Most casual NBA fans know Mark Madsen best for his awkward yet shameless dancing at the Lakers championship parade in 2001, or for the speech he gave at the very same celebration.
But Madsen is also viewed as the poster child for tanking, for his shot selection in the final game of the 2006 season as a member of the Timberwolves.
Minnesota, you see, could have lost a protected draft pick had it managed to win that contest over the Grizzlies. But Madsen put on a ridiculous three-point shooting display that most seemed certain was aimed at ensuring his team lost, even though he claims to this day that those were legitimate shots.
From Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
The Minnesota Timberwolves power forward who had not taken a three-point shot in 135 games and 1,617 minutes over parts of the previous three seasons took seven shots from beyond the arc . . . in a span of 9 minutes 4 seconds. …
None of them went in. Madsen finished 0 for 7 from behind the arc (one for 15 overall) during the Timberwolves’ 102-92 loss. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t recall the experience fondly.
“Imagine being out there, catching the ball at the three-point line and the whole arena is yelling, ‘Shoot,'” Madsen said this week. “It doesn’t make me feel good. So in my mind, I’m like, you know what, I’ve worked hard on my game. I’m going to go out there and knock these down.” …
“There was a role that I felt I could have played and I had a number of DNPs that year,” Madsen said. “I was frustrated with that. I wanted to go out there and show people some of the things I could do, some of the things I had been working on.”
It’s tough to argue that Madsen wasn’t trying to prove something that night. But despite his sincerity all these years later in explaining his side of the story, it’s equally difficult to believe that the team putting him in that position wasn’t 100 percent intentional.