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.
We are struggling right now plain and simple. Our trainer Gregg Farnam had me stay at home so I was not at Boston for the game. Gregg wanted me to get a lot of treatment for my injured ankle so that hopefully i can get back to playing this week. I am actually dying to be ready for the Lakers game. It’s always great playing against Phil Jackson and Kobe.
I was lucky to have TV’s in our training room and weight room, so while I was doing all of the rehab in the Target Center with our assistant trainer, I watched as much of the game as I could. Troy Hudson, Garnett and Ricky Davis all hit huge three pointers for us. But it was really Troy who gave us a huge spark. Troy has always had big games against the Lakers, so I’m thinking he’ll probably start again on Tuesday when L.A. comes to the Twin Cities.
Having a sprained ankle is brutal. You sit there and basically work out for hours each day doing ankle drills, stationary bike and the Eliptical Machine. Then you try to freeze your foot (not really, but it just feels like it) with ice for 20 minutes to get the swelling out. I REALLy am hoping to be back soon. Man, I neglected this blog for a little while because I was so busy with ankle stuff, but I’ll be writing more stuff soon.
My old teammate Ervin Johnson used to say “365 days is too long not to laugh.” I know we’re losing, but I’m going to try to use some humor in the locker room to get us more loose and back on track. I’m going to share some stuff on this blog too that has happened in the locker room in the last few months that’s pretty funny too. Have a great Monday !!!
Sometimes emotions can flare in close games and that’s what happened in tonights game against the Detroit Pistons at home. Right now I am in pain because Kevin Garnett got ejected and there is some speculation that the league might come forward with a disciplinary action for those of us involved. I still have not seen a replay of the incident and I didn’t see the first part of the tussle because I had my back turned while I was getting up.
When you get a group of 6’10” 260 pound grown men competing hard in games emotions and testosterone can run high with all of us. We were all out there competing and it got a little bit physical and then it was over. It doesn’t make any of it right, but that is the reality of the situation. I am hoping that the NBA chooses to issue fines as a form of discipline for those of us involved instead of any sort of suspensions for the players. KG is the spoon that stirs the pot for our team and Antonio McDyess is an important piece for the Pistons and has been ever since he arrived. I don’t think tonight’s incident was a fight and in my mind, being ejected is punishment enough in terms of lost minutes. Both KG and Antonio McDyess are class guys and in my mind this incident is over.
All of that is out of our control though now, and I think we are all moving on and using the “water under the bridge” expression. I did want to convey to all of you the feeling in our huddle when we knew that we had lost our leader KG for the rest of the game after he got ejected. Everyone that stepped onto the court knew that each had to raise the level of their play to an even higher level. We wanted to win that game badly for Kevin. Mike James and Randy Foye carried us and then we jumped on Mark Blount’s back who had a monster night on the boards and in terms of his offense.
Lastly, after the game the media was asking us all about Ricky Davis. Let me put this issue to rest. There are no issues with Ricky Davis or any sort of incident that is being speculated upon. Rick is a great teammate and a great player and even though he didn’t have his best shooting night, he did a lot of the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. He was out there cheering everyone on and giving us feedback when the game was on the line.
Some of the conversations on the team bus are pretty interesting. On our recent trip to Dallas, while we pulled into the American Airlines arena, I was pretty interested by the topics. The first topic was the former Russian spy who died from plutonium 200 poisoning in London. The next topic was a bit more out of People magazine.
You see, when you get 15 athletes on the road physically exerting ourselves at away games and away practices we get really tired. So when we get to the hotel we flop down on the bed and watch a little TV to unwind. So we all become current event junkies.
So after the Russian spy situation was analyzed, the conversation turned to a recent interview by Donald Trump. I must say that I have come to LOVE the interviews that Donald Trump gives. In the last two years, I’ve seen two different interviews with Trump on Larry King live–Trump is a great personality and a brilliant business person. Forget the Real Estate business Donald, you should be an entertainer! I used to be totally indifferent to Donald Trump but now I love listening to him because everything he says is so full of conviction and so opinionated.
So going over on the bus to the Dallas game, it was KG, Ricky Davis, Trenton, Troy Hudson and me in the back. The guys were re-hashing the Trump interview. Here’s what they were saying on the bus. Apparently Trump said a few things of interest including the following:
1) Mark Cuban (Dallas mavericks owner and founder of many companies) is not a “real billionaire.” But somehow I guess Trump later recanted this statement or said he was mis-quoted. [After all, it is tough to argue with Forbes magazine]
2) His daughter Ivanka (Currently single) who is a model turned Wharton School of Finance graduate (top MBA school in the world) “should date a winner” according to her father. Maybe someone who is a professional athlete like Tom Brady. (New England Patriots quarterback). [I have to admit, I feel like I know the entire Trump family from the various interviews that I’ve seen on late night TV over the years!]
It’s cool to sit there are hear KG talking about what Donald Trump said on TV or what Trenton has learned about the British-Soviet connection in the Spy’s death. Of course within the world of the NBA when someone from the outside world goes at one of our own, (We consider Mark Cuban one of our own), we always stick with our guy and even though I love Donald Trump, Mark Cuban is well-loved in the NBA fraternity and he’s our guy. Once Trump buys the New York Knicks he’ll be on par with Cuban within the circles of NBA players.
We almost won the Dallas game that night. Once again, we saw Randy Foye come inches away from leading us to the promised land in the 4th quarter. After the we lost the game by a few points and we were crossing the court to go to the tunnel Mark Cuban came up to me and said “Hey, come to my blog anytime and post another comment!” www.blogmaverick.com
I had posted a comment on one of his posts about the new NBA ball a few weeks ago.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite Holidays. Last year I had my brother and his wife living in St. Louis Park in Minnesota, but this year they took off to germany for a fellowship as he is a doctor. I’m headed over to Ricky Davis’ house for Turkey day and I’m looking forward to it. I just hope that Ricky isn’t the one cooking the Turkey and the stuffing. He can shoot the three and go to the hole with the best in the world, but I’d never trust him to cook me anything….maybe that’s why he has a full time chef! No, but in seriousness, Ricky is having a lot of us over to his house that don’t have family in the area so we are all grateful for his hospitality. I’ll be sure to let you’all know how the food is!
We beat the Knicks last night, and so many guys on the team played well. Mark Blount had a huge game even though he only played about 18 minutes due to foul trouble. Blount is one of the true professionals in the NBA. He is always at practice early working on his shooting and he stays late with KG to shoot some more. Once again, Craig Smith continues to be a dominant force in the paint. Tonight he had a monster dunk in the second half that reminded me of Charles Barkley. I’m still shocked that we got Craig in the second round. He’s going to have a very long and storied career in the NBA because he is a GREAT player but more importantly he is a great human being.
The thing I’m most grateful for today is for the blessing of family. I’ve got the two greatest parents in the world and nine siblings and we’re all close. Of my six married siblings, there’s sixteen neices and nephews so the things I’m going to miss most today is hanging out with them and messing around playing some games and stuff. At 6pm I’ll be on a flight w/ the rest of the team going down to play against the Oklahoma City Hornets!
Tonight we broke our losing streak and Ricky Davis was a big part of the reason why. Ricky had been in a slump for a couple of games and he did what great players do during such a hard time. Ricky Davis would get to practice extremely early and take jumper after jumper after jumper. It’s nice to see an NBA player like Rick who is so gifted also have such an intense work ethic.
The other day in the locker room, Ricky and I were talking and he told me that he was actually drafted into the NBA when he was 17 years old!! I was shocked! Ricky actually attended University of Iowa for part of his freshman year in college and then he declared for the NBA that summer. Unfortunately, that was the summer of the NBA lockout, so Ricky had to wait for a little while before he was able to showcase his abilities and heady play.
I’m glad that young players are able to come to the NBA if they are ready. But, it is amazing how players like Ricky, Kevin Garnett and Kobe are able to make the jump at such a young age. When I was 17 years old there is no way that I was mentally capable of thinking about going up against people like Shaq, Patrick Ewing, and Karl Malone. It is a testament to the competitive greatness of high school players who successfully make the jump because the NBA has some TOUGH players!
I just finished watching the Phoenix Suns game vs. the Dallas Mavericks. They interviewed Jason Terry at the end of the game on TNT and he talked about how he was literally “on his knees praying” for Dallas to get their first win of the season which they finally got tonight. At the end of the interview Jason talked about how the Arizona Wildcats Men’s basketball team (his alma mater) would be #1 in the country by the end of the year! It was fun to hear that. Jason and I competed together against each other in college. One time, in a game at U. of Arizona, (Back when I played college for Stanford) both Jason and I got hurt and needed stitches after the game. We were both sitting in the training room for about two hours after the game and we really got to know each other. I remember that my parents were at that game and a lot of Jason’s family was there too. So there were basically two families in the training room at 11pm at night and we’ve been friends ever since. Jason is a class act who is really leading the Dallas Mavericks this season and last season.
We practiced today here at the Target Center in MN, and we are all upset with our slow start. Today’s workout session was very heated which is great because it shows how much all of the guys care about winning. I think we are beginning to see the emergence of Randy Foye. Randy Foye is one of the few players in the NBA who seems to be able to get to the Free throw line at will. It helps because he is a 90% free throw shooter also. Looking forward to seeing you guys at the Target Center soon!
Lastly, a few of the guys on our team have been frustrated with the fact that the NBA has given the refs a mandate to call technical fouls on a “zero tolerance” pollicy. Because of this, great players are getting thrown out of games all around the league. From Carmello, to Rasheed, to Mike Bibby, players in the NBA are getting tossed from arenas really fast. I’m not in favor of berating officials under any circumstances, but players must be allowed to speak to refs in heated moments without fear of getting tossed. I think in the end, the fans are getting the short end of the stick. Fans come to games to be able to see passionate basketball played very hard. Kevin Garnett is an emotional player; Rasheed Wallace is emotional; Sam Cassell is the most emotional player I’ve ever played with. I really believe that fans enjoy the passion and emotion that these players have. I know that when I’m around town here in Minneapolis, fans always talk about how much they love the emotion and passion of KG…..I think that the old system was pretty good. When a player got out of hand he was ejected. The new system is that if a player shows any sort of abrupt emotional/angry body language at a call he could be at risk to himself and his team. But I’m not a fan paying for the seats……..if any of you could give me feedback to pass on to the Union and eventually the NBA, please post in the comments section below what your honest thoughts are. Do you want to see NBA players not to be able to react much after a bad call? Or do you like it when the emotion is shown? I do think that the NBA officials are the best in the world, but it would be nice if they had a little bit more leeway from their own set of rules so less technicals are called.
ON Wednesday we are meeting with Billy Hunter (He’s with the Players Union) and I’m sure we will be talking about the issue of technical fouls. We’ll also be discussing the new nba ball and the slippery surface when wet. One reader of this blog sent a link to a published physicist who did a study on the new NBA ball—A PHYSICST
Even LeBron James (early in the season he said he could play with any ball) came out publicly AGAINST the ball recently. I mean when Shaq, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash, leBron etc. voice concerns over the ball, there might be something to it. We don’t care if it’s synthetic. Just make it so that it’s not so slippery when it gets wet. I’m sure with today’s technology this is possible.
Ultimately, I think some sort of compromise will take place with both issues so that all sides involved will be happy. If we do get to go back to leather as the NBA has indicated publicly is a possibility, we must ensure that the leather used is only from trusted sources that do not employ harsh or cruel treatment to the animals providing the leather. In my opinion the only leather that should be used is leather from an approved list of ethical beef producing companies/entities. Most of those would probably be domestic where stricter policies are in place. It think this was one of PETA.org’s concerns with the old ball and the use of international leather sources where bad treatment of animals is prevalent. I think we should open a dialogue with PETA also to ensure that we get this right.
Stay tuned for the article from the Physicist about the NBA ball. I am going to contact him personally and hopefully link him up with the Player’s Union so that we can get his feedback and article dissmenated throughout the NBA players so they can say “Yea, or Nay”. If we’re lucky, I might be able to interview him in addition to publishing his scholarly piece here on this blog. It would be interesting to hear what a real Physicist says about the new NBA ball who has already written a paper on it after exhaustive testing comparisions to the older ball.
I feel like this has become part of my role as the player rep for my team. Fans ask me about the new ball in differnet places. One bagger in a grocery store was asking me all about it. My neigbor and former President of my homeowner’s association in Eden Prairie was asking me why the ball was changed in the first place at a Halloween Party. ON a flight after a game last month, Kevin Garnett and Ricky Davis basically came up with the idea to contact all of the other player reps directly around the league to band together to get some momentum going to give the NBA feedback on the new synthetic ball. Ricky kind of asked me to spearhead this. Unfortunately with my knee injury I haven’t gotten as much done as I should. Hopefully we can begin this in the next few days after talking it over with Billy.
I may get in touch with my alma Mater and see if the Stanford Econ Department has any undergrad or grad students willing to do a statistical analysis on turnovers, shooting percentages this season as compared to last season. It would be a nice senior project for a thesis that would be passed on to other players. Shaq felt that turnovers would go up and shooting percentages would go down. Hey he might be right, he might be wrong……It would be interesting to quantify this mathematically and see if there is any sort of correlation or not. Maybe Mark CUban has already done it…..have you done it yet Cube? I actually suspect that shooting percentages might go up b/c the ball has a softer bounce. BUt unfortunately I predict turnovers to go up due to the slick nature of the ball. Steve Nash one of the best ballhandlers in the world had 10 turnovers tonight in the game. I think fans like more scoring but I think they hate turnovers as much as my coach does! The NBA always does things for a good reason and I do agree the new synthetic balls are more consistent across the entire league when they are new so that is a positive.
The flight today to Memphis wasn’t the same without Anthony Carter, Ricky Davis and Kevin Garnett in their usual seats on the plane. All three of them stayed back to get physical therapy treatments on their injuries.
It’s the first time I’ve ever gone on a road trip without KG. But we did add an old friend to the group in Bracey Wright who led the entire NBA Developmental League in scoring. Coach Casey called Bracey up yesterday and he practiced with the team today. Fred Hoiberg and I walked around the mall here in Memphis for a little while and shot the breeze and we also met up with some team members for dinner. Even though we’re not at full strength everyone is still treating each game like a playoff type of game.
At our game this past weekend against Golden State, we had a pretty big name in the world of sports sitting courtside. Sugar Ray Leonard was in town to do a promotional spot with one of the team’s corporate sponsors. It was cool to see a boxing legend up close. He was a champion at five different weight classes during his 20-year career. That is pretty amazing to be that successful for that long in a very rugged profession. Two of the member’s of the dance team presented him with a personalized Wolves’ jersey during a timeout. He reciprocated by giving each of them a little peck on the cheek.
After the game, Sugar Ray came into our locker room to say hello to Kevin Garnett and the rest of the guys. He told KG that it was his second time he had visited the Twin Cities and said it seemed like a great area. Then Ricky Davis went over to say hello to him. KG introduced Ricky to Sugar Ray and said, “Ray, Ricky’s pretty good with his hands too.” Ray smiled and said, “Are you?” to Ricky and Ricky replied with a simple, “Yeah, I am.” Then Sugar Ray showed us that if he were to box against Ricky, (a taller opponent) he would try to attack his midsection with a series of jabs, rather than going for head shots. Sugar Ray really seemed like a fun guy who was friendly, outgoing and genuine.
When I was talking to Sugar Ray about boxing, he showed me a few moves and told me about how “champions are made.” He said the most important thing as a boxer to be able to take a punch. Then he asked me if it was okay for him to show me a few things to which I said, “Of course.” It was awesome to meet an athlete of that caliber and I think the entire team hopes to see him again down the road.
We have got to face Yao Ming again this week. I enjoy him as a person, as he is one of the real class acts in the NBA. Yao came into the league a few years ago and has really become a dominating force. He is 7’6”. I’m not sure that anyone can fully comprehend his height until you stand right next to him and realize that your neck is totally bent just to look up at him. In preparing for him you just try to tailor a plan to some of his strengths and try to find a way to keep him out of the post.
This season has been a little bit of a roller coaster, but in general I really believe that we are starting to come together. The players we acquired from Boston are really contributing, whether it be as starters or coming off the bench. Marcus Banks was inserted as the starting point guard and we are 3-1 with him in there. Ricky has been just phenomenal scoring 20 or more points every game. Mark Blount has been solid as the starting center and Justin Reed has given us great energy off the bench every night. I truly believe that we are going in the right direction and that we are going to make a push for the division championship and for the playoffs from here on out.
I’m not sure how many of your watched our recent home game against the Denver Nuggets, but it was a thriller. Sometimes I wish the fans could have a microphone implanted in our huddle, so that you can hear the emotion and involvement from all of the players. At a point very late in the game, when things looked the bleakest, newcomer, Justin Reed entered the huddle, and starting clapping and called out, “Keep believing that we can win this game!” I think Justin’s comments gave our team new life, because Trenton Hassell, Kevin Garnett and Ricky Davis all made huge plays in the ensuing seconds. Ricky came back to the huddle after his huge steal and jump shot and called out for everyone to hear, “All we have to do is believe!” In the end, we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but I was proud of everyone on the team because of how hard we fought.
One of the things I like about Ricky is how hard he plays. I’m sure that you’ve noticed that he wears an undershirt when he is on the court. What you don’t know, is that Ricky is really wearing an assortment of pads on his hips and his back for protection. It’s almost like football pads, but just a lightweight version. He likes to fight through screens and drive the lane with so much momentum, that bigger players are constantly hitting him. Plus when you play above the rim like he does, it’s nice to have some protection for the occasional crash landing. Basketball players have hips that get beat up all the time. It seems like there’s always at least one player on the team with a bruised hip, a hip pointer, or some kind of bursitis.
I made the most of my All-Star break by making a quick trip to Utah to see my parents and some siblings. Then I flew out to Washington D.C., early (our team had a game against the Wizards the Tuesday after the break and we had the option to meet up there) to see my sister and her husband and five kids. It was a lot fun to see my twin nieces. They gave me a gift of some drawings with words that said, “I love my Mad Dog,” with a pink dog surrounded by pink flowers. I think I was supposed to be the pink dog. My sister and brother-in-law came to the game against the Wizards with some longtime friends. After the game, they all loved it when KG came by and took the time to shoot the breeze with them a little bit, even though we had just suffered a tough loss.
The day before the Washington game, I met up with some friends and we saw a lot of the museums in the area. One of my buddies out there has the last name of “Nader” and he is a distant relative of Ralph Nader. We had a good time talking about a few years back when I was with the Lakers and we beat Sacramento in a playoff series. Ralph Nader publicly stated that he wanted an independent commission to look into the officiating of Game 6 of that series which was played at the Staples Center. I guess that meant Ralph was a Kings fan. Phil Jackson, of course, felt differently about the officiating (as did our team and the rest of Los Angeles). It was fun to reminisce about those two personalities, and how for a couple of days, they exchanged friendly/pointed quotes with each other through the media about the issue. The sporting world is a lot of fun and I’m really grateful that I get to be part of it.