You watch the games, you see the scores, but how do you really know what's going on in the 2001 playoffs? NBA.com has infiltrated the action with the ultimate insiders -- the players themselves. We're giving you an exclusive look at the postseason with a roster of player mailboxes that will change with each round.
Mark Madsen's got the moves and the Lakers are in a groove heading towards their third straight championship after sweeping the Blazers in the first round. Madsen is a defensive specialist who can also put points on the board when need be. The Lakers split their games against the Spurs at home and now go to San Antonio to try to recover home court advantage.
After practice on Wednesday, Madsen took the time to answer some fan e-mail.
I'm a BIG Lakers fan and was just wondering what it is like to play with the big man himself (Shaquille O'Neal) in playoffs time. What have you learned and gained from playing with him the last two seasons?
Madsen: Shaq is a sheriff on the court too: If you’re in the wrong place on the court, he’s gonna let you know; if you’re not playing hard, he’s going to tell you. Off the court, he’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had – he thinks about other people first. But on the court he’s an animal.
Who was the toughest player you ever had to guard in the NBA?
Madsen: Other than Shaq or Kobe, I’d have to say Dirk Nowitzki. A seven-footer who shoots, passes and runs like Dirk makes for a tough match-up.
I heard your interview with Dan Patrick your rookie year. Do you have any other stories about Shaq taking you under his wing?
Madsen: Shaq invited the whole team and their families to his house for his birthday. I brought my mom and grandmother. He came over and talked with them and made them feel great. They had an awesome time.
Besides Kobe, Shaq, and Robert Horry, who do you think needs to step up to three-peat? Hopefully the Lakers can win another championships so we can see you dance again. Thanks!
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Madsen: We have a lot of great players on this team who step up. I look at a guy like Brian Shaw who has years of playoff experience. Brian can come in after sitting all game and hit three’s, make big passes and rebound. Everybody really respects him. His composure will really help us.
You seem to have a very big passion for the game. There's no doubt you work hard and make every effort to help this team. Your aggressive playing reminds me of Kurt Rambis. Which player did you idolize growing up?
Madsen: I used to love Lany Smith who played for the Warriors and then in Houston. He was an animal on the boards. Kurt and I talk a lot about how to play. We’re very similar and it’s a big compliment to me to be compared to him. He gives me a lot of good insights on playing “D” and shooting.
It looks like it is going to be Boston or New Jersey in the East. The Western Conference is very tight up at the top. I am a total Lakers fan, let threedom ring!!! Which team do you think pose the toughest challenge and why for our LA Lakers?
Madsen: A lot of teams in the East are dangerous: New Jersey because they run so well and Boston because of their high octane offensive attack. Whoever comes out of the East is going to be tough. Don’t count Detroit or Charlotte out either.