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    Then & Now: Tony Farmer

    Then & Now: Tony Farmer

    Compiled By Dave Brandon

    (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations)


    Farmer played at Nebraska for one season, and that was

    the record-breaking year of 1990-1991, which saw

    Nebraska finish with a record of 26-8 and in the season

    ending Top 10 of some polls.

    Following his season at Nebraska,

    Farmer went on to play in the NBA with the Miami Heat,

    Charlotte Hornets, and Golden State Warriors.

    The 6’9” 225-pound Farmer is our

    latest guest in this Sunday’s edition of “Then & Now.”

    HHC: You went to

    Artesia High School in the L.A. area, and averaged 22.6

    PPG and 10.0 RPG in your senior season (1987). You were

    MVP of the Suburban Conference, and had your jersey

    retired, along with Tom Tolbert and Ed O’Bannon. What

    made you originally choose San Jose State out of high


    TF: It was close to

    home, and I was very young coming out of high school and

    didn’t want to go to far away. It was close enough and a

    decent enough school where my parents could see me play,

    so that was why the decision was made.

    HHC:  Did Nebraska ever recruit you out of

    high school?

    TF: No. My final five

    choices were San Jose State, USC, UCLA, Oklahoma, and


    HHC: You played a year and a half at San

    Jose State, and actually played against Nebraska in the

    Ameritas Classic of 1988-1989, averaging 17.0 PPG and

    10.0 RPG in the two games. Was your experience in

    Lincoln that weekend what made you choose to transfer to

    Nebraska after leaving San Jose State at the midway

    point of your sophomore season?

    TF: Yeah. They had really good support and

    I’d always known they had a good football team. But I

    had good playing success there during that tournament

    and really liked the atmosphere and people.

    I also liked the Big 8 Conference,

    because Oklahoma was one of my final choices since my

    Dad went there. And I felt it (Nebraska) was a good

    school with a good graduation rate. It was just a

    situation that I felt I wanted to be a part of. 

    HHC: What was the perception of Lincoln

    and Nebraska basketball to an L.A. kid at that time?

    TF: To me, I knew it was a very, very

    small city of 250,000. And, I wanted a slower pace

    coming from L.A., so that played a big part in it being

    my choice.

    But also, one of the main things

    was that I had a great relationship with the Mills

    family there (Lincoln), Stan and Reta. They drove our

    van for San Jose State during the Ameritas Classic, and

    I maintained contact with them afterward because we had

    a good time. And when I told them I was coming they were

    all excited, and they helped make my transition easy.

    HHC: Talk about your

    relationship with Danny Nee, both at the beginning of

    your career at Nebraska, and at the end?

    TF: When I initially decided to transfer,

    I spoke to Coach (Gary) Bargen first, and he told me

    that they were definitely interested in me coming. And I

    remember Coach Nee flew out and met me and my Dad and

    told me it’d be a good opportunity.

    From the first day I got to

    Lincoln, he always made me feel welcome, and told me

    that although I’ll be red shirting that first year, I

    wouldn’t be less important than anyone else.

    I had a good relationship with him

    then, and even when I decided to turn pro, he kind of

    put my name out there for me to see where I’d be taken

    or go, and just supported me all the way through.

    I remember that after my first year

    I maintained contact with him, and periodically

    throughout my pro career as well, although I haven’t

    talked to him in some time. I talked to Coach Bargen

    recently though, and we still stay in touch.

    HHC: 1989-1990 was

    your first season at Nebraska, and you sat out as a

    transfer while the team went 10-18. What did you learn

    that season, and was it beneficial for you?

    TF: Yeah, it was good

    for me because I felt it was a good transition. But the

    main thing that kept us together was staying in Lincoln

    after that season and going to summer school and working

    out together. We became really close that summer, and to

    this day, that’s the closest-knit group I’ve ever been


    You’ve got guys like Beau (Reid)

    and Rich (King) that were already there, and me and

    Keith Moody and (Eric) Piatkowski and (Bruce) Chubick,

    we all came in the same year, and Jose (Ramos) came, and

    we had a tough, tough run in practice, but it was the

    closest group of guys I’ve ever been around.

    HHC: Did you honestly have any idea that

    you guys would have the kind of success you did in

    1990-1991 prior to the start of the season?

    TF: I felt we were good, and I think my

    red shirt year that the team I was on that practiced

    against the starters was just as good as some other


    Now, did I know we’d be 26-8? No, I

    can’t make that up, but I thought once we started

    conditioning and stuff that guys came in shape, and

    right when we began in the San Juan Shootout and we beat

    Illinois, I knew we’d be special. How special? I had no

    idea. But when I made that pass to Beau against Michigan

    State to help us start 16-1, I knew it was going to be

    real special.

    HHC: 1990-1991 - What sticks out most?

    TF: The thing that

    sticks out is that every time we had a crossing, we

    crossed it. People kept saying it was a fluke and we

    weren’t that good, but we kept beating the same

    consistent teams. We went to the Big 8 and Keith Moody

    hit that three against Oklahoma, and Piatkowski came off

    the bench with that effort.

    Even though things didn’t end up

    great in the Big 8 and NCAA Tournaments, no matter what,

    they can’t change the history of our time and the makeup

    of how we got there.

    HHC: What was your favorite individual

    moment of that season?

    TF: The times when I had a chance to beat

    Oklahoma, because I know Billy Tubbs was real cocky back

    then, and like I said, the family had gone to OU. And I

    had two good games against them, one at their place and

    one in the Big 8 tournament, and that was probably the

    biggest highlight for me individually.

    And even before those games, they

    acted like we wouldn’t be around, and that was just a

    great achievement both for the team and myself to take

    it to them.

    HHC: Do you think that the late night

    start against Xavier in the NCAA Tournament is a valid

    excuse for the loss, like some have said, or is that

    just that – an excuse?

    TF: I think that’s

    just an excuse. I really can’t say that the start time

    matters. We were seeded way higher but they made the

    shots, and I don’t think we took them as seriously as we

    should have and it kind of showed in the end. We were

    real upset by that.

    HHC: How tough was it to have that season

    end on a sour note like that?

    TF: It just felt like there was a lot of

    unfinished business, and the fact that I didn’t come

    back for my senior season didn’t give me a chance for

    redemption. If we would have kept me and Jose around, I

    don’t know if we would have been as good, but close, but

    life goes on.

    HHC: What are your favorite memories of

    Lincoln, both on and off the court?

    TF: Probably on the court was the fan

    support that year. We weren’t getting that much support

    early, but as we got going, the fans were pretty good.

    Off the court was being around the

    teammates and being able to associate with lots of

    people. My roommate at the time was Nate Turner, a

    football player, and that was real good to have someone

    from an opposite sport around, and we always supported

    each other. And we stayed in touch until a few years

    ago, and have now unfortunately lost touch.

    HHC: When was the

    last time you were in Lincoln, and have you been back to

    a Nebraska game since you played?

    TF: I haven’t been back to Lincoln since

    the day I left to turn pro. So 15, 16 years. And I

    haven’t watched a Nebraska game in quite some time,

    although I watched some of the games that Pike played in

    after I left, but I haven’t followed them as closely. I

    see what they are doing here and there, but I haven’t

    followed them like a diehard.

    HHC: What made you choose to go pro

    following the 1991 season?

    TF: The fact is that I didn’t really know

    what my eligibility was from the extra benefits, and I

    knew that my family needed the money and it was the best

    thing for me. So I took that risk, just because of my

    family and eligibility. I didn’t want to lose my senior

    season to eligibility and then be lost in the shuffle.

    HHC: Before we talk about your NBA career,

    can you give us a classic and colorful Danny Nee story

    or two to add to our collection?

    TF: (Laughs) There were so many that had

    me laughing, but I remember one time he was getting on

    Rich King about something when he said, “If you make

    that shot again, I’ll kiss your ass clear up to Macy’s

    store” and that was funny. And we were preparing for the

    game one time, and we always showed highlight tapes, and

    one of the highlights was Chris Cresswell dunking on me

    in practice. And, I never understood what that had to do

    with anything or why that was in there; he just seemed

    to randomly throw that in there (Laughs).

    There were lots of them, though. We

    used to call Pike the “Black Hole” because he never

    wanted to pass the ball when he was a freshman, and it

    was like a gift when you got it.

    HHC: (Laughs) Nice. Talk about some of

    your pro stops before ultimately ending up with the

    Charlotte Hornets in 1997.

    TF: When I first came out of Nebraska, I

    went to the CBA from 1991-1994, and then I went to

    France after that. And while I was in France, we went to

    the finals my first year and we did well. And then after

    that I had a chance to sign with the Miami Heat in


    But to back track, when I came out

    of Nebraska, I was given a guaranteed contract by the

    Lakers even though I wasn’t drafted. Magic (Johnson)

    tested positive for HIV, and I had to go to the CBA

    since I was already getting the money guaranteed. Mike

    Dunleavy was the Head Coach and Randy Pfund was a top

    assistant. And after I was in Europe, Randy had been in

    contact with my agent, Mitch, and they wanted to keep an

    eye on me.

    So after I came back from France,

    Pfund had contacted Mitch and said they (the Lakers)

    wanted to work me out for three days. So, I flew down

    and worked out for three days, and they worked out 121

    players, and Pat Riley (Miami Heat) came to Mitch and

    said they wanted to sign me, and I signed a guaranteed

    contract with them that year (1996) but then they waived

    me in January and I went back to Europe before

    ultimately signing with the Charlotte Hornets in 1997.

    And when I was with Charlotte,

    Bobby Phills went down with an ankle injury and I

    started a game against the Knicks, and after that, I

    left for the lockout and Golden State but they

    ultimately had to waive me. (Editors Note: To put it shortly,

    Farmer played in the CBA in 1991-1992, 1992-1993,

    1993-1994, and 1996-1997. He played in France in

    1992-1993, 1994-1995, and 1995-1996. He played in

    Charlotte in 1997-1998 and Golden State in 1999-2000)

    HHC: Talk about that

    season with Charlotte in 1997-1998, and tell us about

    some of your teammates and favorite memories there?

    TF: My favorite memories were my first

    start on Halloween night against the Knicks, and I

    looked at the lineup, and it was Glen Rice, Anthony

    Mason, Vlade Divac, David Wesley and I. And I had been

    really been close to Glen and he was really instrumental

    in me getting to Charlotte, so that was nice.

    And then playing against the Heat

    was soon after that first start, and I had 11 points and

    5 rebounds which was great because I had a chance to

    show Pat Riley and them that I thought they had a

    mistake in releasing me.

    HHC: You finished your NBA career in

    1999-2000 with the Golden State Warriors, and actually

    had the most success there, as you appeared in 74 games.

    How fun was that season?

    TF: That was one of the most fun pro years

    in the NBA because I made a big contribution. Actually,

    that was probably the funnest for me because I had a

    chance to have a break out season and I ended up signing

    back with Charlotte for 3 years after that season, but

    the GM didn’t like the fact that Coach Paul Silas had

    signed me again since I went to play in Europe after

    asking the Hornets for my release the previous year.

    So, the GM wouldn’t approve my

    contract and I went to Greece and Russia, and I retired

    after Russia because I was going through a divorce and I

    had two young kids.

    And ever since then, I’ve been

    doing ABA stuff and helped start the Salt Lake City team

    out here and am part owner and player, but now I’m

    getting ready to move back out to California.

    But, I still get calls all the time

    to play, because I’m 36 and still in great shape. But

    that’s not going to happen because I’m moving to San

    Diego in about three weeks.

    HHC: Talk about some of your favorite

    teammates and memories of the NBA?

    TF: One of my favorite memories was having

    a chance to work out with Karl Malone all summer during

    the lockout and the next summer, too. Ike Austin still

    lives here (Salt Lake City) and we are good friends.

    Glen was one of my favorites, too, because I have never

    seen a guy work that hard and stay that good for that

    long of a time.

    I also remember playing against the

    Lakers and having 10 and 15 while having to guard Shaq.

    I also had a great game against Portland once where I

    had 18 points and 7 rebounds when they had (Scottie)

    Pippen, (Detlef) Scrempf, and (Jermaine) O’Neill.

    HHC: Finally, what is Tony Farmer up to


    TF: Right now I’m a

    mortgage broker, which I do in 45 states. I’ve been

    self-employed the past year and I’m relocating to San

    Diego because there are some opportunities and I want to

    be close to my family.

    I was married for 5 years but have

    been divorced for the last 3. I have two children;

    Londyn is my son and is 5, and TaSia is my daughter and

    is 4 and now starting school. And her mom lives here in

    Utah, so I’ll fly back every other weekend and see the


    But I’m opening up my business out

    there, and that’s where I’ll end up retiring. 

    HHC: And are you cool

    with taking some e-mails at

    [email protected] if we tell you how to

    check it?

    TF: Definitely.

    HHC: Awesome. Anything you’d like to add?

    TF: Well, unfortunately I couldn’t make

    the 1990-1991 team reunion last February because I had a

    big press conference here, and being one of the owners

    and marquee players with the team, I couldn’t get away.

    But I want to say that I appreciate

    the hospitality and everything while we were there, and

    you guys helping to put together the reunion was great,

    and hopefully we can have a big reunion and an alumni

    game sometime and all play. Heck, maybe we can even play

    against the team from right now, and we might even beat

    them with me, Beau, and Pike, and some of those guys

    that still play.

    I still think I can play, because I

    played in the ABA this year with Dennis Rodman and some

    of those guys, and I had a triple double by my third

    game. Then you’ve got Pike… Man, we might drop 60

    together on them (Laughs).

    HHC: (Laughs) That’s hilarious. I think

    Beau would play in that game in a hurry, too (Laughs).

    Thanks a lot for your time Tony.

    TF: I appreciate it

    Dave, thanks for running this site and take care.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">

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