Shaq: I Stopped ‘Purest Guy in the NBA’ from Becoming a Sleazeball

shaquille o'neal, mark madsen
NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal took one of the "purest NBA guys" under his wing. Thanks to his guidance, "Mad Dog" Mark Madsen survived the NBA. | Source: AP Photo/Alan Diaz (i), AP Photo / Rob Widdis (ii). Image Edited by CCN.com.

We’ve known Shaquille O’Neal as a Hall of Fame basketball player, a rapper, a TV host, and even a genie. Now we can add “moral guardian” to that list. In an interview with Kristine Leahy on “Fair Game,” Shaq discussed how he came to protect the “purest NBA guy” he’s ever met.

Mark Madsen Wasn’t Like the Rest of the Lakers

Before the 2000-2001 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers were the class of the league. Their two mega-stars, Shaq & Kobe Bryant, had just led them to the title the previous year. This ensured they’d be selecting the last pick in the first round of the 2000 NBA draft. With the 29th pick, they chose the “Mad Dog” – power forward Mark Madsen.

While Madsen got his nickname from his wild, physical play, his off-court moniker could be something more like “innocent puppy.” As a devout Mormon from Stanford, Madsen did not fit in with the Hollywood scene.

Shaq said that of the twelve guys on the team, eleven guys were doing “what guys with money do.” One of them didn’t. According to Deseret News, Madsen drove to his first Lakers practice in a dented Toyota Previa minivan, a gift from his mom.

Shaq immediately knew this man needed help.

“I had to protect him,” Shaq told Leahy, “but I still wanted to make him cool.”

“We have on our $1,000 suits and Mark had little khakis, little shirts. I said Mark — you’re an NBA player.”

He took Madsen shopping, bought him suits, and he even put a downpayment on a new truck.

According to Madsen:

“Shaq is one of the most generous people out there. He’s a great, generous person.”

Shaq Says His Protection Saved Mark Madsen from Going Crazy

O’Neal said that most rookies come into the league and “go crazy.” He mentioned that some guys even came into the league pure, like Madsen, then their “whole lives get turned around.” Shaq tried his best to make sure that didn’t happen. It seemed to work.

Madsen ended up playing three drama-free seasons with the Lakers before being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He played there for six more seasons before retiring. He became an assistant coach for the Lakers in 2014.

At age 39, Madsen’s mother set him up with his future wife, Hannah. The two got married, had a child, and moved to – you guessed it – Utah. Madsen is now the head coach for Utah Valley University and a leader in the local Latter Day Saints community. Thanks to Shaq, he’s probably the coolest guy at church.

Josiah Wilmoth edited this article for CCN.com. If you see a breach of our Code of Ethics or find a factual, spelling, or grammar error, please contact us.

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

* All comments must be approved by staff before appearing on CCN.com. We do not allow bad language, hate speech, nor verbal attacks on staff or other commentators. Some comments may be edited for clarification or if they are in breach of our comment policy. If you wish to delete your comment or data, please contact us.

Aaron Weaver

Aaron Weaver

Aaron is the U.S. editor of CCN.com located in Los Angeles. He has been a professional writer and comedian for over ten years. After graduating with honors from Western Michigan University, he's written extensively for newspapers, websites, and various TV shows and web series. Email: aaron.weaver@ccn.com. , his LinkedIn profile here, or his Muck Rack profile here.

More from this author: