Hey! Whatever Happened To Kendall Gill

By Brian Taylor

Remember the early ’90s? Remember when coaches got along with players? Remember when Spike Lee was Mars Blackmon, and UNLV was destroying everybody and the Knicks were good? Of course you do! You also remember when the Hornets were in Charlotte and when they had L.J. and Muggsy. It was then that they drafted a nifty swingman by the name of Kendall Cedric Gill, from the University of Illinois.

As a member of the “Flying Illini”, the 6’5″ Gill was teamed up with Nick Anderson, Marcus Liberty and the like, while being a thorn in the side of the Big Ten Conference. In 1989, the squad made the Final Four, with Gill leading the Big Ten in scoring. The second year Hornets needed someone to take the scoring pressure off Grandmama, so Charlotte wised up and snagged Kendall in the first round.

In his second year as a Hornet, Kendall electrified the Coliseum crowds in Charlotte with ridiculous hops, often posterizing taller players. (I remember him and Larry Johnson on the Hornets in NBA Jam! If you couldn’t win with Charlotte in that game, you shouldn’t have been in the arcade!) Gill averaged around 20ppg for the Hornets, who were slowly becoming the team to watch. When ’Zo arrived, Coach Allan Bristow came to the realization that there was indeed only one basketball and too many heroes, and that Gill would have to head west.

In Seattle, Kendall got a new start, a new city and a new superstar to work with in Shawn Kemp. Unfortunately, he got a new coach who was also Commissioner of the Fun Police – George Karl. Kenyon Martin and George Karl seemed like best friends compared to Kendall’s relationship with the coach. George never wanted to play Gill, because he thought Gill wasn’t worth the $3.8 million the Sonics gave him. Karl would often put him in at garbage time just to piss him off. All this lead to Kendall having a severe bout of clinical depression and heading to New Jeruz with Jayson Williams.

In Jersey, Gill got his swagger back, going from a gloomy 12ppg in Charlotte (again) to 21ppg, leading the Nets in scoring. He also led the team into the playoffs (only to get swept by that bald dude in Chicago) and helped bring Jersey some respect. After that season, he never really came back to form, and did his run of free agent signings, the last of which landed him in Milwaukee for 14 games before retiring.

Here’s the catch: Gill retired from the NBA, but not from being an athlete. Bored with life after The League, Gill decided he needed a new challenge and took up boxing. What inspired him to take it to the ring? Nine years ago, Gill got his dome cracked in a fight outside a Chi-Town nightclub, and he swore he’d never take a beating like that again. Boxing for fitness turned into boxing for self-defence, which turned into boxing for real. His second motivation came from his hazing at the hands of George Karl, who labeled him “soft”. It was a rep Kendall didn’t want anymore. His first cruiserweight win came in Chicago against journeyman Trevor Biley by knockout. (Granted Biley was only 5’8″, but hey, a win is a win!) Gill says he’ll fight two or three more times before hanging it up. So when you get a few, check out his site.

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6 thoughts on “Hey! Whatever Happened To Kendall Gill

  1. Talk about a blast from the past, I do fondly remeber Kendall Gill and I also remember when Spike Lee was Mars Blackmon, those were the days. I will definitely go check out Gill’s site after leaving here, thanks for posting it!

    Jamie

  2. What’s with so many NBA stars getting into boxing? I just read about Al Harrington and I’ve known for a while that Mike James has liked boxing in the offseasons. Didn’t Joel Pryzbilla also get involved in boxing?

    Another great article Brian and I can’t wait to read your Ed Cota article next week!

    I also want to let fans of Brian’s articles know that next Tuesday I’ll be posting a Training Camp Rundown interview with Brian about his Wizards. You’ll finally be able to put a voice to his articles!

  3. He was still in the free agent pool of nba live 2006. I picked him up as an improved version of Adrian Griffin with Dallas. You forgot to mention he was a weapon on defense, one time reaching 11 steals.

  4. Yes, an Illinoisian that I used to love to watch in the league, I actually think I still have his rookie card. Now he is BOXING?? That is crazy, but interesting, let me go check out his site. Thanx B!

  5. Awesome Article! This guy was so hot…..I LOVED to watch him play and he was SO cute..and still is! Thanks for the memories….

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