Tags Posts tagged with "Northern California"

Northern California

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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!

Mark Madsen

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Shaq, Flop, Fake, Floppers, Flopping, Los Angeles, NBA, Timberwolves
Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal, Ed.D., nicknamed Shaq, is an American basketball player of the NBA. Photo: shutterstock.com
There is a term in the National Basketball Association that some more casual fans do not know. The term is “flop” and some NBA players have perfected the skill into an art form. Some of the old battles between two great players (Shaq and Vlade Divac) included some pretty convincing flops by Vlade.

Now, the first time I ever heard this term, I was at an athletic club in Northern California called “ClubSport.” I was on the court and NBA player David Wood (experienced NBA veteran and very involved with ‘Athletes in Action’) was on the court too working out with his trainer. We struck up a friendship and he gave me a lot of advice on how to play the game as I was heading to Stanford as a freshman to begin playing basketball and going to school.

He told me I needed to learn how to ‘flop.’ I had never heard of the term ‘flop.’ He explained that “flopping” is when you basically fake getting hit really hard so that the referee calls a foul on the other player. Nobody does this too much in high school because ironically most high school refs don’t call it a lot. But a lot of players do it in college and in the NBA and refs in college and the NBA sometimes do call flops.

This past week, there was an incident when Stan Van Gundy (Orlando Magic Coach) called out Shaq for flopping. The incident was all over ESPN. Let’s take a look at the play first on Youtube.

Shaq and Dwight Howard (video)

So Shaq tries to take the charge/flop and he doesn’t get the call from the ref, and Dwight Howard gets the two points on the dunk.

Now in the next video Shaq comments on the play and gives more insight and basically says it might have been a flop but that he was trying to take a charge.


(Fast forward to 2:00 out of the 4:23 minute long youtube.com video.)

Now, I played with Shaq for three years in Los Angeles and while I did see the big fella sacrifice his body and step in and take charges, I never once saw him flop in those three years. And the funny thing is that almost every team in the NBA tries to flop against Shaq. There are probably even coaches that teach their centers and forwards to try to flop on Shaq. So, this whole commotion about whether or not Shaq’s play against Dwight Howard was a flop is so funny because everyone in the league tries to flop on Shaq and Shaq never flops back.

The funny thing about this is the way the game is called on this type of play at the NBA and college level. Every year, an NBA official comes in and talks to every NBA team at the beginning of the season. One year, we were in this meeting and a Timberwolves player made the point that NBA players are strong and have good balance and that for an NBA player to fly backwards after getting hit is actually almost “impossible” without the player faking it. The referee disagreed, but hey, I can tell you it’s true.

In some ways, the art of the flop makes the game fun because fans get so riled up over it. In another way it takes away from the game because it’s purely acting and it takes away from the athletic skill of other players. Last summer the NBA was thinking about imposing a $10,000.00 fine for every flop attempt. (That would be hard to enforce).

Some of the great floppers around the NBA let out a scream when they get hit and then when they eventually get themselves up off the ground they squint their eyes a lot and rub their eyes and forehead and act like they’re dizzy.

To help illustrate this art, here are some examples of “successful” flops. (These videos below are *great!).

Carlos Boozer (video)
Pau Gasol (video)
Bonzi Wells (video)
Tribute to Vlade Divac’s flopping ability(and speculation that Del Harris taught Vlade how to flop. Del refutes this and says that Vlade brought the art over from Europe and taught the entire NBA how to flop.)

Lastly, and Shaquille touched on this, there is a dramatic difference between “taking a charge” and “flopping.” Taking a charge is when a player is coming at you full speed and out of control and you step outside of the charge cirlce and sacrifice your body and fall backwards. This hurts, it takes skill, and you might really get hit hard by the fast moving player. Most NBA players respect “taking a charge.” A “flop” is when you barely get touched and fall to the ground or flail uncontrollably. Comments from the readers?

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email, hijacked, Gmail, Mike Montgomery, UC Berkeley, head mens basketball coach
My Email account was hacked, I chat with him to my old account and threatened. I receive my gmail account back with new password "UCBerkeley" Photo: shutterstock
Sometimes even the unthinkable can happen. When I arrived at our NBA shoot-around today I learned that Mike Montgomery was going to be name head mens basketball coach at Stanford archrival: UC Berkeley. Of course I called him to congratulate him but it went to voicemail right away so I left him a message–I left that message grudgingly.

All I can remember about UC Berkeley is hostility. One time one of our walk on players from the East Bay almost got into an altercation with a UC Berkeley fan even before the game started! I think the fan threatened a lawsuit or someting. Then last year someone actually hijacked my Gmail email account! The sad thing was that I could see when he was online through the “Chat” functionality from another one of my gmail accounts. I “chatted” with him online to my “old” account and threatened to get the FBI, CIA and every law enforcement agency possible on his tail unless he gave me back my account. Finally he releneted and sent me a message: “You can have your email account back, the new password is “UCBerkeley.”

So maybe you can see why I’m confused about Mike going over there. It’s just a bunch of low lifes over there at Cal.

Of course I’m kidding. While I’m serious about the email hijacking, Cal is an awesome place and a world class institution. I was excited about maybe going there myself, but then they kind of stopped recruiting me. One of my best high school teammates went there an loved it. Actually one of my first text messages was to my brother in law who is doing a UC Berkely PHD. I told him I was mad that his school was stealing our old coach!

In fairness I think it’s great for everyone, and I think that the San Francisco Bay Area is going to have some great basketball in the coming years. Trent Johnson is one of the real rising stars in the college game and one of the best minds I’ve ever had the privilege of playing for (he was assistant coach at Stanford while I played there.). Now you’ve got Trent at Stanford, Mike over at Cal and a lot of great recruits comign out of Northern California. UC Berkeley just took a major step in the right direction in getting back to the levels of Pete Newell and Jason Kidd.

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Trade, Fred Hoiberg, Wally, Dwayne Jones, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nikoloz Tshkosvili Phoenix, Ricky Davis, Justin Reed, Marcus Banks, Target Center
Fred Hoiberg telling me that Wally, Dwayne Jones and Kandi-man just got traded to Boston. Photo: shutterstock.com
Wow!!! Last night I was sitting in my hotel room and the phone rang…….no one ever calls me in my hotel room unless it’s a tricky radio show just trying to see if anyone on our team will answer their hotel phone. All of us players use each others cell phones. It was Fred Hoiberg telling me that Wally, Dwayne Jones and Kandi-man just got traded to Boston! I was shocked. Any time you lose teammates and friends to a trade it’s hard. Today in Shoot-around KG looked at me and said, “Man, it’s a hard day today.” Kevin Garnett was close to both Wally and Michael and he is one person who really values friendships and relationships. I think Kevin is going to miss everybody who got traded.

I stopped by Wally’s hotel room and Michael’s room too. Mike had stepped out for a second to go down to the front desk so I sent him a text. When he texted me back he touched on the fact that our two careers had so many parallels. We both went to college in Northern California then ended up in Los Angeles for a number of years playing for the clippers and the Lakers respectively. Then we spent two plus years together in MN and became great friends. At the end of his text he said, something along the lines of “I’ll jump hook you when I see you next,” meaning, he was going to shoot his jump hook over me. Well if you look at the schedule, I’ll be seeing him really soon!

When I saw Wally in his hotel room he seemed kind of reflective. I know I am going to miss Wally a ton. Wally has given his heart and soul to the Wolves and to the state of Minnesota for almost 7 years. I think it’s hard for him to leave, but at the same time he acknowledged that in this game you can be traded at any time and that is one thing you can’t control. I said to Wally, “So do you and Mike jump on a plane tommorrow and fly to Boston?” Wally laughed and said, “I don’t know.” Wally talked about how he was going to miss everyone and how at the same time he was excited about a new challenge and a new opportunity. I think Wally’s wife Shannon is due to give birth to their second child on Monday!!!

Dwayne Jones is the other part of this equation. Dwayne is a GREAT player who is playing in the developmental league right now with whom I had a really close bond given that we spent a lot of time together in training camp. We lost Nikoloz Tshkosvili as well and I’m going to miss him a lot too. Nikoloz and I used to play a lot of one-on-one before games. I think Phoenix is the perfect fit for Nikoloz as he is very skilled and runs like a deer even though he is 7 feet tall.

When the dust settles I think this trade will be good for everyone involved. Ricky Davis is a great player who is emotional and very tough. I think the Target Center is going to like his style of play. Blount is long, skilled and a great shooter. Marcus Banks gives us yet another option at the point and Justin Reed is a tough, smart player who will be awesome off the bench. Watch for some Ricky Davis highlight reel dunks in the Target center!

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Happy Holiday, Christmas, Christmas Memories, Thankful, Family Friend
Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season. Photo: shutterstock.com

I wanted to dedicate this column to wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season. I celebrate Christmas and when it gets close to Dec. 25, I think back to some of my family Christmas memories from growing up. On Christmas Eve, my dad would gather all of us in front of a glowing hearth, and he and my mom would read Christmas stories and sometimes we would have a little eggnog. My little sisters and I, in our excitement, would try to stay up all night talking to each other through the vents in our house. I guess we thought it was our own intercom system.

Sometimes we would go caroling to our neighbors and friends and deliver cookies. I seem to vaguely remember one year in high school when I convinced my family to go caroling to the family of the girl I was dating at the time. It’s all a little fuzzy, but I think this is what happened. When we got there I kind of got cold feet and wanted us to make a run for it. But once we all got out of the van, we couldn’t turn back. We went to the door, sang the song, delivered the cookies and rolled. I think only the parents were home at the time, so I wasn’t too embarrassed by my bad singing in front of the young lady I was trying to impress.

My worst Christmas-related memory growing up was during a rare cold front that swept through Northern California. Everything was frozen. My freshman basketball coach gave us the day off, so my brother and I went hiking in the hills behind our house. We found a frozen hillside and decided to make a few runs. We slid down and a tree root caught my leg and I seriously tore my left knee cartilage. I had to have open knee surgery as a freshman in high school. I had only played four games on the frosh team and I was so happy and then everything shattered. The doctor who did the surgery was a family friend and decided to perform a risky procedure for that time and sew up the cartilage (with stitches that disintegrate after five months) and hope the cartilage healed. If the operation didn’t work, they would probably have to do another and cut out part of the cartilage and I’d be left with the dreaded “bone on bone.” The surgery was successful and the knee has been great ever since.

One year, around this time, my sister and her husband received word that they would be able to adopt a newborn child. They had experienced complications in pregnancy for years and made the decision to adopt. Their receiving that child was one of the best gifts ever for my entire family. I don’t think words could ever express how happy my sister was. Another one of my sisters adopted as well and now there are three adopted kids in my immediate family. Growing up, I never really knew too many people who were adopted and now I think it is one of the greatest things on earth. Maybe I’ll adopt some kids someday down the road.

This summer, my dad took me coyote hunting with my little brother. We sat around hidden in the brush in camouflage for hours while my dad blew a whistle that’s supposed to sound like a dying rabbit. We didn’t see any coyotes at all. Since then my dad has gotten up at 4:00 a.m. trying to get his first coyote. I’m asking Santa to help give my dad his first success in coyote hunting.

During the holidays I reflect on what I’m grateful for. I’m probably most thankful for my mom and dad. Not only do I love them, but also I like them as great friends. I’m looking forward to seeing them and my siblings for a Christmas Eve dinner. I hope each and every one of you has an awesome, safe and healthy holiday season.

Have a great week.

– Mark

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Great Summer, NBA Dress Code, Basketball Camp, Los Angeles Clipper, Robert Horry, David Stern
Talking about summer, dress code, basketball camp and last match. Photo: shutterstock.com

I am shocked about how much publicity the new NBA dress code has received in the media. I still have the memo from NBA Commissioner David Stern, which is about three pages long. I think the dress code is a good idea, but the outcry from the players was huge. Some players felt the do-rag and chains ban was a racial statement, while others were already dressing up anyway. I fall into the camp of indifference on the dress rules. I think the biggest concern about the new code for me was that we would have to dress up every time we got on a private plane, even if it is well after midnight. Luckily they decided not to make it uncomfortably strict. We can still wear whatever we want to practice. For me that’s sweats and sandals.

I had a great summer. My little sister married a guy from Berkeley and the wedding was in California. At the reception, both sets of parents were on the dance floor shaking it with the bride and groom. It was cool to see some 50 and 60 year olds out there dancing like crazy. I didn’t realize my parents were such good dancers. Before I knew it, I was out there doing my thing. I was a little startled when I looked over and my 15-year-old brother was dancing with a 22-year-old woman (good thing she was a long time family friend). Now, five out of the 10 kids in my family are married and five of us are single. Maybe later in the year I will write a little bit about being single in the NBA and what it’s like. I think anyone who is single knows it would take more copy space than a paragraph or two to describe what it’s like on the dating scene.

In general, my summer was pretty good. Even though we were raised in the San Francisco-Oakland area, my parents recently moved to Utah. I have a lot of family there, so I spent a good portion of my summer in the Salt Lake City area. I did some rehab on my wrist and a lot of running in high altitude. I spent some time here at my home in Minnesota and some time in Northern California. I made it to Orange County once and took a trip to Jackson Hole with some friends.

One of the highlights this summer was running my basketball camp for the first time in Champlin. I enjoyed it so much, that I am definitely going to do a camp again next summer, either in Champlin or Eden Prairie. When I was with the Lakers, Robert Horry told me that when he ran his camp in Alabama, he was there from 9-5 every day. There are a lot of NBA player’s camps where they show up for an hour on one or two days. My goal is to do my camp the way Robert did his. I was able to be there every day and it was a blast to work with kids. I am thinking about doing a camp in Rapid City, South Dakota too. I’m not sure if I can make it work, but when we had our preseason game there this fall, everyone was so excited and the gym was so loud. I just thought that’s a city that enjoys the game.

Last week we played at Seattle on Friday and against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night. We arrived in our hotel in L.A. at about 2:45 a.m. Saturday. One of the hardest things is being able to relax and sleep after a tough game. I’ve tried counting sheep, counting numbers, counting my breath pattern and finally I’ve just realized sometimes it just takes time. There are times you just have to watch a movie like Bourne Identity or my personal favorite, The Natural. Earlier this season I was reading a book about Special Forces. My problem was that it was so exciting, I couldn’t put it down.

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.