Diary
My Journal

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My Grand Mother, Great Friend, Pneumonia, Coach Dwayne Casey, Minnesota, Salt Lake City Airport, My Grandpa
Past week my grandmother Helen Wells passed away. Photo: shutterstock.com

This past week my grandmother Helen Wells passed away. My Dad’s mother had always been a great friend to me and someone with whom I often confided. She was married three times to three awesome men and outlived each husband. Imagine, she’s been to a funeral for her husband on three occasions. Each died of natural causes. That must have been tough. On Tuesday afternoon after practice, my mom called me and gave me the news. My grandmother was 91 years old, and was in great health. She got sick with pneumonia and tried to tough it out like she had so many other things. When she finally checked herself into the hospital, the sickness had taken too strong a hold, and it was too late.

When I heard the news, my mind flooded with questions. We were scheduled to play Dallas at home the next night. Maybe I could play the game and catch a red-eye to Utah and be there the next morning for the 9:30 a.m. funeral. Or maybe I could play the game and fly out at 5:00 a.m. the next morning and still make everything work. I did not want to miss the funeral, but I was torn with my commitment to the team. What should I do?

My first phone call was to Coach Dwayne Casey. He offered his condolences and told me to “take whatever time I needed with my family,” and that I could rejoin the team “whenever it was appropriate.” It was very nice that he and the entire organization were so supportive. My grandma was very connected to Minnesota, as she was born in Eveleth up on the Iron Range. Her family moved to Utah when she was eight years old. It was in Utah that she met my grandpa and where they went on their first date together and eventually got married.

The funeral was both beautiful and emotional. It gave my family and I the last bit of closure we all needed. The service turned into a true celebration of a very beautiful person and her great life. My dad was one of the speakers and shared a lot of stories about my grandma, including the one about the time she beat all the boys in her school in a long race.

The strange part was after the funeral when I got to the Salt Lake City Airport, it dawned on me that I needed to get to San Antonio and get mentally ready to play the Spurs. There were Texas Longhorn fans everywhere at the airport catching connecting flights back to the Lone Star State. My flight was the last available and it turned into a “show and tell” with Longhorn fans regaling stories about the Rose Bowl the night before, and showing off digital photos from the game. When I told a Longhorn fan I thought Vince Young would declare for the NFL draft after this, his junior year, the fan said, “Yeah, I think he’s gonna stay… I have a feeling…” I guess I was right on that one.

The next morning I joined Kevin Garnett, Trenton Hassell and Ronald Dupree for breakfast at the hotel before our morning shoot around. KG asked me all about the funeral and shared with me about one of his own family funerals years ago. Kevin is someone who really understands when someone is going through something and he always reaches out to sympathize or empathize. He told me that longevity runs in his family, as he’s had great grandparents who have lived well past 100. I think he said that one of them lived to be 107, and that his great grandpa not only lived on his own until his passing, but was still “cut” or in great shape. When I came back to the team, there were hugs, embraces and kind words from everyone. It makes my transition that much easier in such a team/family environment. More than anything, I want to thank all of my family, friends, and teammates for their support during the passing of my grandma.

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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Miami Heat, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Lakers, Jason Collier, NBA
Takling about upcoming games, old Freinds and Teammates. Photo: shutterstock.com

Before our game against the Miami Heat, I was stretching at mid-court and watched as Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O’Neal headed to the captain’s circle for the pre-game meeting with the referees. It struck me that here were two of the greatest basketball warriors on the planet. Each over seven feet tall and able to run, jump, catch, and do things that are simply amazing. Every time they see each other, they embrace and catch up on lost time. One of the funnier interactions that I witnessed between the two happened while I was with the Lakers. We were all on the court at the time and I was jogging back on defense. I didn’t catch the whole thing, but they were joking about how one of them hadn’t returned a call promptly. Shaq said something like, “I’ll call you soon, I need your new number,” and KG replying, “I already gave you my new number [last time].” I may have that slightly wrong, but it definitely happened and it was cool to see that little interaction between friends.

I am wondering if Latrell Sprewell is going to sign with someone this season. Right after my thumb surgery last year, I hobbled in late to practice the next day and Latrell came straight over to me with his arms outstretched and gave me a huge hug. I’m not much of a hugger at all, but I will never forget how nice it was to know how much he cared and that he was feeling my pain. I really hope to see him back in the NBA soon.

On New Year’s Eve a couple of teammates and I went out to dinner on South Beach to an Italian restaurant to celebrate the coming year. We had dinner from 6:00-7:30 p.m., got a fruit smoothie, and took the 30 minute cab ride back to our hotel. By the time we got to the hotel it was 9:30pm. I stayed in the rest of the night and mostly relaxed and then watched some fireworks from my fifth floor hotel room. Pretty exciting stuff for Miami, huh?

As the year came to a close I found myself thinking about the death of a good friend and teammate. A few months ago, Jason Collier (center for the Atlanta Hawks), died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Jason was a former teammate of mine and was a great friend. The reports I read indicated the death was both heart and asthma related.

My senior year of college, it seemed like both Jason and I tried out for all of the same NBA teams together. We worked out with the Lakers, Sacramento Kings and the Phoenix Suns together. We went to dinner a lot during that time and when I ended up on the Lakers and Jason with the Houston Rockets, our friendship and association continued. Then, two years ago he was on the Timberwolves training camp roster. Flip Saunders had a hypnotist come to training camp and Jason was so good-natured he volunteered to be hypnotized.

Last year I saw Jason somewhere with Fred Hoiberg and the first thing Jason did was talk about his wife and his new baby and showed us a photo of his newborn while beaming. When Jason died, it was tragic. Here was a guy who played like an animal on the court, but was really a gentle giant off the court and a gem of a human being. I will miss Jason Collier and will always remember him as a superb human being and a great family man.

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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Dwane Casey, NBA, Michael Olowokandi, Eddie Griffin, Kevin Garnett, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Bellanotte, ESPN
Talking about Coach, Teammates, Tv Shows and Other Poeples. Photo: Gil C / Shutterstock.com

We’re almost a third of the way through the season and here are a couple of things I’ve noticed about our team thus far. I believe that Dwane Casey is one of the best defensive teachers in the NBA. The other night against New Orleans/OKC, I looked at the scoreboard towards the end of the third quarter and realized that the Hornets had scored only 36 points to that stage. Part of our defensive success this season, is having three shot blockers on the back line in Michael Olowokandi, Eddie Griffin and Kevin Garnett. Each of them blocks shots using a different method. KG uses his long arms and good positioning, while Kandi has quick feet and uses his height and knowledge of angles to block shots. Eddie has a gift for timing the ball and he is one of the quickest players off the floor. For guys like me and Skita (Nikoloz Tskitishvili), practices in some ways are harder than games because we’re going against three near seven footers every day.

I’ve also noticed that overall we are a pretty close-knit team this season. After one recent game, KG reserved a table for the whole team at Bellanotte and we all went there together for steak and chicken. On more than one occasion the entire team has gotten together for a big meal or something. I’ve been to Bellanotte three or four times this season and I have been to Champps a couple of times too for a burger with friends on my own. It’s great to go out as a team, but the reality is that most nights guys are exhausted and just want to go home and crash or watch ESPN.

We watch ESPN in the locker room too, and sometimes it’s a little surreal when the TV’s on and the anchors start talking about our team. I might be there talking to Wally Szczerbiak or KG and then all of a sudden Sports Center is showing them on the court going to work. Neither of those guys pays too much attention to the media hype that surrounds them and are both pretty down to earth.

Sometimes fans will ask me where I live and if I live alone, etc. When I got to Minnesota I decided to take the big step of buying a house. I chose Eden Prairie because I wanted a quiet spot. I lived by myself in Los Angeles for a little while, but I didn’t like it, so I decided to get some roommates. I chose to go that route here as well. I met both of my roommates through mutual friends, so I knew that they were good guys. They’re probably two of my best friends as well. Having people live with me means that when I’m gone on long road trips, I know the house is going to be fine.

The prior owners of my house were a classy middle-aged couple (we still stay in contact), and they had an amazing artist come in and paint flowers and birds on the walls of the kitchen and the living room. Sometimes when people come over for the first time and see three bachelors living in a house with painted flowers and birds in the kitchen, they wonder if we did it ourselves. I think it naturally catches people off guard a little bit. The honest truth is that I really have come to even like it a little bit. The only other thing that I have considered is painting everything white, which is way too boring. I have no design or artistic ability whatsoever, so that will be one of my projects for the summertime. I need to figure out if I go to a solid blue, black, green or something a little more “in style.”

Have a great week.

– Mark

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Happy Holiday, Christmas, Christmas Memories, Thankful, Family Friend
Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season. Photo: shutterstock.com

I wanted to dedicate this column to wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season. I celebrate Christmas and when it gets close to Dec. 25, I think back to some of my family Christmas memories from growing up. On Christmas Eve, my dad would gather all of us in front of a glowing hearth, and he and my mom would read Christmas stories and sometimes we would have a little eggnog. My little sisters and I, in our excitement, would try to stay up all night talking to each other through the vents in our house. I guess we thought it was our own intercom system.

Sometimes we would go caroling to our neighbors and friends and deliver cookies. I seem to vaguely remember one year in high school when I convinced my family to go caroling to the family of the girl I was dating at the time. It’s all a little fuzzy, but I think this is what happened. When we got there I kind of got cold feet and wanted us to make a run for it. But once we all got out of the van, we couldn’t turn back. We went to the door, sang the song, delivered the cookies and rolled. I think only the parents were home at the time, so I wasn’t too embarrassed by my bad singing in front of the young lady I was trying to impress.

My worst Christmas-related memory growing up was during a rare cold front that swept through Northern California. Everything was frozen. My freshman basketball coach gave us the day off, so my brother and I went hiking in the hills behind our house. We found a frozen hillside and decided to make a few runs. We slid down and a tree root caught my leg and I seriously tore my left knee cartilage. I had to have open knee surgery as a freshman in high school. I had only played four games on the frosh team and I was so happy and then everything shattered. The doctor who did the surgery was a family friend and decided to perform a risky procedure for that time and sew up the cartilage (with stitches that disintegrate after five months) and hope the cartilage healed. If the operation didn’t work, they would probably have to do another and cut out part of the cartilage and I’d be left with the dreaded “bone on bone.” The surgery was successful and the knee has been great ever since.

One year, around this time, my sister and her husband received word that they would be able to adopt a newborn child. They had experienced complications in pregnancy for years and made the decision to adopt. Their receiving that child was one of the best gifts ever for my entire family. I don’t think words could ever express how happy my sister was. Another one of my sisters adopted as well and now there are three adopted kids in my immediate family. Growing up, I never really knew too many people who were adopted and now I think it is one of the greatest things on earth. Maybe I’ll adopt some kids someday down the road.

This summer, my dad took me coyote hunting with my little brother. We sat around hidden in the brush in camouflage for hours while my dad blew a whistle that’s supposed to sound like a dying rabbit. We didn’t see any coyotes at all. Since then my dad has gotten up at 4:00 a.m. trying to get his first coyote. I’m asking Santa to help give my dad his first success in coyote hunting.

During the holidays I reflect on what I’m grateful for. I’m probably most thankful for my mom and dad. Not only do I love them, but also I like them as great friends. I’m looking forward to seeing them and my siblings for a Christmas Eve dinner. I hope each and every one of you has an awesome, safe and healthy holiday season.

Have a great week.

– Mark

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Team Rules, Coach Casey, Game Film, Wally, Troy Hudson, NBA, Eddie Griffin
Coach Casey only has a few team rules. Here are the main ones: 1. Be on time. 2. No cell phones in the locker room or on the team bus. 3. Show up to practice in your basketball shoes and your practice gear. Photo: shutterstock.com

One of the new traditions that we have on our team is that after every contest, win or lose, we watch the game film with Coach Casey the next day. Watching the tape is really an interesting experience, because when we go in, we already know if we messed up or did well. So we all sit in the film room knowing when our mistakes are going to be shown. I think Coach Casey really understands the power of watching the games together. It keeps us accountable, knowing that not only are the coaches going to review it, but also the whole team is going to go over the game together. I think it makes us all want to do that much better, knowing that all of our teammates and peers will see the effort level and mental focus we each bring to a game.

It’s pretty funny though during the film session. When we watch, some of us will groan in pain and anguish before our mistake is shown. Someone might volunteer, “I totally messed this one up” as a preemptive strike. Coach Casey also makes an effort to show the good plays and stays very positive throughout, highlighting the times when someone makes a smart play, or shows extra hustle. Even when we watch mistakes, coach never berates anyone, he just calmly explains what could have been done better on that particular play.

We’ve been on a nice little five-game winning streak and it’s been something that we have taken pride in. Coach Casey only has a few team rules. Here are the main ones: 1. Be on time. 2. No cell phones in the locker room or on the team bus. 3. Show up to practice in your basketball shoes and your practice gear (you would be surprised what I’ve seen guys arrive in). If you break a rule you might get fined by the organization or after multiple offenses, you might even get suspended. He also has a system of fines for mistakes made during games that goes into a team kitty. Here is the breakdown: If we miss a block out, we owe $3. If our man goes right by us on defense we owe $3. If the other team’s point guard dribbles the length of the court and scores a layup, everyone in the game at that time chips in $25.

On the opposite side, if you take a charge, you get a little reward from the kitty. Everyone jokes with Wally that he’s taken more charges in the last 10 games than he’s taken in his entire career. In the Seattle game earlier this season, Wally took three charges in one quarter. The other guy who is taking a ton of charges is Troy Hudson. Troy claims that one of the keys to his getting charging calls is that his hair is so long, when he falls it goes into a whiplash effect making the opponent’s offensive foul look more dramatic. I think that any money left over in the kitty goes into the team’s community fund for charities.

We just got back from our shoot-around in Philadelphia. This is Eddie Griffin’s hometown, so he’s looking for quite a few tickets for his family, friends and relatives. Eddie may be one of the most unique players in the NBA right now, due to the fact that he is 6’10”, he can shoot threes, and he’s a monster shot blocker and great rebounder. He is a very soft-spoken person and is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. Last time we played here against the 76ers he nailed seven three pointers and scored a game-high 27 points.

Have a great week. -Mark

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Lakers, Scramento, Staples Center, Los Angeles, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Special Assistant Coach, NBA
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a retired American professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.

Currently we’re on a four-game road trip and we just beat Sacramento, after defeating my old team the Lakers on Friday night. When we pulled up to Staples Center in Los Angeles, the team bus was directed down into “The Tunnel”, which is another word for the ultra-private, underground parking garage. Yes, in keeping with L.A. tradition, it is glorified valet parking. Before our bus descended the ramp leading under the arena, we saw Kareem Abdul-Jabbar approaching the security checkpoint. He is a special assistant coach with the Lakers, who was brought aboard by Phil Jackson to tutor a young seven-footer the Lakers have in Andrew Bynum. Despite winning several championships with Los Angeles and being the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem got to the checkpoint and the guard gave him what seemed like the typical full airport security check. The guy even wanded Kareem. I guess it’s good that they take security seriously there. To me, getting the wand out for Kareem in that city, would be akin to patting down Michael Jordan in Chicago. Everyone on the bus looked on in amazement and it sparked a number of stories and everyone just marveling at the career he had.

When I played for the Lakers, 90% of our games were at 7:30 p.m. Coach Jackson wanted us there by 6:00 p.m. for those games. When we got stuck in traffic and arrived late (hey, it is Los Angeles traffic), we would always sneak through a back tunnel and try to act very casual when we got in the locker room. One time before a game during warm-ups, I saw Jack Nicholson in his usual seat. I waived at him and said “Hi Jack” and then he waived back and said, “What’s up Mark”. It’s kind of weird to greet someone that you have not talked to very much. I knew him from the movies, and he knew me because he never misses a game. That was about the extent of our conversations when I played out there.

Then there was Tiger Woods. I missed him by one year at Stanford, so when I saw him sitting right next to our bench for a game against Houston, I was not going to miss my chance to meet him. Shaquille O’Neal was hurt and our other big guys were in foul trouble that game, so Robert Horry and I played a lot of minutes. In the third quarter, we went on a run and the Rockets had to call a timeout. I figured that was my only chance to talk to Tiger, so on my way to the bench I got fired up and said, “Let’s go Tiger!” and we bumped fists the way everyone does now. I was happy Phil didn’t see it, but my teammate Brian Shaw did. Brian came over smiling and said, “Don’t think I didn’t just see you sneak Tiger a high five.”

We just landed in Salt Lake City and it’s 12:30 Monday morning. We play the Jazz later…today! By the time we get to our rooms and fall asleep it might be 1:30 or 2:00 a.m. When we get to the hotel, our trainer will stand up and say something like, “Breakfast meeting tomorrow at 11 a.m. in the Oaktree Room on the third floor.” It’s pretty common in the NBA that when you play two games in two nights on the road, the shoot-around at the arena is cancelled for the second game and replaced with the breakfast meeting. Most guys will go to the arena early to get some extra shots up before the game to combat missing the morning session. When Kevin McHale was the coach last year he held the breakfast meetings sometimes, but would always add with a smile, “I’ve never seen a guy improve his game standing at the omelet bar.”

Have a great week.

Thanks,

Mark

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Cleveland, Minneapolis, Rashad McCants, Eddie Griffin, Troy Hudson, Trenton Hassell, Wally Szczerbiak, NBA
We win against Cleveland and we're flying back to minneapolis on our charter plane.

We just beat Cleveland by a few points and it’s midnight and we’re flying back to Minneapolis on our charter plane. I normally sit a few seats behind K.G., so I can hear him laughing a little bit with Rashad McCants and Eddie Griffin about some of the things that the other team was saying during the game tonight. To my right, Troy Hudson is reading a music magazine and Trenton Hassell is playing a PS2 game of tennis. Directly behind me, Wally Szczerbiak is playing PS2 football against our video coordinator.

As for me, I’m still recovering from the nutrition pep talk that Wally just gave me. On Saturday we arrived in Cleveland at 2:00 a.m. and I was hungry, so I popped open the mini-bar and downed about 1,000 calories-worth of caramel corn. I confessed this nutrition sin to Wally (I will remind you that he was featured in Men’s Fitness magazine last season) and he chastised me and gave me a talk comparing one’s body to a bonfire. “If you throw a big log on the fire, it will almost put the fire out at first. But if you put a lot of little pieces of wood in, the fire burns constantly throughout the day. Your metabolism is the same thing” Wally wants me to eat five meals a day instead of three. Every time I eat anything that’s not oatmeal, egg whites or whole wheat bread, he sounds the alarm. Hey, I’m trying to keep some weight on to be able to bang around with the big men in this league. I need to make sure I stay right in my comfort zone of 252 pounds. If I get too light, they’ll hammer me in the paint.

As we jet back to the Twin Cities, I’m reminiscing with Troy about the first trip we were on together in June of 2003. It was on a 747 bound for Kuwait and we were on our way to visit the U.S. Military through an organization called the USO. The USO, made famous by Bob Hope, was conceived to build the morale of the U.S. Military overseas through entertainment. Through the USO, five of us from the NBA volunteered. Normally only the superstars would likely have been invited, but because there were some security concerns at the time, the opportunity trickled down to a role player like me. We were joined by a few NFL players, Kid Rock, rap groups, country music singers, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, Alyssa Milano, and a bunch of other famous people I didn’t know. Troy reminded me that “there were a lot of egos on that plane, but everyone came together like family” in an effort to show the U.S. troops how much folks at home care about them.

One of the first things we did as NBA players was go to three different bases and put on basketball clinics with the soldiers. At one of the bases in Kuwait, the soldiers beat Shawn Marion, Cherokee Parks and Troy in a three-point shootout. The gym got so loud it almost felt like a playoff game. Another day we split up and I went with a group to the former Saddam Hussein International Airport in Baghdad. Kid Rock was in the same group and he got up on the makeshift stage and sang “Sweet Home Alabama” to 5,000 troops in a hanger with tanks and helicopters in the background. Everyone there went crazy and loved it, despite the 110+ degree heat.

I think seeing the U.S. Military in action was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. Words can’t describe the respect that I have for the men and women of the armed services. I know a lot of you may have loved ones in the military serving here at home or overseas. May they have a great holiday season and most importantly, may they come home quickly and safely.

Have a great week.

Thanks,

Mark

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Emails, Kristin k., Marko Jaric, Michael Olowokandi, Kevin Garnett
Answer of email about Player and stats. Photo: shutterstock.com

Every month I will answer a few emails that I receive so here is our monthly installment.

“What are the off-the-court personalities like of your teammates?”

Thanks!
Kristin K.
U. of Minnesota

Kristin, I’m glad you asked me about my teammates. Let me first speak about two Europeans and then two players who go by two letters only: KG and A.C.

Marko Jaric: Six years ago I played on the same team with Marko at the NBA pre-draft workout in Chicago. Marko was such a good passer that he made everyone else on the team look like an all-star. He pretty much got two of us drafted in the first round: myself and Primoz Brezec (Charlotte Bobcats). Marko used to always joke with me that he is responsible for getting me two rings with the Lakers. He might actually be right. That’s what Marko does…he makes people better.

Michael Olowokandi: Michael was living London when he decided he wanted to go to school in the US. He picked up a college magazine, found University of Pacific at the top of the list and called the coach on the phone. Imagine if you’re a college coach of a small school in Stockton, Calif., and an athletic 7-footer comes calling! I imagine that coach focused on the word “Pacific” rather than the fact that the beach is at least two hours away! When I was on the Lakers, Phil Jackson used to always tell Brian Shaw he should go to law school because in team meetings Brian could argue any point and by the time he was done talking everyone was on his side! I put Michael in this category. Michael once told me that he subscribes to The Economist and The New Yorker. He is probably one of the smartest players in all of professional sports, and has been playing at a very high level.

KG: On every team there is a hierarchy and KG is the undisputed number one on our team. On the court, KG will expend every ounce of emotional and physical energy. But what makes KG truly great is that he gets everyone else to give their whole self as well. One time during a game, he got so excited that we almost head butted each other while he was yelling encouragement. Another time he thought I wasn’t paying attention during a shootaround so he put me on the spot and said, “Dog, how are we going to defend Sacramento’s ‘out’ play?” Luckily I had been listening because I gave the right answer. KG is a vocal leader who leads by example. After certain losses I’ve seen him call guys out in a very vocal way and I’ve also seen him walk in and pat guys on the head and say, “There are better days ahead.” One thing with KG is that when he does get on you, it’s never personal, he just wants to win. KG just donated 1.2 million dollars to rebuild homes in New Orleans. His heart is gigantic on and off the court.

Anthony Carter is a true professional. He is one of my closest friends on the team. We stayed in touch off and on over the summer and during training camp two years ago we always carpooled together to St. Johns. If you’re ever in downtown Minneapolis and you see a lime green Hummer with really shiny wheels, it could be AC. I’m not going to say it is AC because there are lots of lime green Hummers in Minnesota, but it could be him. I think AC designed a lot of that car himself. I am not a car person, but I guarantee that after seeing “The Lime” you might be thinking about getting a custom green paint job for your car. That’s how sweet the ride is. AC is always one of the first players to get to practice and games every day. I like to call him “Air Conditioner” because he plays so hard and the other team can’t turn him off. Coach Casey loves his professionalism and tenacity.

Have a great week!

Thanks,

Mark

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Fred Hoiberg, Heart Surgery, Timberwolves, Glen Taylor, Coach, NBA
Fred’s heart surgery this summer took everyone by surprise. It shakes you a little when you see a guy in great physical condition in the prime of his life going through something like that. I guess Fred's title is "special assistant coach" or something like that. Photo: shutterstock.com

One of the topic suggestions that I got from a reader this week was to write a little bit about Fred Hoiberg and his new/old role with the team. Obviously, Fred’s heart surgery this summer took everyone by surprise. It shakes you a little when you see a guy in great physical condition in the prime of his life going through something like that. I’m sure it was really scary for him and his family. You just never know what is going to happen in one’s journey and you have to remember that life is fragile and should never be taken for granted. I can’t put my finger on exactly how or why, but in some ways Fred’s ordeal has brought us closer together as a team.

I’m sure it was tough on Fred when the Timberwolves decided to waive him in August, but he knows that the team was looking out for his long-term health. Wolves’ owner Glen Taylor knows Fred’s competitive nature and didn’t want to see him return before his health allowed. Mr. Taylor made the decision to make him a coach for this season. It was a move to make sure that Fred would not try to risk coming back too soon. I think it shows a special foresight on Glen’s part to protect Fred from a premature return, while still keeping such a valuable person involved in the organization.

I guess Fred’s title is “special assistant coach” or something like that. He has kind of a unique perspective on things, as he is here most days both as a consultant and as a player. During practice Fred comes to watch what is going on and make suggestions to individual players as he sees necessary. Obviously our young guys can learn a lot from someone like Fred who has 10 years in the league. Once practice is done, including individual work with guys, Fred embarks on his own workout to get back in the kind of shape you need to be to compete in the NBA. He does a lot of shooting drills with Wally Szczerbiak and Marko Jaric. As of right now he needs to stay away from some of the contact stuff, so he is not involved in any of the scrimmage aspects.

I have to tell you one funny thing about Fred’s situation though. As you can imagine, a professional team’s locker room is a pretty plush place. Our locker room is no exception, with really nice wood features and the standard big-screen televisions. Since Fred is not an active player this year, he got moved from the cozy confines of the locker room to a place not so nice. If you walk into our training room you will see along the back wall some shelves jam-packed with medical equipment. If you look close enough on the bottom shelf you will see a raggedy cardboard box that is labeled “Coach Hoiberg’s Locker Room.” Sure enough his workout gear is all stored in there. I have to laugh every time I walk in and see that. Someday I will devote a diary about some of the funny things that happen in our locker room on a daily basis. I’m not going to name names, but whoever threw Fred’s stuff in that old box has a pretty good sense of humor. The best thing is Fred has shown off his new digs, and has had many laughs about it.

In closing, it has been inspirational to me to see Fred working so hard to come back and do something he loves so much. I know that when the time comes he will make the best decision for himself and his family on whether to resume playing or not. In 15 years I see Fred as a general manger of some NBA team, or coaching in the league or in college.

Have a great week.

Thanks,

Mark

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Great Summer, NBA Dress Code, Basketball Camp, Los Angeles Clipper, Robert Horry, David Stern
Talking about summer, dress code, basketball camp and last match. Photo: shutterstock.com

I am shocked about how much publicity the new NBA dress code has received in the media. I still have the memo from NBA Commissioner David Stern, which is about three pages long. I think the dress code is a good idea, but the outcry from the players was huge. Some players felt the do-rag and chains ban was a racial statement, while others were already dressing up anyway. I fall into the camp of indifference on the dress rules. I think the biggest concern about the new code for me was that we would have to dress up every time we got on a private plane, even if it is well after midnight. Luckily they decided not to make it uncomfortably strict. We can still wear whatever we want to practice. For me that’s sweats and sandals.

I had a great summer. My little sister married a guy from Berkeley and the wedding was in California. At the reception, both sets of parents were on the dance floor shaking it with the bride and groom. It was cool to see some 50 and 60 year olds out there dancing like crazy. I didn’t realize my parents were such good dancers. Before I knew it, I was out there doing my thing. I was a little startled when I looked over and my 15-year-old brother was dancing with a 22-year-old woman (good thing she was a long time family friend). Now, five out of the 10 kids in my family are married and five of us are single. Maybe later in the year I will write a little bit about being single in the NBA and what it’s like. I think anyone who is single knows it would take more copy space than a paragraph or two to describe what it’s like on the dating scene.

In general, my summer was pretty good. Even though we were raised in the San Francisco-Oakland area, my parents recently moved to Utah. I have a lot of family there, so I spent a good portion of my summer in the Salt Lake City area. I did some rehab on my wrist and a lot of running in high altitude. I spent some time here at my home in Minnesota and some time in Northern California. I made it to Orange County once and took a trip to Jackson Hole with some friends.

One of the highlights this summer was running my basketball camp for the first time in Champlin. I enjoyed it so much, that I am definitely going to do a camp again next summer, either in Champlin or Eden Prairie. When I was with the Lakers, Robert Horry told me that when he ran his camp in Alabama, he was there from 9-5 every day. There are a lot of NBA player’s camps where they show up for an hour on one or two days. My goal is to do my camp the way Robert did his. I was able to be there every day and it was a blast to work with kids. I am thinking about doing a camp in Rapid City, South Dakota too. I’m not sure if I can make it work, but when we had our preseason game there this fall, everyone was so excited and the gym was so loud. I just thought that’s a city that enjoys the game.

Last week we played at Seattle on Friday and against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night. We arrived in our hotel in L.A. at about 2:45 a.m. Saturday. One of the hardest things is being able to relax and sleep after a tough game. I’ve tried counting sheep, counting numbers, counting my breath pattern and finally I’ve just realized sometimes it just takes time. There are times you just have to watch a movie like Bourne Identity or my personal favorite, The Natural. Earlier this season I was reading a book about Special Forces. My problem was that it was so exciting, I couldn’t put it down.

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.

Thanks,

Mark