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Mark Madsen's Blog

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Training Camp, Craig Smith, Randy Foye, NBA Players, Glen Taylor, Newcomer
We have just finished day #2 of training camp and how good our two new rookies are. Photo: shutterstock.com
We have just finished day #2 of training camp and most of us are exhausted. The biggest surprise so far to me is just how good our two new rookies are. Randy Foye is a scoring guard who seems to be able to go around anyone on the perimeter at will. Craig Smith is a beast. Craig is about 270 pounds and he is really light on his feet and he scores really well inside with both hands. It’s hard to think of who you might be able to compare Craig Smith to. Part of me wants to compare him to Charles Barkley, but I think a comparison to Elton Brand could be a good one too. As far as Randy Foye, I would compare him to Baron Davis or Chauncey Billups. Both of our rookies are extremely strong and continue to impress everyone.

Our first day here in Mankato started with having an awesome dinner at our team owner’s house (Glen Taylor) in Mankato. Glen has really done a lot of interesting things with his life. The one thing he told us at our meeting was that if we ever wanted to just crash and get away from our hotel in Mankato that we could go over to his house anytime and crash, watch TV, play video games, etc. I’ve never heard of a team owner giving an open invitation to his home to his team of NBA players but it was well received by the team. The only problem is that none of us has been able to take him up on it because we are going two practices a day and we mostly just try to recuperate at the hotel between practices.

During our first team meeting, newcomer, Mike James told the entire team something like, “We’re all grown men here….if somebody has a problem go to the person directly and say what’s on your mind and let the repurcussions follow.” Mike is a GREAT guy to be around and has been playing really well.

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Fred Hoiberg, Assistant General Manager, Jason Collier, TimberWolves, NBA, NBA Players,
Fred Hoiberg gets promoted as Assistant General Manager. Photo: shutterstock.com
Fred Hoiberg is now assistant GM! It has been a tumultous past year for Fred Hoiberg. Ever since he had major heart surgery last summer he has been dying to return to his playing days as one of the best shooters ever to play in the NBA. A few days ago, the Timberwolves announced that they were formalizing his employment with the team as Assistant General Manager along with our old friend Rob Babcock.

I think because of Fred’s experience along with the tragic death of fellow NBA player and former teammate, Jason Collier, the NBA has made mandatory cardiovascular testing a requirement for all NBA players. I will have to get on a treadmill with all of the cables attached to my chest next Tuesday in order to determine if I have any heart irregularities along with the rest of the NBA. Trenton Hassell did his testing yesterday along with a few other of the guys.

Well, I promised I was going to write a little bit more about Randy Foye, but he has been off at “Rookie Transition Camp” so I’m going to wait until he gets back. Rookie Transition camp was a very interesting experience for me. Every single incoming rookie in the NBA has to attend or get fined $10,000.00. When I was there, they brought in accountants, image consultants, financial advisors, and conflict resolution people who try to teach us how to stay calm when things get heated. Overall it was good. I remember when David Stern came in to talk to us about the NBA. He was really cool to all of the guys and actually gave out his email address to all of us and said that if we ever had any concerns, complaints, or questions, to email him directly. The one area that I have communicated directly with the league on is rules for cheap shots. During a game, all of us can handle unintentional elbows to the head, throat, back, etc. What really gets most NBA players mad though is when they get hit with a cheap shot. I’m going to report back to all of you when they read us the new rules for the coming year, and if I don’t like what I hear I am going to protest to the league and through our liason, Billy Hunter.

Lastly, I wanted to let you all know that Daniel Santiago has been working out with us and he’s been looking pretty good. Daniel is a longtime friend of mine as we played a lot together in LA and we are the same age. Daniel is about 7’1″ and he can shoot. He is from Puerto Rico and has had huge games in international competition against guys like Tim Duncan, and the rest of the US team. I think Dan brings a very intelligent, and tough big guy to mix.

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Fred Hoiberg, Assistant General Manager, Jason Collier, TimberWolves, NBA, NBA Players,
Fred Hoiberg gets promoted as Assistant General Manager. Photo: shutterstock.com
Fred Hoiberg is now assistant GM! It has been a tumultous past year for Fred Hoiberg. Ever since he had major heart surgery last summer he has been dying to return to his playing days as one of the best shooters ever to play in the NBA. A few days ago, the Timberwolves announced that they were formalizing his employment with the team as Assistant General Manager along with our old friend Rob Babcock.

I think because of Fred’s experience along with the tragic death of fellow NBA player and former teammate, Jason Collier, the NBA has made mandatory cardiovascular testing a requirement for all NBA players. I will have to get on a treadmill with all of the cables attached to my chest next Tuesday in order to determine if I have any heart irregularities along with the rest of the NBA. Trenton Hassell did his testing yesterday along with a few other of the guys.

Well, I promised I was going to write a little bit more about Randy Foye, but he has been off at “Rookie Transition Camp” so I’m going to wait until he gets back. Rookie Transition camp was a very interesting experience for me. Every single incoming rookie in the NBA has to attend or get fined $10,000.00. When I was there, they brought in accountants, image consultants, financial advisors, and conflict resolution people who try to teach us how to stay calm when things get heated. Overall it was good. I remember when David Stern came in to talk to us about the NBA. He was really cool to all of the guys and actually gave out his email address to all of us and said that if we ever had any concerns, complaints, or questions, to email him directly. The one area that I have communicated directly with the league on is rules for cheap shots. During a game, all of us can handle unintentional elbows to the head, throat, back, etc. What really gets most NBA players mad though is when they get hit with a cheap shot. I’m going to report back to all of you when they read us the new rules for the coming year, and if I don’t like what I hear I am going to protest to the league and through our liason, Billy Hunter.

Lastly, I wanted to let you all know that Daniel Santiago has been working out with us and he’s been looking pretty good. Daniel is a longtime friend of mine as we played a lot together in LA and we are the same age. Daniel is about 7’1″ and he can shoot. He is from Puerto Rico and has had huge games in international competition against guys like Tim Duncan, and the rest of the US team. I think Dan brings a very intelligent, and tough big guy to mix.

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Randy Foye, New Draft Choice, New Teammates, Target Center
I am Impressed with our new graft choice Randy Foye. Photo: shutterstock.com

I have been very impressed with our new draft choice Randy Foye!!! You are going to like what you see out there! The last two days a big group of us have been playing pickup ball at the target center. This is the first time I had met or played with Randy. I am going to tell you right now that Randy Foye is going to excite the fans at the Target Center a lot. He is a very good shooter, but most importantly, he has a floater that he seems to be able to shoot over anyone. I don’t have a whole lot of time right now, but in the coming days I am going to write a little bit about each of my new teammates so that you can all get to know them a little bit. I am going to write a little bit about each new teammate every two days leading up to training camp.

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Mike Krzyzewski, Coach k., Duke Coach, NBA
Mike Krzyzewski is an American basketball coach and former player. Since 1980, he has served as the head men's basketball coach at Duke University after taking over the program from Bill Foster. Photo: shutterstock.com
Coach Mike Krzyzewksi of Duke Coach K had some interesting things to say about basketball in his recent Q&A with the Charlotte Observer. At one point in the article, he compares young high school basketball players to 16 year old Michelle Wie who is a tremendous young golf talent who is able to reap the financial rewards of turning pro at a young age. Coach K. stresses that he does not think the exodus of great high school players to the NBA will hurt the college game but that NCAA basketball is going to be fine regardless. I guess it’s just refreshing to see such a respected coach like Mike Krzyzewksi state publicly that opportunities like playing in the NBA should be based on merit—especially when most of the other professional sports are already allowing the best players to come join their ranks.

It is ironic that so many other sports allow high school athletes to make the jump directly to the professional level. It is really a tough thing to say though given that for every Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, or Kobe….there are countless players who don’t get drafted and never make an NBA team. For those guys, (who could have been stars in college), they’re thrust overseas or onto some CBA or NBDL team where they have to go against grown men who are ten years older and stronger.

The quote I found most interesting in a different article by the Charlotte Observer was this one. Here is the question that was posed to Coack K. When asked about the biggest differences between the NBA game and the International game, Coach K. responded by saying:

“I didn’t know this because I’m not coaching the NBA game, but in the NBA, they really don’t allow much physical contact. They’re trying to make it more of an offensive game, so there’s not the bumping and all that on the ball handler. There’s no hand checking at all. The international game is 180 degrees different. … That’s their rule, and we have to adjust to it, instead of saying, “That’s not the way we play.”

for complete article, visit: Charlotte Observer

I think in the late 1990’s the NBA game was truly a physical, gritty, and very punishing league in terms of physical contact. Granted I was at home in college watching the games from the sofa with a bag of potato chips, but that’s my view. Sometime in the early 2000’s the philosophy of the NBA rules committee changed to promote more scoring. The end result is that in some ways, high school and college basketball are more physical than the NBA. You might think I am joking or that I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I can tell you that when I first played in the Long Beach Summer League with NBA rules for the first time, I almost fouled out in the first game. I still remember Kevin McHale telling me two years ago about how “if you so much as tough a guy with your hand on the perimeter, it’s a foul,” whereas, “you can absolutely tackle a guy away from the ball in the paint and there’s no foul.” Perhaps the NBA should re-evaluate the direction of the physical contact rules so that we are more prepared for international competition.

At any rate, it is what it is, and we as players have to adjust to it. To finish up, I wanted to share one line from the letter that Dwayne Casey sent out to all of us players dated August 22nd. It was a letter that definitely got me fired up for the coming season. “Training camp will be demanding and everyone will have to earn their spot.” I haven’t heard a sentence like that since my high school coach John Raynor who referred to every single player every year as a “varsity CANDIDATE.” I am very excited for camp to start and I’ll be writing more about our informal team workouts in a few days.

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Cleveland, Drew Gooden, Free Agent, NBA, NBA free agency process
Drew Gooden is an American professional basketball player. Photo: Elias H. Debbas II / Shutterstock.com

The best free agent power forward in the NBA is Drew Gooden:

Every summer I follow the NBA free-agency process very closely and I am frankly shocked that Cleveland is not doing everything in their power to retain Drew Gooden. I’ve been playing against most nba power forwards over the years and Drew is the best one that is available in this year’s class as well as being one of the top players in the league. If Cleveland is foolish enough to let him go, it will be at their loss. If there is any way we could get him up to MN to play some center alongside KG, our front line would be unbelievable.

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Mike James, Best Point Gaurd, NBA, Kevin Garnett, Minesota, Basilica Block Party, Timberwolves
Mike James is an American professional basketball player. Photo: shutterstock.com
I think that Mike James was one of the best point guards in the entire NBA last season. I can’t express how excited I was when we signed him this summer. We only played Toronto twice last season, but both times, Mike James absolutely killed us. I know that Kevin Garnett has a lot of respect for Mike James and the way Mike James can play the game of basketball. I only know Mike in the context of playing against him over the years but one thing that stands out about him is his confidence.

“If it wasn’t for the game of basketball, I know what I would have done, and it wouldn’t have been nice,” he said, referring to his rough childhood in Amityville, N.Y. “The only other thing I knew was the streets. Basketball was my way out, so the only thing I can do to give back to the game is play with my heart.“Christopher Cornell – All Headline News Staff Writer

If you don’t love this quote then you probably don’t love the game of basketball. This quote from Mike James shows his human side and the reality of the tough neighborhood of where he came from. I cannot wait to play with this guy. Having competed against him I can tell you that he is one of the best competitors in the world. KG is going to love him.

I have quite a bit to say about our two new draft picks, but I will put all of that in my next entry. In the meantime, let me share a little bit of what I’ve been up to in the Twin cities.

Minnesota Calendar of Events

Two weeks ago I attended the Basilica Block party with some friends. The Basilica of St. Mary’s put on a great event along with Cities 97 and I especially enjoyed listening to Guster perform live. I have to say that the crowd roared when one of the lead singers got up on stage between songs and admitted that he had used a few expletives in one of his songs personally apologized to the Parish. I don’t think anyone in the audience really cared, and to be honest, I’m not sure if the head priest was going to put anyone on probation, but the crowd thought it was a great line.

Minnesota nice took on a new meaning on that Friday night when a Minnesota Timberwolves fan passed by my and my friends and whispered in my ear something like “Now I know for sure that the NBA height charts lie….there’s no way you’re 6’9”.” We both laughed and he walked away. I didn’t have time to explain the little “trick” that we use of getting measured in our shoes.

Tonight I made the decision to run my first ever 5K. If any of you have ever been involved with the Lifetime Fitness Torchlight 5K run, it is an event I will never forget. One of my friends here in MN was a record holder in the 400 hurdles at BYU and he told me about the event. About six of us got together to run the event. For those of you that are non-runners, I have to paint the picture for you. There were literally thousands of people lined up on Hennepin Ave and 11th street which was the starting line. Right at the front were the “hard core” runners who must have been waiting for a long time to get the prime starting spots. They were the super athletic guys and girls with the running gear that looked serious. In my mind I was going to try to win the race. When the gun went off I stayed right up at the front of the pack and dreamed of winning. After about four blocks, I realized that there was no way I could stay up there with the gazelles. Serious runners go VERY fast—I was shocked at how fast the pace was.

When I finally settled into my pace, I was passed by two 45 year old men pushing strollers with two kids in each of them. Finally when I finished the race this older gentleman came up and said to me “Good job out there Mark….what was your time?” I responded by telling him that I clocked just over 28 minutes for the 5k and asked him how he did. He got sheepish and said, “Well, I ran it in 24 minutes and I’m 60 years old as of two days ago.” The kid who won the entire event must have been about 18 and I think he finished the 3.1 mile course in slightly over 15 minutes. I think that young guy has a serious running future in store for himself.

The running community is really fun to be a part of. It was especially cool at the end when everyone sat down and drank powerade and ate salty potato chips and power bars together. I hope to see some of you at one of the next big Minneapolis Marathons, or a 5K in Minneapolis! In the meantime I will reflect on the comment one runner made to me while he passed me midway through the run while it must have looked to him like I was standing still. I think it went something like this. “Don’t worry about it…you’re definitely a fast twitch athlete!”

PS–If any of you can find Marko Jaric’s Myspace.com profile I will post your picture on this blog. Marko told me he has one, but I can’t find him for the life of me. I finally updated my myspace page even though there is a fake one of me that looks real, but it’s not and it says some crazy stuff.

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Shaq O'Neal, The Lakers, Alonzo Mourning, NBA Warriors, Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks
I watched the final seconds of game six of the NBA finals in Redstone restaurant in Eden Prairie Minnesota with some friends. Photo: Karen Struthers / Shutterstock.com
I watched the final seconds of game six of the NBA finals in Redstone restaurant in Eden Prairie Minnesota with some friends. More than anything, I’m happy that Shaq is going to get some more hardware. The rings they made for the Lakers were big enough, but Shaq still wanted something that would fit his hand better, so after the third championship, he had his own custom jeweler replicate the regular Lakers ring and made it into a HUGE ring that was much bigger than the already huge “normal” rings that the Lakers had made.

I hate to say this, but I thought that Miami would probably have a big letdown tonight in the game and lose game 6 and really have to fight for game 7 on Thursday. The X-factor tonight was Alonzo Mourning. It’s amazing that a guy with a kidney condition, who must be about 37 years old can still play the game as if he were 21. Alonzo Mourning was everywhere on the court tonight….especially with his shot-blocking. It’s just really refreshing to see a few NBA warriors like Alonzo, Gary Payton, and Antoine Walker get championship rings. Those guys have been showing up AND playing hard for years in the NBA and they deserve to win the big one. I’m really happy for all of those guys.

I’m also glad that Mark Cuban is part of the NBA. I look at what Mark Cuban has done for the Dallas Mavericks franchise and it is nothing short of miraculous. When we go to the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, it feels like a college atmosphere with people painting their heads, bands playing, and a bunch of “texas” people on the front row with big old cowboy hats and boots. It’s an awesome place to play with great fans and I think Cuban has been a big part of that. I heard he wrote some stuff in his blog about the NBA hierarchy and took some heat and had to pay a big fine. I just went to his blog which is pretty cool and I wanted to show an excerpt from Mark Cuban’s blog for you guys.

One Last Last Note: (Taken directly from Mark Cuban’s Blog)
Im a competitive person. My blog is an outlet for that intensity. I dont blog about the normal things in my life that make up 99pct of my day. I like to blog about things that get me fired up in the Sport of Business. The things i get fired up about. Ive been accussed more than once of having HID (Hyper Intensity Disorder….ok, i just made that up, but if it were truly a disease, I would claim that I had it). Not everyone likes that.

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Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, Shaquille O'Neal, Bill, Tani Austin, Starkey Foundation
Dwyane Wade is an American professional basketball player who played for the Miami Heat of the NBA. Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
Tonight’s game showed the wisdom of how Pat Riley has built the roster of the Miami Heat. Dwayne Wade was the man tonight, but without Gary Payton on the Miami Heat, it’s possible Dallas might already have won the series. Pat Riley built the Heat with veteran players and they have been coming through in this series.

We all remember Gary Payton’s big shot in game three along with the steal by Udonis Haslem which basically brought the Heat back into striking range. But tonight, it was Gary Payton’s left handed shot that went high off the glass late in the game to keep the Heat around.

During the season I am a basketball player so I basically feel like Dallas and Miami are the enemy. But now, because we didn’t make the playoffs, I have reverted back into “fan mode” and I am definitely a Miami Heat fan. First off, I would love to see Shaquille O’Neal get his fourth ring. When someone like Shaq gives so much in the community (with the cameras turned off) and when he cares so much about his teammates of course you want to see him do well. The funny thing is that people tell me all the time right now during this series, “I want the Heat to do well b/c I’m a Shaq fan.”

Jerry Stackhouse’s foul on Shaq was definitely a flagrant and uncecessary foul, but to suspend a key player like Stackhouse in game 5 of the NBA finals for something like that might be a little bit excessive. I’m still trying to figure out what I think about that foul. Still and all, there may not be another player in the NBA that has the self-restraint that Shaquille O’Neal has. Having played with Shaq as a teammate and against him, I can tell you that he doesn’t care about hard fouls as long as it’s a “clean” foul. He will shrug them off, play through them and basically play as if he’s got a few mosquitos swarming around him. But anyone in the NBA who is foolish enough to try to give Shaq a cheapshot might as well check himself out of the game because Shaq will come back and punish that opponent by scoring on him every time down the court in a very physical way. Those are the rules of the game.

I’ve been away fromt the blog for a while lately, but I’m now starting to get back into it. I did want to share a brief moment from the Annual Gala event that I attended last night in St. Paul which involved www.sotheworldmayhear.org

I have two friends (Justin Osmond and Heather Sauber) who work in Minneapolis for the Starkey foundation. They invited me to attend this year’s “Gala” event and it opened my eyes to the lives of the hearing impaired. Starkey Foundation takes hearing aids all across the world to donate them to those in third world countries that are hearing impaired. This year, the Gala event honored the Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor for his involvement in community and in helping the Starkey mission. Glenn and his family have an annual mission trip to build homes in south america and this next year they committed to go to Africa to help share hearing aids with those in need.

The greatest line from the evening came from Lou Ferrigno’s speech. (Lou used to play the Incredible Hulk in the TV series years ago and is slightly hearing impaired). He thanked Bill and Tani Austin (founders of Starkey) and said that this couple has helped promote “better relationships in the world” through their hearing aids and charitable giving of hearing aids because women “like to be listened to” and now “I can listen better to my wife!” Lou has been using the Starkey, cutting edge, hearing aids for some time now and they have changed his life. I have to say that I am a big fan of Lou. I’m not sure how old he is, (maybe 55 or 60) but he looks like he is still in good enough shape to enter a boxing ring for a prize fight. (I am dead serious). When I asked him what the secret to staying in shape was, he said the biggest thing is “consistency.” He was extremely personable.

Bill and Tani Austin put on an evening for charity I will never forget. In the past I’ve always been cynical and skeptical of celebrity charity events and I have never attended a single one. Bill and Tani Austin, you guys made me a believer and it was an honor to be an attendee and to be part of such an inspiriational cause. THANK YOU!!!

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Phoenix, Clippers, Sam Cassell, Elton Brand, NBA, San Antonio, Dallas, VS., Jason Terry, Michael Finley, Mark Cuban, Detroit, Cleveland, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Filp Saunders
Talking about Teams, about players, there matches and there results Photo: shutterstock.com
Phoenix vs. Clippers Sam Cassel is my man, but the Suns will win game 7 vs. the Clippers on Monday night. When the Suns run, they are almost unstoppable. Sam Cassell has taken a very good team and with his leadership and shooting ability, and huge personality, Sam has made the Clippers great. Elton Brand may be the best running big man in the NBA, but trying to chase Shawn Marion up and down the court in a game 7 situation in Phoenix could wear him down. I really think that Shawn could be a world class 400 runner if he wanted to.

San Antonio vs. Dallas

Jason Terry was disspointed that he was suspended for game 6 of the series. I watched the “incident” where Jason took a little shot at Michael Finley at the end of a little pile up. To suspend Jason Terry for a game for something that was so small is tough. It’s one thing if someone grabs below the belt in the normal course of the game, as happened in the Denver series. But Jason and Michael and Manu were all in a scrum and they were just scrapping. Sometimes you react when you’re getting hit and you just do things in the heat of the moment. I definitely do not think that Jason’s actions were premeditated in any way. Here are some of Mark Cuban’s thoughts taken from an article by Art Garcia of the Star-Telegram:

“I had some choice words for the league,” owner Mark Cuban said. “It’s certainly not consistent with what the league has done in the past.”

“The league also said they didn’t know if the Finley pile-driver with his hip to Jason’s head while Ginobili was lying on him was intentional or not,” Cuban said. “So they couldn’t do anything about it. Finley went berserk like the world ended, while Ginobili was on top of Jason, staring at the whole thing, and didn’t even react.”

“Unbelievable,” Cuban said. “When it’s all said and done, this series could end up being talked about for all the wrong reasons.”

Detroit vs. Cleveland

I’m cheating a little bit here because it’s halftime of the Detroit Cleveland game right now and I’m sitting here watching it. I still think that Detroit is going to win this game. Flip Saunders is at his best in close game situations as are Rasheed and Chauncey and Rip Hamilton. I am picking the Detroit Pistons to win the NBA championship this season. I am also giving the “best beard” award to Zydrunas Ilgauskas.