The Los Angeles D-Fenders made it official on Monday, formally announcing the hiring of two-time NBA champion Mark Madsen as the team's newest head coach.
The former Lakers' big man will return to the organization, taking over for Reggie Theus as the new man in charge of L.A.'s minor league affiliate. His press conference is set for Tuesday.
Besides being a past fan-favorite, Madsen returns to town qualified in more ways than one to lead a NBA D-League team. After obtaining his college degree from Stanford, "Mad Dog" went on to play nine seasons in The Association, learning from coaches like Phil Jackson, Flip Saunders, Dwane Casey, and Kevin McHale. He took the hardwood alongside future Hall of Famers like Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett.
Since putting an end to his playing days, Madsen had returned to Stanford as an assistant coach. Still just in his mid-thirties, Madsen could better bond with the players, and was even seen scrimmaging with them at times as well.
He'll take all of his experience back to Los Angeles with him as he gears up to guide the D-Fenders. Interestingly enough, Madsen isn't the first former NBA player to be considered for such a coaching job. Of course, Theus was an NBA alumni himself, but Eduardo Najera is also the current head coach of the Texas Legends. Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing turned down the chance to coach the Erie BayHawks last fall.
But there may be a reason why Madsen is poised to do a better job in a similar spot than Ewing could have, and perhaps better than Theus did as well.
Not as quite far removed from his playing days, Madsen's on the court memories are undeniably from more recent times. Never exactly kept aboard for his star-quality, the big man took pride in putting forth a gritty effort, providing a physical presence, and being an excellent teammate.
Throughout his time in the NBA, Madsen knew what it meant to do all the necessary dirty work in order to make an impact. His mentality throughout his career is undoubtedly the same type of relentless one D-League players need to have, with regard to breaking into the league.
Madsen stands to be a great motivator for all NBADL athletes and aspiring big league players around him. Not only does he know what it takes to squeeze onto an NBA roster based on other things besides raw talent, but he also knows the importance of making an impact as a twelfth or fifteenth man, so to speak.
Whether it's dancing and prancing on the sidelines, or stepping in to muscle up and play physically on defense against a team's better offensive player (even if for nothing else but to use up your fouls), Madsen knows all the secrets to maximizing your value and/or talents for an NBA team. Surely, young guns who fight tooth and nail on a nightly basis in hopes of making The Association could learn a thing or two while taking notes from "Mad Dog."
Madsen is the perfect hire. He's a winner. He's a past fan-favorite. But perhaps more importantly than anything else, he knows (perhaps better than anyone else) exactly what'll take from each of his players to ultimately make it to the next level. How much more motivation would they all need to buy into his system from the get go?