Tags Posts tagged with "Utah Jazz"

Utah Jazz

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Basketball, Minor League Basketball, D-League, NBA
Life in the NBA Developmental League is an excellent way to start a career in pro-baskeball. Photo: Shutterstock.com
Coaching in the NBA Developmental League has been a dream come true so far. When I was playing for the Lakers I asked Kurt Rambis the question: “Kurt, what do you like more between playing and coaching.” Kurt told me that the two were just very different. He explained that in coaching, you cannot actually get onto the court to have a physical impact on the game. But he talked about the impact that coaches can and do exert on games and practices. Now that I’ve been in the coaching world for the past four months, let me share a few of my own experiences.

 

1. There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of players in the “D-League” who are good enough to play in the NBA right now as a contributor or as a 14th or 15th man.

2. There is a shooting coach (the NBDL calls him a shooting consultant) named Bruce Kreutzer who travels to all of the NBDL teams and helps players with their shooting. Where was Bruce when I was playing!! Maybe he could have helped my FT percentage!!! Because the guy knows his stuff and he’s definitely helped guys on our team improve their shooting!

3. Traveling on Southwest is different than the NBA team charter. But to be honest, as long as I get either a window seat or an aisle, the legroom is not an issue. One of our players, Luke Nevill (7’2″ Australian) has found a way around the Southwest Airlines seating issue. He goes to the counter and says, “I am the tallest person in the entire airport. I really need an exit row today.” It seems to work every trip!

4. Our head coach Brad Jones brought in a psychological expert to meet with our team when we played in Bakersfield two weeks ago. The guy was awesome. To be honest, he reminded me a little bit of George Mumford who was Phil Jackson’s trusted team psychologist for a number of years for the Bulls and the LA Lakers.

5. One of the great things about the D-League is that Sundiata Gaines can go from scoring 30 points against our D-League team one night, to hitting a game winning 3 point shot against Lebron James after being called up to the Utah Jazz: Click Here

I hope to see some of you fans at a D-League game in the coming weeks and months. Right now we’re a few games above .500 and we are trying to gear up for a playoff push. The Lakers have a D-League team called the LA Defenders. In fact, they have a deadly shooter on their team named Ryan Forehan-Kelly who I used to play against in college. He went to UC Berkeley. Well, after our game against the D-Fenders at the Staples Center, the Lakers had a game against the New Orleans Hornets. I caught up with Phil Jackson for a little while in the coaching office at Staples before their game. I asked him what he liked better between playing and coaching. He laughed and said, “Well, I can barely remember what it was like to play.” Then he said that as a player you really have to be mentally in tune and physically “keyed up” to do your job. But as a coach, you really have to be mentally tuned in all the time in order to have the impact you need to have.

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Kevin McHale, Coach, Head Coach, Glen Taylor, NBA, Go Green
Kevin McHale is a former American professional basketball player. Photo: shutterstock.com
Kevin McHale Returning to coach? I sure hope he comes back as the head coach next season! But this question has been the question of the past few weeks from media members, fans, and even amongst ourselves in the locker room. This is one case where it’s possible that even Mac doesn’t know what he’s going to do! Glen Taylor has publicly said that if Mac wants the job then he’ll be the coach next year. I’ve known Mac for the past 6 years and from what I’ve observed and the brief conversations we’ve had, I think that he truly is not sure yet what he’s going to do. I know it’s going to be a family decision because the Kevin McHale is a family man first. Here is one of the reasons why I want Kevin McHale to return as the head coach of the Timberwolves:

About a week ago, the NBA allowed all of us players to take part in a “Go Green” campaign to help promote great issues like environmental awareness, recycling, and other types of “green thinking” issues. Of course it’s a great opportunity and every team around the NBA wore warm-ups for one week with a big recycling logo on the front. Undoubtedly we have to take care of the environment in many many different ways.

Well, the first game we wore these special warm-up tops was against the Utah Jazz in Utah. After we had our 1-2-3- “Win” chant which was an event in itself that night, McHale held everybody up for one more minute and said something along the lines of,

“Hey fellas….I just want you to know about this global warming thing…..25 years ago it was Global Cooling and they were telling us we were going to freeze to death….so when they tell you all about global warming don’t worry about it too much…….”

It’s just nice when the head coach can crack a joke to loosen guys up. The guys on the team loved it and everyone was laughing so hard and it kind of took away the tension of a tough part of the season. We went out that night and took it to the Utah Jazz and won the game with a shorthanded roster.

Then a week later I walked into a breakfast meeting before it got started in San Francisco when we were playing the warriors and the first thing I hear is Kevin McHale explaining to a couple of guys on the team, “Yeah…the ice cap off of Greenland is receding but the ice caps off Antarctica are actually expanding….” It was good natured and fun and sometimes you need some fun on a long road trip.

Of course Mac loves the environment, but he’s also not afraid to mess with players and other coaches and just get guys thinking about things in a new way. McHale speaks his mind and you have to respect that. In the same way he’s not worried about saying something politically uncorrect, he’s also not going to worry about hurting a players feelings if he has to get on that player. The player will get over it.

But it does help that he jokes around with us and makes guys laugh. So in practice and at games when he does get on us or really challenges a player, you know that he’s on your side. It’s just been a lot of fun playing for him, and before a rash of injuries our record spoke for itself especially in the month of January. I think the most important thing about McHale as a coach is that he knows the game like no other. Especially when we were rolling in January (before all the injuries), he just had a great feel for what our defensive schemes would be as well as how we would attack other teams.

The biggest issue is that Kevin McHale doesn’t need to coach….he could do a lot of different things within the world of sports, or in business or in public service. Rumor has it that he’s up at the family cabin in Hibbing for some time to reflect and rejuvenate a little bit. But even today at our exit physicals, one of my teammates and I were talking about it and both of us were not sure what would happen. I guess time will tell, but I hope he’s back next season as the head coach!

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Derek Fisher, Don Nelson Basketball Camp, Injury, Lakers, Utah Jazz, Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Oakland
Derek Lamar Fisher is an American basketball player. He spent his first eight seasons with the franchise, winning three consecutive league championships (2000–2002) with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. Photo: shutterstock.com
Warriors versus Utah Jazz Playoff Series I played with Derek Fisher for three years while playing for the Lakers and he is one of the most professional people I have ever met in any field. When I got to the Lakers Derek was going through a very serious foot injury and was on the injured list for some time. One time while he was injured we as a team were playing terribly. Before one of the games, Derek gave an impassioned speech while in street clothes and really tried to encourage the guys to take up their level of play a notch. Everyone in the locker room from Shaq to Kobe to Slava Medvedenko was all ears. Afterwards, Phil Jackson referred back to Derek as the emotional leader of our group.

Derek was always working on his jump shot. There were so many days when Derek would be there early at the gym with his brother feeding him passes and giving him feedback on fine-tuning aspects of his jumper.

Later that same season in the playoffs Derek had a monster game against the San Antonio Spurs and hit something like seven or eight three pointers in a blowout win for us. A few days later when we were watching the game film in our “warrior room,” Phil Jackson commented on how Derek had played so very well, and yet Derek did not get involved in any kind of self-promotion, or on-court antics that are so popular in the game today. Phil Jackson rarely was impressed with individual accomplishments, but he was keenly appreciative not only for how well Derek played, but how Derek Fisher carried himself while playing so well.

The Warriors vs. Jazz series is a great one. I was so happy for how well Derek played tonight for his team. I actually want the Warriors to win because I grew up about 30 minutes from Oakland and I know the Warriors team pretty well. Don Nelson was the coach of the warriors when I was in high school and I even worked at the “Don Nelson Basketball camp.” But above all, I’m just so happy that Derek Fisher’s daughter is doing well after her surgery. I hope that Dee Brown’s injury is okay and I hope that he’s able to make a full recovery. Detroit is my favorite to win the title.

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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