Tags Posts tagged with "Shaquille O’Neal"

Shaquille O’Neal

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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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Trent Johnson, Stanford Assistant Coach, NBA, New Job
Trent Johnson is an American college basketball coach and the head coach of the LSU Tigers basketball Team. Photo: shutterstock.com
I just sent a congratulatory text message to Trent Johnson….. I heard from an ex-Stanford basketball player who told me the news: Trent Johnson now appears headed to LSU as their new coach! Not many coaches have done what Trent has done in a few short years. He’s secured multiple Sweet 16 performaces, a huge recruiting pipeline into Los Angeles, Oakland and throughout the East Coast, as well as one of the best X’s and O’s coaches in the nation. Coaches like Trent Johnson do not come around very often and if LSU really did sign him, then the whole state down there should be cheering.

I can attest to the fact that all of us who played under Trent (when he was a Stanford Assistant Coach) are mourning if he’s really gone, but at the same time we are happy for him. I am happy for Trent and his family. This man deserves the very best because he is a first class individual and one of the best basketball minds in the business. In the same way that there is a business side to the NBA, there is a business side to being a college coach. I wish somehow we could have kept Trent at Stanford, but it looks like he’s taken another great opportunity. I think what LSU fans and players can expect is a man who combines a disciplinarian approach with someone you can talk to as a mentor and role model figure. Another few words come to mind about Trent: work ethic, intensity and fire.

The new wave of the basketball world will embrace coaches who can communicate with today’s athletes. Trent Johnson is one of the best communicators in the basketball world. When he was an assistant coach at Stanford, he ALWAYS stayed after practice and played one-on-one with guys who weren’t getting the reps they wanted. He talked with them and built them up and made them ready for when the opportunity which one day would come. He put in the time and work that a lot of people never saw, but earned the undying respect from the players by doing the “little things” like this. But, his knowledge and feel for the game of basketball are what puts Trent into the category of “elite” when it comes to coaching.

I was surprised by the news of Trent Johnson’s departure and wish he was still at my alma mater of Stanford. But, at the same time I’m incredibly happy for him. Today is now a day of reflection for me with regards to Trent and the good times we had together on “The Farm.”

I can tell you for a fact I know someone who has a big smile on his face right now and he’s one of the most illustrious graduates of LSU: The Big Aristotle–Shaquille O’Neal!

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Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, Shaquille O'Neal, Bill, Tani Austin, Starkey Foundation
Dwyane Wade is an American professional basketball player who played for the Miami Heat of the NBA. Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
Tonight’s game showed the wisdom of how Pat Riley has built the roster of the Miami Heat. Dwayne Wade was the man tonight, but without Gary Payton on the Miami Heat, it’s possible Dallas might already have won the series. Pat Riley built the Heat with veteran players and they have been coming through in this series.

We all remember Gary Payton’s big shot in game three along with the steal by Udonis Haslem which basically brought the Heat back into striking range. But tonight, it was Gary Payton’s left handed shot that went high off the glass late in the game to keep the Heat around.

During the season I am a basketball player so I basically feel like Dallas and Miami are the enemy. But now, because we didn’t make the playoffs, I have reverted back into “fan mode” and I am definitely a Miami Heat fan. First off, I would love to see Shaquille O’Neal get his fourth ring. When someone like Shaq gives so much in the community (with the cameras turned off) and when he cares so much about his teammates of course you want to see him do well. The funny thing is that people tell me all the time right now during this series, “I want the Heat to do well b/c I’m a Shaq fan.”

Jerry Stackhouse’s foul on Shaq was definitely a flagrant and uncecessary foul, but to suspend a key player like Stackhouse in game 5 of the NBA finals for something like that might be a little bit excessive. I’m still trying to figure out what I think about that foul. Still and all, there may not be another player in the NBA that has the self-restraint that Shaquille O’Neal has. Having played with Shaq as a teammate and against him, I can tell you that he doesn’t care about hard fouls as long as it’s a “clean” foul. He will shrug them off, play through them and basically play as if he’s got a few mosquitos swarming around him. But anyone in the NBA who is foolish enough to try to give Shaq a cheapshot might as well check himself out of the game because Shaq will come back and punish that opponent by scoring on him every time down the court in a very physical way. Those are the rules of the game.

I’ve been away fromt the blog for a while lately, but I’m now starting to get back into it. I did want to share a brief moment from the Annual Gala event that I attended last night in St. Paul which involved www.sotheworldmayhear.org

I have two friends (Justin Osmond and Heather Sauber) who work in Minneapolis for the Starkey foundation. They invited me to attend this year’s “Gala” event and it opened my eyes to the lives of the hearing impaired. Starkey Foundation takes hearing aids all across the world to donate them to those in third world countries that are hearing impaired. This year, the Gala event honored the Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor for his involvement in community and in helping the Starkey mission. Glenn and his family have an annual mission trip to build homes in south america and this next year they committed to go to Africa to help share hearing aids with those in need.

The greatest line from the evening came from Lou Ferrigno’s speech. (Lou used to play the Incredible Hulk in the TV series years ago and is slightly hearing impaired). He thanked Bill and Tani Austin (founders of Starkey) and said that this couple has helped promote “better relationships in the world” through their hearing aids and charitable giving of hearing aids because women “like to be listened to” and now “I can listen better to my wife!” Lou has been using the Starkey, cutting edge, hearing aids for some time now and they have changed his life. I have to say that I am a big fan of Lou. I’m not sure how old he is, (maybe 55 or 60) but he looks like he is still in good enough shape to enter a boxing ring for a prize fight. (I am dead serious). When I asked him what the secret to staying in shape was, he said the biggest thing is “consistency.” He was extremely personable.

Bill and Tani Austin put on an evening for charity I will never forget. In the past I’ve always been cynical and skeptical of celebrity charity events and I have never attended a single one. Bill and Tani Austin, you guys made me a believer and it was an honor to be an attendee and to be part of such an inspiriational cause. THANK YOU!!!

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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

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Miami Heat, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Lakers, Jason Collier, NBA
Takling about upcoming games, old Freinds and Teammates. Photo: shutterstock.com

Before our game against the Miami Heat, I was stretching at mid-court and watched as Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O’Neal headed to the captain’s circle for the pre-game meeting with the referees. It struck me that here were two of the greatest basketball warriors on the planet. Each over seven feet tall and able to run, jump, catch, and do things that are simply amazing. Every time they see each other, they embrace and catch up on lost time. One of the funnier interactions that I witnessed between the two happened while I was with the Lakers. We were all on the court at the time and I was jogging back on defense. I didn’t catch the whole thing, but they were joking about how one of them hadn’t returned a call promptly. Shaq said something like, “I’ll call you soon, I need your new number,” and KG replying, “I already gave you my new number [last time].” I may have that slightly wrong, but it definitely happened and it was cool to see that little interaction between friends.

I am wondering if Latrell Sprewell is going to sign with someone this season. Right after my thumb surgery last year, I hobbled in late to practice the next day and Latrell came straight over to me with his arms outstretched and gave me a huge hug. I’m not much of a hugger at all, but I will never forget how nice it was to know how much he cared and that he was feeling my pain. I really hope to see him back in the NBA soon.

On New Year’s Eve a couple of teammates and I went out to dinner on South Beach to an Italian restaurant to celebrate the coming year. We had dinner from 6:00-7:30 p.m., got a fruit smoothie, and took the 30 minute cab ride back to our hotel. By the time we got to the hotel it was 9:30pm. I stayed in the rest of the night and mostly relaxed and then watched some fireworks from my fifth floor hotel room. Pretty exciting stuff for Miami, huh?

As the year came to a close I found myself thinking about the death of a good friend and teammate. A few months ago, Jason Collier (center for the Atlanta Hawks), died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Jason was a former teammate of mine and was a great friend. The reports I read indicated the death was both heart and asthma related.

My senior year of college, it seemed like both Jason and I tried out for all of the same NBA teams together. We worked out with the Lakers, Sacramento Kings and the Phoenix Suns together. We went to dinner a lot during that time and when I ended up on the Lakers and Jason with the Houston Rockets, our friendship and association continued. Then, two years ago he was on the Timberwolves training camp roster. Flip Saunders had a hypnotist come to training camp and Jason was so good-natured he volunteered to be hypnotized.

Last year I saw Jason somewhere with Fred Hoiberg and the first thing Jason did was talk about his wife and his new baby and showed us a photo of his newborn while beaming. When Jason died, it was tragic. Here was a guy who played like an animal on the court, but was really a gentle giant off the court and a gem of a human being. I will miss Jason Collier and will always remember him as a superb human being and a great family man.

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.

– Mark

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Lakers, Scramento, Staples Center, Los Angeles, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Special Assistant Coach, NBA
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a retired American professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.

Currently we’re on a four-game road trip and we just beat Sacramento, after defeating my old team the Lakers on Friday night. When we pulled up to Staples Center in Los Angeles, the team bus was directed down into “The Tunnel”, which is another word for the ultra-private, underground parking garage. Yes, in keeping with L.A. tradition, it is glorified valet parking. Before our bus descended the ramp leading under the arena, we saw Kareem Abdul-Jabbar approaching the security checkpoint. He is a special assistant coach with the Lakers, who was brought aboard by Phil Jackson to tutor a young seven-footer the Lakers have in Andrew Bynum. Despite winning several championships with Los Angeles and being the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem got to the checkpoint and the guard gave him what seemed like the typical full airport security check. The guy even wanded Kareem. I guess it’s good that they take security seriously there. To me, getting the wand out for Kareem in that city, would be akin to patting down Michael Jordan in Chicago. Everyone on the bus looked on in amazement and it sparked a number of stories and everyone just marveling at the career he had.

When I played for the Lakers, 90% of our games were at 7:30 p.m. Coach Jackson wanted us there by 6:00 p.m. for those games. When we got stuck in traffic and arrived late (hey, it is Los Angeles traffic), we would always sneak through a back tunnel and try to act very casual when we got in the locker room. One time before a game during warm-ups, I saw Jack Nicholson in his usual seat. I waived at him and said “Hi Jack” and then he waived back and said, “What’s up Mark”. It’s kind of weird to greet someone that you have not talked to very much. I knew him from the movies, and he knew me because he never misses a game. That was about the extent of our conversations when I played out there.

Then there was Tiger Woods. I missed him by one year at Stanford, so when I saw him sitting right next to our bench for a game against Houston, I was not going to miss my chance to meet him. Shaquille O’Neal was hurt and our other big guys were in foul trouble that game, so Robert Horry and I played a lot of minutes. In the third quarter, we went on a run and the Rockets had to call a timeout. I figured that was my only chance to talk to Tiger, so on my way to the bench I got fired up and said, “Let’s go Tiger!” and we bumped fists the way everyone does now. I was happy Phil didn’t see it, but my teammate Brian Shaw did. Brian came over smiling and said, “Don’t think I didn’t just see you sneak Tiger a high five.”

We just landed in Salt Lake City and it’s 12:30 Monday morning. We play the Jazz later…today! By the time we get to our rooms and fall asleep it might be 1:30 or 2:00 a.m. When we get to the hotel, our trainer will stand up and say something like, “Breakfast meeting tomorrow at 11 a.m. in the Oaktree Room on the third floor.” It’s pretty common in the NBA that when you play two games in two nights on the road, the shoot-around at the arena is cancelled for the second game and replaced with the breakfast meeting. Most guys will go to the arena early to get some extra shots up before the game to combat missing the morning session. When Kevin McHale was the coach last year he held the breakfast meetings sometimes, but would always add with a smile, “I’ve never seen a guy improve his game standing at the omelet bar.”

Have a great week.

Thanks,

Mark

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NCAA Tournament, Mississippi State, Minnesota, March Madness, NBA,Coach Mike Montgomery, Shaquille O'Neal, Dallas Game, Dirk Nowitzki, Target Center
Talking About Games, Fans, Coach and Players. Photo: shutterstock.com

This last week was a tough one for me. The Stanford Cardinal, my alma mater, was bounced from the NCAA Tournament in the first round by Mississippi State. However, our women’s hoops team is still alive and is led by a Minnesota native, guard Susan King Borchardt. Susan attended Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, and married Curtis Borchardt, who was a teammate of mine at Stanford. Curtis now plays center for the Utah Jazz.

March Madness is a fun time for all of us in the NBA, because it gives us a chance to talk some trash to each other (for fun of course) about how everyone’s college team is doing and how far they go, or quickly they get bounced. We spend a lot of time together on buses and planes, so inevitably there is going to be plenty of opportunities for good-natured ribbing. And I certainly got my share last week when my squad went down.

In 1998, our Stanford team made it to the Final Four in San Antonio. When we left our hotel for the game, they made us sneak out of the kitchen because there were so many wild fans in the lobby. Coach Mike Montgomery put a password on the phones in the players’ rooms, so that only family and friends could call us. As a side note, many NBA players use aliases when they check into hotels so that people can’t reach them on the phone in their rooms. I use my own name because no crazy people ever try to get a hold of me. Shaquille O’Neal’s old alias was something like Henry

Perot (not using it anymore, so don’t try), but Phil Jackson always used his real name. Kevin Garnett’s alias is… well he probably doesn’t want me to share it, sorry.

At the Final Four we lost a semifinal game to Kentucky by one point in overtime. The only consolation was that they wound up winning the whole thing. When we got back to school it was like a circus. Someone had circulated a fake e-mail that our point guard, Arthur Lee, was going to leave early for the NBA and a lot of the fans on campus were going berserk, because they loved the way he played. Now that Stanford is out, I think I’m going to cheer for Washington. I love the way guard Nate Robinson plays and how fearless he is.

Last week in the Dallas game, I fouled Dirk Nowitzki and did something to my wrist. I took myself out of the game immediately, because I knew something was wrong. They took X-rays on the wrist at the arena during halftime and told me it was fine. They taped it up like a boxing glove and I finished the game. Injuries are part of basketball and this one is pretty severe because I can’t really catch or use my right hand very much at this point. On Monday, they injected my wrist with dye and then took an MRI to see exactly what happened. I am going to a hand specialist in the Twin Cities this week, so I’m hoping to see all of you at the Target center soon. I’ll talk to you next week.

— Mark Madsen

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Shaquille O'Neal, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Toyota Previa, Staples Center, Chevy Tahoe, Beverly Hills, Beverly Center, Rolax Store, California, Minnesota
In 2000, as a rookie on the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaq told me he wanted me to be at his contract extension press conference. Afterwards he said to me, "Are you ready to go shopping?" I was a little shocked, because I really didn't know what was going on.

After playing against Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat last week, a lot of old memories came to mind and I’ll share a few. Back in 2000, as a rookie on the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaq told me he wanted me to be at his contract extension press conference. Afterwards he said to me, “Are you ready to go shopping?” I was a little shocked, because I really didn’t know what was going on. When I arrived in L.A. a few months earlier, I came with the car that my parents gave me as a college graduation gift. The car was an old Toyota Previa and it even sported a nice little dent in the side that one of my older siblings left. One thing Shaq told me right at the start of training camp was, “You can’t be driving into the Staples Center in that thing.”

I went shopping with him and it was a pretty fun day. First he took me to a car dealership and marched right in to the CEO (whom he knew) and told him to give me a great deal on a Chevy Tahoe (that was the car I had mentioned I thought was nice). Then he offered to put a down payment down for me to lease the car. After that he drove us up to Beverly Hills and we went to a Big and Tall clothing store. I found a pair of jeans that fit and Shaq said to the store worker, “He’ll take eight of each color!” I said, “All I need is one of each color.” When Shaq kept piling on Italian sweaters, I told him I didn’t need all the stuff, but he told me it was a welcome gift and to relax while he paid the $2,500 bill.

Then we went to the Beverly Center (a big L.A. mall). First he took me to a trendy store that sold suits. He picked out a nice one and when I asked the store worker how it looked, the worker said it looked “really fly.” That was the first time I had ever heard the word fly in that context before. I took it to mean it looked good. The last stop was the Rolex store in the mall. Right before we walked in, we ran into our teammate J.R. Rider and his friend in the same mall. Shaq told J.R. to pick out a Rolex then he told me to pick one out as well. He then picked out about 20 more. The bill was about $75,000. The next day Shaq came in and gave a Rolex to each teammate, coach and staff member. He told the team thank you and that he wouldn’t be the player he was without their help. I still remember driving around L.A. that day with Shaq, everywhere he drove, people were honking at him and saying hi and stopping alongside to congratulate him.

I still remember when I drove my car out here from California. It was a little scary going from the state where I had lived my entire life and coming to a place where I hardly knew anyone. One of the stops I made along the way was Kearney, Nebraska, where my older sister and her husband and their kids live. The day I left for Minneapolis I woke up early and the thought that came into my mind was something like, “What have I gotten myself into?” After a year and a half of being here in Minneapolis I am so glad I made the decision to come to this awesome state. L.A. was a great three years, but coming to Minnesota has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ll talk to you next week.

— Mark Madsen

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Timberwolves, Mini Practice, NBA, Ervin Johnson, Fred Hoiberg, KG, Shaquille O'Neal, Perfect Shots
All Members on the Timberwolves Prepares in a Different Way. Photo: shutterstock.com

On a game day, everyone on the Timberwolves prepares in a different way. The team itself puts us through the same routine every time, however. We have a shootaround – a mini-practice – the morning of the game. There, our coaches and scouts tell us what the other team runs and the hand signals and calls for their plays. The team issues us a written scouting report, which if we don’t turn back in that night before the game carries a $100 fine. In the NBA everyone knows each other’s plays. But the crazy thing is that even when you know what’s coming, sometimes it’s still hard to stop. After our shootaround, the players go home and rest for the next few hours, in addition to eating a solid pregame meal. I think all the players try to sleep for a few hours. We may have arrived in town the night before at 2:00 a.m., or maybe we couldn’t sleep the previous night after being so wound up from a game. On our team, some players do things differently every game day and others do things exactly the same way. Here are a few examples.

Ervin Johnson — No matter if we have a home game or an away game, Ervin will lift weights before our shootaround. He doesn’t lift really heavy weights and won’t lift for more than a half hour, but he always does it. If we’re on the road, you know you can find Erv in the hotel gym; and if we’re at home, he’ll be in our workout complex that morning.

Fred Hoiberg — If it’s a road game, when we get to the other team’s arena for the game, Fred will always turn around from his seat on the bus (yes, we all sit in the same bus seat EVERY time) and say to me “Go ahead, Mad Dog.” I then get up and go in front of him and he gets off right behind me.

KG — KG is probably the one who has the most consistent pregame ritual. After shootaround, KG stays after and lifts weights and then shoots to maintain his shot for the game. If you watch KG in pregame warm-ups you can write down the shots he takes and the spots he takes them from. You can note when he dunks in our warm-up lines and when he does a reverse layup, or when he just does a routine finger roll. Write down what order he does it in too. It will be exactly the same every time.

When I played with Shaquille O’Neal, he seemed to do something different every time in warm-ups. Shaq used to laugh and play around a lot before the game, but once they threw the opening tip up, he zeroed in on putting the ball in the basket.

My game day ritual has very few constants. I always try to shoot a few extra shots in the shootaround and end with a few perfect shots in a row. I go home and make sure to eat a solid meal and try to sleep and then mentally think about what to do and where to go in the upcoming game. Once I get to the arena, I pretty much do something different every time. The one constant is that I try to talk to the fans that are there early on the sides of the tunnel leading to the court. I’ve been playing basketball for over twenty years and I’ve played in a lot of games, but I still get a little nervous before every game. Talking to the fans and my teammates helps me relax and stay loose for the game. I’ll talk to you next week!

— Mark Madsen