Blog
Mark Madsen's Blog

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Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers, ESPN.com, Phoenix Suns, NBA Basketball
Chris Kaman is a German-American professional basketball player who played for the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA. Photo: shutterstock.com
"That’s what happens when they go small,” Kaman said. “They get hurt in the post. Inside, they don’t (match up). They know that. They want us to match up with them. You’ve got two 3’s (small forwards) guarding a 4 (power forward) and a 5 (center).”

–AP article found on ESPN.com

The Phoenix Suns are beginning to re-define the way NBA basketball is being played. Starting in 1999, the NBA was really a strength league in some ways. When I first got to the Lakers, Phil Jackson’s “Performance Enhancement Coordinator”, Chip Schaeffer, told me that in the Western Conference you had to be ready for a lot of great, tough, big men. He went down the list and named the following players: Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, Tim Duncan, Vin Baker, Chris Webber, Dirk Nowitzki, etc.

Now it seems that the Suns have completely bucked the trend. A few years ago, Boris Diaw was playing point guard for the Atlanta Hawks. Now he is starting at Center for the Suns. But the real reason why the suns can get away with going so small can be found with one person–Shawn Marion. Shawn Marion is about 6’7 or 6’8″ and skinny, but he is one of the best rebounders in the entire NBA. People around the leauge say that Shawn Marion jumps as if he’s on a pogo-stick.

If the Suns win this series, look for other teams around the league to use the draft and free agency market to find a way to get “smaller, faster and quicker”. If the Clippers win this series, all of the experts will come out of the woodwork and say “Well, once again, we see that ‘small ball’ can’t win a championship in the NBA.'”

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Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakes, Phoenix Suns, NBA
Kobe Bryant is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
I watched the Lakers vs. Suns first round playoff series faithfully and thought it was one of the best first round matchups in recent history. I was extra interested given that I used to play for the Lakers and since two of my high school teammates played college basketball with Steve Nash at Santa Clara University. Kevin Dunne and Randy Winn were seniors when I was a sophomore at San Ramon Valley High School. The next year I watched them a lot at Santa Clara where along with Steve Nash they all helped Santa Clara’s team to several years of greatness and some amazing upsets. I would have never thought at that time that I was watching one of the greatest point guards who would ever play in the NBA. It is amazing what hard work and perserverance can do and how Steve Nash’s passing and shooting ability has changed the fortunes of an entire NBA franchise.

It was also great to see a couple of old friends play for the Lakers. Notably, it was a lot of fun to watch Kobe Bryant, Devean George, and Luke Walton make big plays for the Lakers and almost pull off a huge first round upset. Kobe Bryant never ceases to amaze me. Amost everywhere I go, people ask me what it was like to play with Kobe Bryant. Random people I have never met ask me the question. I thought that now would be a good time to talk about my interactions with Kobe on and off the court. When I first got to LA, I remember meeting Kobe in the training room. Kobe was there with his personal trainer and the first thing I thought in my mind is “Wow, Kobe must really be 6’7″!” You never really know how tall people are until you’re next to them. Shaq is definitely 7’1″ and Kevin Garnett is definitely taller than 6’11”. Kobe is easily 6’7″ and it’s crazy because I play center in the NBA sometimes and I’m about 6’8″ and Kobe can play point guard and he’s basically the same height. The first year I was there, I can’t tell you how many times I came into the game and Kobe tried to get me a dunk or a wide open layup to help me build some confidence. One time after a tough game at Memphis he invited me to meet up with him and his high school buddy for a steak dinner. Another time he stayed around after a game to meet up with the ten year old daughter of a buddy of mine for an autograph and a photo. Still another time when I was upset about a certain on-court team issue, Kobe took the time to listen to everything I was going through and tried to help the situation. Kobe Bryant went out of his way a lot when I was just figuring out what it was like to play in the NBA.

I felt badly after the game 7 loss that some members of the media tried to criticize Kobe for not shooting enough in the loss to the Suns. It’s extra interesting to me, because I watched that game very closely and analyzed the Suns’ defensive schemes against Kobe. In the first half it seemed like Suns threw a “soft double team” at Kobe whereas in the second half they trapped Kobe aggresively with two men and forced him to throw the ball out of the double team. I actually thought that Kobe was doing a good job of trying to hit his open teammates but their shots weren’t falling. I guess if you are Kobe Bryant and you get 81 points you get criticized for shooting too much and if you only score 20-25 points then people say you are not shooting enough. I thoroughly enjoyed the series and watching my old teammate Kobe play so well. I think that the Lakers are back on the map. I hope I get to see Deaven George this summer in Minnesota and maybe I’ll see Luke Walton at some Pac-10 reunion. (We never really had the Answer for Arizona basketball when I was at Stanford). At any rate, I still hope we go 4-0 against the Lakers next season and 4-0 against the Suns.

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Lake Calhoun, Trenton Hassell, Memphis, Tria Medical Center, Kevin Garnett, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Kenyon Martin, Apologize
Lake Calhoun is the largest lake in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and part of the city's Chain of Lakes. Photo: shutterstock.com
Trenton Hassell Saves the Day Last Thursday, the day after our loss to Memphis, we had to report to the Tria Medical Center in Bloomington for our end-of-season physicals. It was probably the last time our entire team will be together until next fall. Trenton Hassell came to the 7:30 AM physicals and he was talking about how he was bummed out because he had to cut off his dream he was having that morning. When we asked him about the dream he said that in the dream he was on a plane that had been hijacked and he was in the middle of “saving everyone on the flight” when the alarm clock sounded. He’d be the right guy though in a situation like that–I can tell you that for sure.

Lake Calhoun

Today I decided it was time to do some long distance running so I went over to Lake Calhoun to see if I could run the entire lake. I did some sprinting and walking and finally finished running two thirds of the lake at a good pace. I was shocked at how many people were out there running and rollerblading. It was awesome to be out there doing something normal during the summer time. I’m glad to be here in MN for some of the warm months too. I really love it out here. If any of you readers are ever at the lake be sure to say hello. I’ll be the tall guy running on the dirt path getting passed by all of the marathon runner people with the heart rate monitors on. Hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll be one of those people and I’ll be going fast like them too. I’ll head to Nebraska soon to see my sister and her husband and four kids and then out west for a while, but I’m really looking forward to doing my kids basketball camp in Champlin in late June at Champlin High School.

Kevin Garnett

I think the question the media and fans ask the most is “does KG want to stay in Minnesota” and “How is KG doing?” Most of the questions I get from people are related to Kevin. Well, let me address both of those questions by saying that of all the teammates I’ve had, Kevin is one of the guys who always is going to speak from his heart whether he’s talking to us behind closed doors or whether he’s talking to reporters. So whatever he says to the media is a pretty accurate portrayal of what he’s thinking about because he’s upfront about things. I know that towards the end of the season he took some time to himself to focus on training and having a little bit of privacy, but the answer that I give people is to just let Kevin have a normal few months free from worrying about all this stuff. Until then, I think that he’s taking some much deserved time to spend with his loved ones and friends. Personally I think that there are a lot of national media members that like to stir up the pot and try to put words into the mouth of KG. Of course fans and media people in NYC, Chicago and L.A. are going to fill message boards and chat rooms with rumors about KG going each place because those markets would love to have him. Personally, I think that the mojave desert would freeze over for ten years straight before Mr. Taylor would trade Kevin Garnett. There is no trade that would give MN equal value for Kevin.

Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls

Just a little while ago I was watching the playoffs on TV. I have to admit that it’s very tough to watch other teams still playing. Two nights ago, I got so frustrated that I called one of my friends and we went up to Flagship Athletic Club in Eden Prairie where he rebounded for me to help me work on my jump shot/set shot. But tonight I was able to see what was going on in the Bulls/Heat series. At halftime, Craig Sager highlighted the fact that In the first twelve posessions of the game, Shaq only touched the ball twice for the Miami Heat. That was the reason why they lost the game tonight. They never got Shaq involved. I still remember game seven against the Sacramento Kings a few years ago when I was with the Lakers. Before the game, Shaquile told everyone in the huddle to find him and to “give him the ball.” When you are the big man like shaq it is tough to watch your teammates hoist up a lot of threes without getting to touch the ball a lot. Sometimes he’d come to the huddle in LA and say, “Fellas, just let me touch it.” When we got him the ball it opened things up for everyone. If the Miami Heat will give Shaq more touches it will open everything else up for the rest of the team and Antoine Walker will be knocking down threes and Jayson Williams and Gary Payton will have a field day. If not, it’s going to be the Chicago Bulls getting long rebounds and turning the series into the proverbial “track meet” with all the runners they have on their team.

Kenyon Martin

Let’s start off by taking a look at the statement issued by Kenyon Martin. It’s refreshing when someone like Kenyon immediately comes out and apologizes for whatever happened. To me that shows he’s a man.

“First and foremost, I want to apologize to my teammates and coaching staff for my actions on Monday night,” Martin said in his statement. “There is nothing more important to me than being a good teammate and giving 110 per cent effort each and every day. Nothing will ever change that. I sincerely regret if this situation has been a distraction for the team, (Nuggets owner) Mr. Kroenke and the Denver Nuggets organization,” Martin said. “I take the responsibility of representing the Denver Nuggets very seriously and I truly hope that Nuggets fans understand that.”

I know Kenyon Martin as an opponent, but more importantly I know Kenyon as a friend. This man is warrior and a GREAT basketball player. He may be the quickest big man in the nba and one of the smartest players in the association. I roomed with Kenyon Martin on a World University Games USA college team and this man is a class act. I feel badly for what Kenyon is going through right now and I think his immediate statement that he issued shows he is very contrite. I also saw George Karl’s interview on SportsCenter and Coach Karl seemed to really show that he felt for what Kenyon was going through and seemed to express empathy for the tough knee injury that Kenyon has been fighting through.

As I’m sitting here watching the Denver/Clippers game the commentators are saying that Kenyon wants to talk to Coach Karl about the incident but Coach Karl does not want to talk about it right now with Kenyon because it’s the playoffs and it’s a busy/stressful time. Who knows if they really know what’s going on or not but having been through the playoffs I kind of understand where both sides are coming from. I remember two years ago Kevin Garnett telling Ndui Ebi something like “Just get prepared because things in this locker room are about to get really intense during the playoffs and just know that nothing said in this room is personal even though it might seem like a hostile place.”

Now, I wasn’t there for whatever incident took place, but the sooner the Denver staff can meet with Kenyon and the sooner they can crush whatever happened in the “incident” the sooner they will get one of the best players in the league back on the court as a contributor and a dominant force.

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Road Win, Coach Casey, Indiana, Marcus, Mark Blount, Physical Therapy
Tonight we won a game on the road for the first time in about 13 tries. Photo: Sergey Nivens/ shutterstock.com
I shouldn’t have to get excited about this, but hey, tonight we won a game on the road for the first time in about 13 tries. I thought that Marcus Banks had a great quote to describe our attitude towards this game when he said to the media, “I hope those guys back home [were] watching…Kevin, Ricky, Rashad, Troy….we did it for you.” Before the game we learned that Rashad wouldn’t be suiting up tonight due to a severely sprained ankle. Everyone is a little bit beat up, but Rashad’s ankle was really bad; we hope he can make it back in a few days, but we’ll see. Even Marcus Banks had to get some physical therapy.

I watched our Therapist, Andre DeLoya, pull out an electric hammer and basically hammer all over Marcus’ legs and back to loosen up his sore muscles. Behind the scenes in an NBA locker room is watching a lot of grown men on the training table getting treatment for all kinds of injuries. After the game, Coach Casey looked at Eddie Griffin and said, “Well Eddie, should we have a day off tommorrow in Indiana?” Eddie smiled and gave coach an emphatic “yes”. Eddie Griffin dominated the game tonight in almost every way. It seemed like Houston’s players were afraid to drive into the paint and shoot knowing that Eddie would likely block their shot. It will be nice to be able to sleep in tommorrow. These late night flights can really tire you out.

As pro-athletes, a lot of our time is spent on our back, in bed, in our hotel room watching shows like Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper, FoxNews, etc. In order to be ready for practices and games we have to rest…. a lot…..Tonight on the bus ride from the airport to the hotel in Indiana Mark Blount and Trenton Hassell and a group of us on the bus talked about every major news story from the last couple of days including the 911 call in Detroit and probably every other major news topic that’s been talked about. Mark Blount likes to joke around with the younger players and tell them they are part of “Generation W” and they only care about the latest technology and being up with all the fashions. Mark Blount is a GREAT guy to have on this team and has really emerged into a great leader of this team.

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Flight, Memphis, Coach Casey Bracey Wright, NBA Development League, Road Trip
Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. Photo: Marco Scisetti/ shutterstock.com
The flight today to Memphis wasn’t the same without Anthony Carter, Ricky Davis and Kevin Garnett in their usual seats on the plane. All three of them stayed back to get physical therapy treatments on their injuries.

It’s the first time I’ve ever gone on a road trip without KG. But we did add an old friend to the group in Bracey Wright who led the entire NBA Developmental League in scoring. Coach Casey called Bracey up yesterday and he practiced with the team today. Fred Hoiberg and I walked around the mall here in Memphis for a little while and shot the breeze and we also met up with some team members for dinner. Even though we’re not at full strength everyone is still treating each game like a playoff type of game.

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Kevin Garnett, Coach Casey, MySpace.com, Big Men
Kevin Garnett is an American professional basketball Player of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Since anyone reading this blog is somewhat computer savy I have to tell you about the good laugh that KG and I shared today in practice. We’re sitting there shooting free-throws like we always do after an intense practice session where Eddie, KG, Blount, Reed and I really go at each other in drills.

The “big men” are at one end of the court and the guards are at the other for about a third of practice. Whenever we shoot in separate groups like that Kevin loves to yell down at the guards and say things “How’s Club-Med down there at that end……we’re down here working….killing each other, and ya’all are down there chillin’!” Then when it’s just us “bigs” shooting we all talk trash to each other for fun with someone yelling out “Get out your hard hat!” or “Watch out below…” when one of us shoots. It’s pretty funny. So today after we had done all of this intense stuff, it got quiet while we were shooting free throws. Then Kevin looks straight at me and says, “Dog, you on MySpace.com?” I paused for a second and didn’t say anything while I thought back……..I remembered I had just signed up about five days ago…….me and Kevin both started laughing hard and I said, “KG…it seems like whatever I do, you know about it.” He laughed and told me that he has a lot of friends who are always telling him what’s going on.

On a basketball note, today coach Casey told the team that it was time to limit some of Kevin’s and Ricky’s minutes. We’re not going to make the playoffs so he wants to rest the big guns and be sure not to risk injury while allowing some of our budding young stars to have the chance to develop.

On a political note….

<<<I don’t view this blog as a political forum at this point, but this is one issue I feel VERY strongly about >>>
I lived in the Chicano/Latino theme dorm for my frosh year at Stanford. I liked it so much I stayed there for the next TWO years as well! When I heard about the protesting in the streets of LA on the immigration issue I wish I could have been down there in the downtown in support of all of the Latinos and immigrants that have come to CA ( my home state ) and other parts of North America. When I read today that lawmakers are going to do something so that illegal immigrants can take one of three paths to become legal here in the US I was very happy. Of course there has to be order to the immigration (which everone agrees on) and there must be excellent border control to reign in terrorists threats and to keep the unsavory out. However, when they were talking about making illegal immigration a felony I was in shock. Then when I read some of the quotes from some of the political leaders I went even deeper into shock. Here are some of the quotes I found short-sighted.

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Referring to a wave of demonstrations in recent weeks, Rep. Virgil Goode of Virginia said, “I say if you are here illegally and want to fly the Mexican flag, go to Mexico and wave the American flag.”

“Anybody that votes for an amnesty bill deserves to be branded with a scarlet letter A,” said Rep. Steve King of Iowa, referring to a guest worker provision in the Senate measure.

“I say let the prisoners pick the fruits,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, one of more than a dozen Republicans who took turns condemning a Senate bill that offers an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants an opportunity for citizenship.

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I am an independent and not currently affiliated with any party. I grew up in Northern California spent years in Southern California and have gone on family trips over what seems to me like every square inch of the state. I’ve met Latinos in almost every line of work from field worker to, college admissions director to Executive at major corporations and I can say that the Latino community–including both legal immigrants and illegal immigrants–has played a VITAL role in the robust development and the strong character of my home state and we should be thanking them for their contribution instead of having to read comments like the short-sighted comments above by certain elected governmental officials. I just read an online article that says that the US used to be a nation of immigrants, but it’s not anymore. To that author I would give the reminder to read Emma Lazaras’ words affixed to the pedestal of the stature of liberty:

From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Based on scientific theory and cultural/literay works even some of the native americans (which is the one group with the longest heritage here) likely came to this land via the Bering Straight or by some other sea-faring route(s). In the end aren’t we all immigrants?

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Kevin Garnett, Coach Casey,Justin Reed, NBA, Timberwolves
I’ve been on the Timberwolves, I have seen KG make a lot of game-winning shots. Photo: shuterstock.com
In the three years I’ve been on the Timberwolves, I have seen KG make a lot of game-winning shots, but tonight was extra special because he added a game saving block! I wish I had footage of our locker room after the game that I could post here too! KG was chest bumping teammates and everyone in the locker room was screaming. KG was so physically and emotionally spent that he could hardly walk and so he’d muster enough energy to chest bump people hard, then he’d go back to recovering energy. In the locker room Coach Casey basically said that we needed to take this win and build on it and gain some momentum. Then he went up to the dry-erase board and wrote the names of the guys of the board who had to come in tomorrow at 3pm to “get some extra conditioning and to run through plays.” (We are scheduled to touch down tonight in Minneapolis at about 2am so it will be a rest day for the guys who played heavy minutes)

As KG passed my locker to go to the shower he laughed and said something like, “Man, I’m so wound up right now, I forgot to drink my protein shakes.” Then he went back a few feet and threw down a couple of protein/carb shakes that our strength trainer Thomas McKinney makes after every game for the guys who expend a lot of energy. I’m amazed that KG can play so hard night after night. He has amazing stamina.

It’s no secret that we had struggled mightily in the last few games, but once again there were a lot of positives tonight. Struggling in the NBA happens for every team. Even on a few of the Laker championship teams we had times where we got blown out and lost big.

Marcus Banks came through in a huge way. Steve Nash was going under our screen and roll and Marcus just kept on rising up and hitting his smooth jump shot. Justin Reed played really well too. When you watch games at home, I want you to notice Justin Reed. Justin is so quick it’s incredible and he ALWAYS plays hard and scraps. Again, Justin Reed is one of the strongest basketball players in the NBA. The other day in the weight room, he threw 225 up on the bench press easily for a lot of repetitions. Rashad had a huge game and I can never adequately express how much Anothony Carter means to this team on and off the court.

Our coaches changed things up a little bit today by keeping our shoot-around extremely short. Sometimes change is just good. We went over to the Suns’ arena and coach Casey called out “Bigs at one end, littles at the other.” We all got some shots up, ran a few plays then went through the scouting report and then got on the bus back to the hotel for some rest.

Right now we’re on the plane (it seems like I end up writing a lot from here). Most of us have already reviewed the game on DVD to see where we could have done better and where we could have made different offensive and defensive reads. In our back section of the plane there are two players still going over film on the DVD, there are three players in a friendly card game, three guys are asleep and three or four are on the portable playstation playing golf or soccer. As for me, I’ve got my headphones plugged in to my computer and I’m about ready to settle into a little itunes.com relaxation with a few old favorites.

“Time after Time” – Cyndi Lauper (This reminds me of the Napolean Dynamite scene at the high school dance…

“We Built This City” – Starship

“Dream Big” – Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband (a great song from an up-and-coming group)

“More Than a Feeling” – Boston

“These Days” — Rascal Flatts.

I hope everyone has a great day. MM

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Andre DeLoya (Head phyical Therapist) announced to everyone coming in that Wally and his wife Shannon had given birth to a beautiful baby girl. Photo: shutterstock.com

Tonight, right when I got into the Locker room, Andre DeLoya (Head phyical Therapist) announced to everyone coming in that Wally and his wife Shannon had given birth to a beautiful baby girl. The irony of course was that tonight Wally was wearing a green uniform that read Celtics across the chest and that we were going to play against him and Michael Olowokandi as opponents for the first time ever. I still really miss both of those guys.

Right before tip-off, Wally and Kevin met at halfcourt in an embrace. I think it was nice for the fans to see that. So much has been talked about here in MN about whether or not Wally and Kevin got along. I can tell you first hand that they got along fine and they both have a tremendous amount of respect for each other. On any team at any time there are going to be moments of frustration, and moments when the team struggles. I think the media tended to focus too much on those very rare moments (which happen with every teammate) and not enough on the majority of the time when Kevin and Wally were sitting there playing cards on the plane or laughing and joking in the locker room.

Tonight in the locker room, there was an incredible energy and a great atmosphere. Ricky, Justin, Marcus and Mark Blount are going to be LOVED at the target center on and off the court. Stay tuned for some exciting basketball!

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Trade, Fred Hoiberg, Wally, Dwayne Jones, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nikoloz Tshkosvili Phoenix, Ricky Davis, Justin Reed, Marcus Banks, Target Center
Fred Hoiberg telling me that Wally, Dwayne Jones and Kandi-man just got traded to Boston. Photo: shutterstock.com
Wow!!! Last night I was sitting in my hotel room and the phone rang…….no one ever calls me in my hotel room unless it’s a tricky radio show just trying to see if anyone on our team will answer their hotel phone. All of us players use each others cell phones. It was Fred Hoiberg telling me that Wally, Dwayne Jones and Kandi-man just got traded to Boston! I was shocked. Any time you lose teammates and friends to a trade it’s hard. Today in Shoot-around KG looked at me and said, “Man, it’s a hard day today.” Kevin Garnett was close to both Wally and Michael and he is one person who really values friendships and relationships. I think Kevin is going to miss everybody who got traded.

I stopped by Wally’s hotel room and Michael’s room too. Mike had stepped out for a second to go down to the front desk so I sent him a text. When he texted me back he touched on the fact that our two careers had so many parallels. We both went to college in Northern California then ended up in Los Angeles for a number of years playing for the clippers and the Lakers respectively. Then we spent two plus years together in MN and became great friends. At the end of his text he said, something along the lines of “I’ll jump hook you when I see you next,” meaning, he was going to shoot his jump hook over me. Well if you look at the schedule, I’ll be seeing him really soon!

When I saw Wally in his hotel room he seemed kind of reflective. I know I am going to miss Wally a ton. Wally has given his heart and soul to the Wolves and to the state of Minnesota for almost 7 years. I think it’s hard for him to leave, but at the same time he acknowledged that in this game you can be traded at any time and that is one thing you can’t control. I said to Wally, “So do you and Mike jump on a plane tommorrow and fly to Boston?” Wally laughed and said, “I don’t know.” Wally talked about how he was going to miss everyone and how at the same time he was excited about a new challenge and a new opportunity. I think Wally’s wife Shannon is due to give birth to their second child on Monday!!!

Dwayne Jones is the other part of this equation. Dwayne is a GREAT player who is playing in the developmental league right now with whom I had a really close bond given that we spent a lot of time together in training camp. We lost Nikoloz Tshkosvili as well and I’m going to miss him a lot too. Nikoloz and I used to play a lot of one-on-one before games. I think Phoenix is the perfect fit for Nikoloz as he is very skilled and runs like a deer even though he is 7 feet tall.

When the dust settles I think this trade will be good for everyone involved. Ricky Davis is a great player who is emotional and very tough. I think the Target Center is going to like his style of play. Blount is long, skilled and a great shooter. Marcus Banks gives us yet another option at the point and Justin Reed is a tough, smart player who will be awesome off the bench. Watch for some Ricky Davis highlight reel dunks in the Target center!

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Denver Nuggets, Little win streak, Minneapolis, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA, Dwayne Casey
We win against the Denver Nuggets and we have a little win streak going.

We just beat the Denver Nuggets and it feels nice to have a little win streak going. (Winning two games in a row is a lot better than losing 8 out of 10!) After the game, me and my two roomates along with my other buddy and his girlfriend all went out to Champs in downtown Minneapolis to get a burger. It’s kind of fun going to Champs because half of the Minnesota timberwolves office personnel and ticket sales people usually go there after each game. It almost feels like the Timberwolves Holiday party in some ways because it seems like so many people from the organization are there. I even ran into a lot of the production/network support people who travel with us and broadcast all of the games on the local Television station here in the Twin cities. One of the directors of community relations was there with her sister and Dad. We all sat around and shot the breeze while we waited for our tables.

But most often after the games, I drive straight home and crash. It’s just too hard to be at the arena from 5:00pm till 10:00 pm and then be out till midnight eating a postgame meal. Tonight I got home a little after midnight and tommorrow my garage door repairman is coming at 8am. I need to make sure I don’t miss him because my garage door is broken! It’s a good thing that we have the day off tommorrow. Actually, the “young guys” have to come in and get a workout and get some extra shots. I’m so glad that I’m not in that “young guys” group anymore. It seemed like when I was in LA with the Lakers, Phil was always giving Shaq, Kobe, Rob, etc, the day off and me and Deaven George and the rest of the young guys had to come in and play a game of three on three where we ended up trying to absolutely destroy each other in a basketball sense. But, I’m grateful that Phil did it that way and I understood what he was trying to do–get us extra reps to improve. Coach Casey is doing the same thing. Who knows, if my garage door can get fixed quickly, then I might go in there and lift some weights or something.

When we were losing a lot of games a few weeks ago, Dwayne Casey stayed very positive. After we lost a tough home game last week, he came into the locker room and said, “You guys are giving me the effort and the intensity…..I promise you that things are going to shift and come back around…..” He emphasized that we need to cut down on turnovers in order to put ourselves in a position to win. One of Coach Casey’s lines that I really like is this: “If you mess with the game, the game will mess with you.” What he’s really saying here is that if you disrespect the game of basketball by not playing hard or by cutting corners, you’re not going to get too many breaks. Conversely, if you play hard all the time and really try to play the right way, you’re going to get your share of breaks and good bounces.

Well life in the NBA never slows down. We fly to NYC this weekend and then on to boston. I started reading a new book for fun. I’m not even sure about the title, but it’s something like, “The Rule of Four,” written by a bunch of students at Princeton about an ancient text. It’s a very entertaining book. A friend of mine gave it to me as a gift and it’s been a nice distraction to get my mind away from the game through the ups and downs.