Tags Posts tagged with "Minnesota"

Minnesota

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Mark Madsen took new job
I just took a new job! Photo: shutterstock
I just signed a one year contract to be an assistant coach with the Utah Flash, located in Orem Utah…..and I’m excited to start coaching! One week ago I went to a Timberwolves game and it was surreal to be up in the stands watching my old teammates and friends, Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, Gomes, Cardinal and the entire crew! I had the chance to go to NBA training camp and a firm offer in Greece, but the NBA opportunity was a long shot to make the team, and as much as I would love to go to Greece, the timing wasn’t quite right.

I thought to myself: “Well, i can wait, stay in shape, and hope for a great NBA opportunity with a team where a big guy gets hurt, or I can jump on this opportunity.” Ultimately it was an easy decision because I’ve always thought that I would like to coach, and you never really know when NBA playing opportunities come. I also just kind of thought it would be too boring to workout on my own while waiting for the right NBA opportunity which might come and might not.

Then when I spoke to Brad Jones, head coach of the Utah Flash and he shared with me his philosophy and some of the responsibilities he would entrust me with, it seemed like a great fit. (Brad Jones is also the nephew of utah Jazz head coach, Jerry Sloan). And then on top of it, The Flash owner Brandt Andersen reminds me a little bit of Glen Taylor (Timberwolves owner) in his commitment and passion for the game. In fact, I had heard about the Michael Jordan vs. Bryon Russell challenge, and then I realized it was Brandt Andersen who came up with the idea.

Even though I am a native Californian, I do have some family ties in Utah and in the Provo/Orem area. So ultimately I do feel it will be a nice fit. I’m grateful to Brandt Andersen and Coach Brad Jones for the opportunity and promise to work very hard and try to make the team better. I will be keeping my home in Minnesota and look forward to getting back out to Eden Prairie this summer to enjoy all of what Minnesota has to offer. Thanks for all of the positive feedback on Twitter and FB and I hope to see some of you at some Utah Flash games this season!!

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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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Mike Montgomery, Coach, Indiana basketball job, Minnesota, Stanford
Mike Montgomery is excellent candidate for the Indiana basketball job. Photo: Gajus

If there is a coach out there who would be an excellent candidate for the Indiana basketball job, it would be Mike Montgomery. Having played for “Monty” as everyone calls him, I can tell you that his knowledge of the game is vast and he knows how to run a team. When I was at Stanford, he kind of just put everyone in a position where they were going to be able to be as successful as possible. I haven’t talked to him yet about this vacancy and maybe he’ll get mad at me for putting his name out there like this, but even Dick Vitale was talking about it tonight on TV too. Monty’s wife actually has family ties in the Midwest (Minnesota) and with both of his kids grown and out of college, it might be a good fit for everyone.

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Kevin Garnett, KG, Celtics Organization, Minnesota
Kevin Maurice Garnett is an American professional basketball power forward and center with the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Photo: Mike Liu
That is the big question that all of the fans and media are asking me constantly. Today a trusted media member told me that KG had been planning on coming, but that now it was “a decision that would be made by the Celtics Organization” and not by Kevin Garnett. I wouldn’t even waste Kevin’s time by calling him to find out if he’s coming or not. Kev loves Minnesota. If he can be here, he probably will, if he can’t make it due to his team telling him to stay home and rehab he won’t make it. That’s just the way it goes for NBA players as ulitmately it’s Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge’s decision.

But regardless we are read for this game. We felt we played great in Boston earlier in the season and gave ourselves a chance to win on the road. Our practice today was high energy and intense. Theo Ratliff got some live repetitions today in practice too, so that was great news.

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Minnesota, Win, Rashad McCants, Al Jefferson, Turkey , training camp
We win our first game in front of our home fans in Minnesota. Photo: Brocreative
We finally won our first game and it happened to come in front of our home fans in Minnesota. We had a lot of guys step up in the win. Rashad McCants had 30 points, Al Jefferson had his normal dominant performance and Antoine Walker had a huge game in crunch time to put us over the top. Marko Jaric made a ton of hussle plays. I wanted to talk a little bit about the game.

We were in Turkey for training camp which was going long and hard. Late in one practice session, Rashad McCants stole the ball and then took off down court for a dunk. All of a sudden, he stopped dribbling and staggered off the court in obvious pain. He strained his hamstring and then was on the injured list for a few days. Even earlier this season, he tweaked his ankle and had to sit out. I watched Rashad work tirelessly in the training room to get healthy to come back ASAP to help the team. Rashad is mentally tough and has a huge heart and he showed that once again tonight. Rashad is a team player first whose intelligence about the game reminds me of my old Lakers teammate Robert Horry.

In all my years of playing basketball you’re always taught not to go for pump fakes of opposing players. Especially when an opponent is trying to post you up, you never want to jump in the air to block the shot. It just puts you too much at risk for a foul. I’ve only been on the same team with Al Jefferson for two months, but I have never seen a post player get so many of his defenders up in the air and then just drive past them. Each game, I know it’s going to happen that he gets his post defender jumping in the air like a pogo-stick. The other day in practice I told Al, that I’ve never seen a player get so many defenders to go for his fake as does. Al told me that he learned his fake from Paul Pierce and their years together in Boston. Tonight was no different as Al got people in the air and utilized his signature, go-to move of the soft jump hook that seemed to be unstoppable.

Another old Celtic really stole the show in tonight’s game. We got Antoine Walker in a trade from the Heat and he was huge for us. I’ve enjoyed practicing with and against Antoine in practice every day. Antoine Walker is a three time all-star in the NBA and he gives so much energy and attention in practice every day that it’s kind of revitalizing to everyone on the team. I knew Antoine Walker the three point shooter, rebounder, great post up player and ball-handler, but the Antoine Walker I didn’t know is the player who knows every defensive rotation like the back of his hand. In the fourth quarter tonight Antoine floated a difficult 10 foot floater over the Sacramento defense that brought the crowd to their feet in the Target Center. When he came to the bench a fan yelled out, “Antoine, let’s see the shimmie!” I looked over and I saw Antoine smile and then just chill. I think he’s saving the shimmie for bigger and better things for the Timberwolves this season. Having a true veteran like Antoine on our team helps everyone from 1 to 15.

For a little more background on Antoine, (and the origin of the shimmie), you can go to his official website at

Well, that’s all here. I should receive the medical clearance soon to play. When I get it, I hope to earn my way back onto the court to help my team in any way possible.

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Goodbye, Kevin Garnett, Traded to the Boston Celtics, Minnesota
Kevin Maurice Garnett is an American professional basketball power forward and center with the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Photo: shutterstock.com
Today I got the unimaginable news that Kevin Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics. Being out here in Minnesota and hearing this news was interesting because it is the most talked about thing in almost every circle in which I move. Friends from out of state are emailing me about it. A non-sports radio station “wished Kevin safe travels to Boston” tonight at 10pm while I was driving home.

Here are a few memories of the Kevin Garnett that I know. This is the side that the public doesn’t see every day.

One Cardinal rule in our locker room is this: Never wear gear from another NBA team. So when our new assistant trainer from Oklahoma had a Dallas Mavericks screensaver on his cellphone, Kevin Garnett found it and enforced the penalty. When I say penalty, Kevin made him sprint two hundred yards from our team bus to a pickup truck parked in the distance and then yell out “I love the Timberwolves!” three times.

When Craig Smith came into practice wearing some Golden State Warriors practice shorts, Kevin brought out the entire team and had Craig go to center court and hold up the shorts and say “I will never wear these shorts again,” while he held the shorts up and walked around three times. Everyone was laughing. Craig was laughing too. KG loves Craig on and off the court. I’ve never seen a rookie big man like Craig come in and win over the trust and confidence of Kevin so quickly.

Our offense calls for two “big men” to be on the court at the same time and it takes quite a while to learn all of the defensive rotations. Kevin Garnett expects nothing short of perfection on defense. Mark Blount is one of the smartest veteran centers in the NBA and he and Kevin read each other all the time. Where I have been impressed with Craig is that he’s beyond his years on defense. On offense, he’s been tearing up the other team’s interior and scoring in bunches. But in some ways he’s been even better on defense.

But getting back to the theme of this blog. I never thought Kevin Garnett would be apprehended by our own locker room fashion police. But it did happen a few months ago. It all started after practice one day when a few of us got into the locker room to shower and get ready to go home. KG was still down in the weight room lifting weights. Rashad McCants went over to Kevin’s locker and pulled out his shoes and put them out for everyone to see. “What the heck are these?” Rashad said as he pointed to Kevin’s shoes. As everyone looked down to Kevin’s locker we were shocked to see that his shoes had the words “Portland Trailblazers” alongside the Trailblazers logo! All of this was of course in Trailblazer red and black colors!

I’ve never seen so many guys so excited to bust Kevin’s chops. When Kevin finally got up to the locker room he walked in and saw his shoes out for everyone to see. Kevin busted out smiling and yelled out, “Who was in my locker! I don’t know who was in my locker!” Rashad stood up and called out, “I peeped it out when you walked in here this morning!” Trenton Hassell was having a field day. “Throw those shoes in the trash” he yelled out. It was my job to take the shoes and stomp on them and then take them to the garbage can. Kevin was laughing so hard. I guess Adidas had sent out a bunch of walking shoes to Kevin and the shoes all had logos of different NBA teams.

Kevin told us how he had gotten up that morning and tried on the Portland shoes and that they had looked good. So he asked his wife “What do you think? Can I wear these in to practice?”

“Well Kevin, I don’t think so. I mean, the Trailblazers are in your conference and you play against them, right?….” she said.

Kevin decided to wear the shoes in anyway and explained how he “had pushed his jeans down over the Trailblazers logo and walked into the locker room really quickly.” He even showed us how he had pushed his shoes way to the back of his locker area under his chair so that none of us would see the shoes. Well, nothing gets past Rashad fashion wise. We had a good laugh that day. But the story didn’t end there. Trenton Hassell called out:

“Man I’m going to use those shoes…..I’m getting them out of the garbage can. I’ve got my guy in Chattangooga Tennesse and he’s 6’10” and wears size fourteen too!”

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Back to a serious note. Kevin Garnett is one of the mot loyal individuals I have ever met in my life. We’re all gong to miss him and we all wish him well.

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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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Gerald Green, near Mall of America, Antoine Walker, Vescio's Cucina, Italian restaurants, Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, abdominal muscle injury
Gerald Green is an American professional basketball player. Photo: Pavel Shchegolev
It’s always nice to have a team bonding event during the middle of a long season. The most recent one took place at Gerald Green’s apartment near the Mall of America. Gerald hosted the team, and Antoine Walker had some great food catered in from one of the best Italian restaurants in the twin cities, Vescio’s Cucina. I guess it was technically a super bowl party but it was also just a time to bond, relax, and hang out.

This friday we have the Boston Celtics coming into town for one of our biggest games of the year. All the fans here in Minnesota keep on asking “Is Kevin Garnett going to play?” or “If he doesn’t play, will he be here at the Target Center?” I think the issue right now is that KG has an abdominal muscle injury and all of the above questions are up in the air. When the average fan hears about an abdominal strain it really doesn’t sound that bad. But for those of us that have had the injury (I had one in 2001-2002) it is extremely painful and must be treated or it gets worse and worse to the point you can’t run at all.

I suspect that KG’s strain will get better soon and he will be back as soon as humanly possible. In my 3 years with Kevin Garnett, I basically only saw him miss one practice due to health–it was food poisoning. So you know it’s serious when Kevin sits out. The guy just never gets hurt and when he is hurt he just plays through it. Unfortunately this is one injury where rest is absolutely mandatory.

As far as this season goes, we are finally starting to play well. Al Jefferson continues to blossom and in my mind he has the best jump hook in the NBA. But most importantly we are all growing as a team. Fans are continuing to come out and support us and our crowds have been great. Hopefully I will see you at our game this Friday night!

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old leather ball, Phone Call, Kevin Garnett, Michael Curry, Michael Curry, Minnesota, NBA Players
I got the phone call I have been waiting for all season long this morning!! about old leather ball Photo: shutterstock.com
I got the phone call I have been waiting for all season long this morning!! Michael Curry of the N.B.A. administrative offices called me on my way to practice and told me that the old leather ball is coming back…..THIS SEASON!! He asked me to go into the locker room and find out how long it would take the guys to adjust back to the leather ball. Troy Hudson said it would take him “one practice” to re-adjust to the leather ball. Kevin Garnett said, “Let me practice with it (The old leather) three or four days and I’ll be ready to go again.” I can’t tell you how happy the guys on the team were! It was a great day.

The additional good news is that the NBA is going to form a committee including a wide range of NBA players getting a cross-section of superstars and role players to be part of any ball decisions in the future. I think what the league is saying is that if we do away with the leather ball down the road, let’s work together to find a solution that works for everyone. Michael asked me to approach Kevin Garnett to see if he would like to play a major role on the committee. When I told KG about it, he was excited and regardless of whether or not he is able to make every meeting, I think he is going to be giving a lot of input on the ball situation in the future whether he chooses to do it formally or informally.

Lastly, I’m waiting for the A.I. situation to be resolved. This morning in our locker room, we were all kind of aware that if the longshot odds come true and A.I. comes to Minnesota then some of us might be packing our bags.

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Sam Cassell, Clippers, Dwayne Wade, Fred Hoiberg, Kevin Garnett, Minnesota, Randy Foye
Sam Cassell is anAmerican professional basketball player. He one of the best players this game has ever seen. Photo: shutterstock.com
In warmups before the game Sammy told me I needed a haircut. I told him I would get him a bottle of Rogaine for his bald head. We both had a good laugh out of it. Sam Cassell is one of my all-time favorite teammates. At halftime of tonight’s game against the Clippers, he walked by Trenton Hassell and I, grinned and said, “I’m hot fellas.” As if his 20 first half points wasn’t evidence enough. Sam Cassell almost put the Clippers on his back and beat us at the Target Center last night. Luckily for us, Randy Foye rose to the ocasion and saved us in the fourth quarter.

I wanted to talk about Sam for a second though because not only is he one of the best players this game has ever seen, but he rubs off on his teammates. From a basketball standpoint, Sam has the ability to raise his teammates’ scoring averages by big jumps. He just makes everyone around him better. When Sam was here in Minnesota, Fred Hoiberg had a great year, Sprewell was at the top of his game and Kevin Garnett was the MVP of the entire NBA. It was almost like our entire team all had career years. Now he is doing the same thing with the Clippers. Sam has such a huge personality, I think the fans loved watching Sam interact with the refs almost as much as watching the game. When we lost Sam we lost not only a great floor leader but we lost a good friend.

I was sad to see him go. I’m not sure Sam could have done anything more to help the Clippers win tonight. But despite his 31 point night, we got a huge lift from an up and coming future star in Randy Foye.

Randy has been patiently awaiting his opportunity to perform in the clutch. Tonight we caught a glimpse of a player who can shoulder some of the load that Kevin Garnett takes on a nightly basis. Randy is built like a tank and his much stronger than most guards in the NBA but is still quicker than most guards too. Randy reminds me of a lot of what I see in Chauncy Billups and Dwayne Wade. Tonight Randy stepped out and hit threes, finished shots around the basket and he came up with some huge rebounds. Randy scored 15 points in the fourth quarter alone!!! The thing that makes Randy the most unusual for a rookie though is his calmness and his level of poise in a big game like tonight’s. Composure is one thing that coaches can’t teach and Randy Foye has it in spades.