Diary
My Journal

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Rookies, Dwane casey, Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves's Game Film, Rashad McCants, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Locker Room
Talking About Rookies, Players, discussion with Coach Casey about last season and the Timberwolves' game film. Photo: shutterstock.com

2005-06 Mark Madsen/Timberwolves Diary Week 1 (Oct. 31)
We have a lot of rookies on the team right now. One of the their jobs is to bring Krispy Kreme doughnuts to practice every morning for the staff, coaches and the occasional player who is trying to gain weight. Recently, as a few of us changed in the locker room and speculated on how hard practice was going to be that day, one of the rookies looked at another rookie and said with a very serious tone, “Hey, we’ve got bigger problems than that, where are the Krispy Kremes?” Kevin Garnett wasn’t there yet, but if he arrived at practice and saw that the rookies had failed there would be problems. With KG, it’s not about having doughnuts at practice, it’s about respecting seniority, learning responsibility and coming through. The rookies made some hasty calls and propped open a Target Center exit door to make sure that the goods arrived. The Krispy Kremes weren’t fresh that day; they were the day-old kind you can buy at a normal supermarket. I think they’ve worked-out a whole new plan to make sure they get the fresh ones from here on out.

My first interaction with Dwane Casey was over the summer when he reached out and called me on my cell phone. We talked for 20 minutes about last season and the Timberwolves’ game film he had already broken down and analyzed. He relayed to me that he had studied each of our games from last season at that point. After one preseason game this year we were on the plane flying home and I walked by the coaches to get to the restroom. Coach Casey was there making notes as he watched that night’s game DVD on his laptop. The next day we watched the tape as a team and he pointed out our lapses or mistakes, but also made sure we knew when we had done things correctly. Coach Casey demands defensive concentration, effort and perfection. He has told us that if we miss shots it’s fine, but not playing defense is inexcusable.

I want to introduce all of you to an outstanding player and person, Rashad McCants. On our first day of training camp, we were taking our physicals and a few of us were talking about how excited we were to be back after a long summer. I looked at Rashad and told him something like, “I’ve been waiting all summer for this.” He replied back, “I’ve been waiting my whole life for this.”

We got Rashad with the 14th pick in the draft this summer and I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed getting to know him so far. When we played at Indiana, Rashad posted up Ron Artest, demanded the ball and then lofted a soft jump hook right over one of the NBA’s toughest defender. I think Rashad is kind of like a boxer who goes into the ring believing he will win every fight. Most days after practice Garnett works with Rashad and they do drill after drill together with KG challenging, tutoring and encouraging the rookie. To have Garnett as a mentor is something that he will surely benefit from.

Away from the court, I wish I could have taped some of the comments Rashad was making at our annual “Business of Basketball” meeting the other day. He studied business at North Carolina, but it sounded like he could have studied law with the insightful comments he was making.

I am excited to be doing the diary for a second season and look forward to giving some insight into this year’s team. If you have suggestions about what you want me to write, or to give me a grammar lesson, come let me know before a game at Target Center.

Thanks, Mark

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Glen Taylor, Player and Coach, Selfish, Mineapolis, NBA Timberwolves
I am personally quite disappointed. Every player, coach and front office staffer, up to owner Glen Taylor is very upset about the way this season has gone thus far. photo: shutterstock.com

As I write this the chances of us making the playoffs are pretty bleak. I can tell you that I am personally quite disappointed. Every player, coach and front office staffer, up to owner Glen Taylor is very upset about the way this season has gone thus far. Trying to put a finger on what exactly went wrong is hard to do. Unfortunately, we as players are responsible in the end for getting the job done on the court, and we didn’t. It cost a coach his job and it cost the fans and us a playoff appearance. I certainly can understand the frustration coming from our fans. So we are going to keep the hope alive, as we’re not out of it yet. The chances are slim, but we are going to fight and try to find a way to make it in. That’s what we’re still hoping for.

After our loss to Atlanta, Kevin McHale came in and really gave it to us. A coach has to be able to get on people at times, and we as players need to have thick skin and be responsive. Coach was upset that we weren’t passing the ball and we were playing selfish basketball. He told us two things about passing the ball and being unselfish that hit home. The first one came from the legendary University of Minnesota hockey coach Herb Brooks who told him, “Passes don’t come from the hands, they come from the heart.” Then he told us something his high school coach used to say, “If you have to think about passing the ball, then something is wrong.” He reminded us how we grew up playing the game—for fun and for pride in trying to kick someone’s tail every time you stepped onto the court. The thing about him is that he’s a basketball purist and when the effort and unselfishness isn’t there (on offense and defense) he’s very upset. I also think it legitimately hurts him to see the game played the wrong way. The truth is that everyone on the team can be unselfish and give great energy. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of that fact. I know we will bounce back in a decisive fashion.

Now that I can’t really work out as much, I have been doing a lot of walking around the lakes in Minneapolis and in the western suburbs. I am really trying to get out with friends and enjoy nature and take in the sun. Maybe get a little Vitamin D back into the system after a long winter. Minnesota is a great state, and particularly attractive if you enjoy the outdoors. Maybe this summer I will be lucky enough to get out on a boat and do some tubing. I have heard so many good things about Lake Minnetonka, maybe I will hang out there a little bit and soak up some rays and enjoy one of the 10,000 lakes.

Every once in a while when I’m walking around people will recognize me and say hello. They have all been very supportive. I had a few people come up during a recent walk and wish myself and the team the very best. They reached out on a personal note to ask me about my surgery and wish me well in the recovery process. They were hoping that I can recover on all levels and it was very much appreciated.

I am fortunate as part of this organization to be able to work with Dan Zeman, who is a local exercise physiologist. He used to work with Greg LeMond and has been talking to me about cardiovascular conditioning. When I combine his expertise and knowledge with that of Wolves’ strength coach Thomas McKinney, they offer up quite a source of knowledge. I hope to build on conditioning and hopefully be stronger when I return from my surgery. I look forward to writing again next week. Thanks, Mark.

Thanks, Mark

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Hand Surgery, NBA, Lakers, Two Sergeries, Anthony Carter
Talking about injuries and players Photo: shutterstock.com

As you know, I had hand surgery again last week. The process this time is they went in with a two- to three-inch incision into the topside of the right wrist. They found the ruptured ligament and re-attached it to the bone with a suture and some other constructive tissue in the area. I am going to get a briefing on the operation in the next few days, so I will have a better understanding of the procedure on a more technical level after that meeting.

Right now my arm is completely immobilized and it has been an adjustment being able to use just one hand. Tuesday was my first day back to practice and I went upstairs to the athletic club and tried to do some running, in addition to getting on the elliptical machine and the bike. I am just trying to stay in some kind of cardio fitness. The problem with athletes is that they eat so much because they are burning it off rapidly, but the minute you stop the activity, you can put on a quick 10-30 pounds. I am going to try to stay in the 250-pound range.

I really don’t have a timeline for getting back on the court at this point. The reason I say that is that I need to be able to do the everyday things, like take a normal shower, before I can worry about basketball things. After practice, the training staff took a big plastic bag and taped-off my arm before I got into the shower. It was a process and made me think how lucky I am when everything is normal with my health. I am hoping the 3-6 month range the doctor has told me for recovery will be more like two and a half to three months for me.

Prior to this season I had had two surgeries in my life. One as a freshman in high school, the other in the summer with the Lakers. To have two surgeries in one season leads to a little bit of frustration. You ask yourself, “Why is this happening to me.” I’ve come to the realization that I am going to look at this as a positive. I really believe that some very positive things will come of it. I can’t see completely what they are, but I know they are out there. I think that is the way you have to look at everything. Nobody has great things happening to them 100% of the time. We all have ups and downs in life. I am going to try to deal with this so-called “down” as a positive and a stepping-stone to something good.

I am still going to try to do everything I can to contribute to this team, just in a different way than before. You have to look at a guy like Anthony Carter, who played a ton while some guys were hurt, now he’s not on the floor as much. He’s calling out encouraging things and telling guys what he’s seeing from the bench. I am going to try to be very supportive and positive at the games. When guys are coming of the court, I’m going to be the first one at to high-five them. I’ll get people towels and Gatorade if I have to. My thing is a team is a team. Every member is very important. Even though I’ll be in street clothes, I’ll find some small way to contribute.

Thanks,

Mark

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NCAA Tournament, Mississippi State, Minnesota, March Madness, NBA,Coach Mike Montgomery, Shaquille O'Neal, Dallas Game, Dirk Nowitzki, Target Center
Talking About Games, Fans, Coach and Players. Photo: shutterstock.com

This last week was a tough one for me. The Stanford Cardinal, my alma mater, was bounced from the NCAA Tournament in the first round by Mississippi State. However, our women’s hoops team is still alive and is led by a Minnesota native, guard Susan King Borchardt. Susan attended Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, and married Curtis Borchardt, who was a teammate of mine at Stanford. Curtis now plays center for the Utah Jazz.

March Madness is a fun time for all of us in the NBA, because it gives us a chance to talk some trash to each other (for fun of course) about how everyone’s college team is doing and how far they go, or quickly they get bounced. We spend a lot of time together on buses and planes, so inevitably there is going to be plenty of opportunities for good-natured ribbing. And I certainly got my share last week when my squad went down.

In 1998, our Stanford team made it to the Final Four in San Antonio. When we left our hotel for the game, they made us sneak out of the kitchen because there were so many wild fans in the lobby. Coach Mike Montgomery put a password on the phones in the players’ rooms, so that only family and friends could call us. As a side note, many NBA players use aliases when they check into hotels so that people can’t reach them on the phone in their rooms. I use my own name because no crazy people ever try to get a hold of me. Shaquille O’Neal’s old alias was something like Henry

Perot (not using it anymore, so don’t try), but Phil Jackson always used his real name. Kevin Garnett’s alias is… well he probably doesn’t want me to share it, sorry.

At the Final Four we lost a semifinal game to Kentucky by one point in overtime. The only consolation was that they wound up winning the whole thing. When we got back to school it was like a circus. Someone had circulated a fake e-mail that our point guard, Arthur Lee, was going to leave early for the NBA and a lot of the fans on campus were going berserk, because they loved the way he played. Now that Stanford is out, I think I’m going to cheer for Washington. I love the way guard Nate Robinson plays and how fearless he is.

Last week in the Dallas game, I fouled Dirk Nowitzki and did something to my wrist. I took myself out of the game immediately, because I knew something was wrong. They took X-rays on the wrist at the arena during halftime and told me it was fine. They taped it up like a boxing glove and I finished the game. Injuries are part of basketball and this one is pretty severe because I can’t really catch or use my right hand very much at this point. On Monday, they injected my wrist with dye and then took an MRI to see exactly what happened. I am going to a hand specialist in the Twin Cities this week, so I’m hoping to see all of you at the Target center soon. I’ll talk to you next week.

— Mark Madsen

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Shaquille O'Neal, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Toyota Previa, Staples Center, Chevy Tahoe, Beverly Hills, Beverly Center, Rolax Store, California, Minnesota
In 2000, as a rookie on the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaq told me he wanted me to be at his contract extension press conference. Afterwards he said to me, "Are you ready to go shopping?" I was a little shocked, because I really didn't know what was going on.

After playing against Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat last week, a lot of old memories came to mind and I’ll share a few. Back in 2000, as a rookie on the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaq told me he wanted me to be at his contract extension press conference. Afterwards he said to me, “Are you ready to go shopping?” I was a little shocked, because I really didn’t know what was going on. When I arrived in L.A. a few months earlier, I came with the car that my parents gave me as a college graduation gift. The car was an old Toyota Previa and it even sported a nice little dent in the side that one of my older siblings left. One thing Shaq told me right at the start of training camp was, “You can’t be driving into the Staples Center in that thing.”

I went shopping with him and it was a pretty fun day. First he took me to a car dealership and marched right in to the CEO (whom he knew) and told him to give me a great deal on a Chevy Tahoe (that was the car I had mentioned I thought was nice). Then he offered to put a down payment down for me to lease the car. After that he drove us up to Beverly Hills and we went to a Big and Tall clothing store. I found a pair of jeans that fit and Shaq said to the store worker, “He’ll take eight of each color!” I said, “All I need is one of each color.” When Shaq kept piling on Italian sweaters, I told him I didn’t need all the stuff, but he told me it was a welcome gift and to relax while he paid the $2,500 bill.

Then we went to the Beverly Center (a big L.A. mall). First he took me to a trendy store that sold suits. He picked out a nice one and when I asked the store worker how it looked, the worker said it looked “really fly.” That was the first time I had ever heard the word fly in that context before. I took it to mean it looked good. The last stop was the Rolex store in the mall. Right before we walked in, we ran into our teammate J.R. Rider and his friend in the same mall. Shaq told J.R. to pick out a Rolex then he told me to pick one out as well. He then picked out about 20 more. The bill was about $75,000. The next day Shaq came in and gave a Rolex to each teammate, coach and staff member. He told the team thank you and that he wouldn’t be the player he was without their help. I still remember driving around L.A. that day with Shaq, everywhere he drove, people were honking at him and saying hi and stopping alongside to congratulate him.

I still remember when I drove my car out here from California. It was a little scary going from the state where I had lived my entire life and coming to a place where I hardly knew anyone. One of the stops I made along the way was Kearney, Nebraska, where my older sister and her husband and their kids live. The day I left for Minneapolis I woke up early and the thought that came into my mind was something like, “What have I gotten myself into?” After a year and a half of being here in Minneapolis I am so glad I made the decision to come to this awesome state. L.A. was a great three years, but coming to Minnesota has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ll talk to you next week.

— Mark Madsen

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Boston Game, Rotation, Latrell Sprewell, Ervin Johnson, Mike Montgomery, Golden State, NBA Head Coach, Minnesota
Talking about boston game, teammates, old college coach and economic lessons. Photo: shutterstock.com

The Boston game this past weekend was a great example of the need to “always stay ready.” Toward the end of the game the score got closer and closer and the rotation tightened up. Latrell Sprewell, who had started the game, sat on the bench for most of the fourth quarter. Sometimes when you sit too long you can get tight and your mind can start thinking any one of a million things if you let it. But Latrell stayed focused on the game and he was still involved by cheering his teammates on and staying positive throughout. Ervin Johnson always tells us, “You can’t control how much you’re going to play, but if the coach calls your name, be ready.” Spree was ready to go and he knocked in the game-winning shot.

It was good to see my old college coach, Mike Montgomery, last week when we played Golden State. We talked before the game for quite a while and he shared what he loved and the hard things about being an NBA head coach. Mike was one of the big reasons that I chose to attend Stanford over UCLA when I came out of high school. He’s a total family man and as a side note, his wife, Sarah, is from Minnesota. I remember early on in my conversations with coach, he talked about the goal to make it to the Final Four. Finally in 1998 with Arthur Lee and Jarron and Jason Collins, we made it to the Final Four before losing to the eventual champions Kentucky in overtime.

People ask me all the time how athletes at Stanford can go to class and compete in their sport. I studied Economics and there were some classes that were incredibly hard with an unbelievably tough grading curve, and of course some classes that were easier. The trick was to balance things so that you didn’t have more than two of those hard classes during the season.

One year I remember taking two finals on the road in St. Louis during the NCAA tournament. A teammate and I were so worried about this macroeconomics class that we studied on the plane, on the team bus, and pretty much everywhere else during that trip. We both studied so hard we almost got sick. I don’t think I’ve ever studied that hard before or after that class. Our professor arranged for the test to be administered in a conference room at our hotel.

One interesting thing I learned from that class is this: There was an economist named Malthus back in the day who said that the world couldn’t produce enough food for it’s growing population. He added that there would be food shortages and vast numbers of people would die from starvation and that the world’s population growth would stagnate. On one hand it makes sense–there’s a finite amount of land that can be farmed. In this macro class, we actually studied a mathematical model called the Solow Model that showed how the world has been able to grow enough crops to keep up with an exploding population rate. The variable that Malthus did not account for was technological/scientific advances in growing crops. Economists sometimes refer to technological advances as “manna from heaven” because such advances keep happening every year and crop production continues to expand and develop annually.

Well, I figured I’d get at least one economics lesson in too while I had the chance to write this diary. If I forgot anything on that explanation hopefully all the econ majors out there will write me and set me straight. I’ll talk to you next week!

— Mark Madsen

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Timberwolves, Mini Practice, NBA, Ervin Johnson, Fred Hoiberg, KG, Shaquille O'Neal, Perfect Shots
All Members on the Timberwolves Prepares in a Different Way. Photo: shutterstock.com

On a game day, everyone on the Timberwolves prepares in a different way. The team itself puts us through the same routine every time, however. We have a shootaround – a mini-practice – the morning of the game. There, our coaches and scouts tell us what the other team runs and the hand signals and calls for their plays. The team issues us a written scouting report, which if we don’t turn back in that night before the game carries a $100 fine. In the NBA everyone knows each other’s plays. But the crazy thing is that even when you know what’s coming, sometimes it’s still hard to stop. After our shootaround, the players go home and rest for the next few hours, in addition to eating a solid pregame meal. I think all the players try to sleep for a few hours. We may have arrived in town the night before at 2:00 a.m., or maybe we couldn’t sleep the previous night after being so wound up from a game. On our team, some players do things differently every game day and others do things exactly the same way. Here are a few examples.

Ervin Johnson — No matter if we have a home game or an away game, Ervin will lift weights before our shootaround. He doesn’t lift really heavy weights and won’t lift for more than a half hour, but he always does it. If we’re on the road, you know you can find Erv in the hotel gym; and if we’re at home, he’ll be in our workout complex that morning.

Fred Hoiberg — If it’s a road game, when we get to the other team’s arena for the game, Fred will always turn around from his seat on the bus (yes, we all sit in the same bus seat EVERY time) and say to me “Go ahead, Mad Dog.” I then get up and go in front of him and he gets off right behind me.

KG — KG is probably the one who has the most consistent pregame ritual. After shootaround, KG stays after and lifts weights and then shoots to maintain his shot for the game. If you watch KG in pregame warm-ups you can write down the shots he takes and the spots he takes them from. You can note when he dunks in our warm-up lines and when he does a reverse layup, or when he just does a routine finger roll. Write down what order he does it in too. It will be exactly the same every time.

When I played with Shaquille O’Neal, he seemed to do something different every time in warm-ups. Shaq used to laugh and play around a lot before the game, but once they threw the opening tip up, he zeroed in on putting the ball in the basket.

My game day ritual has very few constants. I always try to shoot a few extra shots in the shootaround and end with a few perfect shots in a row. I go home and make sure to eat a solid meal and try to sleep and then mentally think about what to do and where to go in the upcoming game. Once I get to the arena, I pretty much do something different every time. The one constant is that I try to talk to the fans that are there early on the sides of the tunnel leading to the court. I’ve been playing basketball for over twenty years and I’ve played in a lot of games, but I still get a little nervous before every game. Talking to the fans and my teammates helps me relax and stay loose for the game. I’ll talk to you next week!

— Mark Madsen

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Quentin Richardson, Three point shootout, Fred Hoiberg, Dan Zamen, Physiologist,
Talking about players and other people. Photo: shutterstock.com

It was fun to watch the All-Star festivities from Denver this past weekend. I’m happy for the Suns’ Quentin Richardson, who won the Three-Point Shootout, but I still think that Fred Hoiberg would have had a great showing had he been invited. Every year the criteria for being invited to the Shootout are different. This year, to be included, you needed to have made 100 three pointers by the deadline and have a good shooting percentage. Right now, Fred leads the NBA, knocking down 52-of-100 from beyond the arc. At 52% shooting, Fred’s next closest competitor is Dallas’ Jason Terry at 47%. What makes Fred’s shooting percentage all the more meaningful, is that a lot of his makes come in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line. I still think Freddy can win the Shootout and I hope he gets that chance in the coming years. I was able to complete a full practice on Tuesday for the first time since breaking my thumb. It was AWESOME to be able to work with my teammates again. The only hard thing is wearing a splint while I play to protect the bone. I think I’ll have to wear the protective brace for about two weeks and during that time I’ll just have to make some adjustments in the way that I play. On Tuesday when we arrived at practice our old friend Dan Zeman was there, and that means it was time to get our body fat tested. Zeman is an exercise physiologist and has worked with a number of local athletes. In the process, every player has to weigh himself and then Dan pinches our stomach, chest and thigh with a caliper to measure our body fat. We get tested three times a year. Dan has worked closely with cyclist Greg LeMond in the past. Greg’s success in the Tour de France is established and when Dan gives us tips on keeping fit and lean during the season, we pay close attention. We are taking off for the West Coast this week for a three-game trip that includes stops in Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland. After practice on Tuesday, Kevin McHale said, “Everyone needs to be on the plane by 3:45. If you’re not there in your seat at 3:45, the plane is taking off without you and if I’m not there, the plane is taking off too.” One time when I was playing for the Lakers one of my teammates was a few minutes late and they closed the doors and off we went. If you do miss the plane, you have to schedule your own flight and meet the team out in the city where you are playing. You do not want that to happen and have to face everyone later on. Well, right now we are gearing up for the “unofficial” second half of the season. We need to win a few games and make a little run to better position ourselves for the playoffs. We’ve won a couple of games in a row now and I really think we can build on it. I’ll talk to you next week! — Mark Madsen

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NBA, Business, Flip Saunders, Basketball, NBA Head Coach, Phil Jackson, National Basketball Players Association
Talking about Flip Saunders, Players and practices. Photo: shutterstock.com

If there’s one phrase about the NBA I never liked it’s this one: “It’s a business.” Unfortunately as players and coaches we know the phrase is true. We know that we can get traded, released or let go. This week the organization made a business move and relieved Flip Saunders of his coaching duties. I think that all of us players feel partially responsible and we’re very sorry to see Flip gone.

Flip coached me for a year and a half and during that time I learned a tremendous amount about the game of basketball. I reached Flip on his cell phone right after practice when they announced he wouldn’t be our coach and we had a good talk. He said he was going to find the positive in the situation and enjoy spending time with his wife and kids. Believe me, there are only a few people out there that have what it takes to be an NBA head coach. You have to know how to handle and communicate with today’s athlete, which is no small task. You must know the X’s and O’s and be resilient. Flip has all of those qualities and he is passionate about the game. I’m looking forward to the next time I see Flip so that I can thank him in person for a great two years.

Every coach is different. I still remember my rookie year in the NBA with Los Angeles losing our home opener. After we all got to the locker room, Phil Jackson walked in and said, “The dogs bark and the caravan moves on… practice at 10:00 tomorrow.” Then everyone just got up and wrapped ice on their knees and stepped into the shower.

Kevin McHale will coach us from now on. Mac (as everyone calls him) will be different than Phil and Flip. I think as far as the offense goes, Mac is going to run a lot of the old Boston Celtics’ sets which rely on setting hard picks, making crisp passes and throwing the occasional “dribble weave” into the mix. The “dribble weave” is where a post player dribbles the ball toward a guard, hands it to him and then knocks the living daylight of the guard’s defender with a screen. Prior to being named head coach, Mac always worked out with players after practice and taught us post moves. I think the transition should be smooth.

All-Star Weekend is here already and Ervin Johnson (player representative) and Kevin Garnett will be going to Denver in different capacities. Erv will go to Denver to help out with negotiations between the owners and the National Basketball Players Association, while KG will be appearing in his eighth All-Star game. Hopefully the owners and players representatives can make progress in working toward a new collective bargaining agreement to avoid what hockey is going through right now. Erv is someone who is always involved in helping others. He loves to do things in a quiet way to help out folks and he’d probably hit me with a forearm to the chest if I told any of the things he’s done (just kidding). Let me share just one thing: Erv rounded up donations from our locker room and from players on other teams, in addition to digging in his own pocket, to help pay for the NBA chaplains from each team to attend All-Star Weekend in Colorado.

Hopefully you are enjoying this journal. If you have any questions you want me to answer, you can send them to me on my website: www.madsen35.com. Have a great week!

— Mark Madsen

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Timberwolves basketball clinic, Minneapolis, NBA, Timberwolves
Talking about injury treatment, Life in NBA, Italian restaurant. Photo: shutterstock.com

On Thursday my hand doctor decided it was time to pull the pins out of my wrist. I have to describe the process to you, so skip this paragraph if you are squeamish. They took a pair of sterilized pliers and grabbed the end of the metal (which was sticking out of my wrist) and pulled the two pins out, one by one. They were both about two inches long. It felt great to get rid of the hunks of metal sticking out of my hand. The bonus is now I won’t beep if I go through a metal detector at the airport. More importantly, I think I’m probably about two weeks away from returning to action on the court, so I’m excited to renew practicing with my teammates.

Thursday was a big day, as I helped out at a Timberwolves’ basketball clinic at Jefferson Elementary School in Minneapolis. The team’s community relations department sets up a number of events around town and we can help out if it fits into our schedules. Everyone on the team likes to do different things in the community. I especially liked this clinic because at the end, the principal asked me to answer some questions in Spanish from the largely Latino group of students that were gathered for the clinic. I learned Spanish while on a church mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints in Spain from 1994-1996. Doing a clinic like this helps me to keep my language skills polished. It’s been a huge privilege to be involved with basketball over the years and so if I can share some fun drills or stories with kids, I feel like it’s a small way to give back to the game and to the community.

People ask me all the time about life on the road in the NBA. The Timberwolves always put us up in very nice hotels and each of us has his own room with one king size bed. Even though the beds are pretty big, sometimes my legs dangle over the end, or I’ll have to lie diagonally. The only time I have a real problem is when there’s an end board and I can’t stretch out all the way (Imagine what it must be like for KG, Candyman and Erv). If we are on the tail end of a back-to-back and get into a city late, sometimes instead of going over to the arena the next morning for a shoot-around we will have a team breakfast. At those breakfasts, I always know what Wally Szczerbiak is going to eat. He will take a bagel and cut it in half, then hollow out the extra bread on the inside and fill it up with egg whites and a tiny bit of cheese. Then he’ll have one package of instant oatmeal. I keep telling him that I’ll need to follow exactly what he eats because our body fat test is coming up. A big fitness magazine recently put Wally on the cover of it because he has such a great nutrition and workout regimen. I believe Wally, KG and Spree have the lowest body fat percentages on the team. I think they’re all around five percent. We get tested three times during the season.

Last week I went to lunch at an Italian restaurant in the Minneapolis skyway. I must admit that it was probably my first time going through the skyway system during the lunch hour and I couldn’t believe how many people were up there! It felt like NYC! I usually eat at Biagi’s in Eden Prairie and I always call ahead and pick up the food there and then bring it home to eat. My usual is spaghetti and two grilled chicken pieces.

Well, we’ve been losing lately, but sometimes when things look bleak it means there’s sunshine right around the corner. I always remember what Tex Winter used to say. “Everything can turn on a trifle.”

Thanks for reading this journal and I hope to have some more inside information for you next week.

— Mark Madsen