Authors Posts by Mark Madsen

Mark Madsen

Mark Madsen has been a blogger since 2004 and continues to share thoughts on sports, entertainment, and business. Occasionally he will delve into secondary topics such as politics and issues specific to California. Mark is happy to return emails and twitter requests.

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Dominique Wilkins
Dominique Wilkins brought a unique brand of force and finesse to the game.

Dominique Wilkins

We just played the Atlanta Hawks recently and I saw a familiar face, Dominique Wilkins, a.k.a., the “Human Highlight Reel.”  A few years ago, I was at an “NBA Cares” event with Dominique in DC and that is where I first really had the chance to talk with him and get to know him a little bit.So, my team is in the Phillips Center in Atlanta warming up and getting ready for our game against the Hawks and I look over and see Dominique on the sidelines in a suit getting ready to do the TV for the Atlanta Hawks broadcast.  But the crazy thing is that he still looks like he’s in good enough shape to jump into an NBA game right now, today! So I go over and say hello and ask him, “Can you still windmill dunk?  It looks like you’re ready to still play?”  He says back to me laughing: “I used to be  the Human Highlight Reel….now I’m just the human.

“We talked for a bit and he said that he’s still fine playing in the half-court, but that to go up and down the court is a little bit tough. (probably on his joints). It’s funny because even though I just met him a few years ago, I felt like I knew him from the time I was young because I watched him in a great dunk contest when I was in middle school.  That was the time that Michael Jordan ended up winning the contest by dunking from the free-throw line.  But I think it’s hard to measure what someone like Dominique Wilkins means to the game of basketball.  Obviously, he helped build the NBA into what it is today, but what about all the kids out there, like I was at the time, who can still vividly remember almost the exact images of the dunks he did, and the tenacity that he brought to the playoffs against the Celtics back in the day.  The NBA is a great league because of so many reasons and one of them is the great players and people (like Dominique) that helped build it into what it is today.

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Sports, recruiting, college recruiting tips, basketball, football
Young athletes in any sport can benefit from specific tips in going through the recruitment process

10 Tips for Recruitment Process

(It was years ago that I was recruited to play basketball at Stanford, but now, after having been an assistant coach at Stanford, I wanted to share 10 tips that would help any athlete in any sport to enhance their own personal recruitment process or to create a recruitment process from scratch.  And in fact, this article could apply to activities and academic pursuits beyond sports, such as music, drama, speech & debate, and young business leaders of America in their entreprenuerial endeavors).  

10. Send Letters to the schools you are interested in:  When I was getting recruited in high school, my mom told me, “You need to send letters out to all of the schools you are interested in.”  I felt timid and I didn’t want to bug any schools or attempt self-promotion.  I thought to myself that “the school would find me” if they were truly interested.  Well, my mom won, and in one night she helped me send out about 200 letters to schools all over the country.  Some of these letters made their way through all the red tape and my recruitment process immediately was enhanced with many other schools interested or at least sending me correspondence.  I even sent letters to North Carolina and Duke even though at the time I thought to myself, “Why would I waste my time sending a letter to those amazing basketball schools.”   More high school athletes, in both men’s and women’s sports should be proactive and send letters out.  To enhance this even further, try sending out a handwritten note to various assistant coaches and head coaches at schools you like.  You never know what will happen.

9. Call the school and call the coach: I loved my experience at Stanford as both a player and a coach and would never trade it.  But the truth is that I wanted to be recruited by Duke and North Carolina too.  Most high school players do not realize that when they are freshmen and sophomores in high school, university coaches are not allowed to call them due to NCAA rules.  But, coaches can sometimes accept inbound phone calls without any type of infraction or violation of rules.  Find the phone numbers of the basketball programs that you are interested in.  In fact, you should also try to find the mobile phone numbers of coaches.  Reach out to them and call them.  Try to catch them on the phone.  You will learn quickly if they are interested in you as a player or not.  But don’t give up if you don’t get them the first time.  Keep trying.  If you do catch them on the phone ask them honestly if they would have any interest in recruiting you.  If coaches don’t have an interest, they will usually be honest and disclose that.  For example, here is the directory to North Carolina and their basketball office.  Chances are you can get someone on the phone even if it’s an administrative person.  Tell them that you are all-conference in your high school conference in Northern Minnesota.  Tell them that you would be willing to even consider walking on.  Tell them how you would be an amazing practice player.

8. Attend Summer Camp at your Dream School:  There is no better way to give yourself exposure to a school than to attend their summer skill development camp in the given sport.  When I was 14 years old, I actually wrote down a goal that I wanted to get a basketball scholarship to BYU which was where some of my siblings had attended college.  I went to their camp for about four or five years and stayed with cousins in the area.  I loved the camp.  By the time I was into high school I was thinking more about staying close to home in the Bay Area.  But attending a school’s camp will give you many different benefits.  First you will have the opportunity to showcase your talents to the school and the coaches there.  But secondly, you will be pushed and see all of the other talented players out there at the camp and you will have a desire to get better, to improve your game, and to put the necessary work in to improve as a player and be your very best.  Lastly, you will have the chance to speak freely with the coaching staff and begin to build a relationship with them which would be tough to build otherwise. If you take this advice, you need to introduce yourself to every coach on staff at the school.  Express to each coach your desire to attend their school.  You should know their names and you should know a little bit about each coach’s background.  If you go in prepared they will remember you.

7. Choose the right Traveling Team or Summer Program (AAU):  Every sport has a different summer circuit where college recruiters go out to try to find the best talent and to see the best competition.  When I was recruiting high school basketball players to Stanford as an assistant coach, one of the most common concerns that I heard was that a young player was on an AAU team where nobody passed the ball to them.  This is serious.  Some AAU coaches feature the wrong players and there are all sorts of messed up relationships in AAU basketball.  Maybe a parent is a big time donor to the AAU program and consequently, his son or daughter gets preferential treatment.  So, conduct your own due diligence carefully on which AAU team to play on. There may be some merit to going to a lower profile AAU program where you will actually get more real game time action against the best players, rather than either sitting on the bench or never getting any shots.  When I was in high school, I didn’t want to play AAU at all.  Some friends of mine from Palo Alto High school put together a makeshift AAU team which was kind of last minute but every single one of us had the chance to play major minutes.  That was a big benefit to myself and others on the team in terms of gaining valuable experience at major tournaments.

6. Take Care of Business in the Classroom: Some schools have very strict academic requirements and you will simply not be admitted without certain core classes and certain GPA requirements.  In the same breath, I believe the NCAA itself requires a baseline of academic achievement in order to be eligible to compete in college.  But regardless of eligibility, many coaches are biased towards taking players with good grades.  If a player has demonstrated responsibility in the classroom, a coach will probably feel like he can put his or her own reputation and job on the line by bringing a young athlete to their University and giving them a scholarship.  If coaches recruit “knuckleheads” then they put themselves at risk of having a public incident that is not flattering to the school, or to the coach who recruited that player.  So do everything in your power to take care of business in the classroom even as a high school aged student athlete.  It will pay big dividends for you especially if you experience an injury or if the sport does not work out the way you are hoping.

5. Show the coaches your personality: Coaching any sport at the college level can be very challenging.  Coaches have to deal with the media, the alumni boosters, and they have to win.  It is a very stressful job.  If you can make the recruiting process fun for the coaches, it could mean the difference on a borderline offer.  Remember that coaches are human.  If there are two players and one scholarship, think about it, if the two players are close to even in talent level, the head coach is probably going to make the offer to the student athlete who they like more.  So, be yourself and be your own likeable self.  Don’t be afraid to joke around with the assistant coaches and with the head coach.  Make them laugh.  They are stressed out a lot of the time anyway.  It will make everyone’s job a little bit easier and lighten the monotony a bit.  It might even be that little slight difference to make you shine a bit more in the coaches’ minds and gets you the walk on slot or gets you the spot on the team.  Don’t be afraid to send the head coach a text and joke with him a little bit and make his day a bit more fun.  He or she will appreciate it!

4. Physical Conditioning and strength: If you are not in physical condition, college coaches will look at you and ask themselves, “Does he care?”  or, “Does she even take this sport seriously?”  You never want to be unprepared in your sport, or in life.  Whether you are just beginning your sport or whether you are about to attend the event with the largest number of college scouts, never be out of shape.  Being in good shape involves a lot of different aspects.  First, get plenty of rest and don’t be out all night and don’t stay up late into the night.  Sleep will help you in your sport.  Get sleep!  Secondly, you should cut out certain foods from your diet altogether.  Any athlete who drinks soda should cut it out right away.  To be honest, I’m not even a big fan of Gatorade due to the high sugar level in the drink.  If you truly want to be your best don’t drink alcohol either and don’t smoke.  Drugs shouldn’t even be in the question.  When I played for Phil Jackson as a Laker he talked constantly about “playing basketball with great energy.”  He always referred to having energy on the court.  Playing any sport with energy is a skill and a gift in the same way that shooting a basketball or throwing a baseball is a gift.  Have great energy.  Get your sleep, eat right, and stay away from the bad stuff.

3. Prepare Video: Most of the recruiting duties at any university or college fall to the assistant coaches and these coaches are always looking for a “diamond in the rough.”  First of all, prepare a highlight video. But when you prepare video, never send a DVD.  Many coaches no longer even have DVD players and while the video coordinator at the school will have a DVD player, don’t take that risk.  It’s possible that the coach won’t want “to bug” the video coordinator with converting the DVD over to digital format.  Experiment with video editing software and put up a professional looking YouTube video.  Set the YouTube video to music and make it fun for the coach to watch.  Include any relevant data such as who you are playing against in the video and the strength of the opponent or conference.  Make the YouTube video publicly accessible so that when a coach hears your name in his/her office they can look you up and find video immediately.  Even though I only coached at Stanford for one year, I looked up tons of basketball players on YouTube.  Some had video and some did not.   Maybe even spice it up and set the video to some Snoop Dogg or classical Beethoven.  Make the person watching your video smile.  YouTube has all sorts of editing tools such as “Annotions” and “Captions.”  You can almost spot-shadow certain aspects of your video. This might be your only “FaceTime” in front of a decision maker.  Make a beautiful video.  Now, if you want to “go the extra mile,” also include up to a full half or a full game of video of yourself on Youtube.  Anyone can put together a highlight video, but how does the player look over the course of a normal game.  Be SURE to set this to music because it may be boring for the coach to watch, but if the coach is doing his/her job, then they will watch this video to see the totality of the player’s game and talents.  They coach will look to see what you are doing on defense away from the ball.  Do you have good reactions to help your teammates?  How do you react when your teammates makes a mistake?  What is your body language like?  Does your body language show an attitude of Blame?  Or an attitude of helping your teammate.  You never want your video to be stuck in a huge inbox.  Get your video in front of the eyes of the coaches.  If you are a talented player, and if you make the video entertaining also, it might just get to the head coach!

2. Share other schools that are recruiting you:  Nobody likes to make a mistake in recruiting a college athlete.  When it’s all said and done recruiting high school student athletes in not an exact science.  If you pick up offers or even if another school is sending an assistant coach to come watch you at your high school, don’t be afraid to casually share this with your dream school at the right time.  Your dream school might still not work out in the end, but if your dream school keeps hearing about all of the other schools who are recruiting you and coming by your high school to watch you play, it will surely garner interest and increase your stock.  Keep your stock going up by honestly sharing the other interest in you as an athlete.  Never overplay your hand or make things up though.  Most coaches are friends and talk even across schools and conferences.  You never want to make something up because it will probably come out and you don’t want to misrepresent your recruiting situation either.

1. Always be working on your skills:  Growing up I used to see a T-shirt that said something to the effect of, “Somewhere, someone else is working harder, longer, and with more intensity than you. And one day you will meet them on the court….”  In a way it’s true for sure.  I can’t even begin to write down all of the high school and college players who are not recruited highly, but because of their persistence and perseverance, they overcome long odds and they have the chance to play their sport in college, or they even achieve their lifelong dream and make it to the pro level.  Never give up and never stop sharpening your tools, no matter what sport you are in.  I am amazed at all of the things I am still learning to this day around the game of basketball that I wish I would have known when I played.  Always work and never give up.


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Stanford, Pac-12, Stanford Cardinal
When I was a coach at Stanford, we were told in a marketing meeting: We are sending a bit of a confusing message with the block S, the Tree, and then the “Cardinal.” Even if it’s confusing, it’s still the school I love! Go Stanford, Go Pac-12!

Crystal Cove, Hollywood, Malibu type getaway, California State Beach
Crystal Cove State Beach still has the remnants of an era bygone; of hollywood magnates and weekend getaways.

Just when you think that you know every possible nook and cranny of a city and it’s surroundings, you’re introduced to one of Southern California’s best kept secrets: Crystal Cove State Beach. Crystal Cove is technically not located within the city limits of Los Angeles, but it is close enough for people to make the drive down.   When you get to Crystal Cove, it’s almost like taking a trip back in time to see what a beach community must have looked like in the 1920’s and 1930’s.


There is an amazing little restaurant called Beachcomber and it is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It promises to be an amazing spot for both romance and for reflection.  Also on the bluff is Ruby’s Shake Shack which is quite the diner with multiple locations throughout SoCal and beyond.  What an amazing spot to observe those final 20 minutes up until sunset.  Either restaurant looks amazing with Beachcomber of course being the date spot if you are looking for the restaurant with one of the best locations in all of southern California.

History: The history of Crystal Cove is rife with intrigue and will be touched upon in a few days 1

Surfing and Swimming:  You will find many areas to surf and swim at this hidden cove.

TidePools:  Find the low tide schedule and then get out there and enjoy the exhiliration of exploring a tidepool.  Here is an actual photo gallery of what you my be able to discover when you stroll through at low tide!

Wedding Photography:  As you walk along you might come across a young couple taking wedding or engagement shots taking advantage of the pristine beauty of the area. With memorable sunsets and a typical California friendliness, you will find people from all walks of life enjoying the sandy shores and the pristine precipices.

Crystal Cove cottage reservations: There are a number of refurbished cottages that are available to rent and if you so choose, you can enter the online system to try to reserve one of these gems.  If you want to reserve a cottage here is the official site to do so.

At one time Crystal Cove State Beach was listed in the National Register or Historic Places, but has since been removed for some reason which I could not figure out.  Maybe the local residents were able to get it taken off of the list to continue to maintain its standing as a true hidden gem of southern California.

Crystal Cove, Orange County, California State Parks,
Crystal Cove is a beautiful place which can be visited after a short drive to south Orange County. Come with a camera a swimsuit as well as a keen eye to go back in time about 40 years!
Crystal Cove, Newport Beach
Here is a beautiful sunset at Cyrstal Cove State Beach

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Jerry Buss
Dr. Jerry Buss was the ultimate NBA owner and brought numerous championships to the city of Los Angeles. Photo By: S. Bukley /

I was sitting here in the Stanford Mens basketball office preparing for a coaches meeting when our Video Coordinator shared with me the news:  Dr. Jerry Buss had just died of cancer in Los Angeles.

Dr. Buss, Shaq, LA
Dr. Buss brought an exciting style of basketball and professionalism to the Lakers and the city of Los Angeles.

I had the great privilege of playing for Dr. Buss’ Lakers team from 2001-2003 and cannot say enough about the first class nature of the organization or of the loyalty of Dr. Buss.  I will never forget after I had a major wrist surgery after my first year in Los Angeles Jerry Buss called me the next day on the phone. Jerry had a great way with people.  He called to wish me a speedy recovery and then said, “At first I thought you had the surgery in June so you could get out of playing in the summer league.”  We both laughed.  I could barely catch or pass the ball with my left hand that first season.  And in the triangle offense Phil Jackson literally had us practice left handed passes throughout the year in order to run the offense properly.  But Dr. Buss’ comment did two things.  It made me laugh (which I needed the day after surgery) and it made me also realize that he did care very much about role players competing in the summer league at Long Beach State. (Which I did the next year).  He built his teams around superstars, but he cared about every single person on the team all the way down to the last man.

Another memory of Dr. Buss happened during the playoffs of my first year in LA.  Rick Fox always planned a dinner together with the team at a happening location in the greater Los Angeles area which nearly almost had perfect attendance of the team.  One time Rick planned a get together and an evening out in the Hollywood Area.  I think I arrived at about 9pm and walked in and one of the first people I saw was Dr. Buss.  He was there with a group of his friends enjoying the evening and I felt nervous because typically the dinners/evening were more of a players only event.  I didn’t really know what to say to our owner.  He just broke the ice and called me over, introduced me to his friends and made me feel 100% comfortable despite him being the owner of the World championship team.

The thing that sticks out to me most is the loyalty of Dr. Buss.  Of all the organizations I’ve ever been part of whether a professional team, or any other entity, I have never seen more loyalty than with the Lakers.  While Dr. Buss was owner, there were countless people who had been with the team for 25 years or more.  From Bill Bertka (longtime coach), to Gary Vitti (Head Trainer), to our equipment manager Rudy Garciduenas, Jerry Buss had the philosophy, “If someone is doing a good job I am going to stick with them.”  In an era when consultants (often rightfully so), need to come in and “clean house,” Jerry Buss showed us that there are other ways to do business that can also yield amazing results.

I just read the LA Times article talking about how Jerry Buss built the Lakers, his family life, and his career.  I am grateful for the opportunity that he gave me and for the 3 great years with the Lakers.  I wish all the best to the entire Buss Family during this difficult time.

(For more information here is the official statement released by the Lakers).


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Lebron James is said by many to be the best player in the game of basketball. -Photo by: Domenic Gareri /

I was in the Stanford Basketball office last week and Brian Eskildsen, (our director of scouting and head video coordinator) was talking about a recent quote about LeBron James and his market value as a professional athlete. I looked up the ESPN article and here is an excerpt.

“What I do on the floor shows my value. At the end of the day, I don’t think my value on the floor can really be compensated for, anyways, because of the (collective bargaining agreement),….If you want the truth. If this was baseball, it’d be up, I mean way up there.”

The article went on to discuss that LeBron James has never had a “max contract”  in his entire professional basketball playing career.

I am absolutely astounded that LeBron James has never had a max deal.  It shows an incredible amount of unselfishness and commitment to the team.  Can you imagine the Miami Heat without Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, and so many other great players on the team?  This is all made possible by the fact that LeBron James was willing to accept less money in order for the team to be able to bring in excellent role players.

What’s even more interesting is the current collective bargaining agreement.  First of all, let’s be honest, fans go to NBA games to see the superstars.  People who are excited about basketball go to games to see LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and people like Shaq, Barley, etc.  But the current collective bargaining agreement lowered relative salary on the superstars while raising or keeping the salaries on the role players roughly the same.  The NBA is a great league and it was a dream come true to play in the NBA.  But I do agree with LeBron in the sense that if the collective bargaining agreement mirrored the baseball model, his salary would be at least double his current level.  Just some food for thought as I warm my computer back up and try to become a more regular blogger in the future!

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Jack London State Park California

I’m a California native and one of ten children.  Growing up my parents took us to a lot of state and national parks on weekends to have fun. In the Portola Redwoods State Park museum hangs the sign pictured below:

Portola Redwoods, towering trees, Portola State Park
The Portola Redwoods State Park is a masterpiece and is home to hundreds of towering redwood trees.

Now California lawmakers are closing state parks.  When I heard the news that California was planning to close about 70 state parks out of 280 total I felt upset, saddened, and confused.  The strange thing is that the State is trying to save about $22 Million this year on a total state budget shortfall of $15.7 Billion–not even a drop in the bucket.

Last summer, I carved out time to travel to almost 40 of the state parks which were scheduled to be closed.  I interviewed roughly 100 people about the issue.  Over the next few days I will post all of the interviews on Youtube (with permission already granted from the interviewees), and share other findings and ideas on how all 70 parks can remain open. Or, if some actually get closed, how the parks can re-open.

Let’s get thousands of signatures electronically through this petition to let CA state lawmakers know that people would strongly prefer to keep all 70 parks open. It’s great that lawmakers are allowing non-profit groups to help run some of the parks. Now let’s keep all 70 open!

Here are some interviews with Californians speaking about the park closures.


1) Interview with Gene Rollins at Mariposa Mining Museum.

2) Heartfelt interview from Joyce Hudson at Candlestick Point State Park

3) Pleading with Lawmakers,  Jaime Carrion speaks at Candlestick Point State Park.

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I think that we all knew it was a matter of time before Jeremy Lin had a bad game.  Why do I say that?…..because even players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Kobe have bad games from time to time.  Jeremy Lin has dominated the NBA for the past 10 games, and he was bound to have an off night.  Now the question remains as to how he will bounce back.  I’m betting that Lin will come back in a powerful way and get back to the form he’s shown over the past month.

What will the defenses do now?  One thing that we saw in the Miami game is that Jeremy had problems against Mario Chalmers.  Well, guess what?  A lot of NBA point guards have a tough time against Chalmers.  Mario Chalmers is one of the best on ball defenders in the NBA and it was a learning experience for Lin to go against not only Chalmers, but also Lebron and Dwayne Wade.

Nevertheless, look for NBA defenders to try to apply immense on ball defense against Lin to see how he responds.  One thing Lin can do to counteract this is to use his body more as he brings the ball up.  Towards the end of Sam Cassel’s career, Sam would literally bring the ball up the court by dribbling up the court and shoving his backside into the face of his defender.  With Jeremy Lin being as physically strong as he his, this is something that Lin can do as well.  Some coaches call this, “putting the defender on your hip.”

Hey, we knew it would happen.  I’m predicting that Lin is going to bounce back in a majorly positive way.

But ultimately it is a huge compliment to Jeremy Lin that defenses are so keyed in on stopping him.

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Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin's rise to prominence at NYC's Madison Square Garden was awe inspiring.

Top 10 Reasons Jeremy Lin is dominating:

First of all, it’s nice to see Spike Lee happy again after the disappointing Knicks struggled year after year.  Who would have ever guessed that a young asian american point guard would be the catalyst to help begin the turnaround.  Jeremy Lin is making Spike Lee happy and Lin is making a lot of basketball people and non-basketball people happy.  Here are a few reasons for his success.

10.  Defensive Play:  Frank Hamblen (One of Phil Jackson’s top assistant coaches) used to always say that if the other team finds a weak link they will pick at you “like a scab.”  Not only is Jeremy Lin a good defender, he is averaging 1.8 steals per game in the past six games.  If Lin’s overall stats only included the games where’s he’s received high minutes, Jeremy Lin would likely be in the top ten players in the league in steals alongside names like Wade, Chris Paul, and Ricky Rubio. Jeremy Lin easily holds his own on man to man defense.   He helps his teammates out a lot by playing the passing lanes and coming up with steals. Nobody is able to pick at Lin (like a scab) because he plays good defense.  Lin’s on-the-ball defense still has plenty of room for growth, but his off ball defense as evidenced by his ability to steal passes and strip players is very strong.

9. System and Minutes: Two factors that have played a role are playing time and touching the ball.  Lin is averaging almost 40 minutes a game which allows any player to find a rhythm and keep it for most of the game.  If Lin misses shots early in the game he has the confidence to know that Coach D’Antoni is going to keep him in there.  But the second factor is D’Antoni’s system itself.  Under this offensive system, Coach D asks the point guard to find the balance between scoring and setting up your teammates.  So far Lin seems to have found the perfect equilibrium in part due to the knowledge of the offense that Lin clearly has.  But the reality is also that the point guard is going to be doing the vast majority of ball handling and decision making under the typical D’Antoni system.  That helps put Lin into a rhythm from which he can build each game.

8. Athleticism: How many point guards can say they dunked down the middle of the lane in Madison Square Garden.  Not only does Lin dunk the basketball on this particular play, but he dunks the ball with authority as he drives into the lane with a purpose.  There are plenty of point guards in the NBA who won’t or can’t attack the rim with the attack mentality that Lin shows here. Jeremy Lin is a very athletic even within the NBA ranks.  And it’s nice to see the NBA’s first American of Taiwanese or Chinese origin go down the lane in MSG and throw down a dunk with authority.

7. Pick and Roll:  Lin has excellent vision in finding big men like Amare and Tyson Chandleer on all different angles of the pick and roll.  At the same time, his vision and understanding of angles allows him to pass to 3 pt. snipers like Steve Novak.  Mike D’Antoni’s offense is predicated on the pick and roll and requires a point guard who can make split second decisions which Lin does very well.  If you are a big man playing on the same team as Jeremy Lin, you are going to be licking your fingers because you know that Lin is going to get you open layups and dunks inside if you are ready to catch passes.  After the win at Toronto Amare Stoudamire talked about Lin and his “poise.”  Amare has seen poise before with two time MVP point guard Steve Nash in Phoenix. At the same time players like Steve Novak are happy because Lin is making everyone else better on the team and Novak is one of the beneficiaries of this also. When Jeremy Lin comes off the pick and roll it looks natural, fluid, and that something positive is going to happen for the Knicks. [content_ads float=”left”]

6. Confidence, Emotion, and Aggressiveness: When I was going through the pre-draft workout process one of the Chicago scouts commented that he liked to see players with a little bit of emotion.  Players like Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls) feed on energy and sometimes that energy transfers to teammates, fans, and coaches.  Jeremy Lin is not only showing us his passion for the game, but his aggressiveness and confidence continue to shine through.  After Lin had his first breakout game, (10 made shots on 19 attempts) everyone was curious to see what would happen in the very next game.   Lin came out again and was 10 for 17.  What that says is that Lin is not afraid of success.  He’s not the type of player to have one good game and then get scared. Lin is hungry to push himself and his teammates to the next level.  Lin’s not afraid to show some emotion.  He’s got the swagger that makes any opponent wonder to themselves, “That basket must look like the size of the ocean for this kid.”

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It’s been over 7 years since I left the Los Angeles Lakers and one of the most frequent questions people ask me is:

“Is it true that Shaquille O’Neal bought you a car when you showed up at training camp the first year?”

When I think of Shaquille I think about so many things and I wanted to share my top ten Shaq Stories from everything I know about him.

10) One year we were in Florida on an East Coast trip for Thanksgiving. The entire team was stuck in Florida with nothing to do so Shaq invited all the players, coaches, trainers, etc. over to his home and had an amazing Thanksgiving catered in.  The food was awesome and after the meal, he gave us a tour of his house.

When he showed us his room, he showed us a nice flat panel TV and then said, “I used to have all the latest electronics, remotes, and everything in this room….now instead of the electronics, I’ve got diapers for my little ones.”   He was beaming, has always loved his family, and frequently brought his wife and kids to the Staples Center to share the experience.  He continued on the tour and showed us a new addition he was putting on his house.  Samaki Walker asked “How many square feet are you adding?” Shaq answered with “10,000 square feet.” Samaki was amazed and said “Are you serious?”  Shaq’s reply was “Hey man, you only live once.”

9) Before one of my last regular season games as a Laker on the road in Memphis, I was sitting in the locker room trying to get ready for the game mentally.  All of a sudden, I look up and before I know it Shaq wants to wrestle.  Next thing I knew we were in a full out wrestling match.  Imagine trying to push around a 335 pound 7 foot man around who wasn’t even trying very hard to pin you.  All I know is that after a minute or two I had given it may all and I was exhausted.  Shaq let up but everyone in the locker room was loose an relaxed after the moment of fun.  I’m not sure how I had the energy left to play the game, but I ended up playing one my better games and had 10 points which almost never happened.  After the game Shaq said, “Nice game Mark, now I see that I need to wrestle you every game.”

8) Sitting in the locker room before a game in Milwaukee Shaq said something like “Anybody here know what the Pythagorean Theroem is?”  Brian Shaw at that point was saying something like “What are you talking about Shaq?”   [content_ads float=”left”]
(Those were great friends from their Orlando days and they always messed with each other). Then Shaq went on to compare himself to the Pythagorean Thereom and said, “The Pythagorean Theorem is complicated, tough to figure out and I’m the same way. By the time the other team starts to figure me out [each game] I’ve got 29 [points] 13 [rebounds] and 5 [assists] and it’s too late.”

7) There was a cute flight attendant on one of the Lakers charters and I happened to be sitting next to Shaq.  He looked right at her and said to her “Are you a mormon?”  He knew I was mormon and single and next thing you know he’s asking a flight attendant if she happened to be mormon and if she was, that she should meet me.  All this happened with me sitting right there.  She happened to be of another religious faith, but trust me I will never forget that!!  THEN, a few weeks later, a single member of the Lakers front office came up to me at the Staples Center and said “The most interesting thing happened last night….I’m sitting in a restaurant in Redondo Beach and Shaq was in there asking some of the girls if they were mormon because if they were, he wanted to set them up with you.”

The last three times I’ve seen Shaq the first question he asks me is “Are you married or engaged yet?”  I’ve told him I’m “still working on it,” and he then always says, you better let me know when it happens because we’re coming to the wedding.

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Paul Madsen, weight lifting
My Brother Paul Madsen recently set a new weightlifting record for the Colorado State Football team. Photo: Shutterstock

My brother Paul Madsen is getting ready for his junior year Colorado State for his football team.  It seems like just a few years ago Paul was my “little” brother… I’m afraid of him breaking me in two!!  Paul even set a new school record for the power clean this summer in the weight room with a power clean of like 380 pounds.  From what I’ve heard, most NFL teams don’t have their players max out with power cleans because it’s “too dangerous.”  (With all due respect to the NFL, I like that college football programs still let their athletes push themselves to the highest level under close supervision in cases like this).  CSU is gong to be great this season so watch for them!!!