I just don’t think he was any good (as in inter-county standard).
I think there was a perception that a good basketball player would automatically make a good Gaelic footballer. McHale, for all of his height and bulk, didn’t measure up for me. Scored very little. Passing wasn’t great. Was probably less mobile than what Aidan O’Shea would be.
The great Sean Walsh used basketball to help his jumping and timing for catching a ball. He was an example of a very good Gaelic footballer who could get by at an ok level of basketball (let’s face it - not the most skilful of games).
I don’t know for sure, but I’d imagine McHale played Gaelic football from a reasonably young age (as @mayoman alluded to, what young lad in Mayo wouldn’t?)but probably played more basketball - it suited his physique. I’d imagine someone got the idea that this decent basketball player, who also plays Gaelic football, would become an inter-county great, his size being a help.
Sorry, but for me, Liam McHale was no Willie Joe Padden (Snr) or John Maughan or TJ Kilgallon (great players in their day).