NBA D-League Q&A: Mark Madsen, Utah Flash

Mark Madsen during his NBA playing career.
David Sherman/Getty Images/NBAE

ATLANTA, October 26, 2009: On Thursday October 22nd, 2009 the Utah Flash announced the hiring of former NBA player Mark Madsen as assistant coach under Brad Jones. Most recently Madsen played for the Timberwolves, and he also helped the Lakers win two championships in 2001 and 2002. Madsen is a nine year NBA veteran who decided to hang up his basketball shoes only within the last few weeks. As a player, Madsen was nicknamed ďMad DogĒ because he became known to bring support as the spark off the bench and brought his hustle to the court. The day after the coaching announcement he flew from Minnesota to Atlanta, where's Davina Sutton caught up with Madsen on his first day of work during Flashís final open tryouts of the season.

The announcement was made just yesterday, and then you are here right away at tryouts?

"Yup, I am here right away at tryouts. I had a lot of conversations with Brad Jones (Flash head coach) and it just seemed like a great fit. Itís a real honor to be apart of the Flash organization."

Can you talk about your decision to transition from player to coach?

"There was a period where I was really debating if I wanted to play this next season. The reality is that NBA teams this season are carrying 13 players, and in the past I have been the 14th or 15th man. So that affected my decision. I also had an offer to go over and play in Greece, but it really came down to my discussions with Brad Jones and getting to know the organization of the Flash. It just seemed like a great fit."

How long has this been in the works?

"Itís only been in the works a few weeks."

While playing did you think that coaching was going to be your next career move?

"I have always wanted to get into coaching, but to be honest, I wasnít exactly planning to jumping into it right away. But as training camp got closer and as I gauged the marketplace for a 6í9Ē guy with my skill level, like I said, reality settled in. Then this coaching opportunity was something that materialized, and itís really something thatís exciting to me."

You were in the big leagues and the NBA D-League is about developmentóso what do you think you can bring to your team?

"Well in just getting to know the guys, I know we have some great players. The second thing is that I played for some great coaches and most importantly I played with some great playersóKevin Garnett, Kobe, Shaq, Sam Cassellóand so I hope to convey that even though I could never do the things those players did, I have watched them very closely. I feel like I will be able to share a little bit of their game with some of these athletes. If I can show one of these great players something that Kevin Garnett did, then you know what, thatís going to make me really happy because Kevin is all about sharing his game. Itís all about making the game better. Itís all about making these players better."

Coming from a place where these players want to be, how do you think you can relate to themóespecially the ones who have been fighting for a long time?

"More than anything, I respect these guys so much. This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of the NBA saying we want to get the very best players in the world. In general I believe the NBA absolutely has the best players, but there are some guys out there who may have gone under the radar. One of my teammates in Minnesota, Ervin Johnson, was bagging groceries at a grocery store and a college coach came and found him. So there are other Ervin Johnsons out there, and I think itís great that David Stern and NBA is extending opportunities through the NBA D-League."

You announced your decision via your personal website, so I guess you are a believer in connecting with fans through social media?

"I think it is important, especially in todayís day in age with technology, because to me itís all about sharing the game. If through twitter or I can share a little bit about basketball and my first hand experience of the fun stories Iíve had over the span of my nine year career, then thatís where I think it is really valuable."

So what do you anticipate this year as a rookie coach to bring?

"I really want to learn Brad Jonesí basketball philosophy. That was one of the big things that was really attractive about this job. The second standpoint is that Brad runs the Jazz offense and I know bits and pieces of it from having to defend it over the years, but I am excited to learn it from the inside. Itís exciting. Itís Jerry Sloanís stuff! I know the triangle [offense] from Phil Jackson and now to learn the Utah offense is exciting to me."

I know that you just made this transition and your feet are barely wet, but do you envision bigger coaching ambitions?

"I know one thing and that is that I am passionate about the game of basketball. I am going to take everything one day at a time. I am going to really try to soak up everything this first year, and we will see what happens after that."