Mark Madsen: Mormon Athlete
Mark Ellsworth Madsen is an American basketball coach and retired professional basketball player. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Madsen was born on January 28, 1976, in Walnut Creek, California. Following his graduation from San Ramon Valley High School, he served a full-time mission to Spain. He attended Stanford University where he played NCAA basketball. He helped the Cardinals make it to four NCAA tournaments. He was a two-time All-American and a two-time All-Pac-10. He also earned his bachelor’s degree in economics.
Madsen lead the United States to a gold medal at the 1999 World University Games and was named to the roster for the 2001 Goodwill Games.
He was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of 2000. During 2003–2004, he played as a free agent for the Minnesota Timberwolves and played for them through 2009. In July 2009, he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. One month later he was waived by the Clippers.
Madsen as Coach
Madsen began his coaching career when he became the assistant coach for the D-League Utah Flash.
From 2010 to 2012, Madsen was enrolled in the Stanford Graduate School of Business and earned his MBA degree with a certificate in Public Management. In 2012 he was hired by Stanford to be an assistant coach, then in May 2013 he was named head coach of the Los Angeles D-Fenders (a Development-League team owned by the Los Angeles Lakers). In July of that year he was promoted to a player development coaching position assisting former Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni and was an associate head coach with the team’s Las Vegas Summer League team. He also played a strong role in drafting for the Lakers.
Madsen was hired as the head coach at Utah Valley University on April 14, 2019. At the end of the Wolverines loss to the University of Alabama at Birmingham in overtime on March 28, 2023 (the NIT Final Four semifinal game), he moved on to his new position as head basketball coach at University of California, Berkeley.
In his four seasons at Utah Valley, Madsen compiled an impressive 70-51 (.578) record while also amassing 48 wins over the last two seasons. He also put together a 39-25 record in WAC play and won a pair of conference titles. He was named a finalist for the Hugh Durham Coach of the Year award (2022-2023) and was named WAC Coach of the Year (2022-23).
Madsen in the NBA
During his NBA career, he was a two-time NBA champion with the Lakers (2001 and 2002). He played for the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2003 to 2009. In a 2019 interview, basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal recalled his teammate Madsen as "the purest NBA guy I've ever met."
- “I had to protect that,” he said.
- O’Neal admitted to knowing little about Madsen’s Latter-day Saint faith, but admired his convictions, and went out of his way to prevent Madsen’s Laker teammates from putting him in any position he may have been uncomfortable in.
- “I was the one who said, ‘Nah. Mark ain’t doin’ that,” O’Neal said. “Mark is not doing that at all. Stay away from him, don’t invite him out, don’t bring certain people around him. Don’t do any of that, ‘cause he told me, ‘Shaq I don’t do that. I don’t do any of that.’ It was awesome to hear. I had never heard anything like that before.”
- In an effort to keep Madsen “cool,” and a part of the team, O’Neal took Madsen suit shopping and car shopping, even paying the down payment on Madsen’s first NBA vehicle.
- “He is the purest guy I ever met in the NBA,” said O’Neal. “This kid never makes mistakes. He is a great guy and I felt it was my duty to protect him.”
After Madsen graduated from Stanford, his parents' gifted him with a dented, white Toyota Previa minivan. Madsen was grateful for the gift, as he would not collect an NBA paycheck for another six months."I was so happy. I loved it," Madsen said.
- When the Lakers rookie reported for practice in October 2000, he drove the dented minivan. O'Neal came in one day and asked, "Who in the world is driving that Previa?"
- Madsen raised his hand and said, "That's mine."
- According to Madsen, O'Neal told him he "couldn't drive that to the Staples Center," the 7-1, 325-pound all-NBA center wouldn't let him.
- O'Neal took Madsen to a car dealership and offered a down payment for a new ride. Then he took Madsen to a big-and-tall store in Beverly Hills, where he spent $7,000 on a new wardrobe for the rookie. When Madsen picked out one pair of pants, O'Neal instructed the attendant to get his young teammate seven pairs, one in each color for every day of the week. He also bought Madsen a suit that he wore for 10 years, until it got a little tight in the waist, he said.
- They next went to the Rolex store, where O'Neal bought everyone on the team a new shiny watch.
- "Shaq is one of the most generous people out there," Madsen said. "He's a great, generous person."
Madsen married Hannah Harkness in 2016. They are the parents of four children. His mother in law, Annette Harkness said of him: “He’s such an involved parent. The intensity he brings as a father is a strong gentleness, kind but firm,” she said. “Mark is very grounded. He knows what is really important. Everything else is interesting, fun and fulfilling. But what matters is what you find in the family and in the gospel, and Mark knows that.”