New D-Fenders Coach Mark Madsen sets ambitious goals

Mark Madsen was introduced Tuesday as the new head coach of the D-Fenders, the Lakers’ D-League affiliate.

“It’s great to be back here in Los Angeles,” Madsen said. “The L.A. D-Fenders, in its short history, has a rich tradition of developing players, helping to develop the Lakers’ players and of winning.”

Madsen was drafted by the Lakers in 2000, winning rings in 2001 and 2002. After three years with the franchise, Madsen joined the Minnesota Timberwolves, with whom he played through 2009.


He next served as an assistant coach for the D-League’s Utah Flash, followed by a stint on the bench at Stanford (where he also earned his MBA).

“From a young age, I always kind of had coaching in the back of my mind,” Madsen said. “I love everything about coaching.”

Madsen is taking over for Reggie Theus, who left to become head coach at Cal State Northridge.

“The goal is twofold: win the D-League championship and have as many guys called up to NBA teams” as possible, Madsen said. "[Additionally, we will] help the current Lakers’ players that are sent to the D-League for development, help them as much as possible.”

Coaching in the D-League can be a challenge, with rosters that fluctuate significantly. The Lakers called up D-League MVP Andrew Goudelock right before a D-Fenders playoff game against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

“Allowing the players to have personal success supersedes everything,” he said, while noting that roster uncertainty was a “definite challenge.”

Madsen said the D-Fenders’ offensive philosophy would mirror the Lakers’.

“We’re going to work closely with Coach Mike D’Antoni. We’re going to utilize, primarily, a lot of the same sets, the same system and same philosophy,” he said. “The L.A. D-Fenders is a great organization to help the Lakers’ players that need some extra reps, that need some live-game minutes.”

Madsen was a fan favorite with the Lakers, appreciated more for his effort and enthusiasm than any specific skill on the court.

"[Former Lakers General Manager] Jerry West said to me, ‘Playing with tremendous energy is a talent and a gift, just like shooting is a gift,’” Madsen said. “The D-Fenders organization has an appreciation for hard work, intensity, desire and those things are all necessary on a team.”

Madsen noted he will draw upon his experiences with the high-level coaches he’s played for, including Phil Jackson, Flip Saunders, Kevin McHale, Dwane Casey, Mike Montgomery and Johnny Dawkins.

In Minnesota, McHale (currently with the Houston Rockets) gave Madsen some coaching advice that stuck, “Treat people the way you want to be treated.”

Madsen is enthusiastic about his new position. He wouldn’t promise the dance moves would come out if the D-Fenders win the D-League title, but noted he could probably be pushed into it. As a forward with the Lakers, Madsen’s unique moves were highlights of two championship parades.

Long term, his goal is to also get a call-up himself.

“Absolutely -- I think the NBA is the greatest league on Earth,” Madsen said. “The ultimate goal would be a [position as an] NBA head coach.”


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