Tags Posts tagged with "Houston Rockets"

Houston Rockets

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Ron Artest, Best Defender, Freindship, NBA, Madison Square Garden, Minnesota
Ron Artest is an American professional basketball player of the National Basketball Association. Photo: shutterstock.com
Ron Artest is known around the NBA as one of the best, if not the very best defender in the entire NBA. He recently emerged as one of the Houston Rockets go to guys (along with Yao Ming) and is helping them to a great record in the past few weeks. We’ve played them at home twice now and after our first game when I bumped into Ron, one of the first things he said to me was “How’s Corey Brewer doing?” Corey had just suffered a season ending injury and Ron wanted me to pass along to Corey that he hoped Corey’s recovery went well.

Then two nights ago in Minnesota some friends of mine came to the game and wanted to the chance to meet Artest and take some pictures with him. (and Yao Ming of course also). While Ron was shaking hands and meeting my friends his main focus at first was asking me how Al Jefferson was holding up after Al’s own season ending knee injury.

To me it just kind of shows what’s inside of Ron. On both ocasions, the first thoughts Ron is having are about other people and what they are going through. And it makes it all the more unique given that Ron is one of the most intense, tough and respected players throughout the NBA. I first played againt Ron Artest in college in 1999 in New York City in a tournament at Madison Square Garden. A year or two later, Artest had an injury and my older brother who was doing his orthopedic surgery residency in New York City was one of the doctors that initially met with him. All my brother could say was how cool of a guy Ron was. Over the years, we’ve developed a friendship through the bustle of the seasons. I guess I just hope that fans can get to know Artest for the community service he does and for his very real and down to earth self that he is.

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On a sidenote, we lost to the warriors tonight at home. It probably wasn’t our best game, but aftewards I was talking with some fans who had come out and one of them said, “This is the best ticket in town.” Our owner just lowered season ticket prices for next season and now there are actually $5 dollar tickets at the Target Center in some sections! Another fan said to me, “We just renewed our season tickets for next season tonight!” It made me happy that even though some of our best players are injured, the fans appreciate the hard work and intensity that our team is showing. I guess that’s one thing that the Timberwolves can offer every single night: 100% Intensity and Effort!

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Coach Casey, Locker Room, Day off, mentally refreshed, Mark Blount, KG, Houston, Charlie Ward, Houston Rockets
Coach Casey came into the locker room and said something like, "OK guys we're going to practice tommorrow.". He was joking but made a good point because we've been together so much as a team lately I think he wanted all of us to rejuvenate a little bit and come back on Tuesday mentally refreshed. Photo: shutterstock.com

Sunday, Coach Casey came into the locker room and said something like, “OK guys we’re going to practice tommorrow.” The locker room went silent….most of the guys were hoping for a day off given how well we’ve been playing as well as how busy our schedule has been. Then he smiled and said “Just kidding….take tommorrow off and stay away from each other!” He was joking but made a good point because we’ve been together so much as a team lately I think he wanted all of us to rejuvenate a little bit and come back on Tuesday mentally refreshed.

Lately, our team has been playing very well. Mark Blount is having an all-star like season this year and has been shooting incredible percentages from the field. Now our opposing teams have to decide how to cope with our frontcourt of KG and Mark Blount along with trying to slow down our perimeter players who are also playing great.

After the Houston game I saw Charlie Ward in the “family and friends” section of the Target Center. Charlie Ward is now Coach Charlie Ward as he is one of Jeff Van Gundy’s top assistant coaches for the . I keep telling charlie that he should still be playing in the NBA as good as a player as he was.

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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