Tags Posts tagged with "NBA"

NBA

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Lebron James is said by many to be the best player in the game of basketball. -Photo by: Domenic Gareri / Shutterstock.com

I was in the Stanford Basketball office last week and Brian Eskildsen, (our director of scouting and head video coordinator) was talking about a recent quote about LeBron James and his market value as a professional athlete. I looked up the ESPN article and here is an excerpt.

“What I do on the floor shows my value. At the end of the day, I don’t think my value on the floor can really be compensated for, anyways, because of the (collective bargaining agreement),….If you want the truth. If this was baseball, it’d be up, I mean way up there.”

The article went on to discuss that LeBron James has never had a “max contract”  in his entire professional basketball playing career.

I am absolutely astounded that LeBron James has never had a max deal.  It shows an incredible amount of unselfishness and commitment to the team.  Can you imagine the Miami Heat without Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, and so many other great players on the team?  This is all made possible by the fact that LeBron James was willing to accept less money in order for the team to be able to bring in excellent role players.

What’s even more interesting is the current collective bargaining agreement.  First of all, let’s be honest, fans go to NBA games to see the superstars.  People who are excited about basketball go to games to see LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and people like Shaq, Barley, etc.  But the current collective bargaining agreement lowered relative salary on the superstars while raising or keeping the salaries on the role players roughly the same.  The NBA is a great league and it was a dream come true to play in the NBA.  But I do agree with LeBron in the sense that if the collective bargaining agreement mirrored the baseball model, his salary would be at least double his current level.  Just some food for thought as I warm my computer back up and try to become a more regular blogger in the future!

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I think that we all knew it was a matter of time before Jeremy Lin had a bad game.  Why do I say that?…..because even players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Kobe have bad games from time to time.  Jeremy Lin has dominated the NBA for the past 10 games, and he was bound to have an off night.  Now the question remains as to how he will bounce back.  I’m betting that Lin will come back in a powerful way and get back to the form he’s shown over the past month.

What will the defenses do now?  One thing that we saw in the Miami game is that Jeremy had problems against Mario Chalmers.  Well, guess what?  A lot of NBA point guards have a tough time against Chalmers.  Mario Chalmers is one of the best on ball defenders in the NBA and it was a learning experience for Lin to go against not only Chalmers, but also Lebron and Dwayne Wade.

Nevertheless, look for NBA defenders to try to apply immense on ball defense against Lin to see how he responds.  One thing Lin can do to counteract this is to use his body more as he brings the ball up.  Towards the end of Sam Cassel’s career, Sam would literally bring the ball up the court by dribbling up the court and shoving his backside into the face of his defender.  With Jeremy Lin being as physically strong as he his, this is something that Lin can do as well.  Some coaches call this, “putting the defender on your hip.”

Hey, we knew it would happen.  I’m predicting that Lin is going to bounce back in a majorly positive way.

But ultimately it is a huge compliment to Jeremy Lin that defenses are so keyed in on stopping him.

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Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin's rise to prominence at NYC's Madison Square Garden was awe inspiring.

Top 10 Reasons Jeremy Lin is dominating:

First of all, it’s nice to see Spike Lee happy again after the disappointing Knicks struggled year after year.  Who would have ever guessed that a young asian american point guard would be the catalyst to help begin the turnaround.  Jeremy Lin is making Spike Lee happy and Lin is making a lot of basketball people and non-basketball people happy.  Here are a few reasons for his success.

10.  Defensive Play:  Frank Hamblen (One of Phil Jackson’s top assistant coaches) used to always say that if the other team finds a weak link they will pick at you “like a scab.”  Not only is Jeremy Lin a good defender, he is averaging 1.8 steals per game in the past six games.  If Lin’s overall stats only included the games where’s he’s received high minutes, Jeremy Lin would likely be in the top ten players in the league in steals alongside names like Wade, Chris Paul, and Ricky Rubio. Jeremy Lin easily holds his own on man to man defense.   He helps his teammates out a lot by playing the passing lanes and coming up with steals. Nobody is able to pick at Lin (like a scab) because he plays good defense.  Lin’s on-the-ball defense still has plenty of room for growth, but his off ball defense as evidenced by his ability to steal passes and strip players is very strong.

9. System and Minutes: Two factors that have played a role are playing time and touching the ball.  Lin is averaging almost 40 minutes a game which allows any player to find a rhythm and keep it for most of the game.  If Lin misses shots early in the game he has the confidence to know that Coach D’Antoni is going to keep him in there.  But the second factor is D’Antoni’s system itself.  Under this offensive system, Coach D asks the point guard to find the balance between scoring and setting up your teammates.  So far Lin seems to have found the perfect equilibrium in part due to the knowledge of the offense that Lin clearly has.  But the reality is also that the point guard is going to be doing the vast majority of ball handling and decision making under the typical D’Antoni system.  That helps put Lin into a rhythm from which he can build each game.

8. Athleticism: How many point guards can say they dunked down the middle of the lane in Madison Square Garden.  Not only does Lin dunk the basketball on this particular play, but he dunks the ball with authority as he drives into the lane with a purpose.  There are plenty of point guards in the NBA who won’t or can’t attack the rim with the attack mentality that Lin shows here. Jeremy Lin is a very athletic even within the NBA ranks.  And it’s nice to see the NBA’s first American of Taiwanese or Chinese origin go down the lane in MSG and throw down a dunk with authority.

7. Pick and Roll:  Lin has excellent vision in finding big men like Amare and Tyson Chandleer on all different angles of the pick and roll.  At the same time, his vision and understanding of angles allows him to pass to 3 pt. snipers like Steve Novak.  Mike D’Antoni’s offense is predicated on the pick and roll and requires a point guard who can make split second decisions which Lin does very well.  If you are a big man playing on the same team as Jeremy Lin, you are going to be licking your fingers because you know that Lin is going to get you open layups and dunks inside if you are ready to catch passes.  After the win at Toronto Amare Stoudamire talked about Lin and his “poise.”  Amare has seen poise before with two time MVP point guard Steve Nash in Phoenix. At the same time players like Steve Novak are happy because Lin is making everyone else better on the team and Novak is one of the beneficiaries of this also. When Jeremy Lin comes off the pick and roll it looks natural, fluid, and that something positive is going to happen for the Knicks. [content_ads float=”left”]

6. Confidence, Emotion, and Aggressiveness: When I was going through the pre-draft workout process one of the Chicago scouts commented that he liked to see players with a little bit of emotion.  Players like Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls) feed on energy and sometimes that energy transfers to teammates, fans, and coaches.  Jeremy Lin is not only showing us his passion for the game, but his aggressiveness and confidence continue to shine through.  After Lin had his first breakout game, (10 made shots on 19 attempts) everyone was curious to see what would happen in the very next game.   Lin came out again and was 10 for 17.  What that says is that Lin is not afraid of success.  He’s not the type of player to have one good game and then get scared. Lin is hungry to push himself and his teammates to the next level.  Lin’s not afraid to show some emotion.  He’s got the swagger that makes any opponent wonder to themselves, “That basket must look like the size of the ocean for this kid.”

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It’s been over 7 years since I left the Los Angeles Lakers and one of the most frequent questions people ask me is:

“Is it true that Shaquille O’Neal bought you a car when you showed up at training camp the first year?”

When I think of Shaquille I think about so many things and I wanted to share my top ten Shaq Stories from everything I know about him.

10) One year we were in Florida on an East Coast trip for Thanksgiving. The entire team was stuck in Florida with nothing to do so Shaq invited all the players, coaches, trainers, etc. over to his home and had an amazing Thanksgiving catered in.  The food was awesome and after the meal, he gave us a tour of his house.

When he showed us his room, he showed us a nice flat panel TV and then said, “I used to have all the latest electronics, remotes, and everything in this room….now instead of the electronics, I’ve got diapers for my little ones.”   He was beaming, has always loved his family, and frequently brought his wife and kids to the Staples Center to share the experience.  He continued on the tour and showed us a new addition he was putting on his house.  Samaki Walker asked “How many square feet are you adding?” Shaq answered with “10,000 square feet.” Samaki was amazed and said “Are you serious?”  Shaq’s reply was “Hey man, you only live once.”

9) Before one of my last regular season games as a Laker on the road in Memphis, I was sitting in the locker room trying to get ready for the game mentally.  All of a sudden, I look up and before I know it Shaq wants to wrestle.  Next thing I knew we were in a full out wrestling match.  Imagine trying to push around a 335 pound 7 foot man around who wasn’t even trying very hard to pin you.  All I know is that after a minute or two I had given it may all and I was exhausted.  Shaq let up but everyone in the locker room was loose an relaxed after the moment of fun.  I’m not sure how I had the energy left to play the game, but I ended up playing one my better games and had 10 points which almost never happened.  After the game Shaq said, “Nice game Mark, now I see that I need to wrestle you every game.”

8) Sitting in the locker room before a game in Milwaukee Shaq said something like “Anybody here know what the Pythagorean Theroem is?”  Brian Shaw at that point was saying something like “What are you talking about Shaq?”   [content_ads float=”left”]
(Those were great friends from their Orlando days and they always messed with each other). Then Shaq went on to compare himself to the Pythagorean Thereom and said, “The Pythagorean Theorem is complicated, tough to figure out and I’m the same way. By the time the other team starts to figure me out [each game] I’ve got 29 [points] 13 [rebounds] and 5 [assists] and it’s too late.”

7) There was a cute flight attendant on one of the Lakers charters and I happened to be sitting next to Shaq.  He looked right at her and said to her “Are you a mormon?”  He knew I was mormon and single and next thing you know he’s asking a flight attendant if she happened to be mormon and if she was, that she should meet me.  All this happened with me sitting right there.  She happened to be of another religious faith, but trust me I will never forget that!!  THEN, a few weeks later, a single member of the Lakers front office came up to me at the Staples Center and said “The most interesting thing happened last night….I’m sitting in a restaurant in Redondo Beach and Shaq was in there asking some of the girls if they were mormon because if they were, he wanted to set them up with you.”

The last three times I’ve seen Shaq the first question he asks me is “Are you married or engaged yet?”  I’ve told him I’m “still working on it,” and he then always says, you better let me know when it happens because we’re coming to the wedding.

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Lorenzen Wright, NBA, Memphis Tennessee
Lorenzen Wright was a fixture in the community in Memphis Tennessee and was an ambassador of goodwill in the community. RIP Lorenzen Wright. Photo: Shutterstock

Lorenzen Wright was shot and killed last week by multiple bullet shots in a wooded area of Tennessee.  Authorities are working on the case. This was some of the saddest news that I could possibly hear.  I was never on the same team with Lorenzen, but I’ve played against him for years and had a great respect for his intensity and the way he conducted himself as a professional.  Whenever there is tragedy in the NBA family, everyone feels it and everyone grieves for the loss and the family.

The last time I talked to Lorenzen Wright was two seasons ago when he was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.  He had been brought in as an experienced player to help them make a deep push into the playoffs.  As much as Lorenzen contributed on the court, it was his locker room leadership and presence that also made him invaluable.  Both Lorenzen and I were on the injured list at the time so we were both in the weight room before tip-off at Quicken Arena in Cleveland.  Ben Wallace was in there as well doing core training and his pregame workout routine.

I was on the exercise bike trying to get a workout in and Lorenzen came right over to say hello and to get the update on what was going on with the Timberwolves.  When you think about someone who is intense on the court and a gentleman off the court, it was Lorenzen.  One of his longtime friends recounted that “He was a people person; he never met a stranger.”  We talked for 5-10 minutes and he told me about a recent flight when LeBron James had the everyone on the plane laughing so hard by getting on the plane’s loudspeaker system and doing impersonations of everyone from players and teammates to the Cleveland strength coach.  Lorenzen also said it was extra funny because it was about 2 A.M. and everyone was groggy.  When I left the weight room that night I thought to myself, Cleveland is lucky to have such a great player and great person on their team.

Deepest thoughts and condolences to the family and loved ones of Lorenzen Wright.  Memphis and Mississippi and everyplace that LW went is going to miss him.

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Kobe Bean Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bean Bryant professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA. He entered the NBA directly from high school. Photo: Shutterstock
Earlier this week, I went back to downtown Los Angeles and the Staples Center for the first time since I began coaching. We played our NBDL game on Tuesday night and ended up winning at the buzzer on a shot by Dontell Jefferson. After our game, I went and visited Phil and Kobe in the Lakers locker room a few doors down in the tunnel as they played the same night against the Hornets right after our game. It was great to see Phil Jackson again. It was the first time I talked to Phil since I began coaching and he gave me some really good advice for coaching and explained how as a coach you absolutely have to be mentally keyed up and ready all the time. Frank Hamblen was in the coaches office as well and I had seen Brian Shaw and Jim Cleamons earlier. The only one who was missing was Kurt Rambis and I know that he’s wearing a nice winter coat up in Minneapolis right now!

It was great to see Kobe again. On that Tuesday night, I happened to be wearing one of the suits that he gave me for Christmas in 2002. (Phil always did a Christmas gift exchange within all of the players and coaches). It was funny that year because I had drawn Kobe’s name and he drew mine. I gave he and Vanessa a box of chocolates and book (101 Famous Poems), and he gave me two Italian tailored suits. I guess I probably still owe him a better Christmas gift one of these years!

When I finally caught up with Derek Fisher, (my only other remaining teammate from my time w/ the Lakers), he was already in the chapel session with the Lakers Chaplain and so I wasn’t able to go in there to disturb him to say hello. But I did see one of his close friends Durand and told him to pass along my best. It’s funny the way things work out. On that Tuesday of last week I was running around back there trying to catch up with people and then last night (Friday night), I was watching the Lakers vs. Heat game on ESPN. First it was Derek’s three pointer with a few seconds left, and then it was Kobe’s one legged, three pointer over Dwayne Wade’s hand with time expiring to win the game.

I’ve hit one game winner in my entire basketball life and that was back in High School against Monte Vista High. Earlier that year, our power forward, a great shooter named Ryan Luther, had hit a game winner against the same team. I remember those days well, and to think that players like Kobe and LeBron can hit game winners each season against some of the best athletes in the world is incredible.

Coaching in the NBDL is going great so far. It’s a dream come true to be working with great young players and to try to help them take their game to the next level whether that means the NBA or some other professional league overseas. Right now I’m in Bakersfield, California and we have a game later tonight. A couple nights ago, our head coach Brad Jones and I had dinner at Macaroni Grill in Bakersfield. I accidentally left my credit card there and when I picked it up today, the manager said, “I found your card and tried to find a way to contact you! I went to your blog but you hadn’t posted for a while….so I figured you would realize it at some point and come back to grab it.” Thank you Macaroni Grill, Bakersfield!!

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I wish I could have been at the Target Center tonight, but instead I watched part of the game live on my iPhone using the NBA league pass application!!! I have to say that Oleksiy Pecherov is going to be a great player for the Wolves. I even got a text from a friend of mine at the target center saying “I LOVE Pecherov.” As I’ve watched the Wolves over the past few weeks it really seems like all the players are getting a better feel for the Triangle offense. I know this is going to make Kurt Rambis happy as the season progresses. .

As for me, I’ve been breaking down video for the past two weeks getting ready for the NBDL draft which is Thursday night! There is actually a website called www.synergysportstech.com in which Mark Cuban is a major investor. I’ve never ever seen a more complete scouting tool. I can literally put in the name of any NBA, college or NBDL player and then pull up video clips of this player on offense, defense, transition, etc. It makes scouting and preparing for the draft much easier than trying to track down a million different DVD’s to try to learn more about players. I can also stream digital video of full games, international players, and then do breakdowns of every single aspect of what a player’s strengths are. The Synergy System is awesome and it’s only a matter of time before every NBA team and college team is using it.

As part of this scouting process I’m going to introduce all of you basketball aficionados to a very interesting player. I’ve played with two of the best shot blockers ever to play in the NBA in Theo Ratliff and Eddie Griffin. There is a player named Jeral Davis who averaged over 7 blocks per game in college and who recently submitted his name for the NBDL draft! The Utah Flash head coach Brad Jones asked me to do a bit of research on Davis and then asked me what his numbers were. When I said “18 points, 7 blocks, ….” Brad stopped me and said, “Do you mean 7 rebounds?” I said, “It’s hard to believe but he averaged 7 blocks per game!” So, anyway, it’s exciting players like this that make our jobs fun. As the draft unfolds it will be interesting to see what happens with Jeral Davis and if we are able to get him. He is definitely a unique talent given that he is 7’1″ and has a 40 inch vertical jump along with a wingspan of 7’9″. In fact, he never played High School Basketball, but went on to become a dominant college player. It’s up and coming athletes like Jeral Davis that make the NBDL an exciting and productive league in a lot of ways!

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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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Phil Jackson, Coach
Phil Jackson is an retired professional basketball former player. Photo: shutterstock
I’m at home in MN today and I had the television on for the Jim Rome show and they were talking about Alonzo Mourning’s comments regarding Phil Jackson as a coach. Now it’s possible that Alonzo’s quotes were taken out of context. Everyone around the NBA knows Alonzo is a class act and so maybe either he was kidding, or maybe he was joking around, or then again, maybe he was expressing on an honest opinion. Regardless, I thought that as one who played for Phil Jackson for three years, I would go ahead and chime in on my thoughts on Phil Jackson as a coach:

First of all, here is Alonzo’s quote:

“To tell you the truth, Phil doesn’t have to do anything but call time outs,” said Mourning, the former NBA star who helped lead the Miami Heat to the 2006 championship and twice was the league’s defensive player of the year. “Kobe is the facilitator. He is the one driving the mission of this particular team right now,” Mourning said. “The communication level he has with his teammates out there, you can just see it. I think Phil is just showing up, to tell you the truth, and Kobe is doing all the work to make this team successful.”

So, first of all, I do agree with Alonzo’s view that Kobe is the facilitator and that Kobe definitely pushes his teammates to higher levels of play than they could do on their own. I can tell you that there were times when Kobe coached me on where to be in the triangle offense and things I could do to help the team. Kobe helped everyone’s level of play immensely in addition to getting a lot of teammates wide open layups and dunks.

But when it comes to Phil Jackson I have to say that Phil is an amazing coach. Let me give a few reasons.

TRIANGLE OFFENSE: First, the triangle offense allows every single person on the court to constantly be touching the ball. I once asked Phil’s trusted assistant for 15 years, Frank Hamblen (whose specialty is defense), why Frank liked the triangle. He said to me simply, “There is always someone in the triangle in position to get back on defense.” Simple, but incredibly important in preventing easy baskets. Phil was a great role player for the Knicks and when he coached he wanted everyone touching that basketball a lot so that when the time came to attack, they were in some kind of rhythm rather than not touching the ball for 5 minutes in a game which happens sometimes. In the triangle offense there is a counter for every single thing a defense can do. Believe it or not, there are a lot of NBA sets with no automatic counters. Phil has taken everyone on that LA team, in Hollywood, and made them buy into the Triangle which is essentially a team offense. That in itself is no easy feat! But even when I was there, he got everyone to buy into the triangle. And if you tinkered with the Triangle or abused it, Phil would pull you out of the game and give you some bench time–and not just for a few minutes….try a few weeks sometimes!

MENTAL COMPONENT: Phil kind of had a way of knowing how to motivate people. When the we lost games in Los Angeles, Phil would come in the next day and be upset. Not all NBA coaches are like that! One time he came in and told some guys that they were nice good guys….the types of guys that a girl would want to take home to their parents. Then he said something like “I need some guys that are going to be mean on the court.” Needless to say, our team got meaner the next game.

TRUST IN PLAYERS: This kind of goes with the triangle offense, but the way Phil coaches he allows the players on the court tremendous freedom to basically do anything they want, AS LONG AS IT WAS WITHIN THE TRIANGLE. One of the first rules of the triangle offense is that if you have a direct line to the basket, you immediately take it. (In other words, going on your own and being aggressive and even shooting an unexpected shot is part of running the triangle effectively) It sounds so basic, but some coaches run plays like a football play with a specific end in mind. So the result is that with the basketball coaches that coach like football, some players end up being “robots,” which is the worst thing you can say to any basketball player.

PR–This is an interesting one. When we played against the 76ers in the NBA finals in 2001, there was a lot of talk about Shaq swinging his elbows and hitting Dikembe and other 76er players in the face/head. During one of our team meetings, Phil told all of us that when we addressed the media later that day that we should emphasize the fact that “Shaq deserves the right to ‘pivot’ when going into a post move.” It was kind of funny, because it was a great counter-argument to the media storm and other teams public complaints about Shaq’s physical play. And we went on to win that series never losing another game.

In game 3, Phil ran the same triangle play 3 times in a row in the fourth quarter. He cut Lamar off of Pau and then Kobe and Pau played the two man game on the elbow. Phil knows when it’s time to get the ball to his best players.

And finally, I must say that when I end my NBA career and transition into coaching, one of my first stops will be to visit some of my old coaches to pick their brains. My visit with Phil will be very interesting because I already know which questions I want to ask him. I want to ask him what his substitution philosophy is and how he does it. It seemed to work for us in the 2000-2003 years, but I want to know why he does it the way he does. I am also going to ask him for advice on using the media to get points across to players. Sometimes he talks to players individually when there is a problem and sometimes he used the media. I want to know what factors influenced his decision to go with either way. I’m not sure what is going to happen in this Championship series, but I can say definitively that Phil Jackson is a Hall of Fame coach.

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Kevin McHale, Coach, Head Coach, Glen Taylor, NBA, Go Green
Kevin McHale is a former American professional basketball player. Photo: shutterstock.com
Kevin McHale Returning to coach? I sure hope he comes back as the head coach next season! But this question has been the question of the past few weeks from media members, fans, and even amongst ourselves in the locker room. This is one case where it’s possible that even Mac doesn’t know what he’s going to do! Glen Taylor has publicly said that if Mac wants the job then he’ll be the coach next year. I’ve known Mac for the past 6 years and from what I’ve observed and the brief conversations we’ve had, I think that he truly is not sure yet what he’s going to do. I know it’s going to be a family decision because the Kevin McHale is a family man first. Here is one of the reasons why I want Kevin McHale to return as the head coach of the Timberwolves:

About a week ago, the NBA allowed all of us players to take part in a “Go Green” campaign to help promote great issues like environmental awareness, recycling, and other types of “green thinking” issues. Of course it’s a great opportunity and every team around the NBA wore warm-ups for one week with a big recycling logo on the front. Undoubtedly we have to take care of the environment in many many different ways.

Well, the first game we wore these special warm-up tops was against the Utah Jazz in Utah. After we had our 1-2-3- “Win” chant which was an event in itself that night, McHale held everybody up for one more minute and said something along the lines of,

“Hey fellas….I just want you to know about this global warming thing…..25 years ago it was Global Cooling and they were telling us we were going to freeze to death….so when they tell you all about global warming don’t worry about it too much…….”

It’s just nice when the head coach can crack a joke to loosen guys up. The guys on the team loved it and everyone was laughing so hard and it kind of took away the tension of a tough part of the season. We went out that night and took it to the Utah Jazz and won the game with a shorthanded roster.

Then a week later I walked into a breakfast meeting before it got started in San Francisco when we were playing the warriors and the first thing I hear is Kevin McHale explaining to a couple of guys on the team, “Yeah…the ice cap off of Greenland is receding but the ice caps off Antarctica are actually expanding….” It was good natured and fun and sometimes you need some fun on a long road trip.

Of course Mac loves the environment, but he’s also not afraid to mess with players and other coaches and just get guys thinking about things in a new way. McHale speaks his mind and you have to respect that. In the same way he’s not worried about saying something politically uncorrect, he’s also not going to worry about hurting a players feelings if he has to get on that player. The player will get over it.

But it does help that he jokes around with us and makes guys laugh. So in practice and at games when he does get on us or really challenges a player, you know that he’s on your side. It’s just been a lot of fun playing for him, and before a rash of injuries our record spoke for itself especially in the month of January. I think the most important thing about McHale as a coach is that he knows the game like no other. Especially when we were rolling in January (before all the injuries), he just had a great feel for what our defensive schemes would be as well as how we would attack other teams.

The biggest issue is that Kevin McHale doesn’t need to coach….he could do a lot of different things within the world of sports, or in business or in public service. Rumor has it that he’s up at the family cabin in Hibbing for some time to reflect and rejuvenate a little bit. But even today at our exit physicals, one of my teammates and I were talking about it and both of us were not sure what would happen. I guess time will tell, but I hope he’s back next season as the head coach!