Tags Posts tagged with "Trenton Hassell"

Trenton Hassell

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Goodbye, Kevin Garnett, Traded to the Boston Celtics, Minnesota
Kevin Maurice Garnett is an American professional basketball power forward and center with the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Photo: shutterstock.com
Today I got the unimaginable news that Kevin Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics. Being out here in Minnesota and hearing this news was interesting because it is the most talked about thing in almost every circle in which I move. Friends from out of state are emailing me about it. A non-sports radio station “wished Kevin safe travels to Boston” tonight at 10pm while I was driving home.

Here are a few memories of the Kevin Garnett that I know. This is the side that the public doesn’t see every day.

One Cardinal rule in our locker room is this: Never wear gear from another NBA team. So when our new assistant trainer from Oklahoma had a Dallas Mavericks screensaver on his cellphone, Kevin Garnett found it and enforced the penalty. When I say penalty, Kevin made him sprint two hundred yards from our team bus to a pickup truck parked in the distance and then yell out “I love the Timberwolves!” three times.

When Craig Smith came into practice wearing some Golden State Warriors practice shorts, Kevin brought out the entire team and had Craig go to center court and hold up the shorts and say “I will never wear these shorts again,” while he held the shorts up and walked around three times. Everyone was laughing. Craig was laughing too. KG loves Craig on and off the court. I’ve never seen a rookie big man like Craig come in and win over the trust and confidence of Kevin so quickly.

Our offense calls for two “big men” to be on the court at the same time and it takes quite a while to learn all of the defensive rotations. Kevin Garnett expects nothing short of perfection on defense. Mark Blount is one of the smartest veteran centers in the NBA and he and Kevin read each other all the time. Where I have been impressed with Craig is that he’s beyond his years on defense. On offense, he’s been tearing up the other team’s interior and scoring in bunches. But in some ways he’s been even better on defense.

But getting back to the theme of this blog. I never thought Kevin Garnett would be apprehended by our own locker room fashion police. But it did happen a few months ago. It all started after practice one day when a few of us got into the locker room to shower and get ready to go home. KG was still down in the weight room lifting weights. Rashad McCants went over to Kevin’s locker and pulled out his shoes and put them out for everyone to see. “What the heck are these?” Rashad said as he pointed to Kevin’s shoes. As everyone looked down to Kevin’s locker we were shocked to see that his shoes had the words “Portland Trailblazers” alongside the Trailblazers logo! All of this was of course in Trailblazer red and black colors!

I’ve never seen so many guys so excited to bust Kevin’s chops. When Kevin finally got up to the locker room he walked in and saw his shoes out for everyone to see. Kevin busted out smiling and yelled out, “Who was in my locker! I don’t know who was in my locker!” Rashad stood up and called out, “I peeped it out when you walked in here this morning!” Trenton Hassell was having a field day. “Throw those shoes in the trash” he yelled out. It was my job to take the shoes and stomp on them and then take them to the garbage can. Kevin was laughing so hard. I guess Adidas had sent out a bunch of walking shoes to Kevin and the shoes all had logos of different NBA teams.

Kevin told us how he had gotten up that morning and tried on the Portland shoes and that they had looked good. So he asked his wife “What do you think? Can I wear these in to practice?”

“Well Kevin, I don’t think so. I mean, the Trailblazers are in your conference and you play against them, right?….” she said.

Kevin decided to wear the shoes in anyway and explained how he “had pushed his jeans down over the Trailblazers logo and walked into the locker room really quickly.” He even showed us how he had pushed his shoes way to the back of his locker area under his chair so that none of us would see the shoes. Well, nothing gets past Rashad fashion wise. We had a good laugh that day. But the story didn’t end there. Trenton Hassell called out:

“Man I’m going to use those shoes…..I’m getting them out of the garbage can. I’ve got my guy in Chattangooga Tennesse and he’s 6’10” and wears size fourteen too!”

————–

Back to a serious note. Kevin Garnett is one of the mot loyal individuals I have ever met in my life. We’re all gong to miss him and we all wish him well.

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Trenton Hassell, NBA General Manager, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, NBA draft, Mitch Kupchak, Jaron Rush
Trenton Hassell told me that if he was an NBA General Manager he would rather have the 2nd pick in this year’s NBA draft instead of the first pick. Photo: shutterstock.com
Trenton Hassell told me that if he was an NBA General Manager he would rather have the 2nd pick in this year’s NBA draft instead of the first pick. When I asked him why, he said, “Because you can’t go wrong with the 2nd pick….I’d hate to be the GM that had to choose between Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.”

When NBA teams are getting ready to make a draft selection, nothing is left to chance. Teams will fly groups of players in to work them out and match them up against each other to see who is toughest and who competes hardest. A lot of teams administer the same written, multiple-choice psychological survey. I must have seen the same survey four times from four different teams. One team (Chicago Bulls) actually brought in a psychologist to administer a whole set of unique tests. One of the sit down interviews in Chicago may have been a type of IQ test. I’m still not sure.

They test your strength in the weight room, your body fat, watch how you interact with the equipment manager and trainers, and seem analyze everything you do and say. Then, a lot of teams will have you sit down with the General Manager for an interview. I still remember my interview for the LA Lakers. “Do you drink?” They asked. “No,” I said. “That’s the first time in years we’ve interviewed two players in a row who both don’t drink,” they replied. The player before me was a UCLA player who has ended up having a very nice professional basketball career.

Mitch Kupchak (Current LA Lakers GM) asked me an interesting question during the interview process. “Who is the best [current] college player you have played against?” I knew right away. “Jaron Rush,” I said. I still think he was the best I played against in college. I ended up playing with his brother Kareem Rush for the Lakers for a year.

Mitch probably got some good information from all the people he interviewed. What better way to try to assess the draft class and future drafts than asking the people who have grown up playing against each other in high school, AAU, pickup games and college games.

Over the course of years, I’ve probably spoken to well over 10 different NBA general managers. I asked one with a pretty nice draft history “How do you know who to draft each year?” His exact words to me were: “It’s a crapshoot.”

Then it clicked. There are just too many unknown variables that are impossible for GM’s to predict. If every GM was perfect, then there’s no way that Kevin Garnett and Kobe would have been selected as low as they were in the draft. There would never be any draft “busts.”

But someone has to make the decision and that’s why the GM’s go to great lengths to get as much information as possible. When Brevin Knight was a senior at Stanford, the rumor circulation around campus was that there was a private investigator going around campus asking questions to verify Brevin’s very high personal character. We were told that for the top 10 projected picks, private investigators came around asking questions.

When they make a great pick, they are hailed as “great talent evaluators.” When they mess up with a pick they are labeled by the media as “out of touch” or “can’t see the obvious.” To the GM who ends up with the 1st pick in this years NBA draft I say “good luck.”

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Los Angeles Clippers, KG , Kevin Garnett, Philadelphia, NBA, training room, Trenton Hassell, Sam Cassell, Randy Foye
Sam Cassell is a American professional basketball player. The 6 ft 3 in, 185 lb point guard was selected out of Florida State University by the Houston Rockets with the 24th overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
Tonight we lost a very close game to the Los Angeles Clippers. We were down by one point with 4.3 seconds left and we needed one basket to win the game. During our timeout, Coach Casey drew up a play that got KG open for a pass with time expiring. From my angle, Kevin’s shot looked like it was going in. I thought I was seeing the Philadelphia game all over again with Kevin nailing the last second shot and our team running off the court victorious. Well, Kev’s jumper barely missed and we lost the game. Such is life in the NBA. Kevin wants the ball in those situations. He knows he’s either going to be the hero or the goat and he’s got the courage and the skill for those moments.

I had to ride the bike for 15 minutes in the training room after the game because I need to stay in shape. Kevin and Trenton Hassell were in there too and we kind of talked about what happened throughout the game. Kevin was in his normal spot–on the first training table cooling down and unwinding after the game. Trenton always comes in the training room to change clothes too and to have some privacy from the media. A few minutes later our old buddy Sam Cassell came down to talk. It’s always great to see Sam. He told us about the refs called a foul on him while he was guarding Randy Foye. He said something like this:

“Randy Foye is athletic! Randy Foye jumped over me and almost dunked it! Then the ref called a foul on me! I said, ‘How can it be a foul on me, when he jumped over me!”

Allright well, it’s 1am and I am tired. I can’t think about the game anymore so I’m going to call it a night!

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Billy Hunter, Union leader, NBA, new nba ball, New York Times, David Stern
few days ago that our Union leader Billy filed a legal action with the NBA over the new nba ball and i wanted to see if there was any update. Billy has done an excellent job of getting the feedback from pretty much every single NBA player in the NBA about this issue. Photo: shutterstock.com
The New NBA Ball Update: Today is honestly one of the happiest days of this NBA season for me. As I was sitting here at my house, not able to sleep because I’m on the late night NBA shedule, (we fly in places in the AM and our games go late into the evening and after getting so wound up for games it’s tough to sleep) I typed in “Billy Hunter” into the Google search engine. It was a few days ago that our Union leader Billy filed a legal action with the NBA over the new nba ball and i wanted to see if there was any update. Billy has done an excellent job of getting the feedback from pretty much every single NBA player in the NBA about this issue, so it’s safe to say that this legal action was almost unanimous.

Well, Google spit out an article from the New York Times where David Stern was quoted as saying: “I won’t make a spirited defense with respect to the ball,” Stern said. “In hindsight, we could have done a better job. I take responsibility for that.” He also added that everything was “under review” and that he was really listening to what the players had to say.

A lot of people might look at the NBA Players Union and say “Why are they complaining so much about a ball?” and “Why did they file a grievance in a court of law over a ball?” The reason is simple. This is not only a game that we love to play but it is our employment. When I compare the old ball to the new ball, it is like comparing Windows XP to the software used on a Commodore 64 over eighteen years ago. If an accountant at Deloitte was given software that did not perform well or was archaic, that accountant would be stupid not to bring it to the attention of the IT department. In essence, that is what we are doing as a union.

I knew all along that David Stern would listen carefully to the feedback of the players. I’ve said it here on this blog before and I’ll say it again: When I first joined the NBA, David Stern gave out his email address to every Rookie at our initiation training and he invited us to email him at any time. I’ve emailed him maybe five times in my career about various things and he has responded every time.

I think what happened was this: Spalding came out w/ a new technology for a synthetic ball. I truly believe that in the Laboratory the synthetic ball tests came back very positive because the NBA would have never switched balls unless there was some sort of empirical data. The problem is that the laboratory cannot produce game like conditions of sweaty palms, etc. A lot of guys have been complaining lately that the New synthetic NBA ball is cutting up their fingertips. Today Trenton Hassell told me that in our locker room. I guess last week Steve Nash was wearing bandages on his fingers from cuts caused by the new ball.

I have huge hands and I can barely palm the new ball when it’s been broken in. When it’s wet there is no chance of me being able to palm it well. The old ball, I could palm with ease and swing it around with one hand. Most big guys in the NBA say that they can’t palm it like the old ball. Mark Blount and Kevin Garnett have pretty much told me the same thing in that it’s just much harder to control with one hand. Even though we don’t dribble the ball as much as guards, we have to go up more inside with one hand and need the control of the leather ball.

Most guards say that the ball doesn’t bounce right or doesn’t go off the backboard right. Dwayne Wade went as far as speaking out in the Miami Sun-Sentinel:

“My bank shot is no longer existent,” said Wade, who feels the ball sticks against the backboard. “My game-winning shots, I’m telling you, it’s past. But it’s an adjustment we’ve got to keep trying to make.”

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Sam Cassell, Clippers, Dwayne Wade, Fred Hoiberg, Kevin Garnett, Minnesota, Randy Foye
Sam Cassell is anAmerican professional basketball player. He one of the best players this game has ever seen. Photo: shutterstock.com
In warmups before the game Sammy told me I needed a haircut. I told him I would get him a bottle of Rogaine for his bald head. We both had a good laugh out of it. Sam Cassell is one of my all-time favorite teammates. At halftime of tonight’s game against the Clippers, he walked by Trenton Hassell and I, grinned and said, “I’m hot fellas.” As if his 20 first half points wasn’t evidence enough. Sam Cassell almost put the Clippers on his back and beat us at the Target Center last night. Luckily for us, Randy Foye rose to the ocasion and saved us in the fourth quarter.

I wanted to talk about Sam for a second though because not only is he one of the best players this game has ever seen, but he rubs off on his teammates. From a basketball standpoint, Sam has the ability to raise his teammates’ scoring averages by big jumps. He just makes everyone around him better. When Sam was here in Minnesota, Fred Hoiberg had a great year, Sprewell was at the top of his game and Kevin Garnett was the MVP of the entire NBA. It was almost like our entire team all had career years. Now he is doing the same thing with the Clippers. Sam has such a huge personality, I think the fans loved watching Sam interact with the refs almost as much as watching the game. When we lost Sam we lost not only a great floor leader but we lost a good friend.

I was sad to see him go. I’m not sure Sam could have done anything more to help the Clippers win tonight. But despite his 31 point night, we got a huge lift from an up and coming future star in Randy Foye.

Randy has been patiently awaiting his opportunity to perform in the clutch. Tonight we caught a glimpse of a player who can shoulder some of the load that Kevin Garnett takes on a nightly basis. Randy is built like a tank and his much stronger than most guards in the NBA but is still quicker than most guards too. Randy reminds me of a lot of what I see in Chauncy Billups and Dwayne Wade. Tonight Randy stepped out and hit threes, finished shots around the basket and he came up with some huge rebounds. Randy scored 15 points in the fourth quarter alone!!! The thing that makes Randy the most unusual for a rookie though is his calmness and his level of poise in a big game like tonight’s. Composure is one thing that coaches can’t teach and Randy Foye has it in spades.

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Craig Smith
Craig Smith!
Last night against the Chicago Bulls I think that we showed some flashes of what is to come. First of all, Craig Smith threw down a thunderous dunk in the first have that had people on the bench remembering what Charles Barkley used to do on the court. Craig Smith has had a phenomenal training camp and pre-season. Trenton Hassell compared Craig’s jump hook to the way Antawn Jamison is able to score on much taller defenders using the same un-blockable shot. Craig and I have become good friends. I didn’t realize it, but he was in High School at Fairfax High in Los Angeles at the same time that I was in my first few NBA seasons with the Lakers. I think that Craig is going to be a big time contributor this season as a rookie and it is clear that we got a steal by getting him in the Second round of the draft. One of the reasons why Craig slipped is because he had a wrist injury around draft time and he wasn’t able to workout for teams so they didn’t want to take the risk. The funny thing is that I’ve had a similar wrist surgery and the only bad thing about it is that it just takes a long time to get better (3-6 months). Once it’s better though, you are as good as new.

We’re staying in “The Lodge” hotel close to Moline, IL and on the border of Iowa getting ready for our game tonight. Every time we get close to Iowa, Fred Hoiberg always sings the same tune: “Iowa is the best state in the union.” Freddy, I like Iowa too, but I just hope that Iowa State doesn’t have to face Stanford in the NCAA tournament!

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Fred Hoiberg, Assistant General Manager, Jason Collier, TimberWolves, NBA, NBA Players,
Fred Hoiberg gets promoted as Assistant General Manager. Photo: shutterstock.com
Fred Hoiberg is now assistant GM! It has been a tumultous past year for Fred Hoiberg. Ever since he had major heart surgery last summer he has been dying to return to his playing days as one of the best shooters ever to play in the NBA. A few days ago, the Timberwolves announced that they were formalizing his employment with the team as Assistant General Manager along with our old friend Rob Babcock.

I think because of Fred’s experience along with the tragic death of fellow NBA player and former teammate, Jason Collier, the NBA has made mandatory cardiovascular testing a requirement for all NBA players. I will have to get on a treadmill with all of the cables attached to my chest next Tuesday in order to determine if I have any heart irregularities along with the rest of the NBA. Trenton Hassell did his testing yesterday along with a few other of the guys.

Well, I promised I was going to write a little bit more about Randy Foye, but he has been off at “Rookie Transition Camp” so I’m going to wait until he gets back. Rookie Transition camp was a very interesting experience for me. Every single incoming rookie in the NBA has to attend or get fined $10,000.00. When I was there, they brought in accountants, image consultants, financial advisors, and conflict resolution people who try to teach us how to stay calm when things get heated. Overall it was good. I remember when David Stern came in to talk to us about the NBA. He was really cool to all of the guys and actually gave out his email address to all of us and said that if we ever had any concerns, complaints, or questions, to email him directly. The one area that I have communicated directly with the league on is rules for cheap shots. During a game, all of us can handle unintentional elbows to the head, throat, back, etc. What really gets most NBA players mad though is when they get hit with a cheap shot. I’m going to report back to all of you when they read us the new rules for the coming year, and if I don’t like what I hear I am going to protest to the league and through our liason, Billy Hunter.

Lastly, I wanted to let you all know that Daniel Santiago has been working out with us and he’s been looking pretty good. Daniel is a longtime friend of mine as we played a lot together in LA and we are the same age. Daniel is about 7’1″ and he can shoot. He is from Puerto Rico and has had huge games in international competition against guys like Tim Duncan, and the rest of the US team. I think Dan brings a very intelligent, and tough big guy to mix.

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Lake Calhoun, Trenton Hassell, Memphis, Tria Medical Center, Kevin Garnett, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Kenyon Martin, Apologize
Lake Calhoun is the largest lake in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and part of the city's Chain of Lakes. Photo: shutterstock.com
Trenton Hassell Saves the Day Last Thursday, the day after our loss to Memphis, we had to report to the Tria Medical Center in Bloomington for our end-of-season physicals. It was probably the last time our entire team will be together until next fall. Trenton Hassell came to the 7:30 AM physicals and he was talking about how he was bummed out because he had to cut off his dream he was having that morning. When we asked him about the dream he said that in the dream he was on a plane that had been hijacked and he was in the middle of “saving everyone on the flight” when the alarm clock sounded. He’d be the right guy though in a situation like that–I can tell you that for sure.

Lake Calhoun

Today I decided it was time to do some long distance running so I went over to Lake Calhoun to see if I could run the entire lake. I did some sprinting and walking and finally finished running two thirds of the lake at a good pace. I was shocked at how many people were out there running and rollerblading. It was awesome to be out there doing something normal during the summer time. I’m glad to be here in MN for some of the warm months too. I really love it out here. If any of you readers are ever at the lake be sure to say hello. I’ll be the tall guy running on the dirt path getting passed by all of the marathon runner people with the heart rate monitors on. Hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll be one of those people and I’ll be going fast like them too. I’ll head to Nebraska soon to see my sister and her husband and four kids and then out west for a while, but I’m really looking forward to doing my kids basketball camp in Champlin in late June at Champlin High School.

Kevin Garnett

I think the question the media and fans ask the most is “does KG want to stay in Minnesota” and “How is KG doing?” Most of the questions I get from people are related to Kevin. Well, let me address both of those questions by saying that of all the teammates I’ve had, Kevin is one of the guys who always is going to speak from his heart whether he’s talking to us behind closed doors or whether he’s talking to reporters. So whatever he says to the media is a pretty accurate portrayal of what he’s thinking about because he’s upfront about things. I know that towards the end of the season he took some time to himself to focus on training and having a little bit of privacy, but the answer that I give people is to just let Kevin have a normal few months free from worrying about all this stuff. Until then, I think that he’s taking some much deserved time to spend with his loved ones and friends. Personally I think that there are a lot of national media members that like to stir up the pot and try to put words into the mouth of KG. Of course fans and media people in NYC, Chicago and L.A. are going to fill message boards and chat rooms with rumors about KG going each place because those markets would love to have him. Personally, I think that the mojave desert would freeze over for ten years straight before Mr. Taylor would trade Kevin Garnett. There is no trade that would give MN equal value for Kevin.

Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls

Just a little while ago I was watching the playoffs on TV. I have to admit that it’s very tough to watch other teams still playing. Two nights ago, I got so frustrated that I called one of my friends and we went up to Flagship Athletic Club in Eden Prairie where he rebounded for me to help me work on my jump shot/set shot. But tonight I was able to see what was going on in the Bulls/Heat series. At halftime, Craig Sager highlighted the fact that In the first twelve posessions of the game, Shaq only touched the ball twice for the Miami Heat. That was the reason why they lost the game tonight. They never got Shaq involved. I still remember game seven against the Sacramento Kings a few years ago when I was with the Lakers. Before the game, Shaquile told everyone in the huddle to find him and to “give him the ball.” When you are the big man like shaq it is tough to watch your teammates hoist up a lot of threes without getting to touch the ball a lot. Sometimes he’d come to the huddle in LA and say, “Fellas, just let me touch it.” When we got him the ball it opened things up for everyone. If the Miami Heat will give Shaq more touches it will open everything else up for the rest of the team and Antoine Walker will be knocking down threes and Jayson Williams and Gary Payton will have a field day. If not, it’s going to be the Chicago Bulls getting long rebounds and turning the series into the proverbial “track meet” with all the runners they have on their team.

Kenyon Martin

Let’s start off by taking a look at the statement issued by Kenyon Martin. It’s refreshing when someone like Kenyon immediately comes out and apologizes for whatever happened. To me that shows he’s a man.

“First and foremost, I want to apologize to my teammates and coaching staff for my actions on Monday night,” Martin said in his statement. “There is nothing more important to me than being a good teammate and giving 110 per cent effort each and every day. Nothing will ever change that. I sincerely regret if this situation has been a distraction for the team, (Nuggets owner) Mr. Kroenke and the Denver Nuggets organization,” Martin said. “I take the responsibility of representing the Denver Nuggets very seriously and I truly hope that Nuggets fans understand that.”

I know Kenyon Martin as an opponent, but more importantly I know Kenyon as a friend. This man is warrior and a GREAT basketball player. He may be the quickest big man in the nba and one of the smartest players in the association. I roomed with Kenyon Martin on a World University Games USA college team and this man is a class act. I feel badly for what Kenyon is going through right now and I think his immediate statement that he issued shows he is very contrite. I also saw George Karl’s interview on SportsCenter and Coach Karl seemed to really show that he felt for what Kenyon was going through and seemed to express empathy for the tough knee injury that Kenyon has been fighting through.

As I’m sitting here watching the Denver/Clippers game the commentators are saying that Kenyon wants to talk to Coach Karl about the incident but Coach Karl does not want to talk about it right now with Kenyon because it’s the playoffs and it’s a busy/stressful time. Who knows if they really know what’s going on or not but having been through the playoffs I kind of understand where both sides are coming from. I remember two years ago Kevin Garnett telling Ndui Ebi something like “Just get prepared because things in this locker room are about to get really intense during the playoffs and just know that nothing said in this room is personal even though it might seem like a hostile place.”

Now, I wasn’t there for whatever incident took place, but the sooner the Denver staff can meet with Kenyon and the sooner they can crush whatever happened in the “incident” the sooner they will get one of the best players in the league back on the court as a contributor and a dominant force.

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Summer Vacation, Physical, Champlin, Arn Tellem, NBA Athletes, Basketball Trip
Our team member will report to a local medical facility for our “exit physicals” and then the season will officially be over.

This coming Thursday, every member of our team will report to a local medical facility for our “exit physicals” and then the season will officially be over. We will be left with a long summer vacation to mull over what we could have done better and how we will prepare for next season. My summers normally constitute working out with weights, running and improving on my basketball skills, as well as a few other activities that I’m looking forward to.

Last summer I did my first ever youth basketball camp in Champlin, Minn. There were about 40 kids who came to the camp, and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Because I do want to become a coach when I am done playing, it’s a great opportunity for me to learn about coaching and how to work with kids. One of the reasons I did the camp last summer for the first time is because of a story that my mom told me. When my mom was growing up in Long Beach, Calif., she was involved in the orchestra group at her school and she loved to play the violin. There were many devoted leaders and mentors in the area involved in music, and they sponsored summer camps, one of which was called Arrowbear. My mom says that the orchestra programs throughout Southern California were all huge and very strong, because there was so much support locally from teachers and retired musicians, who simply wanted to share their gifts and experiences. I really hope that through involvement in this camp, I can in some way help promote the game of basketball and create positive memories for the kids that attend.

Another summer activity that I hope occurs involves my basketball agent, Arn Tellem. Arn represents around 100 NBA athletes, including Kobe Bryant, Antawn Jamison, Tracy McGrady and others. Mr. Tellem is Jewish and last summer he planned a basketball trip to the Middle East where for about a week, a group of players would go to cities like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other areas to hold clinics for Palestinian and Jewish basketball players. His vision is that there would be several camps/clinics

where he would bring together Muslims, Christians and Jews through basketball and try to build bridges between the groups. Arn invited many of the players that he represents to fly over with him. The response was overwhelming and many players committed immediately. At the last minute the trip had to be cancelled due to an escalating security issue, but there is talk of trying to make the trip this summer. I think that would be a fantastic experience.

Even though it’s been a tough season, we’ve still tried to keep it loose. A few days ago in Indianapolis, Trenton Hassell was counting out loud the number of tickets he needed to leave for family members. “Eight plus three is 11, plus three is 14, plus…” Marko Jaric thought he heard an addition mistake during the process, so he smiled and called out, “The high schools in Europe are as good as the colleges here.” Trenton laughed and reminded the whole locker room that “Marko didn’t even go to high school. He went to ‘basketball school’ instead,” which is common for young professional athletes in Europe. Then Trenton took it one step further and said, “Marko if you’re so smart, then what’s the square root of 169?” “What does that mean?” Marko said. Finally, a teammate went up to the dry-erase board and wrote it up in math lingo and Marko got it right and laughed out loud and said, “Your terminology in the states is different!”

I wanted to thank all of you for taking the time to read this diary and I especially want to thank this newspaper for publishing it. I hope it’s given you an insider’s view of the NBA. I’ll keep on writing this summer on my blog at markmadsen.com. Have a great summer!

– Mark

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Trenton Hassell, Atlanta, Coach Casey, Tiffany, Autographs, Road Trip
This weekend we beat Atlanta on a Trenton Hassell put-back shot with about two seconds to play. I thought that, given Trenton saved the day for us. Photo: monticello/ shutterstock.com

This is the first time in my entire basketball career that I’ve been on a team that has no statistical chance of making the playoffs going down the stretch. However, what is encouraging is that everyone is still fighting like we’re playing in a Game 7. This weekend we beat Atlanta on a Trenton Hassell put-back shot with about two seconds to play. I thought that, given Trenton saved the day for us, I wanted to do a little spotlight on him and allow you to get to know him a little bit better.

Two years ago, Trenton Hassell married his college sweetheart, Tiffany, and the couple recently gave birth to their first child. Trenton actually lives about two minutes from me in the western suburbs, so sometimes we argue about how long it takes to get to practice or to the airport. Somehow it seems that Trenton can get to both destinations about 10 minutes faster than I can. I guess I need to find a better route.

About three weeks ago Trenton had to leave a game because he strained his knee and his ankle. I remember everyone on the team saying, “Gosh, it must really be bad because Trenton never gets hurt.” Not only is Trenton durable, but he is also very tough and always plays through pain. After about a week of rehab, he came back better than ever and now is back to his normal high level of play.

People ask me about Trenton and I tell them that he is a true student of the game. When the team is in the locker room and any of our players or coaches wants to know what players on other teams are playing well, they ask him. He also has a pulse on who all the good college players are throughout the country, even if they are from very small schools. When we are at home, I know Trenton spends his time with his wife and son. When we are on the road, he’s always watching games and film to scout the competition and prepare.

Trenton also signs a lot autographs for the fans. One time before a game, there was a man outside of our parking area who asked him to sign something unique. I remember Trenton coming into the locker and he said something like, “He asked me to sign the cover of his Bible, and I did, but I’ve never done that before and I hope it wasn’t wrong that I did that.” Trenton has a huge heart and we are very lucky to have him on the team. After his game-winning shot, I was next to Coach Casey who gave Trenton a huge hug. He plays hard, but clean.

Early this week we embark on our last road trip of the season. It will be a little bittersweet, because once the summer hits, every player goes their own way. Guys will head to various destinations to train, spend time with family, soak up some sun or heal various injuries. I will likely spend some time in Minnesota on the lakes and some time out West where most of my family members live. Fred Hoiberg will make this trip as well, and he continues to ponder the various options that he has. We’re going to go out to lunch or dinner on this road trip, so I’ll be sure to let you know what Freddie is thinking.

Have a great week. – Mark