Tags Posts tagged with "Orlando"

Orlando

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Brian Shaw, Kobe bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, Orlando, Mark Blount
Mark Blount has been having a monster season for us and tonight he did it again. Before the game tonight against the Lakers, I caught up with one of my favorite all-time teammates: Brian Shaw. Photo: shutterstock.com
Mark Blount has been having a monster season for us and tonight he did it again. There are very few seven footers play in this league who can MAKE three consecutive three pointers in the last two minutes of regulation….how many seven footers even want to take three pointers in the clutch? Not many. Mark Blount did that tonight in our game against the Lakers and he basically saved our hide by getting us to the first overtime and eventually the second.

Before the game tonight against the Lakers, I caught up with one of my favorite all-time teammates: Brian Shaw. Brian is an assistant coach now with the Lakers and is on his way to a very successful post basketball career. When we both played for the Lakers, Brian was the one guy on the team who could pick up his cellphone and call every single teammate at any time. From Shaq, to Kobe to Slava Medvedenko, to Horry to Rick Fox. Forget about his basketball I.Q. for a moment (which is off the charts). His ability to communicate with today’s athlete is a rare gift and something that would serve him well as a GM or as a head coach in this league.

Yeas ago, Brian Shaw played with Kobe Bryant’s dad professionally in Italy (I think the name of the team was Kinder Bologna). Brian told me once that he remembered playing HORSE with a young Kobe Bryant in Italy and being impressed with his skills. After a few years in Italy Brian Shaw came back to the NBA and played alongside Shaq in Orlando during the heyday of Orlando Magic basketball. Finally, he was reunited in LA with Shaq and the next generation of the Bryant basketball legacy–Kobe–from 2000 until 2003.

Needless to say Brian Shaw was that veteran type of player that Shaq would listen to, he had a great relationship with Kobe, and then he could go to Phil with suggestions. One time Brian thought we were practicing too much during training camp and breaking the collective bargaining agreement rules. He brought it up in a team meeting and Phil Jackson just smiled and laughed and said, “Brian you should really go to law school when you are done playing in the NBA.” Given that Shaw played for Phil Jackson and now is an assistant with Phil shows the respect that Phil has for him. There are a lot of teams in this league that would benefit from the skill set that Shaw brings to the table.

It was fun to play against my former team and to beat them tonight. I look back on the three years I played in L.A. under Phil Jackson and I have great memories. In a lot of ways, Phil was the one who really helped me to gain confidence to be able to compete at this level. Today, I saw in the media that Phil and Smush Parker were having some kind of public feud going on. It happened a few times when Phil would go at it with Shaq and Kobe or someone else on the team while I was there–either right there in practice or through the newspapers. The interesting thing is that once Phil got his point across to the player and the player responded, the relationship with that player would quietly simmer down and sometimes even seemed stronger in the days that followed.

I had a few friends at the game tonight. Some of them thought they saw Jack Nicholson at the Target Center. I guess my other buddy Enrique told them that they were mistaken and the man was really just impersonating Nicholson. Can anyone out there confirm or refute this? I guess that is just a random point of interest.

Well, I’m going to enjoy this victory tonight and the great performances of KG, Ricky Davis and Mark Blount especially. We have the Lakers again in Los Angeles in a few weeks and I know they’ll be trying to make a statement so we have to be ready.

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John Amaechi, NBA, John Amaechi Book, Phil Jackson, Los Angeles Lakers,
John Amaechi is an English retired basketball player. Photo: s_bukley/shutterstock.com
The purpose of this posting is to address a very talked about issue in the NBA as of today. I read some comments online recently that got me fired up and I felt that I wanted to write about the John Amaechi Book that just came out. I do not believe my blog is an appropriate forum for me to discuss my personal views on this issue in general and I have instructed my webmaster NOT to allow users’ comments either for or against the topic on this website. The issue I will address is the prospect of having a teammate like Amaechi.

When I played for the Lakers, Phil Jackson would get the team together after Sunday games and lead us in “The Lord’s Prayer” as found in the New Testament. During the prayer it was almost like a magnifying glass showed a huge range of differences in the room. Some prayed with Phil while others stayed on the side in a moment of silence. Others bowed their heads. Still others watched the scene in silence. Everyone probably did something slightly different but the prevailing feeling in the room was respect for each man’s own decision. There was no ridicule, coercion or pressure from anyone in the room for or against any particular action. When the prayer ended all of the differences faded away and we were back to one goal: winning.

I first met John Amaechi years ago when I was new with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers had just won the first championship and our power forward AC Green was off to the Miami Heat. We needed a veteran power forward to start alongside of Shaq and to give Robert Horry some rest.

Our General Manager, Mitch Kupchak brought Amaechi to Los Angeles and made him a big offer. (Which Amaechi eventually turned down to return to the Orlando Magic). I remember the day I met him. I was in the weight room and Mitch called me outside to the court. “Mark, meet John Amaechi.” We shook hands and exchanged a few words and that was it. Amaechi was 100% professional and 100% about basketball. I think that’s why he had such a successful basketball career over 8 years. His career was all about basketball and trying to help his team win games.

I still remember Rick Fox’s words in a team meeting where he explained that for young players in the NBA there are “certain rites of passage that must be met.” Clearly one of those is respect of the locker room. I have come to believe that if you have at least one dominant basketball skill and you respect the sanctity of the locker room you will play a long time in the NBA.

In a locker room there is only one goal and that is to win basketball games. If anyone does anything against that goal such as dividing the group, trying to push a personal agenda, or trying to get personal accolades they are essentially cut off from the group and sooner or later management will literally cut them off.

I don’t care if my teammate is green or purple. I don’t care if he is from the U.S., overseas, or Mars. If my teammate respects the space of every man in the locker room and keeps the locker room code, he will be welcomed by me.

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30th Birthday, Basketball Game, California, Tim Duncan, San Antonio, Road Trip, Wolves, Shaquille O'Neal
January 28, is going to be my 30th birthday. Photo: shutterstock.com

This coming Saturday, January 28, is going to be my 30th birthday. On that day, we’ll be in San Antonio to play the Spurs. I will get to defend Tim Duncan at times. Not the best birthday gift I’ve received, but it comes with the territory. I guess turning 30 is a milestone in one’s life, so I’m going to take a few paragraphs and reminisce on a few birthday memories.

My most memorable birthday growing up came during my senior year of high school in California. We had a basketball game that night against one of our rivals, which we ended up losing in overtime. To make matters worse, I sprained my ankle during the game. When I drove home after, the lights were off and everything seemed empty. As I limped into the kitchen, I realized it was a surprise party that my parents and younger sister had planned. Most of my teammates were there along with a bunch of my other friends. The thing I remember most was sitting there with my foot in a bucket of ice water talking with my teammates late into the night.

One of my hardest birthdays was my very first year in the NBA. I wasn’t used to all of the travel and I had to get up early on road trips and deliver practice gear to everyone’s room. I think I was exhausted at the time from the many games and the late night flights. I just remember lying in my hotel room in New York thinking, “What the heck am I doing here.” I think I got bronchitis that day too, because I ended up taking a bunch of medication for it a day or two later.

When I was with the Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal hosted the whole team in Orlando for Thanksgiving one year and gave us a tour of his house. When we got to his bedroom he told all of us, “Man, when I first got to the league, I had all the latest electronics and remotes all over the place.” Then pointing toward a shelf on the wall he smiled and said, “Now I’ve got diapers.” Shaq and his wife Shaunie have a great relationship and it was fun to be there to hear such a great line from a great guy.

One of the front office people with the Wolves emailed me and asked, “Where did you think you’d be when you turned 30?” The honest truth is that I thought I’d have a drawer full of diapers by now and be sitting at home with my wife and a few kids. But marriage and family haven’t happened yet, so instead I’m still single and I have to figure out all of the electronics on my own. On our current team, just about half of the guys are married. It makes for an interesting dynamic in the locker room to hear about a child taking their first step on the one hand and then on the other you have the young guys just a few years out of college that are living the singles life.

I guess more than anything else, I’m grateful that I’ve lived this long already. It’s been 30 great years so far, and I’m looking forward to the next 30. My grandpa always tells me what a gift it is to be alive. There are a lot of people that don’t get to be 30 years old, so I’m just happy to have made it this far.

This week is going to be a little bit emotional. An old friend, Flip Saunders, is coming to town with a Detroit Pistons team that is playing at a very high level. In my opinion, Flip certainly has done a great job with them and has already locked-up the coaching spot for the Eastern Conference for the All-Star Game. With that said, we also have a job to do. Our goal is to derail the Pistons and show them what kind of a team we are.

Have a great week.

-Mark