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John Salley's Championship Success

Feb. 8, 2016

In celebration of Black History Month, will highlight several African-American athletes that left their mark on Georgia Tech Athletics. Our second profile feature is John Salley, who is one of only 10 Georgia Tech athletes to have his jersey number retired. Salley is currently a wellness advocate and lives in Los Angeles with his family.

By Chris Yandle | Communications & Public Relations

He was the first player in NBA history to win a world championship in three different decades and the first to play on three different championship-winning teams. His No. 22 jersey also hangs in the rafters above the floor at McCamish Pavilion.

He’s gone from the “Bad Boys” of Detroit to the TV screen to championing wellness and a vegan lifestyle. John Salley is a Georgia Tech man. More notably, he is a Georgia Tech graduate.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Salley was a member of head coach Bobby Cremins’ 1985 ACC Champion squad that won 27 games and advanced to the NCAA East finals. He left in 1986 as Tech’s all-time leader in blocked shots. He was drafted No. 11 overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 1986 NBA Draft.

In Detroit with the likes of Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Lambeer and Dennis Rodman, Salley and the “Bad Boys” won back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990. Salley would go on to enjoy a 15-year professional basketball career, playing for the Pistons, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, Panathinaikos (Greece) and the Los Angeles Lakers.

During the 1995-96 season, he played for the Raptors during their inaugural season. Midway through the season, he negotiated out of his contract and signed with the Bulls, where he’d be a part of history. Salley and the Bulls would win an NBA-record 72 games in 1995-96 as Chicago won the first of three straight NBA titles that season.

After a brief stint in the Windy City, Salley wound up in Greece, playing briefly for Panathinaikos BC.

Three years later, Salley returned to the NBA, joining the L.A. Lakers. While playing time was at a premium, Salley was a part of the Lakers’ 2000 NBA title team. It was Salley’s fourth – and final – NBA championship.

Since retiring from basketball in 2000, Salley has made numerous TV appearances from Hollywood Squares to The Best Damn Sports Show Period to NBA Showtime. Most recently, Salley has hosted VH1’s Basketball Wives and Basketball Wives LA Reunion Specials. He was inducted into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.

For more on Salley’s post-hoops career, visit his web site at

Monday, Feb. 1 – Kisha Ford-Torres, WBB
Monday, Feb. 8 – John Salley, MBB


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