Tags Posts tagged with "Latrell Sprewell"

Latrell Sprewell

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Minnesota Timberwolves, Thank you
The fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves a heart felt thank you for all of the support and enthusiasm for the team over the past few years. Photo: shutterstock
I wanted to take a minute to tell the fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves a heart felt thank you for all of the support and enthusiasm for the team over the past few years. Even though the past couple of years had been tough from a wins and losses perspective, when I will think of my time in Minneapolis, I will always think about that 2004 team that almost made it to the NBA Finals. At that time, Kevin Garnett was the MVP of the entire league, Sam Cassell was an All-Star and Latrell Sprewell was one of our emotional leaders. I remember during the playoff run that year how driving to and from games was absolutely crazy with part of downtown shut down so that cars could get through. This was all possible because of you, the fans and your amazing support.

From a different standpoint, Minneapolis has come to feel like an absolute second home for me personally. Having grown up in Northern California, I never really knew much about Minnesota until Kevin McHale and Glen Taylor signed me to play for the Timberwolves. Needless to say, the past several years have been some of the best years of my life and I am grateful for the opportunity, the support from the community and the fact that you truly made me feel at home in new place. Thank you for your friendship and for the giving me the chance to play for the team. When friends from out of town came to visit Minnesota I would always take them to the stone arch bridge downtown, the state Capital, or the Mill City Museum. Exploring new parts of the Twin Cities became one of my passions while I was there.

After I learned of my trade to the LA Clippers, David Kahn left me a voicemail and it was great. To you, the fans, David Kahn is going to do a great job as the General Manager. He is going to tirelessly do everything in his power to return the team to the same form of that special 2004 season. And to Glen Taylor, I express my thanks for allowing me to contribute to a great team. I’m sure that you will get the team back to the high expectations that you and the community have for the team. It has been an honor to play for the team over the past number of years and to be part of your organization.

But above all, I want to thank you the fans. I wish all of you the best and I hope that I will see you down the road and perhaps at a Timberwolves vs. LA Clippers game in the future!

Sincerely,
Mark Madsen

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Best Defenders, Bulls, Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Latrell Sprewell, Los Angeles, NBA
Talking about game and Players (Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest) Photo: shutterstock.com
This years NBA playoffs has been amazing. First we had the Bulls vs. Celtics series with who knows how many overtimes and now we get to watch one of the best players in the history of the NBA in Kobe Bryant go against one of the best defenders this league has ever seen: Ron Artest. And of course there are times when emotions are going to flare like they did last night.

Here is the Youtube video.

The one thing about both of these players is that neither one is going to back down. Having played with Kobe Bryant for three years in Los Angeles, I have to say that Kobe just does not back down or withdraw from challenges. And Kobe has to deal with the best defender on every team he faces. Not only that, but if you’re that “best defender” on a team getting ready to guard kobe, you’re going to be getting extra rest, extra conditioning and watching all kinds of videotape on Kobe Bryant in preparation–Kobe will probably still get 30-40 points. But when it comes to toughness not too many guys surpass Kobe.

I’ve never played on the same team as Ron Artest, but I’ve played against him dating all the way back to college. Of all the guys I’ve played with or against, there were always two people who stood out as aggressive defenders who guys around the league don’t want to mess with. Both Latrell Sprewell and Ron Artest are guys who you absolutely want to go to battle with. They are known as great players around the league, but everybody also knows not to cross the line with either one.

This is just a great matchup. Ron Artest is 6’8″ and 250 and Kobe is 6’7″ and maybe 220 or 230, and they can each play finesse basketball or scrappy basketball. If you can’t watch the next game live, be sure to get out your TIVO!

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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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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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West Coast Trip, Seattle, Portland, L.a., NBA Season, Basketball Trip
Talking about Trip, Wins, Place, Teammates and Players. Photo: shutterstock.com

We needed a couple of wins on our West Coast trip and we got them over the weekend in Seattle and Portland. We felt like we should have gone 3-0 out there, but we had a tough loss in Los Angeles. It’s been a little frustrating in some ways this year, in that we have dropped some games that we were right there in the fourth quarter. Some games we just couldn’t put our opponent away, or others we couldn’t climb all the way back from a deficit.

So it was nice to put together a couple of wins against division rivals on their home floors. We feel that we are capable of not only competing in the Western Conference, but also winning a championship this season. I believe that we have the pieces to do it; it’s just about stringing some wins together and getting a little confidence and momentum going our way.

I’m sure many of you heard or read about our travel troubles on this last trip, but we don’t want to make excuses for not picking up a W in Southern California. We were supposed to fly to Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon of last week, but due to mechanical difficulties with our charter plane, the flight got pushed back until that evening and then eventually to the next day. We did not leave Minnesota until mid-morning on the day of the game versus the Lakers. We arrived in Los Angeles in the early afternoon, only hours before the tip-off. I know many of you fly for business all the time, so I am not going to complain about the way we travel. However, getting off a cross-country flight and playing is not ideal.

After the game against the Lakers we were in the air for about 10 minutes when the pilot came over the loudspeakers and announced that they could not retract the landing gear. He said that it was unstable and that we were heading back to Los Angeles to figure it out. After circling the airport for 90 minutes or so, they decided to do a fly-by past the control tower. I guess the folks in the tower got out their binoculars as we buzzed by at 300 feet to see if the gear was set for a landing. The flight attendants said to prepare for the worst, so obviously there was a little concern on everyone’s face. Needless to say we were all buckled in pretty tight as we came in for a safe landing back where we started.

Normally a flight is the time when we as players can kind of sit back, relax and unwind. In the players’ section you can normally find a group of guys playing dominoes or cards. Last year there were a few guys that were really into chess. Latrell Sprewell is a great player and Gary Trent was just phenomenal as well. Jerry Sichting represents the coaching staff, as he dabbles in the game a little. There are a lot of guys that just want to unwind by watching a DVD. Recently, Fred Hoiberg and Wally Szczerbiak had not seen the movie Napoleon Dynamite, so I brought it along. They both gave their critique of it. I will say one liked it way more than the other, but I won’t reveal the bigger fan. There are a few guys that like to play computer games against each other. The thing that I enjoy most is when we get in a cabin-wide discussion of a variety of topics, or when KG, Erv Johnson or Sam Cassell tell stories about different guys they have played against during their careers.

One of the memorable events from this last trip was that KG had food catered on the plane from an upscale restaurant. We got to have steak and chicken and all the good things that go with them. While KG’s gesture was very generous, it is even more so when he is the one who is serving the food to everyone. He doesn’t get his own plate until everyone else has eaten and is situated and comfortable for the flight. The thing that really stands out is the way Kevin treats people. On every team or in every organization there is a hierarchy of players or workers and usually everyone knows where they stand. In our hierarchy, KG is definitely the top dog. He demands the best from everyone in our locker room, but he is also outstanding at communicating with everyone on the team and he really just wants to see us all succeed. I truly believe that he is one of the best leaders in professional sports.

I look forward to writing this diary every week and will do my best to give you readers an inside glimpse into an NBA season. Until next week take care.

— Mark Madsen