Authors Posts by Mark Madsen

Mark Madsen'
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Steve Nash, The Phoenix Suns, Mike D'Antoni, Kevin Garnett, UCLA Bruins
The Phoenix Suns are a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the only team in their division not to be based in California. Photo: Debby Wong
Tonight we played against one of the best teams in the NBA–The Phoenix Suns. Steve Nash finished his normal “day at the office” with 20 points and 18 assists. Kevin Garnett was dominant on offense and defense and finished with 44 points, a load of rebounds, and a lot of defensive plays that won’t show up on the stat sheet. Every starter for Phoenix was in double figures. It was a great game to play in and a great game to watch.

Mike D’Antoni has changed the way basketball is played in the NBA. (On a side note: He and I jawed a little bit during the game during a stretch when I was pushing for a technical foul for the Phoenix bench when they really protested a call. He heard me calling out to the officials: “Give them a technical” and then he yelled at me to “just play basketball.” It was a little heated for a second then it just died down. I got his point and he was probably right.)

But Phoenix’s new style has impacted everyone from the refs to NBA coaches all the way to professional scouts. The big bruising players are still effective in the NBA, but speed and shooting are at a premium now because of the success of the Suns and the way they have shown you can win with leaner, faster players with high skill levels. I think D’Antoni’s style is showing the pros and colleges a new and exciting way to play the game. I can tell you firsthand that playing against the Suns is fun for us as NBA players, win or lose, because you know it’s going to be uptempo and there’s going to be a lot of scoring. You know you’ll be playing against one of the best teams in this league.


I had a huge celebration when I watched the Stanford men’s basketball team knock off the top ranked UCLA Bruins yesterday. This year, all the national experts are saying that the Pac-10 is the top conference in college basketball. Even though Fred Hoiberg likes to mess with me about how he doesn’t like Stanford’s mascot–The Tree–our mascot was out there dancing around Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto after our big win. I think I will get some video footage of it and email it to Freddie. The funny thing is that everywhere I go people ask me about the Tree. “Hey is it true that the Tree got suspended for two games a few years ago for yelling at a ref.” I hear questions about that all the time. I’m not even totally sure what the right answer is. Well, all I can say is that the Tree is doing something right because everyone’s talking about him/her and the on-court exploits of the tree are taking on an almost mythical status.

On a more serious note, I think that Stanford’s Coach Trent Johnson is showing why he should be a leading candidate for coach of the year. He has dealt with some tough injuries this season but has done a great job of developing his young players like Brook and Robin Lopez. It was special to watch such a well coached team two nights ago. It was nice to see Lawrence Hill take over that game in the second half along with Anthony Goods and the Lopez’s controlling that paint.

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Dwayne Casey, Got Fired, Coach Wittman, NBA
Last Tuesday our coach Dwayne Casey got fired. Photo:
When I was a rookie with the L.A. Lakers, I remember my teammate Tyrone Lue telling me that in his first year he had been through a lot. I can’t even remember all of the stuff he told me, but it was something like he had been traded, he saw a coach get fired, and in one fell swoop he had an entire new group of teammates through another trade.

Last Tuesday our coach Dwayne Casey got fired. I was sitting in my hotel room in Portland and first a local writer called me on my cell phone to see if I had heard the news that Coach Casey was fired. I told him, “I think it’s a rumor that’s not true.” Then I got two more calls from national writers in the space of about two minutes and I reminded myself that it’s almost never that the journalists get something this big wrong.

Management decided it was time for a new voice to lead our team and so they made the decision to let Dwayne go. It’s always hard when something like that happens for a lot of reasons. First, Dwayne is a great coach and one of the most even keeled leaders I have ever been around. I think that’s one of the reasons why we had so much success in late December and early January. Dwayne led us through the good and the bad times. Coach Casey knew how to draw up great X and O plays especially late in ballgames when the game was on the line. (San Antonio recent win). I think it was tough for management to release Dwayne also, but ultimately, we as players shoulder a lot of the responsibility for the move. If we had gotten the job done better on the court and won more games the firing would not have happened.

At any rate, I know that Dwayne Casey is going to be involved in the game of basketball for a long time because he is a class act in every way and he knows the game of basketball backwards and forwards. Dwayne communicated with every member of our team from Kevin Garnett to the last man on the team and he was always fair.

On another note, we beat the Clippers tonight in a close game. It was a big game for us because we are fighting with L.A. for a playoff birth right now and the race is close. We had so many big contributions from the team. Mike James and KG played very well and Mark Blount hit a huge jumper late in the game. But my personal MVP goes to Ricky Davis tonight who reminded me of Ron Artest in regards to his defense on the Clipper’s perimeter players. After the game, Kevin Garnett grabbed the game ball and brought it into the locker room to give to Coach Wittman. It’s tough to win games in the NBA and now we’ve finally got one under our belt after the turmoil.

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Kevin Garnett, Antonio McDyess, Detroit Pistons, Discipline, Mark, Blaount, NBA
Kevin Garnett is an American professional basketball of the National Basketball Association (NBA). I am in pain because Kevin Garnett got ejected. Photo: s_bukley
Sometimes emotions can flare in close games and that’s what happened in tonights game against the Detroit Pistons at home. Right now I am in pain because Kevin Garnett got ejected and there is some speculation that the league might come forward with a disciplinary action for those of us involved. I still have not seen a replay of the incident and I didn’t see the first part of the tussle because I had my back turned while I was getting up.

When you get a group of 6’10” 260 pound grown men competing hard in games emotions and testosterone can run high with all of us. We were all out there competing and it got a little bit physical and then it was over. It doesn’t make any of it right, but that is the reality of the situation. I am hoping that the NBA chooses to issue fines as a form of discipline for those of us involved instead of any sort of suspensions for the players. KG is the spoon that stirs the pot for our team and Antonio McDyess is an important piece for the Pistons and has been ever since he arrived. I don’t think tonight’s incident was a fight and in my mind, being ejected is punishment enough in terms of lost minutes. Both KG and Antonio McDyess are class guys and in my mind this incident is over.

All of that is out of our control though now, and I think we are all moving on and using the “water under the bridge” expression. I did want to convey to all of you the feeling in our huddle when we knew that we had lost our leader KG for the rest of the game after he got ejected. Everyone that stepped onto the court knew that each had to raise the level of their play to an even higher level. We wanted to win that game badly for Kevin. Mike James and Randy Foye carried us and then we jumped on Mark Blount’s back who had a monster night on the boards and in terms of his offense.

Lastly, after the game the media was asking us all about Ricky Davis. Let me put this issue to rest. There are no issues with Ricky Davis or any sort of incident that is being speculated upon. Rick is a great teammate and a great player and even though he didn’t have his best shooting night, he did a lot of the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. He was out there cheering everyone on and giving us feedback when the game was on the line.

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Los Angeles Clippers, KG , Kevin Garnett, Philadelphia, NBA, training room, Trenton Hassell, Sam Cassell, Randy Foye
Sam Cassell is a American professional basketball player. The 6 ft 3 in, 185 lb point guard was selected out of Florida State University by the Houston Rockets with the 24th overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. Photo: s_bukley /
Tonight we lost a very close game to the Los Angeles Clippers. We were down by one point with 4.3 seconds left and we needed one basket to win the game. During our timeout, Coach Casey drew up a play that got KG open for a pass with time expiring. From my angle, Kevin’s shot looked like it was going in. I thought I was seeing the Philadelphia game all over again with Kevin nailing the last second shot and our team running off the court victorious. Well, Kev’s jumper barely missed and we lost the game. Such is life in the NBA. Kevin wants the ball in those situations. He knows he’s either going to be the hero or the goat and he’s got the courage and the skill for those moments.

I had to ride the bike for 15 minutes in the training room after the game because I need to stay in shape. Kevin and Trenton Hassell were in there too and we kind of talked about what happened throughout the game. Kevin was in his normal spot–on the first training table cooling down and unwinding after the game. Trenton always comes in the training room to change clothes too and to have some privacy from the media. A few minutes later our old buddy Sam Cassell came down to talk. It’s always great to see Sam. He told us about the refs called a foul on him while he was guarding Randy Foye. He said something like this:

“Randy Foye is athletic! Randy Foye jumped over me and almost dunked it! Then the ref called a foul on me! I said, ‘How can it be a foul on me, when he jumped over me!”

Allright well, it’s 1am and I am tired. I can’t think about the game anymore so I’m going to call it a night!

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Coach Casey, Locker Room, Day off, mentally refreshed, Mark Blount, KG, Houston, Charlie Ward, Houston Rockets
Coach Casey came into the locker room and said something like, "OK guys we're going to practice tommorrow.". He was joking but made a good point because we've been together so much as a team lately I think he wanted all of us to rejuvenate a little bit and come back on Tuesday mentally refreshed. Photo:

Sunday, Coach Casey came into the locker room and said something like, “OK guys we’re going to practice tommorrow.” The locker room went silent….most of the guys were hoping for a day off given how well we’ve been playing as well as how busy our schedule has been. Then he smiled and said “Just kidding….take tommorrow off and stay away from each other!” He was joking but made a good point because we’ve been together so much as a team lately I think he wanted all of us to rejuvenate a little bit and come back on Tuesday mentally refreshed.

Lately, our team has been playing very well. Mark Blount is having an all-star like season this year and has been shooting incredible percentages from the field. Now our opposing teams have to decide how to cope with our frontcourt of KG and Mark Blount along with trying to slow down our perimeter players who are also playing great.

After the Houston game I saw Charlie Ward in the “family and friends” section of the Target Center. Charlie Ward is now Coach Charlie Ward as he is one of Jeff Van Gundy’s top assistant coaches for the . I keep telling charlie that he should still be playing in the NBA as good as a player as he was.

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Melo would be suspended for 15 games, are you surprised? Photo:
Here’s a question I wanted to address from the “comments” section found below. This question is from Rachel. Mark,

With the word that just came down from Stern that Melo would be suspended for 15 games, are you surprised? Do you think that the punishment fits the “crime”? Do you think that he (and/or the others) should have gotten harsher suspensions and/or fines? And, lastly, do you think that the Nuggets and the Knicks should also fine their players that were involved?

Thanks and Happy Holidays.
Let me begin by saying that when we first heard about the brawl, we were at the Milwaukee Bucks game in Wisconsin. We weren’t able to see it because there was no TV in the Buck’s visitor’s locker room, so when we got to our charter that night we tried to download it using a Verizon Wireless internet card. We only got bits and pieces but the entire team was huddled around KG’s plane seat trying to see a little bit of what happened. I think universally, all of us felt bad about the incident and the players, fans and coaches that were involved.

What happened out there was wrong and I think that every player involved would tell you that. Carmello got the most of the punishment. Carmello also came out immediately and issued a public apology. (see below).

I think the NBA is basically saying, hey, if you are going to throw a punch, there is going to be a big consequence. After the Detroit incident, there was talk of doing away with courtside seating. Personally, I think that the courtside seating is one of the biggest differentiators between NBA games and most other major sports leagues.

As far as each team fining their own players, that could get awkward for a few reasons. First the player is already getting fined a huge sum because they go on “unpaid” leave from all games. Secondly, their punishment in the media is incalculable. It would be tough for a GM to come into the locker room and give the player a third tier of punishment. That’s just my opinion though.
Here is Carmello’s public apology:

“Last night’s altercation with the Knicks escalated further than it should have. I take full responsibility for my actions in the matter. In the heat of the moment I let my emotions get the best of me. I apologize to the fans, the Denver Nuggets, the NBA, my mother, and my family for the embarrassment I have caused them. I ask you all for your forgiveness.

I also want to make a personal apology to Mardy Collins and his family. My actions were inexcusable, and I am sorry for making this an even more embarrassing situation.

What makes this all the more painful is that this was one of the most important weeks of my life. I just realized one of my biggest dreams when we opened the Youth Center in Baltimore that bares (sic) my name. To see the community excited and hundreds of kids smiling was an incredible feeling. Now the thought of thousands of kids seeing this incident on TV pains me. This is not the example I want to set.

It’s my hope that we work to move forward from this event, and never let something like this happen again.”

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old leather ball, Phone Call, Kevin Garnett, Michael Curry, Michael Curry, Minnesota, NBA Players
I got the phone call I have been waiting for all season long this morning!! about old leather ball Photo:
I got the phone call I have been waiting for all season long this morning!! Michael Curry of the N.B.A. administrative offices called me on my way to practice and told me that the old leather ball is coming back…..THIS SEASON!! He asked me to go into the locker room and find out how long it would take the guys to adjust back to the leather ball. Troy Hudson said it would take him “one practice” to re-adjust to the leather ball. Kevin Garnett said, “Let me practice with it (The old leather) three or four days and I’ll be ready to go again.” I can’t tell you how happy the guys on the team were! It was a great day.

The additional good news is that the NBA is going to form a committee including a wide range of NBA players getting a cross-section of superstars and role players to be part of any ball decisions in the future. I think what the league is saying is that if we do away with the leather ball down the road, let’s work together to find a solution that works for everyone. Michael asked me to approach Kevin Garnett to see if he would like to play a major role on the committee. When I told KG about it, he was excited and regardless of whether or not he is able to make every meeting, I think he is going to be giving a lot of input on the ball situation in the future whether he chooses to do it formally or informally.

Lastly, I’m waiting for the A.I. situation to be resolved. This morning in our locker room, we were all kind of aware that if the longshot odds come true and A.I. comes to Minnesota then some of us might be packing our bags.

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Billy Hunter, Union leader, NBA, new nba ball, New York Times, David Stern
few days ago that our Union leader Billy filed a legal action with the NBA over the new nba ball and i wanted to see if there was any update. Billy has done an excellent job of getting the feedback from pretty much every single NBA player in the NBA about this issue. Photo:
The New NBA Ball Update: Today is honestly one of the happiest days of this NBA season for me. As I was sitting here at my house, not able to sleep because I’m on the late night NBA shedule, (we fly in places in the AM and our games go late into the evening and after getting so wound up for games it’s tough to sleep) I typed in “Billy Hunter” into the Google search engine. It was a few days ago that our Union leader Billy filed a legal action with the NBA over the new nba ball and i wanted to see if there was any update. Billy has done an excellent job of getting the feedback from pretty much every single NBA player in the NBA about this issue, so it’s safe to say that this legal action was almost unanimous.

Well, Google spit out an article from the New York Times where David Stern was quoted as saying: “I won’t make a spirited defense with respect to the ball,” Stern said. “In hindsight, we could have done a better job. I take responsibility for that.” He also added that everything was “under review” and that he was really listening to what the players had to say.

A lot of people might look at the NBA Players Union and say “Why are they complaining so much about a ball?” and “Why did they file a grievance in a court of law over a ball?” The reason is simple. This is not only a game that we love to play but it is our employment. When I compare the old ball to the new ball, it is like comparing Windows XP to the software used on a Commodore 64 over eighteen years ago. If an accountant at Deloitte was given software that did not perform well or was archaic, that accountant would be stupid not to bring it to the attention of the IT department. In essence, that is what we are doing as a union.

I knew all along that David Stern would listen carefully to the feedback of the players. I’ve said it here on this blog before and I’ll say it again: When I first joined the NBA, David Stern gave out his email address to every Rookie at our initiation training and he invited us to email him at any time. I’ve emailed him maybe five times in my career about various things and he has responded every time.

I think what happened was this: Spalding came out w/ a new technology for a synthetic ball. I truly believe that in the Laboratory the synthetic ball tests came back very positive because the NBA would have never switched balls unless there was some sort of empirical data. The problem is that the laboratory cannot produce game like conditions of sweaty palms, etc. A lot of guys have been complaining lately that the New synthetic NBA ball is cutting up their fingertips. Today Trenton Hassell told me that in our locker room. I guess last week Steve Nash was wearing bandages on his fingers from cuts caused by the new ball.

I have huge hands and I can barely palm the new ball when it’s been broken in. When it’s wet there is no chance of me being able to palm it well. The old ball, I could palm with ease and swing it around with one hand. Most big guys in the NBA say that they can’t palm it like the old ball. Mark Blount and Kevin Garnett have pretty much told me the same thing in that it’s just much harder to control with one hand. Even though we don’t dribble the ball as much as guards, we have to go up more inside with one hand and need the control of the leather ball.

Most guards say that the ball doesn’t bounce right or doesn’t go off the backboard right. Dwayne Wade went as far as speaking out in the Miami Sun-Sentinel:

“My bank shot is no longer existent,” said Wade, who feels the ball sticks against the backboard. “My game-winning shots, I’m telling you, it’s past. But it’s an adjustment we’ve got to keep trying to make.”

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Russian spy, Dallas, Mark Cuban, Ivanka, Donald Trump,
Mark Cuban is an American businessman, investor, and owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks,Landmark Theatres, and Magnolia Pictures. Photo:
Some of the conversations on the team bus are pretty interesting. On our recent trip to Dallas, while we pulled into the American Airlines arena, I was pretty interested by the topics. The first topic was the former Russian spy who died from plutonium 200 poisoning in London. The next topic was a bit more out of People magazine.

You see, when you get 15 athletes on the road physically exerting ourselves at away games and away practices we get really tired. So when we get to the hotel we flop down on the bed and watch a little TV to unwind. So we all become current event junkies.

So after the Russian spy situation was analyzed, the conversation turned to a recent interview by Donald Trump. I must say that I have come to LOVE the interviews that Donald Trump gives. In the last two years, I’ve seen two different interviews with Trump on Larry King live–Trump is a great personality and a brilliant business person. Forget the Real Estate business Donald, you should be an entertainer! I used to be totally indifferent to Donald Trump but now I love listening to him because everything he says is so full of conviction and so opinionated.

So going over on the bus to the Dallas game, it was KG, Ricky Davis, Trenton, Troy Hudson and me in the back. The guys were re-hashing the Trump interview. Here’s what they were saying on the bus. Apparently Trump said a few things of interest including the following:

1) Mark Cuban (Dallas mavericks owner and founder of many companies) is not a “real billionaire.” But somehow I guess Trump later recanted this statement or said he was mis-quoted. [After all, it is tough to argue with Forbes magazine]

2) His daughter Ivanka (Currently single) who is a model turned Wharton School of Finance graduate (top MBA school in the world) “should date a winner” according to her father. Maybe someone who is a professional athlete like Tom Brady. (New England Patriots quarterback). [I have to admit, I feel like I know the entire Trump family from the various interviews that I’ve seen on late night TV over the years!]

It’s cool to sit there are hear KG talking about what Donald Trump said on TV or what Trenton has learned about the British-Soviet connection in the Spy’s death. Of course within the world of the NBA when someone from the outside world goes at one of our own, (We consider Mark Cuban one of our own), we always stick with our guy and even though I love Donald Trump, Mark Cuban is well-loved in the NBA fraternity and he’s our guy. Once Trump buys the New York Knicks he’ll be on par with Cuban within the circles of NBA players.

We almost won the Dallas game that night. Once again, we saw Randy Foye come inches away from leading us to the promised land in the 4th quarter. After the we lost the game by a few points and we were crossing the court to go to the tunnel Mark Cuban came up to me and said “Hey, come to my blog anytime and post another comment!”

I had posted a comment on one of his posts about the new NBA ball a few weeks ago.