Tags Posts tagged with "Houston"


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Trades, Espn.com, Justin Reed, Mike James, Kevin Garnett, Minnesota, Juwan Howard, Houston, Rochester Athletic Club
Last week I lost one two teammates and I gained one. Justin Reed and Mike James were being traded to Houston for Juwan Howard. Photo: alexmillos
Last week I lost one two teammates and I gained one. As I scrolled through ESPN.com last week, I saw the breaking news that Justin Reed and Mike James were being traded to Houston for Juwan Howard. I guess this is the really hard part of the business of NBA basketball. When you go to battle with the same guys every day you get close to them. I’m going to miss Mike and Justin. Clearly, Houston loves Mike James and almost signed him last summer. I think that Justin Reed is only really lacking the right opportunity. It seems like he played really well here for us, especially when he got extended minutes.

Today, I was in Rochester Minnesota giving a “Life in the NBA” talk at Rochester Athletic Club. I can’t remember how many times people asked me if Kevin Garnett was going to get traded, but it was a lot. I really think that there is not going to be any trades involving Kevin Garnett. I sure hope not. I know for a fact that Kevin loves Minnesota and he likes the guys in the locker room. But I’m also aware the realities of professional sports and that from a business standpoint, anything can happen to anyone. The thing about Kevin is that he makes everyone around him better. Three years ago, Sam Cassell had an all-star season, Sprewell had a great year and many other guys on our roster had career years. When you have someone like Kevin Garnett on your team, everyone is going to benefit.

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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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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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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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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.