By Mark Wright
Not Your Typical NBA Player
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- Reporter Lewis MacAdams, writing a fairly
lengthy column for LA Weekly, is just the latest in what is becoming
a long line of writers to discover the complex persona that is Mark
Madsen. As previously reported in Mormon News, Madsen, a returned
missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is
currently enjoying the excitement and thrill of the NBA playoffs as a
rookie player for the Los Angeles Lakers.
MacAdams has been following the career of Madsen for almost a year
now, tracking his progress as a member of one of the NBA's flashiest
teams. Like others who have commented on Madsen's presence on the
Laker squad, MacAdams is quick to point out that Madsen is somewhat
of an anomaly, "a four-year college grad with a degree in economics,
a white guy from the suburbs" playing on a team with a rap star
(Shaquille O'Neal) and a young superstar player who skipped college
altogether (Kobe Bryant).
As with many other writers, MacAdams is most impressed by Madsen's
incredible drive, focus and determination. Madsen is one of those
athletes who lives to compete. "I've always loved competition,"
Madsen said. "It's a very pure thing when you step out on the court.
You're saying, 'it's your best, it's my best.' If you come out on
top, there's no animosity, it's just a fact. You don't look on an
opponent as a friend. You look at him as an opponent, and I mean
completely, in every sense of the word." MacAdams also cites the
intensity of his rebounding as one of the most defining
characteristics that Madsen brings to the game. Here, Madsen makes
good use of his physical abilities as well as his mental toughness.
According to MacAdams, Madsen attacks "the rack with a zealot's
fervor, a tireless rebounder with very good hops whose 36-inch
vertical leap puts him among the top 20 percent of NBA players and
among the leapingest Lakers."
MacAdams also has an appreciation for Madsen's off court demeanor.
According to MacAdams, "Madsen has beautiful manners,... he's
incredibly nice to my 11-year-old son, remembering his name when they
meet and asking after him when I show up alone." Definitely not your
typical NBA player. MacAdams was pleasantly surprised to find that
Madsen was also interested in poetry, and even convinced Madsen to
recite and share some of his favorite work by William Wordsworth with
MacAdams during an interview.
Delving further into Madsen's background, MacAdams discovers a child
who was raised in a devout LDS home with 10 siblings where scripture
study and prayer are the norm. As Madsen grew older, he was a classic
over-achiever in high school, becoming student-body president,
homecoming king, editor of the school paper, and, of course, star of
the basketball team. MacAdams also briefly mentions Madsen's
real-life encounter with fellow NBA player and Bible scholar Horace
Grant over the issue of blacks, the Church, and the Priesthood. While
the details of the conversation are not well-known, Madsen believes
it was a positive experience, saying "All I know is that we had a
really good talk, and that he was grateful that we talked about it."
One of the few mistakes MacAdams makes in his article is identifying
Madsen as one of "3 Mormon players in the NBA," listing Shawn Bradley
and Keith VanHorn as the other two. Of course, most regular readers
of Mormon News know that Keith VanHorn is not a member of the Church
and that there are at least 4 other players that are somehow
connected to the LDS Church. In addition to Mark Madsen, Mormon News
has previously identified the following NBA players as having some
connection to the Church. Shawn Bradley, Travis Knight, Mark Pope,
and Scot Pollard (who does not consider himself a member of the
Church). As always, if you have any information about other NBA
players, or any other Mormon in professional sports who is affiliated
with the Church, please contact Mormon News and let us know.
Character of the Happy Warrior
LA Weekly 25May01 S2
by Lewis MacAdams
The education of Mark "Mad Dog" Madsen