clients (an ex-NFL player) become less of a "playa" and find a woman to settle down with.

Vegan activism and wellness career

Salley is a vegan activist and has appeared on PETA's testimonial videos, [14] as well as in promoting alternatives to practices of massive factory farming. [15]

Salley is also noted for speaking at Michigan's Vegfest since 2009 and appearing on VegMichigan's billboard campaign. He also appeared before the U.S. Congress to advocate for vegetarian options to be served in public schools in Nov ’09 and May ’10 as part of the Child Nutrition Act discussions. [16]

On May 4, 2010, it was announced that Salley had joined the Simply Raw team. The group of individuals who produced the documentary Raw for 30 had approached Salley with their video about reversing diabetes, and "it instantly got his attention" since his father had the disease. [17]

Salley teamed up with Farm Sanctuary in 2010 to host their New York City Walk for Farm Animals on Sunday, October 24, 2010. [18]

In June 2012 Salley became the official spokesperson for a natural supplements line called VirMax that is developed by Natural Product Solutions, LLC. [19]

In December 2015, Salley encouraged US First Lady Michelle Obama to go vegan "for the planet" - setting a lifestyle example of reducing environmental impacts from greenhouse gas release. [20] [21]

"Vegan eating is not just a slam dunk for human health; it's also the most effective way to combat climate change." ~ John Salley

Salley is an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry, launching his own cannabis brand Deuces22 and taking an ownership stake in the cannabis testing company GreenSpace Labs. [22] Salley is also and advisory board member with cannabis social networking platform BudTrader.

Salley is an ambassador for Operation Smile.

Personal life

Salley married Natasha Duffy in 1993, [23] and they have two children together. He also has a daughter from a previous relationship. John Salley is a member of Omega Psi Phi initiated through Nu Omega Chapter in Detroit.

NBA career statistics

  GPGames played  GS Games started MPG Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage 3P%  3-point field goal percentage FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game APG  Assists per game SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game PPG Points per game Bold Career high
  Won an NBA championship

Regular season

1986–87 Detroit 82217.8.562.000.6143.
1987–88 Detroit 821624.4.566.7094.
1988–89 Detroit 672121.8.498.000.6925.
1989–90 Detroit 821223.3.512.250.7135.
1990–91 Detroit 74122.3.475.000.7274.
1991–92 Detroit 723824.6.512.000.7154.
1992–93 Miami 513427.9.502.7996.
1993–94 Miami 764525.1.477.667.7295.
1994–95 Miami 755026.1.499.7394.
1995–96 Toronto 25619.3.486.7233.
1995–96 Chicago 17011.2.343.6002.
1999–00 L.A. Lakers 4536.7.362.7501.


1987 Detroit 15020.7.500.6434.
1988 Detroit 23027.1.538.000.7106.
1989 Detroit 17023.1.586.6674.
1990 Detroit 20027.4.475.7555.
1991 Detroit 15020.5.543.6004.
1992 Detroit 5129.8.455.000.8216.
1994 Miami 5540.2.386.6888.
1996 Chicago 1605.3.545.2860.
2000 L.A. Lakers 1804.3.385.7001.

See also

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  5. The retiring of players' jerseys is not uncommon in college basketball, but retirement of numbers is far more rare. The main reason is that far fewer numbers are available for use by college teams than in the NBA. NCAA rules, unlike those of the NBA, prohibit the use of any digits greater than five in player numbers. Georgia Tech has not only retired Salley's number 22, but also the number 25 worn by Salley's teammate Mark Price, the number 15 worn by current NBA player Matt Harpring, the number 20 worn by former NBA player Tom Hammonds, and the numbers 21 and 40 worn by Roger Kaiser and Rich Yunkus, respectively.
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