On Fox Sports’ Fair Game with Kristine Leahy, Shaquille O’Neal praised Latter-day Saint NBA player Mark “Mad Dog” Madsen as “the purest NBA guy I’ve ever met.” He continues, “I don’t know much about Mormons or their religion, but . . . most rookies, when they come in, they go crazy, including me. . . . Mark was none of that.”
As teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaq and Mad Dog developed a lasting friendship. When asked why Shaq gifted thousands of dollars to help Madsen buy new clothes, Shaq responded, “Mad Dog was the purest NBA guy I’ve ever met. He really was, and I had to protect that.”
"He's the purest guy I've ever met in the NBA. It was my duty to protect him." pic.twitter.com/gRR1848rBf
— Fair Game (@FairGameonFS1) September 23, 2019
When referencing the extravagant and “crazy” lifestyle that many players in the NBA assumed, Shaq recalls a conversation he had with Madsen: “He told me, ‘Shaq, I don’t do that.’ It was awesome to hear because I had never heard that before.”
Shaq encouraged his teammates to respect Madsen’s beliefs and felt a responsibility to protect Mad Dog’s integrity while also helping him become a part of the team.
“It was my job to protect him. But I still wanted to make him cool—one of the guys, right?” Shaq recalls. “We have on our thousand-dollar suits and Mark, little khakis, little shirt. And I said, ‘Mark you gotta . . . you’re an NBA player.’ ‘No Shaq, I want to save.'”
Mad Dog was the purest NBA guy I’ve ever met. He really was, and I had to protect that.
When Madsen started playing with the Lakers, he drove a 10-year-old white minivan his parents had gifted him as a graduation gift. When Shaq discovered the dented car amidst the other luxury sports cars…