Diary
My Journal

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Summer Vacation, Physical, Champlin, Arn Tellem, NBA Athletes, Basketball Trip
Our team member will report to a local medical facility for our “exit physicals” and then the season will officially be over.

This coming Thursday, every member of our team will report to a local medical facility for our “exit physicals” and then the season will officially be over. We will be left with a long summer vacation to mull over what we could have done better and how we will prepare for next season. My summers normally constitute working out with weights, running and improving on my basketball skills, as well as a few other activities that I’m looking forward to.

Last summer I did my first ever youth basketball camp in Champlin, Minn. There were about 40 kids who came to the camp, and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Because I do want to become a coach when I am done playing, it’s a great opportunity for me to learn about coaching and how to work with kids. One of the reasons I did the camp last summer for the first time is because of a story that my mom told me. When my mom was growing up in Long Beach, Calif., she was involved in the orchestra group at her school and she loved to play the violin. There were many devoted leaders and mentors in the area involved in music, and they sponsored summer camps, one of which was called Arrowbear. My mom says that the orchestra programs throughout Southern California were all huge and very strong, because there was so much support locally from teachers and retired musicians, who simply wanted to share their gifts and experiences. I really hope that through involvement in this camp, I can in some way help promote the game of basketball and create positive memories for the kids that attend.

Another summer activity that I hope occurs involves my basketball agent, Arn Tellem. Arn represents around 100 NBA athletes, including Kobe Bryant, Antawn Jamison, Tracy McGrady and others. Mr. Tellem is Jewish and last summer he planned a basketball trip to the Middle East where for about a week, a group of players would go to cities like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other areas to hold clinics for Palestinian and Jewish basketball players. His vision is that there would be several camps/clinics

where he would bring together Muslims, Christians and Jews through basketball and try to build bridges between the groups. Arn invited many of the players that he represents to fly over with him. The response was overwhelming and many players committed immediately. At the last minute the trip had to be cancelled due to an escalating security issue, but there is talk of trying to make the trip this summer. I think that would be a fantastic experience.

Even though it’s been a tough season, we’ve still tried to keep it loose. A few days ago in Indianapolis, Trenton Hassell was counting out loud the number of tickets he needed to leave for family members. “Eight plus three is 11, plus three is 14, plus…” Marko Jaric thought he heard an addition mistake during the process, so he smiled and called out, “The high schools in Europe are as good as the colleges here.” Trenton laughed and reminded the whole locker room that “Marko didn’t even go to high school. He went to ‘basketball school’ instead,” which is common for young professional athletes in Europe. Then Trenton took it one step further and said, “Marko if you’re so smart, then what’s the square root of 169?” “What does that mean?” Marko said. Finally, a teammate went up to the dry-erase board and wrote it up in math lingo and Marko got it right and laughed out loud and said, “Your terminology in the states is different!”

I wanted to thank all of you for taking the time to read this diary and I especially want to thank this newspaper for publishing it. I hope it’s given you an insider’s view of the NBA. I’ll keep on writing this summer on my blog at markmadsen.com. Have a great summer!

– Mark

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Trenton Hassell, Atlanta, Coach Casey, Tiffany, Autographs, Road Trip
This weekend we beat Atlanta on a Trenton Hassell put-back shot with about two seconds to play. I thought that, given Trenton saved the day for us. Photo: monticello/ shutterstock.com

This is the first time in my entire basketball career that I’ve been on a team that has no statistical chance of making the playoffs going down the stretch. However, what is encouraging is that everyone is still fighting like we’re playing in a Game 7. This weekend we beat Atlanta on a Trenton Hassell put-back shot with about two seconds to play. I thought that, given Trenton saved the day for us, I wanted to do a little spotlight on him and allow you to get to know him a little bit better.

Two years ago, Trenton Hassell married his college sweetheart, Tiffany, and the couple recently gave birth to their first child. Trenton actually lives about two minutes from me in the western suburbs, so sometimes we argue about how long it takes to get to practice or to the airport. Somehow it seems that Trenton can get to both destinations about 10 minutes faster than I can. I guess I need to find a better route.

About three weeks ago Trenton had to leave a game because he strained his knee and his ankle. I remember everyone on the team saying, “Gosh, it must really be bad because Trenton never gets hurt.” Not only is Trenton durable, but he is also very tough and always plays through pain. After about a week of rehab, he came back better than ever and now is back to his normal high level of play.

People ask me about Trenton and I tell them that he is a true student of the game. When the team is in the locker room and any of our players or coaches wants to know what players on other teams are playing well, they ask him. He also has a pulse on who all the good college players are throughout the country, even if they are from very small schools. When we are at home, I know Trenton spends his time with his wife and son. When we are on the road, he’s always watching games and film to scout the competition and prepare.

Trenton also signs a lot autographs for the fans. One time before a game, there was a man outside of our parking area who asked him to sign something unique. I remember Trenton coming into the locker and he said something like, “He asked me to sign the cover of his Bible, and I did, but I’ve never done that before and I hope it wasn’t wrong that I did that.” Trenton has a huge heart and we are very lucky to have him on the team. After his game-winning shot, I was next to Coach Casey who gave Trenton a huge hug. He plays hard, but clean.

Early this week we embark on our last road trip of the season. It will be a little bittersweet, because once the summer hits, every player goes their own way. Guys will head to various destinations to train, spend time with family, soak up some sun or heal various injuries. I will likely spend some time in Minnesota on the lakes and some time out West where most of my family members live. Fred Hoiberg will make this trip as well, and he continues to ponder the various options that he has. We’re going to go out to lunch or dinner on this road trip, so I’ll be sure to let you know what Freddie is thinking.

Have a great week. – Mark

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Coach Casey, NBA, Timberwolves, Basketball IQ, Best Defender, March Madness
Talking about Week 19. Photo: shutterstock.com

The season is coming to an end and while all of us are very disappointed that we’re not going to the playoffs, I’ve seen some real positives lately from the team. I really think that Marcus Banks has come into his own, as he’s earned more minutes from Coach Casey. Marcus may be one of the quickest players alongside players like Earl Boykins of Denver and a few others. He has done a great job of pushing the tempo and creating easy opportunities for other people. In Sunday’s game, he drove the lane and missed a shot, only to then out-jump all of Golden State’s big men, grab the rebound and finish in the lane with his left hand. Additionally, Marcus has been great in the locker room. His sense of humor has loosened things up and he likes to get other people laughing, which is key during a long season.

Rashad McCant’s development has outpaced everyone’s expectations, especially on defense. I was reading online after a recent game and came across this quote from Dwayne Casey, “He’s continuing to improve. I never thought I’d say this, but he’s probably one of our best defenders, behind Trenton (Hassell), as far as focus, paying attention to detail.” It’s amazing the way Rashad’s dedication and hard work has paid off at the defensive end. I think right when Trenton went out with injury and Rashad began starting, the refs were calling a lot of early fouls on him because that’s what happens to rookies most of the times. He made the adjustments and has really shown people that he is a great defender. It’s obvious that he’s unbelievably talented on offense, but I’m glad people are starting to recognize his defense. A few games ago (I think against New Jersey), I was sitting next to him on the bench and he said something like, “The next play they run is going to be a post-up for their big man.” I think Rashad was right and when I asked him how he knew, he said that he watches the opposing coach and the opposing players very closely and listens to what they’re saying and reads their plays. Everyone in the NBA always talks about “basketball IQ” and Rashad’s is extremely high.

Right now is a great time for all basketball players, coaches and fans because it’s March Madness. I was particularly intrigued with the George Mason team that had such a great season. When I watched them play earlier in the season, I knew that I was looking at a group of very talented players that liked each other, passed to each other, and were a TEAM. It seems to me that basketball nowadays goes two in different directions. One way to play the game is to amass a bunch of great individual players and roll a ball out and tell them to win a game on talent. The other way is to play like a team and for everyone to complement each other. That is the way that George Mason played the game.

It will be fun to watch the NCAA National Championship. It’s always fun to hear what my teammates think of different college players. I remember when one of Tennessee’s female players dunked the basketball this year. Everyone in the locker room was talking about it and we watched it on replay a lot in the training room. At any rate, I definitely have to go with UCLA (fellow Pac-10 school) as my pick to win it all.

I am always open to suggestions as to what Timberwolves fans want me to write about. If you have a topic suggestion or a question you want me to answer, please feel free to drop me a note atmark@markmadsen.com.

Have a great week. – Mark

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Sugar Ray Leonard , Boxing Legend, Kevin Garnett, NBA, Ricky Davis
Sugar Ray Leonard (born May 17, 1956) is a retired professional American boxer, motivational speaker, and occasional actor. Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

At our game this past weekend against Golden State, we had a pretty big name in the world of sports sitting courtside. Sugar Ray Leonard was in town to do a promotional spot with one of the team’s corporate sponsors. It was cool to see a boxing legend up close. He was a champion at five different weight classes during his 20-year career. That is pretty amazing to be that successful for that long in a very rugged profession. Two of the member’s of the dance team presented him with a personalized Wolves’ jersey during a timeout. He reciprocated by giving each of them a little peck on the cheek.

After the game, Sugar Ray came into our locker room to say hello to Kevin Garnett and the rest of the guys. He told KG that it was his second time he had visited the Twin Cities and said it seemed like a great area. Then Ricky Davis went over to say hello to him. KG introduced Ricky to Sugar Ray and said, “Ray, Ricky’s pretty good with his hands too.” Ray smiled and said, “Are you?” to Ricky and Ricky replied with a simple, “Yeah, I am.” Then Sugar Ray showed us that if he were to box against Ricky, (a taller opponent) he would try to attack his midsection with a series of jabs, rather than going for head shots. Sugar Ray really seemed like a fun guy who was friendly, outgoing and genuine.

When I was talking to Sugar Ray about boxing, he showed me a few moves and told me about how “champions are made.” He said the most important thing as a boxer to be able to take a punch. Then he asked me if it was okay for him to show me a few things to which I said, “Of course.” It was awesome to meet an athlete of that caliber and I think the entire team hopes to see him again down the road.

We have got to face Yao Ming again this week. I enjoy him as a person, as he is one of the real class acts in the NBA. Yao came into the league a few years ago and has really become a dominating force. He is 7’6”. I’m not sure that anyone can fully comprehend his height until you stand right next to him and realize that your neck is totally bent just to look up at him. In preparing for him you just try to tailor a plan to some of his strengths and try to find a way to keep him out of the post.

This season has been a little bit of a roller coaster, but in general I really believe that we are starting to come together. The players we acquired from Boston are really contributing, whether it be as starters or coming off the bench. Marcus Banks was inserted as the starting point guard and we are 3-1 with him in there. Ricky has been just phenomenal scoring 20 or more points every game. Mark Blount has been solid as the starting center and Justin Reed has given us great energy off the bench every night. I truly believe that we are going in the right direction and that we are going to make a push for the division championship and for the playoffs from here on out.

Have a great week. – Mark

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Home game against the Denver Nuggets, but it was a thriller and quick trip to Utah to see my parents and some siblings.

I’m not sure how many of your watched our recent home game against the Denver Nuggets, but it was a thriller. Sometimes I wish the fans could have a microphone implanted in our huddle, so that you can hear the emotion and involvement from all of the players. At a point very late in the game, when things looked the bleakest, newcomer, Justin Reed entered the huddle, and starting clapping and called out, “Keep believing that we can win this game!” I think Justin’s comments gave our team new life, because Trenton Hassell, Kevin Garnett and Ricky Davis all made huge plays in the ensuing seconds. Ricky came back to the huddle after his huge steal and jump shot and called out for everyone to hear, “All we have to do is believe!” In the end, we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but I was proud of everyone on the team because of how hard we fought.

One of the things I like about Ricky is how hard he plays. I’m sure that you’ve noticed that he wears an undershirt when he is on the court. What you don’t know, is that Ricky is really wearing an assortment of pads on his hips and his back for protection. It’s almost like football pads, but just a lightweight version. He likes to fight through screens and drive the lane with so much momentum, that bigger players are constantly hitting him. Plus when you play above the rim like he does, it’s nice to have some protection for the occasional crash landing. Basketball players have hips that get beat up all the time. It seems like there’s always at least one player on the team with a bruised hip, a hip pointer, or some kind of bursitis.

I made the most of my All-Star break by making a quick trip to Utah to see my parents and some siblings. Then I flew out to Washington D.C., early (our team had a game against the Wizards the Tuesday after the break and we had the option to meet up there) to see my sister and her husband and five kids. It was a lot fun to see my twin nieces. They gave me a gift of some drawings with words that said, “I love my Mad Dog,” with a pink dog surrounded by pink flowers. I think I was supposed to be the pink dog. My sister and brother-in-law came to the game against the Wizards with some longtime friends. After the game, they all loved it when KG came by and took the time to shoot the breeze with them a little bit, even though we had just suffered a tough loss.

The day before the Washington game, I met up with some friends and we saw a lot of the museums in the area. One of my buddies out there has the last name of “Nader” and he is a distant relative of Ralph Nader. We had a good time talking about a few years back when I was with the Lakers and we beat Sacramento in a playoff series. Ralph Nader publicly stated that he wanted an independent commission to look into the officiating of Game 6 of that series which was played at the Staples Center. I guess that meant Ralph was a Kings fan. Phil Jackson, of course, felt differently about the officiating (as did our team and the rest of Los Angeles). It was fun to reminisce about those two personalities, and how for a couple of days, they exchanged friendly/pointed quotes with each other through the media about the issue. The sporting world is a lot of fun and I’m really grateful that I get to be part of it.

Have a great week.

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Valentine's day, Surprise, Campus, Freindship, NBA All star, Timberwolves, Stanford, Weekend
Valentine's memory from my freshman year of college, when I got a surprise gift from a friend. Photo: Jim Larkin/shutterstock.com

This week there are two major events that aren’t totally related to our team. First is Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) and the other one is the NBA All-Star Weekend (Feb. 17-19). I’m kind of shy when it comes to talking about the former in this diary, but the media people upstairs tell me that fans like to read this kind of stuff, so I’ve given in.

Let me share one Valentine’s memory from my freshman year of college, when I got a surprise gift from a friend. I was in the middle of practices, conditioning, weightlifting and just generally trying to stay afloat at Stanford. I came back to the dorm room and I found a Valentine taped to my door with Sonnet 116 by Shakespeare included. I saw that it was from this girl named Kate, who my best friend on the team liked a little bit too. I know that he thought she was cool. I had just met her the week before.

I was pretty stoked that she had given me a Valentine, and I began to think about the possibility of dating her. As surprised as I was to get the card, I was equally stunned to find out that she had given out 20-30 of them around campus. She was just a thoughtful girl who cared about making people feel special. Man, I tried to get to know her better, but the competition was pretty stiff. With all the traveling we were doing, and the fact that she had some other guys after her, the best I could do was build a good friendship. To this day, I think she’s great just because she took the time to write me that note. I think the next year I tried to give out Christmas or Valentine’s cards to a bunch of people, remembering how nice Kate’s note had made me feel.

The other big event this week is the All-Star Game on Sunday and the break in the schedule that goes with it. The weekend off will give every player some much needed rest to regain strength and to take care of some aches and pains. Sometimes I wish that Kevin Garnett wasn’t an All-Star, so that he could have some time to rest his body. He plays so hard all the time dishing punishment on his defenders, but he also takes a lot of bumps and hacks from the opponents. I know that all of the other All-Stars will love seeing KG down for the game in Houston. He is one of those guys that everyone in the NBA respects and looks up to. I listened to him address the media the other day and you could just hear in his voice the pride he takes in being named an All-Star and the fact that he will do all he can to represent his family, teammates, organization and Minnesota.

A number of fans have been asking me about Fred Hoiberg’s status, so I thought that I would share a little bit of what’s going on with him. Fred is in great health and in phenomenal shape. He has been working out with the team and on his own to keep his jump shot and his basketball timing at a high level. As I understand Fred’s situation (we talk a lot about different things), he has had a strong recovery from his open-heart surgery. I know of several teams in the last few months that have expressed serious interest in trying to get Fred to play for them yet this season. Unfortunately, the Timberwolves cannot re-sign him this season, after waiving him last summer.

Without saying too much, I can state that Fred has spent a lot of time meeting with experts and deliberating over the pros and cons of his course of action. On the one hand, he loves to play the game and he’s one of the best outside shooters in the N. Conversely, there is the miniscule statistical risk that during a game, something might happen to dislodge or interrupt the pacemaker and the associated hardware he has in his chest. I think sometime in the near future we’ll hear his plans. One of the good things about Fred, is that in addition to what he does on the court, he has the abilities and the relationships to be a professional or collegiate head coach or a general manager. I think his decision-making process is looking at all the options and weighing each very carefully.

Have a great week

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Golden State Warriors, Loosing Streak, Phoenix, Amare Stoudemire, Minnesota
We have been struggling a little bit and really need to win this one tonight to snap a three-game losing streak. Photo: shutterstock.com

Today we are in Phoenix getting ready for what should be a very big game against the Pacific Division leading Suns this evening. They have an outstanding team this year, despite losing Amare Stoudemire to an injury early in the preseason. That just goes to show you what a great player Steve Nash has become while making his case for back-to-back MVP awards.

As you know, lately we have been struggling a little bit and really need to win this one tonight to snap a three-game losing streak and get the ship righted. If we get a win in the desert, we will have some momentum going back to Minnesota for a five-game home stand prior to the All-Star break. I can’t put a finger on it exactly, but I think we are struggling some because we just don’t know each other as players yet. We’ve added four new dynamic players to the team during the middle of the season, and I believe we’re still trying to get integrated with each other. I really think that as we get more games and practices under our belts, that eventually you are going to see a well-oiled machine emerge.

Our loss at Golden State was pretty tough on everyone, but the positive thing is what happened the next day. Everyone came to practice in Phoenix and went so hard, that it felt like a playoff game. I would be worried about us if everyone came to practice depressed and sad but it was just the opposite. Guys came in ready to play as hard as they possibly could.

On a personal note, it was interesting to be back in my homeland of the San Francisco Bay Area over the weekend. I grew up going to Golden State Warriors games and lived about 30 minutes from the Oakland Coliseum. Then I was at Stanford for four years, which is about 45 minutes from Oakland. After the game Saturday, one of the guys who did construction on my parents’ house growing up came out of the stands to say hello. His name is Rod, and it was just really great to see him. I left some tickets for a few of my college teammates who are still in the area. It was fun to hear about what they are each doing professionally. One of them is the head coach at a local private high school and another one started up his own brokerage business for Internet domain names, which is a booming industry. A third teammate started a clothing line. It was a blast to see old friends and to hear about the great things that they are doing.

Right now I’m about ready to order room service and then take my pregame nap. Did you all enjoy watching the Super Bowl? I thought the game was pretty entertaining, and turned on a few big Pittsburgh plays. I would assume that I’m like a lot of people who watch the game partly because the commercials will be entertaining, even if the game isn’t. I would say my favorite ad was the FedEx commercial with the cavemen trying to deliver the package with the pterodactyl and then getting stomped by a dinosaur outside the cave. Write me and let me know what your favorite ads were.

I am always open to suggestions as to what Timberwolves fans want me to write about. If you have a topic suggestion or a question you want me to answer, please feel free to drop me a note atmark@markmadsen.com. Have a great week.

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Trade, Fred Hoiberg, ESPN.com, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Phoenix Suns, Celtics
Nikoloz Tskitishvili had been traded to the Phoenix Suns for a future second round draft choice and There’s a lot more involved. Photo: shutterstock.com

Fred Hoiberg called me on my hotel phone at about 8:00 p.m. Thursday in Houston and asked, “Did you hear about the trade?” I told him that I had heard about it already, as I had just read on ESPN.com that Nikoloz Tskitishvili had been traded to the Phoenix Suns for a future second round draft choice. “There’s a lot more involved,” Fred added. “Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Olowokandi and Dwayne Jones just got traded to the Celtics!” I am going to really miss all four of them. On my personal blog, www.MarkMadsen.com, I’ve commented in a little more detail about each player and what it’s like to lose a teammate and a friend through a trade. Fred later recounted to me that he and Wally had been at dinner at a restaurant in Houston and right as they were paying for the meal, Wally’s cell phone rang. The voice on the other end was Wally’s agent who gave him the news. I know that I was shocked about the trade. Besides losing a few games on some last second shots, I really feel like Dwayne Casey has us playing good basketball. Sometimes change can be a good thing for everyone and I think the trade is going to help both teams. After just two games together, I have already gotten to know the new players a little bit and want to share some of that with you. I have always been a fan of Ricky Davis, ever since his days in Cleveland. He is a good defender, a great shooter and he has “swagger.” In our game at Houston Ricky had 26 points, but more importantly, whenever anyone on the team scored or did something good, you could hear Ricky yelling out “Great job A.C. or way to rebound Eddie!” In our loss to San Antonio there was a play where Ricky caught up to a San Antonio fast break after being starting about 30 feet behind the play. He is the fastest NBA player I have seen and he jumps out of the gym. More importantly, he’s very smart and he can shoot. Everyone calls Mark Blount “M.B.” and he has a very good post-up game. Mark is one of the few seven-foot players in the NBA that can knock down the 18-footer and get past the defender with his post-up footwork. M.B. is “long” as we like to say in NBA talk (that means tall with long arms) and he has great basketball instincts. On our flight home it was interesting to hear Kevin McHale talking footwork with Mark, knowing Mac used those skills to become a Hall-of-Famer. Justin Reed is one guy who could be playing in the either NBA or the NFL. He is 6’8,” 240 pounds and explosive. Justin played great in San Antonio going right at Tim Duncan. He scored on Tim right away and then in the fourth quarter he went into the lane to dunk over the Spurs seven-footers and was fouled. He also guarded Tony Parker who is one of the quickest players in the league. Mark Blount told me in Houston that Justin is “kind of like Ron Artest in terms of his special ability to defend.” Unfortunately, Marcus Banks just joined the team Monday morning due to a death in his family. McHale described Marcus as a great one-on-one defender and a point guard who is unbelievable going “north and south,” which means taking the ball from one end to the other on the fast break. I am always open to suggestions as to what Timberwolves fans want me to write about. If you have a topic suggestion or a question you want me to answer, please feel free to drop me a note atmark@markmadsen.com. Have a great week. Have a great week. -Mark

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30th Birthday, Basketball Game, California, Tim Duncan, San Antonio, Road Trip, Wolves, Shaquille O'Neal
January 28, is going to be my 30th birthday. Photo: shutterstock.com

This coming Saturday, January 28, is going to be my 30th birthday. On that day, we’ll be in San Antonio to play the Spurs. I will get to defend Tim Duncan at times. Not the best birthday gift I’ve received, but it comes with the territory. I guess turning 30 is a milestone in one’s life, so I’m going to take a few paragraphs and reminisce on a few birthday memories.

My most memorable birthday growing up came during my senior year of high school in California. We had a basketball game that night against one of our rivals, which we ended up losing in overtime. To make matters worse, I sprained my ankle during the game. When I drove home after, the lights were off and everything seemed empty. As I limped into the kitchen, I realized it was a surprise party that my parents and younger sister had planned. Most of my teammates were there along with a bunch of my other friends. The thing I remember most was sitting there with my foot in a bucket of ice water talking with my teammates late into the night.

One of my hardest birthdays was my very first year in the NBA. I wasn’t used to all of the travel and I had to get up early on road trips and deliver practice gear to everyone’s room. I think I was exhausted at the time from the many games and the late night flights. I just remember lying in my hotel room in New York thinking, “What the heck am I doing here.” I think I got bronchitis that day too, because I ended up taking a bunch of medication for it a day or two later.

When I was with the Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal hosted the whole team in Orlando for Thanksgiving one year and gave us a tour of his house. When we got to his bedroom he told all of us, “Man, when I first got to the league, I had all the latest electronics and remotes all over the place.” Then pointing toward a shelf on the wall he smiled and said, “Now I’ve got diapers.” Shaq and his wife Shaunie have a great relationship and it was fun to be there to hear such a great line from a great guy.

One of the front office people with the Wolves emailed me and asked, “Where did you think you’d be when you turned 30?” The honest truth is that I thought I’d have a drawer full of diapers by now and be sitting at home with my wife and a few kids. But marriage and family haven’t happened yet, so instead I’m still single and I have to figure out all of the electronics on my own. On our current team, just about half of the guys are married. It makes for an interesting dynamic in the locker room to hear about a child taking their first step on the one hand and then on the other you have the young guys just a few years out of college that are living the singles life.

I guess more than anything else, I’m grateful that I’ve lived this long already. It’s been 30 great years so far, and I’m looking forward to the next 30. My grandpa always tells me what a gift it is to be alive. There are a lot of people that don’t get to be 30 years old, so I’m just happy to have made it this far.

This week is going to be a little bit emotional. An old friend, Flip Saunders, is coming to town with a Detroit Pistons team that is playing at a very high level. In my opinion, Flip certainly has done a great job with them and has already locked-up the coaching spot for the Eastern Conference for the All-Star Game. With that said, we also have a job to do. Our goal is to derail the Pistons and show them what kind of a team we are.

Have a great week.

-Mark

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Troy Hudson, New York City, Knicks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nate Robinson, Kevin Garnett, NBA, Basketball
Our preparation for such an early game was a little bit unique. Whereas normally we go to the arena in the morning, have shoot around and then have a few hours to think about the game, this morning was different. Photo: shutterstock.com

We just beat the Knicks here in New York City and now I’m back in the hotel room unwinding from the emotional contest. I really thought that Troy Hudson played a great game this afternoon. His three-pointer from deep behind the arc with just a few seconds left was an unbelievable make! It was a shot that shows just how much confidence Troy has in his game and his courage to take such a big shot. New York’s Nate Robinson, who is about 5’7” and one of my favorite players to watch, played a great game today as well.

It was a little bit strange to play at 1:00 in the afternoon. However, it was an honor to play on a holiday set aside for reflection on the life and example set by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sometimes I wish I had been around when he was alive, so that I could have met the man who brought about so much good in this country and in the world.

Our preparation for such an early game was a little bit unique. Whereas normally we go to the arena in the morning, have shoot around and then have a few hours to think about the game, this morning was different. We woke up and went straight to a breakfast meeting, where we watched some film and ate. Then we went over to a ballroom in our hotel where our staff had taken white athletic tape and created a simulated three point arc, free throw line and painted area/key. We did a walk through in our street clothes on an imaginary court in the hotel ballroom.

The points that Dwane Casey emphasized were to limit their offensive rebounding and to get back on defense. I am very proud of Rashad McCants these days. Not only is Rashad playing at a high level offensively, but also he has really picked up his defense. He hit two huge threes today in the first half. Earlier this week I told Rashad that I write a weekly diary and he let me interview him. Here are just a few things that he said.

Q. What is the biggest surprise you’ve encountered thus far in the NBA?
A. Playing games on back-to-back nights. You really have to work at preparing your body for the energy you are going to need. It’s really important to eat well and get your rest.
Q. What is your mindset when you go onto the court?
A. Win by any means necessary.
Q. Describe your relationship with Kevin Garnett.
A. I’m like his little brother and he’s my mentor. He is the vet who is passing down what he learned from others on to me. It’s kind of like passing the torch to the next generation of players. I am thankful that he has taken me under his wing like that.
Q. What was it like winning a national championship at North Carolina?
A. It was a big-time accomplishment with a lot of hard work put into it by an entire team and coaching staff. It was pretty gratifying in the end to know that you were part of something special.
Q. Do you have siblings? Are they athletes?
A. I have a younger sister (Rashanda) who is playing basketball at UNC right now.
Q. What do you do on your days off?
A. Much like I do when we’re on the road, I try to rest and eat well. I also like to play video games and shoot pool.
Q. What sort of charity or community service work interests you?
A. I enjoy talking to young kids about staying in school and doing the right thing.
Q. Where do you get your confidence in yourself?
A. I found that at a young age I wanted to make my parents proud. I knew the only way to do that was to drive myself. There were going to be roadblocks. I knew that I had to push harder and harder. I’ve lived by myself for six years now and I have had to grow up and make my own decisions. I went to prep school for two years, then Chapel Hill for three and now this year in the Twin Cities.

Have a great week.