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!
A four game win streak is not too bad at all. Since Kevin McHale took over, it has taken time for us to get his system and philosophy but I think that we are all finally starting to click. We are also building on the defensive principles and system that Randy Wittman put into place befor the coaching change.
Tonight at the Target center, basketball was fun again. The fans were screaming, Randy Foye has 18 points in the first quarter and Al Jefferson continued to be the “Iron Man” that Don Nelson described him to be a week ago. If Al Jefferson does not make the All-Star game, then something is seriously wrong in this league. There are only three players in the league that can score down low the way Al can and it’s Mr. Jefferson, Tim Duncan, and the Shaq Diesel.
In fact, it was Al Jefferson’s birthday party on Sunday night a few days ago! He had the entire team over to his house and an amazing catered dinner along with some relaxation time where players and teammates shot the breeze, played pool and ate appetizers. Al had kevin Love get up and sing him happy birthday in front of all 40 people. Kevin Love ate it up and had a great time with going back and forth with his post player friend and mentor, the Big Al.
McHale’s coaching style reminds me a little bit of my first coach and NBA mentor, Phil Jackson. The one thing they both really have in common is that during practice they’re both all over people and once the game starts they don’t say a whole lot. It allows you as a player to relax, play loose, and just try to make a play without looking over your shoulder. They both cared a lot about effort an energy. Phil Jackson used to always talk about playing with energy.
McHale has a new tradition that no coach I’ve ever played for has used. At the end of practice or a game or before a game when everybody on the team puts their hand in for the break, (“one, two, three, TEAM, or WIN, chant), McHale takes a different approach. Everybody puts their hand in and then McHale will single out one guy and ask for example, “Craig Smith, what do you have for us today?” Craig might say “Family” (as he did once) and then on “three” everyone chants “FAMILY!” I like this as it keeps everyone on their toes and everyone thinking about what they want the chant to be if McHale picks them.
The best chant so far in my opinion has come from Sebastian Telfair, which he told us later he borrowed from the old Portland Trailblazers team chaplain “Too annointed to be dissapointed!” It was a little bit long to chant, but guys LOVED the creativity!
Ron Artest is known around the NBA as one of the best, if not the very best defender in the entire NBA. He recently emerged as one of the Houston Rockets go to guys (along with Yao Ming) and is helping them to a great record in the past few weeks. We’ve played them at home twice now and after our first game when I bumped into Ron, one of the first things he said to me was “How’s Corey Brewer doing?” Corey had just suffered a season ending injury and Ron wanted me to pass along to Corey that he hoped Corey’s recovery went well.
Then two nights ago in Minnesota some friends of mine came to the game and wanted to the chance to meet Artest and take some pictures with him. (and Yao Ming of course also). While Ron was shaking hands and meeting my friends his main focus at first was asking me how Al Jefferson was holding up after Al’s own season ending knee injury.
To me it just kind of shows what’s inside of Ron. On both ocasions, the first thoughts Ron is having are about other people and what they are going through. And it makes it all the more unique given that Ron is one of the most intense, tough and respected players throughout the NBA. I first played againt Ron Artest in college in 1999 in New York City in a tournament at Madison Square Garden. A year or two later, Artest had an injury and my older brother who was doing his orthopedic surgery residency in New York City was one of the doctors that initially met with him. All my brother could say was how cool of a guy Ron was. Over the years, we’ve developed a friendship through the bustle of the seasons. I guess I just hope that fans can get to know Artest for the community service he does and for his very real and down to earth self that he is.
On a sidenote, we lost to the warriors tonight at home. It probably wasn’t our best game, but aftewards I was talking with some fans who had come out and one of them said, “This is the best ticket in town.” Our owner just lowered season ticket prices for next season and now there are actually $5 dollar tickets at the Target Center in some sections! Another fan said to me, “We just renewed our season tickets for next season tonight!” It made me happy that even though some of our best players are injured, the fans appreciate the hard work and intensity that our team is showing. I guess that’s one thing that the Timberwolves can offer every single night: 100% Intensity and Effort!
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 !!!
It’s always nice to have a team bonding event during the middle of a long season. The most recent one took place at Gerald Green’s apartment near the Mall of America. Gerald hosted the team, and Antoine Walker had some great food catered in from one of the best Italian restaurants in the twin cities, Vescio’s Cucina. I guess it was technically a super bowl party but it was also just a time to bond, relax, and hang out.
This friday we have the Boston Celtics coming into town for one of our biggest games of the year. All the fans here in Minnesota keep on asking “Is Kevin Garnett going to play?” or “If he doesn’t play, will he be here at the Target Center?” I think the issue right now is that KG has an abdominal muscle injury and all of the above questions are up in the air. When the average fan hears about an abdominal strain it really doesn’t sound that bad. But for those of us that have had the injury (I had one in 2001-2002) it is extremely painful and must be treated or it gets worse and worse to the point you can’t run at all.
I suspect that KG’s strain will get better soon and he will be back as soon as humanly possible. In my 3 years with Kevin Garnett, I basically only saw him miss one practice due to health–it was food poisoning. So you know it’s serious when Kevin sits out. The guy just never gets hurt and when he is hurt he just plays through it. Unfortunately this is one injury where rest is absolutely mandatory.
As far as this season goes, we are finally starting to play well. Al Jefferson continues to blossom and in my mind he has the best jump hook in the NBA. But most importantly we are all growing as a team. Fans are continuing to come out and support us and our crowds have been great. Hopefully I will see you at our game this Friday night!
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.
I wanted to thank Adam for his comment (see below). His input poses a great question about our locker room dynamics. Is anyone in the lockeroom hurt from ticket’s [Kevin Garnett’s] excitement over the chance to bring in [Allen iverson]?
10:16:01 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Yeah, I can see how you might wonder what it would be like for any timberwolves players to turn on the T.V. or read ESPN.com and hear KG saying that he wants A.I. in Minnesota. Because by deduction, that means that someone (or many players) from the Timberwolves has to get shipped out.
I really don’t think there was much of an upset feeling in the locker room over it. The main thing is that this is one of those rare moments when a superstar is being shopped around the league. Allen Iverson getting traded is right up there with Shaq being traded from the Lakers to the Heat. All of us know how good A.I. is so I don’t think any of us took it as anything more than the “business side of basketball.” The other thing is that KG is such a great teammate and stand-up guy that he always speaks from his heart. He’s just as likely to tell us the same thing behind closed doors that he tells the media. That’s one of the reasons why everyone respects him so much.
I sit next to Mark Blount on the plane trips. He and I were talking about the Allen Iverson thing and Blount basically said that Allen is such a special talent that our organization really has to look at the trade scenario.
I guess the good news for us is that it really looks like Denver is going to win out on the A.I. thing. They have two draft picks in 2007 and Philly really wants those picks. The other thing is that I don’t think there is any way that the Timberwolves organization is going to trade Randy Foye or Craig Smith. That’s who Philly really wanted from us anyway. I’d like to see these two young guys filling up the Target Center for many years to come.
I have been very impressed with our new draft choice Randy Foye!!! You are going to like what you see out there! The last two days a big group of us have been playing pickup ball at the target center. This is the first time I had met or played with Randy. I am going to tell you right now that Randy Foye is going to excite the fans at the Target Center a lot. He is a very good shooter, but most importantly, he has a floater that he seems to be able to shoot over anyone. I don’t have a whole lot of time right now, but in the coming days I am going to write a little bit about each of my new teammates so that you can all get to know them a little bit. I am going to write a little bit about each new teammate every two days leading up to training camp.
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!