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Mark Hendrickson is one of only 12 athletes to play in both the NBA and Major League Baseball. After finishing his college basketball career at Washington State, Mark was drafted 31st overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1996 NBA Draft. Mark played 5 seasons in the NBA with the Sixers, Kings, Nets and Cavs.
Following his NBA career Mark played 11 seasons in Major League Baseball. Mark won 58 games as a left handed pitcher, spending time with the Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Dodgers, and Orioles.
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Grab a notebook and pen as you listen to this episode with Mark Hendrickson, former NBA and Major League Baseball Player.
What We Discuss with Mark Hendrickson
- Growing up without his father who was killed in the line of duty as a Washington State Patrol Officer when Mark was 5 years old
- Playing multiple sports as a kid and trying to emulate the moves of the players he saw on TV
- Moving from sport to sport depending on the season
- Being a point guard his whole life until he grew 6 or 7 inches in the summer between his freshman and sophomore year
- Gaining the confidence to dunk in a game
- State championship memories from high school basketball
- His decision to attend Washington State to play basketball vs. signing on with a minor league team after being picked in the baseball draft
- Continuing to play summer baseball during his college basketball career
- Playing in college is the first time you’re playing for someone whose livelihood is at stake
- Being drafted 6 times in the MLB Draft
- “The biggest challenge for most professional athletes, believe it or not is the mental fatigue because the season demands so much.”
- When it comes to youth sports…when do you draw the line of how much is too much?
- “Don’t make a decision to pick one sport prematurely because you feel like you have to.”
- “Are we making athletes better? Are they that much better today than they were back in the day when they weren’t putting as much time in? I don’t know.”
- Being in the same draft as Kobe, Iverson, and Nash
- His experiences preparing for the NBA Draft and the Combine
- Playing against Tony Gonzalez when he was at Cal
- The toughness of Allen Iverson
- “There’s athletic and then there’s athletic.”
- Most talented player he ever saw? Derrick Coleman
- The ability to make adjustments and be honest with yourself is the key to long term success in any professional sport
- “The hardest element of an athlete to determine is what is their makeup inside that you don’t see?”
- “When you get to the professional level, it’s such a minute difference between success and failure.”
- Feeling like he had no clue what he was doing on some days, even as a pro
- “We’ve all experienced failure. We’ve all experienced a lack of confidence of and that’s something that I think is a life lesson in sports that is tremendous for anybody who plays.”
- The effects of NIL and the transfer portal on college athletics
- The differences between an NBA & MLB Locker Room / Clubhouse
- The grind of travel on pro athletes and the improved knowledge of taking care of their bodies today
- His three most memorable moments as a pro athlete
- Being on the court with Michael Jordan
- “It’s very difficult to get men and women in professional sports to bond and produce something that’s so beautiful.”
- Wanting to share his story and life lessons through public speaking
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THANKS, MARK HENDRICKSON
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TRANSCRIPT FOR MARK HENDRICKSON – FORMER NBA & MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER – EPISODE 588
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello, and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host Jason Sunkle tonight, and we are pleased to welcome to the podcast. One of, I believe Mark, 13 people that have played both major league baseball and in the NBA, Mark Hendrickson, Mark. Welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.
[00:00:17] Mark Hendrickson: Thanks for having me guys. I appreciate it.
[00:00:18] Mike Klinzing: We are excited to be able to have you on and get a chance to dive into all of the interesting things that you’ve been able to do in your sporting life. And then also talk a little bit about what you are hoping to do in the future to have an impact on kids who much like yourself are interested in sports are involved in sports and how can we use sports to make their lives better?
So let’s start by going back in time to when you were a kid, tell us a little bit about your upbringing and athletics, how you got into the game of basketball and just what your life was like as a young athlete.
[00:00:55] Mark Hendrickson: Well it started out with a little adversity in my life when I was five months old, my father who was a Washington state patrol officer was killed in line of duty.
So my brother and I were really young at the time, my mom was left with raising us by herself. But then our grandfather was the one who really got us into sports. My mom was somebody who would just take us to pretty much any sporting event, but my grandfather was the one that kind of took on the father role.
And it was just something that I enjoy doing my brother and I would be outside playing that’s just what we did back in the day. Growing up there wasn’t as much technology as there is today. There probably wasn’t as many distractions as there is today. And for me, I was an introvert who just went outside and played whatever sport was in season.
If I saw it on TV, then I went outside and tried to emulate whoever was doing what on TV. And that’s just the way I grew up. So that was kind of our way of, it’s just what we did. And we didn’t know any different. And a lot of our friends were into sports and my mom just did a great job. She just she saw that we enjoyed it and she just kept putting us in there just to keep us busy, because like I said, without having a father, that was a challenge for my brother and I growing up.
And obviously it was a challenge for my mom as well.
[00:02:18] Mike Klinzing: What did your neighborhood look like in terms of. Kids and getting together for a Sandlot baseball game or some basketball in the driveway or at the playground or the school yard. What, what did that neighborhood, what is your demographics of your neighborhood looked like?
Were you, did you have a lot of kids in the neighborhood? What do you remember about that piece of it?
[00:02:37] Mark Hendrickson: I don’t really think there was a ton of kids in the neighborhood. We had groups of friends that just so happened to maybe have somebody that was my brother’s age and a brother that was my age.
I think there was three or four families that were like that. And we’d always get together and play. You know, when they came over, we went over to their house. We find a spot and we play baseball, we’d play basketball find a tennis court, play tennis, go play golf, you name it. We did it.
So it was more just the groups of friends that we had that had siblings that were similar in age to my brother and I, and that’s kinda how it all developed. But for me, most of the time I was by myself, whether I was competing with my brother. I just choose to go out by myself and do it regardless of the weather, it was just something living in the Pacific Northwest.
We didn’t have a ton of sunny days all the time. So sometimes you had to play in adverse conditions. So it’s just what I did it. I enjoyed it. And I think I was using my mental side and really visualizing myself doing things along before I even could understand what that was, because that was just me playing make-believe.
And so whether I had somebody to play against or by myself, I made sure I was playing against somebody, even if it was just me out there shooting baskets by myself.
[00:03:54] Mike Klinzing: Who was your guy growing up as a pro athlete that you followed or looked up to? Did you have a particular team, a particular player that you found.
[00:04:04] Mark Hendrickson: Not really, I think what ends up happening depending on where you live with the broadcast rights nowadays, you obviously get to see the teams in your area. You know, for me being in the Northwest Seattle had a basketball team, baseball team, football team, so we kind of just followed them.
The two universities out there was University of Washington and Washington state. So we’d follow some of them growing up, but nobody in particular, for me, it was just whatever’s on TV. You know, I was just a fan I’d watch, whatever. And like I said, then I’d want to go out and try to try to play and be like, whoever was just on TV.
[00:04:41] Mike Klinzing: Did you have a favorite? Did you lean one way or the other to all the sports that you got exposed to? Was there one at least early on that stood out to you or, or was it just seriously one season to the next, I love what I’m doing just in the moment.
[00:04:57] Mark Hendrickson: It was kind of whatever was in season, but obviously when I first started playing soccer is a very popular sport for kids just because.
Downplay soccer in the skills of professional players, because they’re very skilled, but it’s one of those sports that’s pretty easy as a kid because you just tell them, go kick the ball so you can have fun. You kind of swarm to the ball, like, like bees on a, on a hive, kind of like they do in basketball when they’re first starting out.
But there wasn’t a whole lot of eye-hand coordination necessarily. And it was just an opportunity. And so that was the first one that I really played and had lots of fun. You know, you go to Saturday soccer games, you get the nice little treat after the game it was kind of something that was just fun to do.
And then for me, as I got older, I just, I just gravitated to whatever sport. And I that’s just how I was and what I did for my whole life was just whatever’s in season. I was playing because there wasn’t off season sports the AAU circuit, for example, in basketball, it wasn’t big. When I grew up, it was something that you might’ve played in, in a summer.
Tournament. I remember playing in a day tournament that we played two or three games and that was it. So there wasn’t a whole lot of basketball in the summer or sports were pretty much predicated on the season. And then when that season was done, you didn’t play that sport again, competitively till the following season
[00:06:27] Mike Klinzing: Completely different, obviously from how kids grow up today, where no matter what sport you play, you can play it year round. There are multiple opportunities to be able to do that. And you and I talked a little bit on our call before the podcast about how kids who are specializing now at such early ages, that they don’t develop that well-rounded athleticism where yeah.
Maybe I can do X, Y, and Z on the football field. But when I try to swing a baseball bat or throw a baseball, or maybe I can run really fast, but when I pick up a basketball, I don’t really know what I’m doing. And I just think that kids, they don’t have those Multisport experiences out in their neighborhood with their brothers and sisters.
It’s just not. As prevalent. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist, but it’s just not as prevalent as it used to be. And I think when you look at the way that you grew up with the way I grew up and playing multiple sports and doing lots of different things, and I ended up being a single sport athlete, by the time I got to high school, but certainly growing up in my backyard, in my neighbor’s backyard, down the street at the park, I was playing everything.
And to me, I always felt like that made me into a well-rounded athlete that could pick up a ball or pick up a bat or pick up this and be able to at least look competent at what I was doing, which I think a lot of times when you see kids today, who by the time they’re eight, nine years old, the adults in their life are pushing them to specialize.
I think we’re doing kids a disservice. So when you look back on your experiences, was there a clear point in your mind where you started to look around and realize. You had some talent and that maybe you were going to have an opportunity to be pretty good at some of the things that you were doing. Did you start to notice that, Hey, I’m, I’m pretty good at these things.
I’m a pretty good athlete. Was there a moment that stands out for you or just think back to what that time period of your life was like, and when you started to maybe experience some success in athletics?
[00:08:37] Mark Hendrickson: Well, let me, I mean, since we’re focusing on basketball, I mean, obviously that’s the main state of your podcasts.
I’m going to go back to that part in my life because I think it’s just something that is really important is people see me and I’m standing about six foot 10 and. If they look at today’s NBA players, they’re just players. You know, back when I came into the NBA in the nineties there was more positions.
I think if you were labeled a tweener that was a negative versus today, it’s an open flow game for entertainment purposes. Guys are more skilled. You’re seeing guys six foot, 10, six foot, 11, seven feet shooting, three pointers. You know, they’re just being basketball players. And that being said, as I tell people, I was a point guard my whole life until my sophomore year of high school, because that’s just where I played.
I was pretty skilled at handling the ball and the skills that I learned. As a point guard growing up were tremendous assets to my game. And then I went away for the summer because I live in the east coast now in York, Pennsylvania. That’s where all my family grew up. I grew up in the state of Washington.
My parents moved out there before I was born, but I’d always come back in the summers. Well, after my freshman year of high school, I came back I left high school. I was a freshmen team point guard. So it didn’t make the JV. Didn’t make the varsity was on the freshman team. And I left school. I think it was six foot or six foot, one as a freshman that summer I came back.
I hadn’t seen any of my friends. So I was gone for maybe three months and I came back. I was six foot seven. So needless to say my friends were completely shocked. My high school coach was dumbfounded because I was not the same kid that left school in June when I arrived back in August. And. We had an All-state point guard.
He was already signed a division one scholarship to go to the university of Washington. He was a senior, he was six foot seven, very skilled. And I ended up playing down low just because of the roster that we had. So as a sophomore, that’s where I got my playing time. So I was able to incorporate not only point guard skills, but also starting to learn skills for close in, into the basket.
And so those skills as a whole really developed me as a player. And I think ultimately that’s kind of how I viewed my game after that. And it really just kinda took off like, oh, I still got the same skills. I just happened to be taller than everybody. And that’s where the confidence started to grow. And I can remember my sophomore year was the first time as a kid the ones that are privileged to be able to do.
There’s always some hesitation, like, oh my gosh, can I do this in a game? You know, obviously you practice everybody wants to touch the net. Everybody wants to touch the rim, but the times you, you dunk in practice is one thing. But to actually have the confidence of doing it in a game and, and kind of blocking out the fear, if you miss, I can remember it was you know, early, early that you know, before school, in the summer league game or something that all of a sudden, I just, I just don’t, it was a fast break and I just dunked.
And after that, I was trying to dunk everything. So it turned into a confidence boost for me that really changed my game and kind of elevated my game and everything just pretty much took off. I was fortunate enough in high school that we had very talented teams. I say that because we played in a lot of state championship games, both in baseball and basketball.
In fact, I played in the state championship game, my sophomore, junior, and senior years. So I was forced into some high profile situations, even as a young kid. And the. State championship game. Didn’t go so well, we got blown out and I just got muscled by out muscled, by a senior who was just as gifted as I was at the time, but he just outweighed me by 20, 30 pounds.
So I, it just, it was not a pleasant experience, but it was a learning experience. And I think taking that along with the skills that I had and gained as a sophomore, it just skyrocketed from there. And then my junior and senior years, we were very dominant and things just took off for me individually, as well as having very good success as a team.
[00:13:28] Mike Klinzing: What’s your favorite memory from high school basketball. If you had to look back and pinpoint one thing,
[00:13:33] Mark Hendrickson: One thing was in probably my senior year. Ironically, we had a match. And it was exciting because we the state tournament in the state of Washington is very different from how it is in Pennsylvania.
You know, in the state of Washington, we used to go play in the Tacoma dome. Well, they made it to be a four day tournament. So you’d take your 16 teams. You would go play in March. They had two courts inside the Tacoma dome, which is a city, just south of Seattle, where they had the boys and the girls. So it was very conducive for towns to come down and make it a four day week.
So if you had, I mean, there was one year we had our girls and boys in the state tournament and you can go down to the same place and watch all the games. So if you are a hoop nut, you could go there and watch eight games a day from Wednesday to Saturday. And so it was kind of fun because our town shut.
You know, we shut down for the state tournament week and we played this team in the Southern part of the state who was very similar to us, their town shut down and they brought droves of fans. So it was it was two teams and we played as a sophomore. I played them and they won. We played them as a junior in the title game again, and we won.
So it’s, one-to-one go into the senior year. They had a very good class, the same age classes, us, we were going to play them and we thought, okay, you know what, we’re going to beat them in the championship for a third year in a row. And unfortunately they lost in their district. So they drew us in the first round of the state tournament.
So here we are as kind of the. The tie breaker three years in a row. And I think there probably was 15,000 people there. I mean, it was probably the state championship game, even though the winner had to win three more games. And I can remember coach Kelvin Sampson was my coach at the time he was at Washington state.
He’s currently at the university of Houston and I didn’t know this, but he was actually at that game that first round, it would probably was the one moment where I, regardless of the level, it was probably my best game ever as a basketball player. And mostly because it got to a point where I remember we were having trouble bringing the ball up the court and I, I just took the ball and said, Hey, clear out, I’ll bring it up.
And I brought it up. And I think the one thing about that particular game that I can remember was, and it was a very, very close game is the ability to, I think I made 11 out of 11 free throws in the fourth. So I just had this desire for my hometown. I can remember going, we just weren’t going to lose, like I that’s just not going to happen.
And I think the fact that coach Sampson saw that game probably spring-boarded our relationship that next year when I went to Washington state. And it just kind of carried over because when I got to Washington State, that’s where I really made the jump. Because as a freshman, I played more minutes than I did any of the other years at Washington state.
And that was really huge for me, because it wasn’t the biggest school. It wasn’t the most, and didn’t have the most success, but for me, it was a perfect fit because I went somewhere where I can play. Right. And I had seen a lot of kids in local high schools go to schools and kind of just get lost maybe they were going to the big name school, but then, then they, when they went there, they just never played.
And things just never panned out for the kids. I saw prior to me graduating high school, ever really making it making that next step in college to being a successful college player. So that was, that was a memory that’s a very fond for me over the years.
[00:17:36] Mike Klinzing: For sure, you think about that recruitment and you look back on your decision to go to Washington State and you talked there a little bit about the opportunity to play right away and not experience maybe something that some of the players from your area had experienced, where they went to a bigger school or a bigger name and ended up not playing as much.
What do you remember about the process that you went through as you were recruiting and trying to make your decision? Because obviously. You had other schools besides Washington state that were interested in you, what do you remember about maybe the conversations you had with your high school coach or with your mom or with your brother about, Hey, what am I going to do?
What’s going to be the best fit for me. Just how did you come about making that decision? Wasn’t the relationship with coach Samson that you developed over time? Just what made, what made the ultimate you know, factor and you, and you making the decision to go to Washington State?
[00:18:29] Mark Hendrickson: It was the first time I really experienced pressure.
To another level you know, coaches in the college ranks may not like that. I say this, but to me, it’s kind of the last form of dictatorship because you know what, when you go to a college or a university, it, the program you’re not bigger than the program. And usually the coaches that are there have established themselves in a lot of times, you got to remember it’s the first time as I high school player, that now you are playing for somebody whose livelihood depends on wins and losses in high school, it was always the coach who was a teacher first.
And then he decided to coach, it was kind of like, yes, he was getting a little extra money for doing the coaching, but that usually is not the sole source of income for that particular coach. You know, he’s always doing something else, whether it’s most of the time it’s usually a teacher within the school, but to get into the college ranks is the first time you really are dealing with.
People it’s their job. And so to me, recruiting was, was very stressful. I can remember a canceling of visit to the university of Oregon. And when we get the five campus visits and I just didn’t feel right about it, I was trying to make some decisions and I can remember my high school coach when I came into school one morning and I had canceled the trip the night before and he just had wide-eyed look, he goes, oh my gosh, don’t you ever do that again?
I just got my butt chewed, like I have never heard. And that’s the competitiveness of recruiting. Now it’s a little bit different in today’s world because at least back in the day there wasn’t a whole lot of. You know, the portal is big now. I mean, you’re always seeing guys go into the portal with transfer ability back when I came out, you really didn’t do that because it was a commitment to transfer because you had to sit out a year.
So to make that decision coming out of high school for the first time and, and really getting there’s some good recruiters and it doesn’t have to be just basketball. I think at any sport that that’s, that’s a big part of college athletics. And there is guys who are probably better recruiters than they are coaches.
And I hate to say that, but there’s, that’s how good are recruiters. They are. They make you feel like you’re on top of the world and what really helps. And it helped me tremendously is having a good inner circle that didn’t allow me to get caught up in the hoop. And really try to make a sound decision because what Washington state, very, very small college town, it was close enough to home that I could get home if I needed to, but yet it was far enough away that I could be on my own.
The town was probably 25,000 and 18,000 of it was students. So it was a college town. It was something I was used to being from a small town and it was just, it was helpful that my brother was there. So I had an opportunity to go to school where he was. But it also came down to the relationship with the coach.
And I think Coach Sampson did a great job of really pushing and saying, Hey, look, if you can’t play basketball, are you going to be comfortable with this school? Because you don’t want to make a decision solely on basketball or solely on whatever sport you’re choosing, because you just never know.
Sometimes people get hurt. And if you’re picking a school solely on the coach or on the sport, you might be left to wonder if something were to happen. And now you’re at that university trying to get a degree and it really isn’t your top spot to be at other than being there for your sport. So it just worked out well that had a good, like I said, a good inner circle that really guided me.
And I was kind of full fledge into recruitment because even you would think once you sign that the stress kind of kind of lessons, well, that wasn’t the case because. Dual sport athlete. It picked up in the spring time because as I’m playing baseball, now, all of a sudden I’m getting looks from major league Scouts.
And so I got drafted out of high school. So now I’ve got a big decision to make do you go to school on scholarship or do you sign with a professional baseball team and try to either go full-time and baseball? Or do you go where they’ll let you play basketball? And I had seen some kids who signed pretty big names.
I think Trajan Langdon. That was the, a big recruited duke and he signed a for baseball. And I’ve always, I think I saw guys that tried to do both, and I think they made decisions a little prematurely because even for me as an 18 year old, there’s no way I could have handled both sports, not to the level of going to the minor leagues in the summer.
And then trying to handle a full season of college basketball because that’s a big. I mean, that’s a big jump from high school to college because now you’re committing, full-time when you get on campus you’re doing your pre-season workouts, you’re doing your conditioning for a month.
You’re doing practice for six weeks. You’re playing a fully competitive schedule through March. You’re missing all your, your school breaks, your Christmas spring, break Thanksgiving. You’re missing all of those. I mean, I was physically drained by the end of my first season. I just was not used to that kind of schedule in college.
And so there’s an, I would never have a who’s to say what would have happened, but if I had signed out of high school to play baseball, I just, I just don’t know if that would have happened to get to the levels that I did because that first year in college was, was huge for me developmentally.
[00:24:29] Mike Klinzing: Yeah, that first freshman year, there’s a huge, huge adjustment from just a competitive standpoint and from a demands and expectations.
And as you said, it’s the first time you’re playing for a coaching staff that their livelihood depends upon your ability to produce wins out on the court. And that’s a reality that every college athlete, I think at the division one level and basketball has to deal with, and you obviously had some good options where you can go and Hey, I can be a scholarship division, one college athlete in basketball, or I also have an opportunity to go and play professional baseball in the minor leagues.
Was that decision in the moment? Was that a difficult decision or was it one that was pretty clear to you that basketball at that point was number one for you?
[00:25:22] Mark Hendrickson: Well, I was always a fan of the Final Four. To me, that’s the greatest sporting event going and for multiple reasons, because I’ve always felt like if you’re a college basketball coach at division one, especially with the conference tournaments nowadays, you always have the attention of your team, regardless of how you start.
You always have a chance in March, just get to the dance. You have a chance. It may be long odds, but you still have a chance. And I always felt that that was something that I really wanted to be a part of. It didn’t hurt that I had another grandfather who was an educator for 30 plus years. And so when the young scout for the Atlanta Braves came into my dining room and really tried to put pressure on me to sign.
I had a grandfather who took over that conversation and pretty much let the scout know who was in charge and he was not going to have anything other. He said, my son, my grandson is going to college. He’s getting his education and that’s just the way it’s going to be. And I’m, I’m thankful and appreciative of that.
Because later on in my career, when I first signed with the Toronto blue Jays, I went down to spring training after my first NBA season. And actually I think it was my second season, but I went down to extended spring where there was young kids. These are usually kids who were just signed out of high school and was interesting.
Cause I remember they were wearing the blue Jays uniform and the farm director was there talking to these kids and he goes, you guys are professional athletes now. And I was, I couldn’t help. I was still, almost started laughing. I said, you gotta be kidding me. These kids have no clue what it’s like to be a professional athlete.
I just was coming off a year in the NBA. Okay. The. During the nineties. So I’m sitting there playing against the Chicago bulls, who to this day, my eyes have never seen a situation like playing the Bulls as far as, I mean, it was a traveling circus when they came into town and you really can’t justify what it’s like unless you’ve experienced that situation to some degree.
And it was interesting because like I said, I’m sitting here on a backfield in June five or six levels away from the major league, listening to a farm director, tell these young kids who are by the way were maybe 16, 17 maybe some of the kids were 18 that they’re professional athletes.
And to some degree he’s right. Put on like these kids have no clue what it’s like, because they’re on these backfields and a lot of them don’t know any different. They hadn’t gone through anything even that I experienced in college, because the one thing I will say about college that’s tremendous for athletes is because it’s the livelihood of the coach.
You have a lot of things at your disposal, they will do anything and everything to help you be successful. So teaching us time management, teaching us how to study as far as going to class, doing your study hall hours the training tables, the workouts, all these things that these universities and it’s come a long way from when I was in school, they are built to help teach you how to prepare yourself, not only in the real world, but also in your sport.
And they don’t do that in the minor leagues. They kind of do, but you’ve got to figure it out because you’re on your own you show up and you play. And, and most of those kids play every day. So to me, it was eyeopening because I’m thinking these kids have no real clue what they’re in for. And it was just one of those things that it was quite the experience for sure.
But I’m just glad that I picked the route that I did because I don’t know how things would have turned out if I had done something different.
[00:29:39] Mike Klinzing: Was there any thought at all of trying to play both sports at the college level, maybe, maybe playing at a slightly lower level college basketball, and then also maybe being able to play college baseball at the same time.
Was there ever a thought that that could be a possibility?
[00:29:57] Mark Hendrickson: Where I grew up in the state of Washington most of my baseball was played in the summers, so I didn’t know any different. I did try to play one year at Washington state, my junior year. And with the way college seasons are, there was just too much overlap.
So I probably got maybe a month my junior year of playing. But what people don’t realize is they always think that I just gave up baseball, not actually I played every summer, I’d come back to Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania had a lot of semi-pro league where you had guys who played in college currently that were playing, you had guys that used to play in college that were playing.
So it was a good opportunity for me to come back and still work on my baseball skills. So I did that every summer. It’s just, people don’t know about that. And so I used to get people kind of are amazed, but I got drafted every year because I didn’t know. College baseball until my junior year. So I was still eligible for the major league draft.
So I got drafted six times and I would say maybe two of the times it was pretty serious. Other times it was kind of like maybe it’s Russell Wilson for the Seahawks getting drafted somebody who’s just athletic and they just, Hey, I’m going to pick him up just to keep his rights just in case it wasn’t a Kyler Murray who was maybe a a first rounder potentially there in both sports.
But it was just sometimes you’ll see guys that get picked up in other sports through the major league draft because they played a little bit and Hey, who knows if they want to come to baseball, we own their rights. So that’s kind of how sometimes the draft works, but I had always played in the summer.
So for me it was no different. I just didn’t play maybe in college as much. As maybe people had thought. And then, like I said, once I explained to people like, oh, okay. I thought you just picked it up and just switched. Now I played every year.
[00:31:51] Mike Klinzing: Did people, what was your mindset at that point? Are you thinking that you have the potential, obviously you’re being drafted in baseball.
So clearly there’s people out there that think that you have some potential to have a professional baseball career. What were you thinking about in terms of a professional basketball career? And then how were you balancing those two thoughts in your mind and people who only knew you as a basketball player?
Were they, did anybody ever ask you, like, why are you going back and play in minor league baseball? Shouldn’t you be worker or semi-pro baseball. Why, why aren’t you working on. Why aren’t you working on your basketball? Just what, what were, what were people saying to you at that time as you were going through and doing those things?
[00:32:34] Mark Hendrickson: It’s interesting because the west coast people that knew me knew me as a basketball player. Yeah. They’d seen me in high school play baseball, but you know, the people on the east coast, at least in my inner circle knew me as a baseball player because they’d never seen me play basketball other than maybe a couple of games here, they’re on TVs.
So for me, I’m always a big advocate as I think sometimes as athletes especially in today’s world that people think they’ve got to commit to a sport at a very young age. And I’m, I’m a living example of what, when you’re young and you have the ability to play multiple sports, do it cause it’s.
Because it is fun. And I think there’s a lot of things that carry over. You know, I played, I played tennis in high school in the fall. Now, if you want to look at tennis players and I guess the Australian open’s going on currently watch how athletic tennis players are. Eye, hand coordination is off the charts.
The fact that they have to stop and start go multiple directions, go at angles. That is a tremendous warmup for getting into basketball shape. And so those are things that people sometimes don’t realize is when you get sports specific at a young age, it may not be a physical burnout. What you’re going to find is a mental burnout.
The biggest challenge for most professional athletes, believe it or not is the mental fatigue because the season. Demand so much. And the amount of focus that is required to compete at an elite level for that extended period of time, you’re not getting the best of the best as far as performance is when you see professional athletes competing in the playoffs.
Sometimes it’s just a war of attrition. You know, who’s surviving because they’re, they’re not at a hundred percent, no athletes at a hundred percent come play off time. They may think they are, but physically having done a season for as long as they have, you can name the sport. It doesn’t matter what it is.
They’re there they’re beat up. And I think mentally, that is the one thing that, that goes first is the mental fatigue, which then leads to the physical fatigue. So that’s my big concern for young athletes. Is you see these kids committing to a sport probably prior than sooner than they want to.
And then parents wonder, because obviously as parents, you and I are parents and we want the best for our kids and we want to expose them to what they like to do. And we’re going to keep exposing them as long as they, as they do. But it’s like, when do you draw the line of how much is too much?
And I think playing multiple sports, it just was mentally fresh. You know, I was just engaged because it was something else. And even though I was out doing some physical activity, it was just a completely different sport using different muscles. And mentally, I just had that break, but I also was growing up in an era where I wasn’t having to play X amount of games in the summer or commit to a sport year round.
It’s just what I did. And I think can still be done today. It’s just letting go of the fear. I mean, it doesn’t mean that when I was in baseball season, I wasn’t playing basketball or if I was in basketball season I wasn’t preparing myself for baseball. It’s just, it wasn’t the top focus. And so I think that really helped me when I got to the professional ranks because I was mentally fresh.
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I wasn’t playing baseball year round. You know, you see a lot of good major league baseball players coming from the north part of the United States. And I think a lot of it has to do with, they don’t play year round. A lot of the kids in the south play a lot more games at a younger age and sometimes the wear and tear, they ended up breaking down.
So that’s a big in my life and I practice what I preach and that doesn’t mean people are going to play multiple sports at the highest level. But if anything. Just make the decision when you’re ready. You know, when your inner circles ready, don’t make a decision prematurely because you feel like you have to.
And I think that’s sometimes what happens and sometimes people live with regret.
[00:36:55] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. I think there’s a couple things to pull out of what you said. One is I always like to say or tell people that if the decision to become a single sport athlete comes from the kid, then I’m more okay with that. But too often, I see it coming from the adults in a kid’s life, whether that be a parent who maybe sees some early success in one sport over another and sort of pushes their kid in that direction.
Or unfortunately you oftentimes see it from. The youth sports coaches and youth sports organizations who obviously have not only an incentive to have good teams, but those good teams then bring more money into their youth sports organizations. So you have this sort of fine line that you have to walk.
And I do think that if it’s kid driven, I’m a little bit more okay with it. But too often in my experience, what I see is that it’s not kid driven, it’s adult driven, and you only get one opportunity to be a kid to go through your athletic life. And then when you get to be your age, you get to be my age.
It’s just those opportunities aren’t there anymore. And you can look back and let’s say, You hadn’t played high school baseball because you wanted to focus on basketball. Like you don’t get another chance to go back and be a high school baseball player, just because you have some regrets when you’re 26 or 50 or whatever it is.
And so I think there’s, there’s definitely a slippery slope there. When we look at that single sports specialization and we’ve talked mark to a number of coaches at different levels. And what I find interesting is that when you talk to a division three coach in basketball, those guys have rules where the season ends.
They’re not basically allowed to even talk to their players or have anything to do with them as basketball players. So there’s no off season work. There’s no, it’s all in the hands of the players and division three coaches are completely hands off in the off season. And then you think about what the division one level was like when you were playing.
And so I finished my division one career in 1992 and. When I was done with my season, my coach handed me like a two-page ditto and said, Hey, here’s your off season workout. We’ll see you back here in August when school resumes. And that was it. And now you look at the access that coaches have to players.
And basically those guys are on campus year round. Maybe they go home for a couple of weeks here and there, but for the most part, they’re on campus, taking classes, doing workouts, hearing the same coaches that they hear all season long, still barking in their ear and doing all those things. And you’re never going to hear a coach necessarily say, Hey, I want less access to my players, but we have had coaches expressed.
You know how much is too much. And I think what resonated with me when you were talking is the concept of being fresh. And I could not have imagined, as you described your freshman season, I could not have imagined going through my entire basketball season as a college player, and then having to turn around two or three weeks after the season ended and go basically right back into that same practice environment with those same coaches.
Like I was so excited to just get out and play and go and go to the, go to the gym annex and just play pickup basketball and get home and play with my buddies and go and just work on my game by myself and, and those kinds of things. And I don’t think kids get to do that today. It’s just such a different world.
So what’s your thought when you think about the way that we have division one basketball set up compared to the way it was when you were playing a ride was playing, it seems like. I don’t think I would function very well in the environment that we have today. And I’m a kid who loves basketball. You couldn’t give me enough, but man, that would have been a lot to hear my college coaches, voices, not only during the season, but also all summer.
[00:41:01] Mark Hendrickson: Yeah, I think I, I mean, I got two parts to answer that question. I think you know, the first one is I have a college roommate who’s been in college basketball coaching. He’s been down in Texas, he’s done it ever since we left school. And I think we left in 1996 and I can remember having a conversation with him.
He has found his niche in division three and he said, you know what, Mark? He goes, when I first came out, I was chasing division one. Everybody wanted to be in it’s very competitive it’s who’s who and who and there’s a lot of work and a lot of demand even on the assistance. And he said, what I love about division three is he said, these players play because they want to play.
And it’s. And he said, there’s no sense of entitlement. There’s no scholarships. These kids just want to play basketball. And you said, I have such a better rapport with the kids at division three than I ever did with kids at division one. And I think it makes some sense because you know the thing with division one athletes, and I’m not going to stereotype and say that everybody’s this way, but I think it’s probably more common than with division three players is you have that sense of entitlement.
You know, the kids are coming from spectacular high school careers. Some of them probably haven’t been challenged to the extent that they’re going to get challenged in division one. And then they go to these universities and I went back to my school and I would say in the PAC 12,Washington State is probably maybe the lower third.
Of schools when it comes to facilities, you know it’s still a great place. We had a great arena, but going back and looking at Washington state 15 years removed, it’s literally the high point of the young athletes careers, because the facilities I can tell you right now, the facilities in college as a whole are far greater, then some of the professional arenas or environments, and it’s just, it’s almost gotten out of hand.
And so I think when you’re dealing with the set up the opportunities, kids have the fact that they’re going to these facilities, they’re going to these high performance places. I’m like you, my freshman year of college, my mom did not recognize. I lost about 10, 15 pounds during the season because I just was not prepared mentally, physically to be at that level competing for six months.
And I say competing because most people who have been at division one programs, understand what I’m saying? When you go from high school to division one, I mean, think about it in high school. Who are you practicing against you? Might’ve been practicing against JV kids. Well, gee, she could have you’re not getting the competition that you’re getting at division one.
And I think that’s what wears kids out is because now all of a sudden your practices, you’re having more practices, you’re having more competitive practices and you’re really trying to not only adjust to life on your own, but now you’re trying to adjust to the elevated competition on a daily basis. So that gets taxing mentally and physically just as much as anything else.
And so that is hard. And I think I would probably wonder and have to ask the question, are we making athletes better? Are they that much better today than they were back in the day when they weren’t putting as much time in? I don’t know.
[00:45:02] Mike Klinzing: I would argue today. Yeah. I would argue you’re putting a lot more.
This is just me talking from the outside. I would argue that you’re putting a lot more mental stress and you think about the mental stress. You experienced as a division one college athlete. And I remember the mental stress that I experienced in that realm. And I had those breaks. I had that ability to step away in the summertime and go and just work on my game or just play the game for fun.
And that was something that I loved to do. Like I honestly, I think every season that ended, I remember the very next day after a loss, just go into the gym and planning some pickup games, because I just wanted to sort of have that, that free flowing feeling of look, there’s not a coach over here looking over my shoulder and telling me what to do and this and that.
And that was something that I wanted. It was something that I needed. And I just think that it’s, it’s certainly, it’s certainly different today than it was back at the time. You and I played it again. Are there positives to it? I think kids are probably exposed to more, better coaching earlier in their careers.
I do think that if you have somebody that’s there helping you and rebounding for you and working on your, working with you on your game, can you improve and get better? I would say probably you talked about it a little earlier. I think kids and players today in general are more skilled than they were 20 or 30 years ago, just as a general rule, but you wonder what you’re giving up in order to achieve that higher skill level.
And it just seems like there’s, there’s a balance of on the scale that we’ve sort of tipped, I think a little bit too far in the direction of man, you gotta be there. You gotta be there year round. It just seems like an awful lot to me. So when you think back to your time at Washington state, when, when do you start thinking.
The NBA is a realist realistic possibility. What does that look like? Obviously you’ve already been drafted in the major league. So, so you know that you have at least there’s somebody out there that thinks she may be, have some major league talent eventually there, but what, what tips you off that? The NBA is something that, Hey, this, this might be a real possibility as well.
[00:47:22] Mark Hendrickson: Well, I think, like I said, when I first got to Washington state, I played a lot and I can remember I was competing at the time. It was the PAC 10. And I was competing against Jason Kidd for freshmen of the year honors. Now, obviously he came in with a lot of star power. He went to Cal Berkeley and deservedly.
So he won the award. But to me, that kind of put me on the radar. And then I think my junior year, I finally just excelled to the point where I had made all conference team now, all of a sudden I’m, I’m feeling like I can compete and maybe take this to the next level. And then obviously my senior year.
You know, things just kind of took off. And I started to meet with the coaches on my staff after the season and say, Hey, it’s time to get ready for the NBA. Now, obviously 1996, it was interesting. Cause we just did a documentary on the 96 draft class might go down right now is the best NBA draft class in the history of the NBA.
So for me coming out as a senior I was excited early on I’m thinking, yes, but then the dominoes of all these underclassmen started to commit to the draft. And here I am as a senior and before they were never really allowing a whole lot of underclassmen to come out. But you know, our draft Allen Iverson was number one.
Overall Kobe Bryant was in that draft. Steve Nash was in that draft. I think underclassmen were for the first time in the history of the draft, maybe the top seven picks. So as a result here, I am thinking, okay, I’m going to prepare for this, not knowing really what to expect. And then with all these underclassmen coming out, it just dropped everybody down because these, these kids that were coming out were going to be majority of them first rounders for sure they were not just there.
Wasn’t a whole lot of testing the waters back in 96, when it came to underclassmen, you pretty much knew the ones that were coming out. We’re going to be lottery picks or first round picks. For the most part, you don’t see that as much. Now you see more kids testing it and then maybe coming back into college, if they’re not ready, that was not happening back in the nineties.
So that was the year that I was still excited. I just was not really. I didn’t know how to prepare I just kept working on my game. You know, they had two combines. A lot of times people know Indianapolis for the NFL combines kind of a big deal. Well for the pre-draft Chicago was kind of the pre-draft camp you had some of the some of the underclassmen would come and maybe do some of the medical stuff, but they didn’t participate.
They really didn’t have to. But for anybody else who was kind of on the cusp we went there and it was pretty much treated like our Indianapolis combined for the NFL. You got every doctor who’s looking at you, you’ve got performance that you’re doing in front of all these coaches. And it was just an experience that was kind of, you felt like a piece of meat, to be honest because they were nitpicking every little thing and rightfully so, because.
The difference in the two sports baseball players, don’t go right to the major leagues. It just does. It rarely happens. But in NFL and especially in the NBA they’re investing a lot of money and these kids are going to help their team the next year. So they definitely do their due diligence for sure.
So that whole experience was just one of those things where I just put the blinders on and just went to work. And after the Chicago combine, you start to go to individual workouts. They never came to your university. There’s no, there was no pro days in basketball. You went to their facility and usually they would have maybe two, three, sometimes four guys.
And they try to bring in guys who are very similar. So you were compete they’d run you through drills where you’re compete with the other prospects. So it was very competitive, very Physically and emotionally draining. And it was a long process before the draft. So, I mean, it was about six weeks of pretty intense workouts.
And if you weren’t a top pick, you had to go to teams to work out. I think I worked out with maybe five or six teams prior to the draft. In fact, I think I had a workout with the Sonics in Seattle, in the Vancouver Grizzlies on the same day, I worked out for the Grizzlies in the morning and I went to Seattle that night and did, did a few things for Seattle that night.
But majority of my workout was the next day, but I can remember because we did the combine, they do the bench press 2 25 is pretty much the weight that they use. Well, in basketball, we used to do 180 5 and I can remember in Vancouver repping out 180 5 in the morning. And then later on that night, I went out to, I went to Seattle and they had me do the lifting.
So I did the rev of wanting five, two different times in the same day. And that’s just kinda how it was, but that’s kind of where things led as things progressed my junior year and my senior year, it’s like, okay, there’s talk the MBA. And I think I always dreamed that I could play, but you know, to actually feel like it’s closed and you can make it happen.
That was quite the experience because I didn’t really know what I was getting into.
[00:52:46] Mike Klinzing: Who’s a guy from your draft class or a guy that you played against in college that you felt like, man, this guy, if he had gotten into a different situation, maybe he didn’t have the NBA career that people thought he would have, or maybe it just didn’t work out for whatever reasons.
Is there a guy from your draft class that stands out that you worked out again so that you played against whether in college or in one of the workouts or just somewhere along your career? That you feel like, man, if that guy had been at a different situation, maybe his career would have turned out completely differently or is there, is there a guy that fits that mold?
[00:53:21] Mark Hendrickson: Well, I’ll give you a little side notes. Okay. I don’t know if it fits the mold, but I think people will love the, the comparison. I think they’ll really appreciate the story that I’m going to tell. Because when I was in college, there was a gentleman by the name of Tony Gonzales. And if anybody’s a football fan, they know exactly who I’m talking about.
First round hall, first ballot hall of Famer tight end played for Atlanta and played for Kansas city. Well, he played both when he was at cau and I can remember he used to beat me up because you know, when he was at Cal, I mean he stood about six foot five. You know, you see a lot of NBA players.
Antonio gates is a prime example of these guys who if they had just been a little bit taller. You kind of wonder how good a basketball player could they have been. And he was somebody who was pretty skilled at basketball, but obviously football was his first love. And he just didn’t have the hype, but as far as somebody who was, I could not stand to play against him because he was just so physical and he that’s, he was just used to that being a football player.
And I don’t know if it would fly as much in today’s game because it’s not as physical as it was back in the nineties, but. At the time I can remember going, I just did not like playing against him because I felt it afterwards because there’s no pads in basketball. You know, that’s one thing that people always ask me all the time.
Hey, what about Alan? And , if I put down Iverson next to you would be amazed at how small he was, but he the big rant is the practice. You know what I mean? That everybody hears the clip about practice practice, and everybody gets a good laugh about the rant that he went on, but for a guy his size and back in the day in the NBA, they didn’t do as much as they do now to protect their players.
I think the NBA is probably the best league at forward-thinking about their product. Not only do they market their superstars far better than any other sport, they also do things to. Enable them to stay on the court. You know, they’re always thinking about their product and their players and what can we do?
Keep them on the court back in the day a little bit we would play the most you could do was back to back with a day off and another back-to-back. So you could play four games in five nights. Well, if you were a fan of the NBA back in the nineties, you understood. When I say there was grown men playing in the NBA, there was grown men and they were big.
They were physical. And I don’t think people understand unless you’ve played basketball. The physicality of that. And the toll that it can take on a player whether it’s banging knees or somebody runs into your thigh, or you get elbowed in the jaw or something that happens in the course of a game, fingers are my, my favorite.
You know, when you jam a finger or something and to try to play for six months in basketball, what people also don’t understand is basketball. I used to pretty much every other day. So imagine playing a game every other day for five months, that’s going to take its toll. And Allen Iverson was such a small guy and he had no fear when he would go into the lane.
And so I think people just would appreciate the toughness that he played with. And he was not the only one that didn’t practice when you were playing that kind of schedule. There was a lot of guys who needed that rest because there wasn’t a whole lot of downtime in basketball. You know, you, you were lucky if you had a couple of days off and.
That just didn’t happen. And so the grind of a season was like I said, it was hard enough to adjust to college coming out of high school, but then going from college to the NBA was another huge adjustment. And so that is one of the things that people that’s a story I like to tell because then I think they find a new appreciation for him and what he did, because like I said, he had no fear of taking it in paint ever.
And so, yeah, he took a beating over over time and some of those days, like I said, we’re not just him taking a day off. Other players took days off too, but everybody just remembers the press conference. So you kinda get a chuckle out of
[00:57:58] Mike Klinzing: When you think about a guy like Iverson, you think about a guy like Kobe, you think about Michael Jordan, all guys that you were able to get out on the floor with some of those best players of all time.
And then you think about. The physical tools that they had. You mentioned that Iverson, obviously not a big guy, but clearly one of the quickest players to ever play the game and just incredible toughness. And we can list all the attributes that all these great players have, but there are a lot of guys in the NBA who have let’s at least call it similar physical tools.
So when you look at those guys who are the very best, so we’re talking all NBA level players, what in your mind is there, is there some thing or some series of things that you can point to that set those guys apart that you saw maybe on a daily basis, just in terms of the way they, maybe the way they handled their practice regime, maybe the way they were able to.
Succumb to whatever pressure they might’ve felt from their coaching staff, themselves, outsiders, just what about their mentality and who they are made them, the type of players that could succeed at the highest level at the very, very top of their profession?
[00:59:20] Mark Hendrickson: Well, it’s interesting. I like to tell, I tell people all the time there’s athletic and then there’s athletic.
You know, some people who are not involved in sports kind of turned their head, like, what did he just say? That kind of sounds the same. I’m like, no, there’s different levels of talent in professional sports. There’s guys that are just extremely gifted. In fact, when people ask me the most talented player I ever played with Derek Coleman first year in Philadelphia, some of the skillset that Derek Coleman had was unbelievable.
He had some talent that was above and beyond anything I had ever seen. Now, did he have the same drive as a Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan? No. No, but that’s, that’s sometimes what separate separates the all-time greats two guys who are good, but the level, like I said, the level of athleticism in professional sports, there’s a big difference.
And so you tend to focus on the elite, but there’s a lot of guys who have that drive who have that ego who have that determination that can handle adversity. You know, they have that. Mental and physical skillset to get to the professional ranks, but at what ends up happening a lot of times is when adversity sets in, they don’t make adjustments.
You know, if you want to be a professional athlete, it’s one thing to get to that level. It’s another thing to stay there year that all the time, but especially with even technology today, it’s interesting because there’s a baseball with the way change sports just real quickly. If I was pitching to a hitter and let’s say I got him out, he could go right behind the dugout and watch video of his, a bat.
He can watch it probably 10, 15 times before he comes up again and faces me again. Now, all of a sudden he’s getting rapid information. He’s seeing how I pitched him. He seen the location of stuff that I threw. He’s able to say, okay, I’m going to make an adjustment or I’m going to do this. And that’s where athletes can sustain long careers.
If they’re not. Head and shoulders above everybody else. Talent wise, obviously you get a guy like Michael Jordan who’s superior in his skillset, and then he’s able to compete as a 40 year old in the NBA because his 70% of what he is is probably a hundred percent, a lot of other guys, you know what I mean?
Absolutely. But it’s the other guys who are maybe not having that skillset is what’s going to keep them around for a long career. I think I think I heard a stat in baseball. There’s like 1% of all major league baseball players actually pay 10 years in the big leagues. But sometimes you don’t see that because the focus is always on the elite stars.
You know, we focus now that we’re in football. We focus on Tom Brady and the success that Tom Brady’s had for his career. That’s just not normal. You know, you look at the path that’s not normal. And so it’s looking at these other things of saying, okay, what can guys do? You know, Ken guys make the adjustment.
Can guys adapt when you start to compete against the same players year after year after year. Do you have that drive if you’re one of those players with elite skill set, because I’ll tell people all the time and you may people think I’m feeding them a line of crap. I was not the most talented athlete in the world and they’re kind of thinking what damn, you just played two sports.
Now it wasn’t. If you want an honest evaluation of me as a player, I’ll tell you right now, as a basketball player, didn’t have big hands. Wingspan was probably six foot nine. So it wasn’t I didn’t have superior. I had a 38 main 32 inch vert, but it was a 32 inch vert that was not springboard.
You know, there’s a difference between 32 inch vert and a 32 inch for as far as how quickly somebody can get off the floor. And I didn’t have that, but what my college coach and coach Sampson said, I did a lot of things. Good. I didn’t do anything. Great. And so even as a baseball player, I never threw 95 miles an hour, but I had learned some skills in basketball.
I had very good touch, very good command, very good game control. And my advantage was maybe six foot nine and being left-handed. But I was not a superior pitcher when it came to velocity or having elite stuff as a pitcher. But what I did have was eye hand coordination to this day, I believe it’s off the charts because whatever sport I picked up, I was able to be good.
Like I feel if I committed to a sport, I probably could be a professional. That doesn’t mean I was at all-star level, but that’s kind of where that was my attribute that set me apart from most people. But it’s one of those things that going through days in the NBA or going through days in major league baseball, I had to make adjustments.
I had to be willing to look in the mirror and evaluate myself as a player and be honest about it. It doesn’t mean I was putting myself down, but I wasn’t feeding myself a line of crap that was saying I was better than I was because as an athlete and you know, this one of the greatest life lessons is you get accountability.
You get instant results when you’re on the competitive playing field nobody succeeds a hundred percent. And it’s what you do when, when you suffer defeat, but then it’s also, how do you handle it? How do you handle success? And I think sometimes these elite athletes who have a superior skillset and I was never this way because I never played on a multi-year contract.
What do you tell a person who’s now set for life with a multi-year contract who physically has been gifted to where now, financially they don’t have to worry about that element. What happens to the motivation? I don’t know, because I’ve never been in that situation. You obviously focus on somebody like a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant who is driven to the point where it was never really about the money.
It was so much greater, but then you also see guys who get the big contract and then just fall off the table. And I think it’s because what is their motivation? What is their makeup? What drives them? You see a lot of times you can’t figure that out. And that’s probably the hardest element of an athlete to determine is what is their makeup inside that you don’t see?
And you obviously can. I mean, that’s the,
[01:06:14] Mike Klinzing: Did you figure out that formula? We, man, we’d have a bit, we’d have a business right now.
[01:06:19] Mark Hendrickson: Oh, without a doubt.
[01:06:19] Mike Klinzing: We’d be, we’d be making more money than anybody in professional sports. Let’s put it that way.
[01:06:25] Mark Hendrickson: Absolutely. Absolutely.
[01:06:27] Mike Klinzing: What percentage, what percent I’m just curious in your, and I don’t know if you can ballpark this, but when you think about your time in an NBA locker room, and obviously you don’t know every player on every team, but you get a sense of kind of what’s going on.
And I guess you could probably extend the question to your. In major league baseball as well. But what percentage of guys by the time they’re in the NBA, what percentage of guys truly still love the game versus guys who are just so talented, so good that it’s become more of a case of they’re punching the clock.
Is it really hard to stick around if you’re the punch, the clock guy, whereas most, so then most everybody who stays and is able to stay on a rosters, are, are people who love the game or just, how do you, how would you answer that question? How would you approach that?
[01:07:23] Mark Hendrickson: I would say it’s probably more prevalent in basketball because basketball is such a.
Small fraternity compared to other sports, because you only have at the time 12, maybe 15 on your roster. And what percentage of them are guaranteed contracts? Quite a few. You know, I tell people when I came out first round was guaranteed three-year contract. After that you had to make the team. So I was 31st pick overall.
So I was second pick in the second round. I had to make the team. And now I believe the rookie contracts are four year with a fifth year option, I think is what it is. So the turnover in the NBA there just isn’t turnover. So I think guys struggle with that a little bit. In the sense that it’s a hardly to break in.
So you’ve got guys who are maybe not getting the attention or the limelight that are trying to make it in all the European leagues and the G league, all these different leagues, just trying to experience the NBA. And I think that’s probably a challenge for NBA players because they do have guaranteed deals.
But on the other hand, I think NBA players remind me a lot of the Latin American player in major league baseball, because you know, the Latin American player who’s coming from countries where baseball is everything and they play it year round and they just enjoy it. It’s the for a lot of those kids, it is kind of like.
Their ticket out of their current situation. It’s an opportunity to better their life in their family’s life. And for them, they just enjoy it. And I think when it comes to even basketball the one thing I always tell kids when you’re young athletes, basketball is very easy to work on your game by yourself because everywhere you look, as long as you have a basketball, there’s a hoop somewhere.
I mean, it is much more difficult to work on your baseball skills by yourself than it is to work on your basketball skills. And so everybody that I know of, that’s an athlete loves to shoot hoops. Even if you’re baseball players, they we had a couple of stadiums that had basketball hoops down in the Concourse.
And you’d see guys out there shooting all the time. You know, I played for the Baltimore Orioles and Cal Ripkin was notorious for having
[01:10:12] Mike Klinzing: Pickup games. Yeah.
[01:10:13] Mark Hendrickson: Some of the best, most competitive games around. In fact, when I was done playing with the Orioles, I had coached with them for a couple of years. Well, I had a Cal son, Ryan Ripkin in the minor leagues when I was coaching.
And we talk all the time and his dad had different types of games. He had a games and B games, a games where the elite guys that what it was serious. It was college guys, scholarship professionals that would come play and he’d play right along with them. And then he had to be games, which a couple of the Orioles played in.
They weren’t good enough for the games, but they still played the big games, but guys love to do it. It was always something like you said, you can play pickup. You can find a pickup game pretty much in any city at any time. And those are the things that you tend to find with even NBA players, they love to go play.
Rucker park in New York city, NBA guys will just stop by and play. You know, they have no care in the world for their, for their contractors. It’s like, Hey, I’m just going to hoop. And you see a lot of that with guys. So I think it’s kind of, it’s, it’s challenging because you never know, like I said, you never know the makeup of a guy what’s motivating him, you know?
And what happens when you get to that one step where you do get the guaranteed contract and now all of a sudden you have set yourself up. If you’ve set your family up then what happens? I don’t know, cause I’ve never experienced that. So it’s always something that’s kind of just maybe up to the individual, I guess, and, and how they approach their sport.
I do know this for playing as long as I have the one thing that does motivate athletes when they play 15 plus years. And I was fortunate enough, I played 19 years, is it is the competitive drive to master something that cannot be matched. That’s what motivates professional athletes to play as long as they do, because you learn to appreciate each and every day in the opportunity to get better.
And obviously certain days people in the public will not understand this, but there was days when I was a pitcher where I felt like I had no clue what was going on. And then people would say, yeah, right. What are you doing? Well, I mean, it’s the game of inches baseball, basketball, football, soccer, you needed a sport.
When you get to the professional level, it’s such a minute difference between success and failure, but there was times where you’re out there where you just throw up your hands and go, okay, I’m done for the day. I have no clue what I’m doing. You know, the days you’re shooting, you can relate to this, for sure.
Absolutely thing shot feels so foreign. You’re just like, you just know when to stop and you say tomorrow’s a new day.
[01:12:54] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. As an athlete, the feeling that you get when you’re quote in the zone or the flow state or whatever you want to call it, Like those days are just incredibly magical. And then there’s other days where you feel like as a basketball player, man, I can’t throw it in the ocean just feels totally off today.
And I’m sure that’s similar feeling on the baseball diamond, whether it’s with your hitting or you as a pitcher and look, that’s the mystery, right. That everybody’s trying to solve. It’s why we have so many sports psychologists, people that are trying to help with the mental side of the game and figure out how can.
Go through my rituals and the things that I do in order to get myself in the best possible frame of mind, to be able to capture those moments that we all as athletes live for, where things are just going exactly the way they expect we expect. But from the outside, looking in, we don’t often think that, Hey, professional athletes go through those same struggles that a high school athlete goes through, or that a college athlete goes through.
It’s, it’s not, it doesn’t feel perfect every night, which is when you think about what makes the superstars in any sport, right? It’s that they have far less of those days. Michael Jordan, you can pretty much say when that guy shows up in your gym, right? He’s going to put up 30 every single night, regardless of how he feels or what his mental frame of mind is or whatever.
He’s just, he’s like a metronome. He’s just going to keep going and it’s steady and steady and steady. He’s just going to do, and there are very few athletes in any sport that are capable of doing that. And the ones that are. They bring greatness every day and that’s what makes them great. And those guys are few and far between.
[01:14:35] Mark Hendrickson: Oh, for sure. And it reminds me of Ken Ravizza is I’m a pioneer in baseball and he passed away recently and he was a mentor to me, but he wrote heads up baseball. And he was a sports psychologist. That was a teacher at Cal state Fullerton, which has had very successful baseball program there for a while.
He and I got to know each other when I was in Tampa. And then when I got traded out to LA, I’ve worked with him and we became good friends. And it was interesting because he said, you know what, mark, when I became a great sports psychologist is when I stopped focusing on the 10% of the time athletes were in the zone.
He goes, when I first started out, it was always trying to get athletes in zone because that’s a bunch of crap. He goes, I started focusing on the 90% of the time. You’re not the reality and the truth of what, what is real in sports and what is real is. You know, the one thing that elite athletes and professional sports do far better than, than guys who maybe don’t make it in into those leagues or somebody in college is the fact that we can make adjustments right away.
You know, we may not throw a certain pitch or make a certain shot, but we can make that adjustment on the fly. And we’re able to understand what’s going on and make that adjustment. That is one of the biggest differences between professional athletes and amateur athletes, because you’ve got a couple of different tiers.
You’ve got athletes who have no clue what they’re doing wrong. They just don’t understand it, their mental side of their understanding of the body and what they’re trying to do. They just have no clue. And then there’s other athletes who progress a little bit better, who maybe understand what they’re doing wrong, but they can’t make the adjustment.
And then you get obviously to the elite who know, Hey, this is out of sync. This is what I did. I need to make. And so those are kind of the tiers of athletics you know, with athletes and where you’re at and regardless of the level, you’re going to see those things play out. And I think the biggest thing, like you said, is starting to understand and focus the mental side.
Obviously that’s something that I’ve been through that I want to teach to young athletes that I work with, or that I’m around is it’s okay. There’s times where you’re out there and you feel like you have no confidence in what you’re doing, but you got to fake it till you make it. And athletes experience that it’s just, it’s never really exposed.
And so I think young athletes can really benefit from that when they hear people who may be their role models, somebody that they look up to that says, guess what? We’ve all experienced failure. We’ve all experienced a lack of confidence of and that’s something that I think is a life lesson in sports that is tremendous for anybody who plays.
Ever and don’t have to be at the professional range to really learn some life lessons that sports can teach us, not only about ourselves, but also about competition and just about doing everything possibly. Right. And still failing, but then also understanding too, how do you handle success? We talked about coach and our daughter’s basketball team.
There was a young lady who made a shot in the game over the weekend and I was cheering for her and she looked at it and I said, it’s okay to smile. You know, you did something good. And she was almost embarrassed that she did that. And I was like, I was more happy. I was happier than she was, but we talked about it today in practice.
And I said, remember, when you made that shot, I said, go ahead and smile, because you know what, that’s going to give you a confidence. That’s going to make you want to continue to work. It’s going to be one of those things. It’s, especially as a parent you fill up your kid’s cup. Is it half full or half.
And I think it’s amazing what these kids can really benefit from that positive reinforcement, but that’s another element of sports. How do you handle success? So there’s a lot of things that are life lessons that are tremendous, and you don’t have to play at the professional ranks to really appreciate the benefit of sports in general.
[01:18:36] Mike Klinzing: I think you see it as you become a parent and you become a coach, whether you’re coaching your own kids, whether you’re a coach at the high school level or the college level, I think you start to understand the longer you’re at this thing, working with kids and work with young athletes, that it has to be about more than just the wins and losses and developing a kid as a basketball player or a baseball player or a soccer player.
There has to be more to it. There has to be those life lessons that you talked about in terms of. Being able to overcome adversity in terms of developing a work ethic in terms of being a great teammate. There’s just so many things that you can learn from athletics. And I think that the coaching profession is definitely starting to move in that direction.
If it hasn’t completely moved already, I, you see relatively few of what we would probably term from the Bob Knight school of coaching. You don’t see very many of those my way or the highway coaches anymore. You see much more of the communicators, the guys who are trying to, and women who are trying to pass along those life lessons and make it about sure.
We want to win games. Improve as players, but we also want to develop relationships and we want to develop people who are going to be successful, not just on the basketball court or the baseball diamond or the soccer field, but we want them to be successful no matter what they do. And I think that’s kind of what I hear you saying.
I know when we talked before you mentioned about just wanting to be able to have that kind of impact on kids and to be able to share the experiences and the life lessons that you learned as an athlete and not just as a professional athlete, but you think about your high school career. You think about growing up just as a kid playing in the sandlots and on the playgrounds.
And there’s just so much to be learned from sports that I think that it’s a message that we need kids to hear, but I think even more importantly, sometimes we need parents to hear it because I think parents sometimes can get their priorities mixed up. And at least in my experience, I think that a lot of times like a guy like yourself, who’s had a lot of success in athletics.
You’re able to be able to have a perspective that maybe somebody who hasn’t gone to. And again, I’m not saying you have to be a professional athlete to, in order to understand this, but I think that you, if you’ve had some success in athletics, you understand, ultimately that kind of like what we talked about a few minutes ago, that your kid has to love the sport and they have to really enjoy it in order to.
Want to get better because if they don’t want to work on it on their own and they don’t want to improve, they’re not intrinsically motivated. The chances of them having a tremendous amount of success is pretty low. No matter how much their mom or dad wants them to be good at whatever that sport is. And so that’s, I think parent education to me, mark is a huge challenge that we have in youth sports is getting people to understand some of the things that you and I have talked about today in terms of playing multiple sports and helping parents to understand that their kid’s sporting experience has to be about more than that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, whether that’s a college scholarship or it’s a pro career, the odds of that happening for any kid are slim to none.
And so what we really need to focus on is the, the process, the life lessons, the things that you can learn from athletics that are going to benefit you in your real.
[01:22:11] Mark Hendrickson: Well, let me ask you guys this you, you’re probably more involved with obviously having high school coaches, having college coaches on your episodes here.
Let me ask you this question. Do you think with this likeness agreement for college athletes, that your skin to start to see it get worse before it gets better? Because now kids maybe can go and I think you know, I’m going to just use an example that I heard with the kid from Texas who enrolled in Ohio state.
Signed a lightness deal. And then I think, I believe he transferred back down to Texas and now is going to UT are you going to see stuff like that happening? Is that something that worries coaches now that that’s gotten accepted and now you’re, you’re facing with maybe unrealistic expectations that now kids are thinking, Hey, I can get to college and I can get you know, I can get a name, likeness deal and make some money before I even have to make
[01:23:06] Mike Klinzing: Yeah, that’s a good question.
I think what we found and maybe I think what coaches, what we’ve heard from coaches is that they’re still trying to figure out how to navigate it and what it’s going to look like. But most of them have said that they look at it as a net positive as that it’s an opportunity for. Their players to be able to capitalize on the gifts, the talents that they have.
One of the things that I thought and that we’ve asked several coaches about is the potential for it to create additional rifts between teammates, where, okay, this guy has now got a deal and how come I didn’t get a deal. And I’m a starter and he’s a starter, but yet he’s got the local car dealership and this and that.
And so we asked coaches about that, and most of them have said that they don’t feel like that’s an issue. Now, maybe as you’ve got them behind closed doors and not on a public podcast, maybe their thoughts would be different. But most of them have said that they feel like it’s going to eventually be a positive as it gets worked out, sort of what it’s going to look like.
And they really felt like their job as coaches was to be there for their players to help them figure out and navigated as. 18 19 20 year old college athletes who I don’t know about you, but I think back to myself at 18, 19, 20 years old, for me to be trying to negotiate business deals with companies to try to have a, and now I, and then I’ll deal.
I couldn’t really even imagine that. So I certainly would have relied heavily on my parents or my coaching staff or whatever the case might have been. And so that’s what we heard a lot from coaches is that there’s opportunities here and they really want to help players to navigate it in such a way that it’s beneficial for players, which I think is the right approach.
But I do think that there’s, there’s certainly potential downsides. And as this campaign continues to move forward, especially in basketball.
[01:25:21] Mark Hendrickson: You make a good point Is predicated on you, you need your teammates to be successful in any kind of riff between players. It’s going to show up. Now you break down football.
And if somebody on defense doesn’t like somebody off offense. Well, guess what? They have no real relevance as far as impacting the game any differently, as much as they do in basketball. And so, yeah, that was one thing that was a big concern for me as well, because I, what I have seen from a distance and I’m not totally involved as much as I was when I was playing was even with this portal the transfer portal I’m seeing and obviously each situation is different, but then I’m kinda like, I’m wondering, are these kids just transferring because they can’t handle adversity whatever happened to the fact that you’ve got some competition.
Now you need to go. Sometimes you’ve seen people like, and I don’t know the full ins and outs of how many times kids can go and portals, but I’ve seen some things that just seem like, well you just, that’s the new age of college athletics that you know, kids not happy, maybe not getting the playing time maybe not getting the deal he thought for the NIL and now all of a sudden he’s going to be in the portal.
So I guess you’re right. It’s interesting to see how it’s going to play out.
[01:26:33] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. The, the portal thing is crazy, honestly, because like we’ve talked to coaches again at all different levels. And I think there’s, there’s just weird things about it. No matter how you slice it, like, I look at it whenever I look at these things, I try to think back to my own situation.
So when I played at Kent state, obviously it’s a mid-major program and. I look at the players, that those types of programs try to bring in. So you’re typically if you’re going to be a good mid-major program, what you’re going to try to do is find those diamonds in the rough, those guys that are under, under the radar.
That’s the kind of kid that you want to bring in because in the time in the era, when you and I were playing, if a mid-major found one of those kids, they’re going to develop that kid over the course of four years. And by the time that kid’s a senior, he’s going to be a really good player. But in today’s basketball world, you find one of those kids who comes in and averages 10, 11, 12 points, a game as a freshman, maybe they’re freshmen of the year.
They’re all, they’re all conference as a freshman or they’re all freshmen team. Well, guess what? That kid, there’s a high likelihood that kid’s not going to stick around at that mid-major for four years. They’re now going to say, well, look, I could go in the transfer portal and now I’m a proven commodity as a college player.
And now maybe I can go from the Mid-American conference to the big 10, and you have that piece of it where that never would have happened in the past. And now as a mid-major you’re like, well, what, what’s my alternative? And then I think you have conversely, have other guys who maybe go to a high major.
They don’t get the minutes that they want. They’re not playing. And then those guys are moving the other direction. There’s just, there’s just so many weird and strange things. I think that go on and I forget what the whole, the total number was like 900 kids, but you in the, in the portal and what there’s 300 and some division one basketball program.
So you’re talking three kids. From every program and the transfer portal at any one time. That’s crazy.
[01:28:42] Mark Hendrickson: I mean, it’s a brilliant thing, what’s interesting too, because you know, I always told people if you’re talented enough, they’ll find you. Right. And things have changed a little bit. I think it’s predicated on football to be honest, because obviously we know who drives the train in college athletics.
And so to me as a fan, stepping back, because I’d never played football, but looking at football and like, I, I’m kind of, I don’t know if it’s good because now you’re seeing these elite programs continue to get better and better because they are able to get, now they’ve got another access to get some recruits that, like you said, maybe he went to college and developed late.
And now all of a sudden they’re thinking, oh, Hey, I’m going to go, I’m going to go to Alabama. I’m going to go to Georgia. I’m going to go to Clemson. I’m going to go to these top-notch football programs. And I’m going to put myself in the portal and transfer because they know, Hey, if I get to these universities, There’s a good chance, even if I don’t play that much, I’m going to get a look at the next level.
So, I mean, it’s, it’s an interesting dynamic to see how it all plays out. And I think you can dissect it all a whole bunch of different ways, but it definitely has changed since you and I were in school. For sure. You better adjust or you’re going to get left behind.
[01:29:56] Mike Klinzing: There’s no doubt about that. I think just from the coaches that we’ve talked to, they’re still trying to figure out both from the transfer portal side of it and from the NRL side of it, what it’s eventually going to look like as things sort of settled down and that doesn’t even count the extra year that all these guys got of eligibility as a result of COVID, which has thrown off a whole another wrench into, well, now you’ve got a whole high school class that nobody left.
All these kids came back and transferred and it’s just, there’s just a whole lot for. To get figured out on the college basketball side,
[01:30:31] Mark Hendrickson: I would like to see it in high school too, because now what I’m seeing is, is when you know, high school kids now are foregoing and going to these prep academies that are committing themselves.
I know when I was coaching with the Orioles for a couple of years, I got to know Tim Raines Jr. He was in the organization for awhile and he and I coached together and really, really hit it off. And prior to him getting into coaching at the time he was at IMG down in Bradenton. And that’s a prime example when we were growing up, IMG was known as a tennis academy.
Well, he said, now he goes, you know what, mark, nobody in Florida will play their football team because they’ve got all division one recruits. They’re just that good that nobody will play them. And he said, it’s kind of, he goes, I, I was he coached baseball there, which obviously isn’t the top tier of that particular school.
Like football is. He said, he goes, I didn’t have parents drop the kids off at night. They’d see him once or twice a year. And there were high school kids it was this just it’s this feeder program for people now starting earlier because the reward is, Hey, division one scholarship opportunity to go play somewhere.
And you know, the amount of money that, that school is making people are paying big tuition to get their kids there to open doors. And it’s just interesting how it’s kind of trickling down. It’s a lower and lower and lower, and it just gets back to our what’s the impact on the kids now who are in. You know, junior high.
[01:32:05] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. It’s, it’s a different, it’s a different world and you can look at it on the basketball side of it. And I’m not as familiar with the travel baseball side of it, but certainly AAU basketball kids jumping from one program to the next, or you’ll be playing in a tournament one weekend, you’ll see a kid.
And then the next weekend you’ll see that same kid and he’s on some other different team and it’s just, you have no idea really what’s going on. And then you think about the number of kids that played at multiple high schools. And so it’s just, it’s sort of the way that things have gone and looked.
There’s certainly like we talked about there’s positives to the system today. Kids have way more access to gyms. I think they have way more access to good coaching earlier. They have way more access to tools to help them get better. They weren’t just, as you said, early in the podcast, they weren’t just there.
They don’t walk. They no longer rely on their, just their imagination to play against some imaginary PLO pro player and their head out on the driveway. They can actually go and you want to study Coby Brian’s footwork. Well, look, you can watch 12 hours of YouTube footage anytime you want and go out and try to mimic that, which is just a tool that you and I, during our time, didn’t have those kinds of tools.
So there are certainly positives to it. And I don’t want to we always I tend to be a guy that looks back fondly on the way that I grew up, but certainly there are positives to the system today, but the landscape is changing. Let’s put it there.
[01:33:26] Mark Hendrickson: Yeah, for sure. Without a doubt. And like you said, even when we were growing up, it still was changing from previous years.
Right. So it has its good side and it has its not so good side. So that’s up to everybody to kind of navigate through the best of their ability and you know, we all learn from making decisions, whether they’re good decisions or not. So good decisions. So a question you just hope kids understand and appreciate.
And people put the emphasis where it needs to be. Because like we said, as far as an athlete goes, you can learn so many things just playing sports and, and ultimately I think that’s important for young people to understand is those are lessons you can’t take away regardless of what level you take your athletic ability to.
[01:34:12] Mike Klinzing: All right. I have two questions for you to wrap things up. So question one, compare and contrast for me what an NBA locker room looks like compared to what a major. Baseball clubhouse looks like, and I don’t know where you even take that question. But when I was thinking about what things I would want to know that maybe the average person wouldn’t know, and I certainly wouldn’t know just what’s, what’s the difference between the two and what’s similar between the two locker room clubhouse settings.
[01:34:46] Mark Hendrickson: I would say this most of the time you’re spending basketball, you’re spending very little time at the arena. Most of your time is spent at your practice facility, whether that’s onsite or offsite. What people don’t realize is when you get to a game because baseball players always want to know, Hey, what was an NBA schedule?
I said what I kind of was like this, you get up in the morning, you have a shoot around and get you up, moving around. You’d go back, take a nap, come to the arena, maybe two hours beforehand. Obviously you’re in an environment. Another little tidbit is a lot of times you’re playing in hockey, arenas.
People don’t realize how cold those arenas have to be. I think there was one game that I played that got canceled because condensation was coming up from the, the ice on the gym floor and it became super slippery. So arenas have to be cold. And anybody who plays basketball knows when you’re wearing a tank top and shorts, and you’re trying to shoot when it’s cold it gets cold and it’s not the easiest thing to do, but you make an adjustment.
That being said there was no food a lot of times we would get on the plane because we knew because basketball was a time to gain. You kind of had an idea of after the game, get in to do your interview, she’d get changed, dressed you get to the airport, boom wheels up, and then you’re fed on plane.
And obviously the travel party is far smaller than in baseball. You know, with baseball, it’s different because guys tend to get to the field earlier. I think the one thing. Has been tremendous. And what we said as far as opportunities when I was in major league baseball, when I got there early on the, and I’ll just break it down from this standpoint, from a nutritional standpoint, baseball, clubhouses and locker rooms were way behind when it came to, oh my gosh.
Do you think maybe nutrition has a part in performance? Because locker rooms were kind of old school guys would show up at noon. You had clubbies. I was like, what the hell is a clubby? You know, guys, you would pay for food. And a guy in a visitor clubhouse got paid a lot of money. If he had a good facility and put out good meals, well times changed as I was in baseball and they evolve to where now baseball teams are caught up with nutrition because it’s interesting.
This is a little side note, best cheese steak in Philadel. It’s not, Gino’s not pats. It was in citizens bank park in the visiting clubhouse by far the freshest best tasting cheese steak around in the city of Philadelphia. And what’s interesting is Demitri Young. I don’t know if you know the name, but play for the Detroit tigers, held the record for most cheese steaks and the three game series.
Because when we went there, everybody wanted a cheese steak, and it was brilliant because you know what, Hey, visitors come in and play, feed them, load them up on cheese steaks. Maybe not go out and perform as well. I think he had 13 cheese steaks and the three game series I was told by the chef based fall has kind of evolved.
You know, it wasn’t one of those, you just drink beer and you just athletes in that sport have realized how important it is to take care of themselves. But as far as basketball, it was such a tight knit. I mean, like I said, you’re traveling party. You have maybe 12 on a roster and predominantly it’s African-American players.
So it was pretty tight knit. You didn’t have as much diversity as you do in baseball, per se. But in baseball, what people don’t realize is anything on, jeez, they’re not doing anything physical. Well, let me give you a day in the life of a major league baseball player. When you know, it’s a Sunday morning it’s the middle of July and it’s about a hundred degrees.
You get up for a Sunday. You just had a night game on Saturday. You get up at 10:00 AM. This was an example of what I went through. I drove to the stadium. Probably around 11 o’clock, you’ve got a one o’clock game. It’s the middle of summer. It’s the dog days of summer. You don’t have that big of you know, you don’t have that many fans in the stands.
You know, you play a three, three and a half hour game. You come off the field that say 4, 4 30, you have a meal, you get dressed, you get into buses, you head to the airport, you fly six hours across country to California. And then you play the next night. I mean, that’s a long day and that’s where baseball makes up for the lack of physical exertion because you’re playing for six months, a hundred and eighty, a hundred sixty two games season.
So that’s 81 days on the road. That’s a lot of travel and that’s a lot of long days because you know what? There is no clock. It’s interesting because my, one of my memories as a baseball player was I was fortunate enough to play. Against Derek Jeter when he became the all-time Yankees hit leader, what people don’t realize is I’ve finished that game and I finished it, I think at two 30 in the morning because we shadow a two and a half, three hour range.
And they didn’t cancel because they wanted to keep the gate. You know, a lot of times teams won’t cancel because Hey, if we keep the we keep the game in the stands open, we get the concession sales. And so they never cancel. And so at that game finished up with maybe a hundred people in the stands, but it was at, like I said, about 2, 2 30 in the morning.
So there’s different challenges with different sports, but they’re definitely diverse, unique locker room situations that if you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them as best I can, but sometimes stuff stays in the locker room.
[01:40:30] Mike Klinzing: I know exactly. I know exactly. I know exactly. I think the travel is something that the average person discounts, but anybody who’s ever been on vacation and you think about the travel and what you go through and clearly today, Teams have a lot better travel situations than they might have 20 or 30 years ago, but nonetheless, you’re still traveling cross-country and then getting out and having to be at your best to perform physically.
And I think people discount how hard that is to consistently be at your best. When you’re on a plane, you’re on a bus or you’re in a hotel room you’re in, on familiar surroundings. It’s just the rhythm of the rhythm of that. I can’t even imagine trying to be able to pull that off. I know as a college athlete where you’re only playing once or twice a week, that’s a challenge to be on the road and to be at your best.
And so I can only imagine what it’s like for a major league baseball player playing 162 games a year or a basketball player plan 82.
[01:41:31] Mark Hendrickson: And it’s every it’s, every sport has its own challenges for sure, for a football player. It’s just the. Ability to recover, right. And people don’t understand. It’s always going to be when you have your labor disputes too, it’s always going to be, the owners are going to want as many gains as they can get because it’s, it’s their, it’s their way to make money.
And you’re always seeing that kind of argument between the players and the owners about the length of the seasons and the public thinks it’s just a bunch of millionaires and billionaires griping. And it’s like, no, as a player you’re physically exhausted. It’s a level of attrition and whatever sport you’re doing.
And that’s where I think some of these things that we’re learning in college what you’re seeing younger athletes is you are getting exposed to different things you are getting especially in college these training tables, providing these food for these players to make sure that they’re getting the level of nutrition that they need to perform at a high level.
They didn’t always have. And I think it’s great because now kids are learning how to take care of themselves a lot.
[01:42:43] Mike Klinzing: They really are yet again, I haven’t think about it, the level that what I played, I tell people all the time, like we, we would eat steak for our pregame meals back when I was at Kent. So even then it was like, I didn’t complain.
I could play on pretty much anything. But then you think about it. And I talked about my nutrition with one of the recent guests that we had on. I think I was talking about it with Dave Miller. Who’s a assistant basketball coach at division three school in Iowa Loris. And he and I were just talking about like, I, I used to go to Ponderosa and just sit there for like two hours with my teammates and drink a gallon and a half of soda and ate my chicken wings and all
[01:43:24] Mark Hendrickson: You didn’t have much money.
[01:43:27] Mike Klinzing: That’s for sure. So it’s just a totally but I didn’t, I didn’t in any way, shape or form connect that to my ability to perform on the basketball court. Whereas if I was in a college program today, I’d have a meeting with the nutritionist and we’d be talking about, Hey, you got gotta, this is what you gotta be eating and this and that.
It’s just, it’s completely, it’s completely different. And
[01:43:50] Mark Hendrickson: especially now they do it for you. Just go to the athletic training table
[01:43:56] Mike Klinzing: and it’s all good stuff for sure. Good for you. And I’m sure I’m sure it tastes. I’m sure it tastes good too. All right. My final point. ’cause I think we’re about to, I’m surprised coach Jason has not buzzed in over to me here that we have, we have blown past our time limit, which is we’re.
So we’re setting a record here, Jason, for sure. Yeah. I I’ve enjoyed the conversation, so I was just kind of letting it happen. That’s exactly what I, even though it’s past my bedtime, that’s what I, that’s what I, that’s what I figured we are doing really well. And mark has been fantastic and I feel like mark, I feel like we’ve only even scratched the surface of what we need to talk about.
So we’re going to grant you the open invite to come back. But, but here’s my next, so my last question is you mentioned it very, very early in the podcast about the experience of playing against Jordan and the bulls. So I’m assuming that there’s some shred of a story that you can tell that just would give people some feeling of what you experienced, just being.
In that environment and seeing what that was like. Is there something that you can give us that can maybe allow us to grab onto some shred of understanding of what it was like in that era with Michael and Scottie and the whole Bulls situation?
[01:45:12] Mark Hendrickson: Well, put it this way. There was three times that I experienced some things that in the moment I was able to realize how important they were.
I played in 2006, I played in the opening series over in Japan. That was the first time that Hideki Matsui had come back to his native country as a member of the New York Yankees. I pitched against Barry Bonds when he was in pursuit. I think he was one home run shy of the all-time home run record.
And then obviously the first time I played against Michael Jordan those were three moments at various points in my career that really stood out. Obviously the Michael Jordan was the first time. That I experienced
the re it was kind of like my MBA moment. You know, you hear players talk about your, no one was that the reality set in and for anybody who experienced or whether they listened or watched the documentary on the bulls, whether they were able to see the bulls in the nineties in person it’s similar to the Beatles.
I never experienced the Beatles in their heyday, but it was something completely. I’ve never seen it since the, like I said, when, when the average NBA player shoots, you might get a flash ball or two, when Michael Jordan would shoot. I mean, it was a flash ball circus every time. And this was back when they were in their second three people.
And we talked earlier about the mental fatigue. I can only imagine what that team had been through because every single night they’re playing in front of a sellout crowd that demands on them. I mean, it was one of those things that if you remember back, it was my rookie year and I was, I was at the end of the bench and I was not at the gate, but everybody makes note and you can just see the highlights quite often of the time that Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan.
And he was super quick. He made a move he crossed Jordan over, but Jordan wasn’t completely lost on a crossover the way other players were when Allen would, would break out that move. And I can remember the hoop law in the, in the arena in Philly went just ecstatic. I mean, they were crazy and I was watching the Bulls.
And what was interesting about the Bulls is they would come. And it was never the same experience for them as it was for the team playing against them. You know, what appear to be them going through the motions was them just kind of toying with teams. And then in the fourth quarter being the team that they were, they just turned it up a couple notches, got the win and went about their way but for us in Philadelphia, likewise, the other teams that played against them, it was like the big, one of the biggest games of the year.
You know, the, the arena was sold out. The fans were in a frenzy that moment where Allen crossed over to the crowd went crazy and everybody’s just hooping holler. And the bulls were just like okay, we’re, we’ve been here, done that before. We’re just here to win. And they just played the game at such a level that it almost seemed rather easy for them, but I think that’s a compliment to their team and the guys that they had on the team, they just had.
Another level. And as you can relate to this, when you have the chemistry very few times, do you get that? And honestly, that’s what separates teams in professional sports from being successful to not be successful. And when you have it, it’s really one of those things. It’s kind of like you’re in the zone.
You don’t have it as often as you would like, but when you do have those moments where things are just jelling as a team, those are, those are priceless moments. And I think for them, they capitalized on it because they didn’t settle for anything less their expectation was a championship and, and that the egos were checked at the door, regardless of what your inner circle thought you should be doing on that team.
You had a role and you did it, and this is what we’re going after. And by golly, they did it. And I think that’s one of the things that’s a rare to you saw it. You know, in baseball with the gang keys and they’re run especially with Jeter, when they had multiple championships, you saw it with new England and, and football with, with Brady and the expectation, but you don’t see that as often.
And so I think sometimes we’re kind of critical of teams that are successful when ultimately we should be appreciative because it’s very difficult to get men and women in professional sports, to bond and, and produce something that’s so beautiful. When you see a successful team,
[01:50:21] Mike Klinzing: That’s really well said.
I think that anybody who’s played a team sport at whatever level understands that team dynamic is so important and you got to get everybody pulling the rope in the same direction. And all it takes is one or two people not to be doing that. And that chemistry that you described can go away. And the fact that the bulls were led by Jordan and.
Look, I’ll go to my grave, believing that ease the greatest player that ever played. I just don’t think there’s anybody who was able to match not only his physical tools, but just the mental toughness that he had and just, I never, I never doubted that he was going to figure out a way to get it done.
And even when he failed, you were, you were surprised. And so I still look back at the times that getting an opportunity to, to watch Michael Jordan play basketball is just completely, completely special. And for you to have an opportunity to compete against them, I’m sure it was was special for you. So before we wrap up, I want to give you an opportunity to share with people where you’re headed next, what you’re hoping to do, what you’re hoping to accomplish, let people know how they can reach out to you, how they can find out more about what you want to do.
And then after you do that, I will jump back in and wrap them.
[01:51:42] Mark Hendrickson: Yeah. I mean, it’s great. And I think you know, when we talked to, we had a mutual acquaintance that brought us together and for me I’m going into public speaking. It is something that’s kind of been, I’ve been itching to do it for the last couple of years, just because of all the experiences that I’ve had.
I think it’s a way that I can benefit young athletes around the country. So it’s something that I’ve been getting into. And I think doing these podcasts, I’ve enjoyed doing them around the country. And I think it’s an opportunity to share stories. It’s an opportunity to learn from people who are putting these on and just, it kind of gets me back into the arena of athletics and it’s something that you know, for any athlete.
And I think it doesn’t matter what level you’re at you miss sports when you stop playing. It’s just. It’s an emotional thing when you’re no longer playing at a competitive level. And for me getting back into this arena, it’s something that I get the juices flowing a little bit and I’m like, yep, this is what I feel like I’m meant to do.
And you know, I’ve got a lot of lessons that I’ve learned over the years that can be beneficial to a lot of people. I don’t know if people will write in to your podcast, but I I’d be more than happy to give out my information. My email address, anybody looking for, for a public speaker to come speak.
I’m going to target athletes in general to start, but I think it can ultimately branch off into the corporate world, because as you find in athletics as a player, or as somebody who’s involved in athletics, there’s so many life lessons that apply to life outside of athletics. And that’s one thing I learned in baseball from some of the retired people who would come around in our, in our part of our baseball union.
And as a player, you never really understood it, but you’re going to be. You’re going to be a former player far longer than you are an active player. And so for me, that is just something that kind of really hit home with me once I was done. And I was fortunate enough to play for an extremely long period of time, but it’s also something that’s kinda motivating because it’s about having a bigger impact and having an influence on people and, and sharing the experiences, the knowledge that.
Have given to me and kind of pat paying it forward type deals. So for me, it’s just about getting the connections and the relationships and the opportunities to just have that impact. And like I said, I’d be more than happy to share my email address. If people want to reach out to me I’m giving you the blessing to share my personal information, whether it’s cell phone or email address on your podcast, however, you go about responding to your fan base.
And, and hopefully it’s an opportunity where they not only enjoyed the conversation tonight, but an opportunity for us to maybe reconnect down the road and continue this conversation, or likewise have an opportunity where it helps your podcast as well as helping my public speaking. So that’s pretty much kind of how we got connected and I love talking sports.
So it’s great that you guys opened up your, your podcast to me. I would love to come back anytime. Obviously. Yeah. When we, we tip in the midnight hour,
[01:54:44] Mike Klinzing: We’re probably close to passing the two hour mark, which I know for sure. Is a record for us mark. So that’s excellent. That is that is very good.
And what I will say, and I think probably you would echo the sentiment is looking at the conversation that there was, there was honestly not one time that I was really looking at the clock going, oh my gosh, this thing is, this thing is dragging on. That conversation could have gone on forever/
[01:55:11] Mark Hendrickson: And we have to check. Is Jason asleep?
[01:55:13] Mike Klinzing: No, he’s awake. He’s awake. He’s there. He’s good. We’re we’re we’re good. But thank you for taking the time out of your schedule. Thank you for staying up late. Thank you to our mutual, our mutual friend, Joe
Jason Sunkle: I just want to say I am here. I don’t want people to think I fell asleep at the end of the podcast.
You’re here. Good. Jason is here. He’s still awake. Hey, we’re up this late for our NBA weekly pod. So Jason’s are, he could do it. He can do it. He can pull it off, but again, thanks to you, mark. Thanks to Joe’s decision from unleashed potential in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, who connected the two of us That’s really what it’s all about is making these kinds of connections and the conversation tonight, we touched on such a wide variety of topics.
Hopefully people who have made it to the end, who knows who they ended up breaking this up into two parts. Let us think about it and see what we’re going to do. But nonetheless, it was a great conversation. Mark really appreciate it to everyone who listened to the bitter end with us. Thanks for sticking with it.
We really appreciate it. And to everyone out there, we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.