John Salley in a press photo
The first player in history to win an NBA championship with 3 different teams, John Salley, was also the first player to ever win them in 3 decades. Robert Horry has since won with 3 teams and Tim Duncan in 3 decades.
The former-NBA player, TV/radio host, actor, outspoken vegan, chef, and wellness entrepreneur is a Bob’s Big Boy Burbank regular and, in part, responsible for getting the Vegan Burger on the Bob’s Big Boy menu.
Dennis Rodman and John Salley
The Detroit Pistons selected John Salley and Dennis Rodman in the first round of the 1986 NBA draft, forming the frontcourt that’d lead to the Pistons becoming known as the NBA’s "Bad Boys" for their tough and defensive-minded style of play.
Salley and Rodman each had their own nicknames. Salley was called "Spider" for his long-limbed defensive prowess. Rodman was known as "Worm" for wriggling in and out of tight situations to snatch rebounds. Together, none other than Larry Bird dubbed the forwards the "X-Factor." The rookies embraced the nickname by crossing their arms in X’s to acknowledge each other when they entered games.
Chuck Daly, John Salley, and Isiah Thomas
Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics would knock the Pistons out of the Eastern Conference Finals (1987) in the seventh and final game. The Pistons would get closer, but lose again in the seventh and final game of the NBA Finals (1988) to the Los Angeles Lakers. John Salley and the Detroit Pistons would return to the NBA Finals (1989) again and sweep the Lakers, then beat the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA Finals (1990), making Detroit’s “Bad Boys” Back-to-Back NBA Champions.
John Salley outside his Detroit mansion
After some NBA success, John Salley bought a 62-room mansion in Detroit from a Catholic Archbishop. The house had an elevator and a chapel with eight rows of pews. Salley retained the staff and in asking the caretaker if he got a deal, he replied, "You got a bargain, John. If you were Catholic, you'd have to go to confession for stealing." Salley paid $500,000 for the house. He regrets selling it for a mere $900,000. He currently lives in Tarzana, California, about a 15-minute drive from Bob’s Big Boy Burbank.
Before buying his own house, he had one built for his Mom and Dad first. Dad also got a, “Big, Stinkin’ Blue" Lincoln Continental with blue leather top and spokes in the wheels.”The Detroit Pistons ran into a Michael Jordan driven Chicago Bulls in 1991. Upon losing the Eastern Conference Semis, most of the Pistons headed straight for the locker room, but Salley stayed on the floor to congratulate MJ and the Bulls. John Salley would wind up on the Chicago Bulls, joining Michael, Scottie Pippen, former-Piston-teammate Dennis Rodman, winning a regular season record 72 games and the NBA Finals (1996).
John Salley and Kobe Bryant
John Salley retired from basketball after reuniting with head coach Phil Jackson for just the first of the Lakers three-consecutive NBA Finals (2000) championships. He played alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Salley’s career turned to sports broadcasting and he would later interview Phil Jackson at the Alex Theater in Glendale, California (2013) for a LiveTalksLA segment.
Will Smith, John Salley, and Martin Lawrence
Naturally, as a member of the Pistons “Bad Boys,” he was cast with actors Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the movie Bad Boys (1995), playing "Fletcher," a thick-glassed computer hacking nerd. He reprised the role in Bad Boys II (2003) and continues the character as part of the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced cast of the TV show, L.A.’s Finest (2019-), starring Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union.
John Salley was a host on the Best Damn Sports Show Period (2001-09) earning two Sports Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Studio Show (2004 and 2005).
He wasn’t always vegan. His first road trip in the NBA he got room service in the afternoon, ordering a burger, fries, and a milkshake (a common order at Bob’s Big Boy Burbank). His roommate and mentor, Adrian Dantley, ordered soup, half a sandwich, water, juice. Salley was dying by the end of the game. Dantley was just rolling along. “I learned about eating, real quick,” said Salley.
On June 26th, 2020 he opened his own Vegan restaurant in San Bernardino called Cafe Organix, to help combat the food desserts in Black and Brown communities.
John Salley is a serial entrepreneur, with a cigar shop, a cannabis business with his daughter Tyla, investments in Beyond Meat, and a host of other plant-based products. He was quoted in a CNBC article. “Go for success, figure out how to do something that will make you happy while doing it, and the caveat is money comes along with it,” Salley says. “Don’t let money rule you.”
John Salley on Best Damn Sports Show Period