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“Don't think we didn't all see you hug Tiger after you dunked” — when a Los Angeles Lakers journeyman seized the moment to meet Tiger Woods during a game

Players don't usually hug celebrities during games, but Madsen thought he could sneak one in without his teammates noticing. He was wrong.
Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach of player development Mark Madsen and Tiger Woods

Mark Madsen and Tiger Woods

Mark Madsen may have ultimately been a journeyman his entire NBA career, but that doesn’t mean his playing years were boring and less colorful. Having played for the Los Angeles Lakers, “Mad Dog” enjoyed meeting a couple of celebrities and big-name athletes from other sports.

A once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet an icon

Madsen was one of the fortunate backup players who happened to be in LA during the Lakers’ glory days in the early 2000s. The team was so good that Madsen was often rewarded with minutes during blowout games. And in one of those, golf icon and 15-time major champion Tiger Woods was sitting courtside.

For those who don’t know, Madsen and Tiger were both from Stanford, but they “missed each other by one year” at the renowned university. So when “Mad Dog” saw Tiger in a Lakers game, he seized the moment to meet the legend during a timeout.

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He was sitting courtside one game… So the game was going well, I think I made a good play too, and as I was coming to the timeout I said ‘This is my one chance to meet Tiger’ so I just veered straight to him and gave him a hug, went to the bench,” Madsen told Fair Game in 2019.

The Lakers know why

In Los Angeles, it’s not unusual to see famous people like Tiger Woods show up at the Staples Center, now Crypto.com Arena, during Lakers games. But what Madsen did was a bit out of the ordinary as Laker players rarely meet or converse with celebrities while the game is still ongoing. They usually talk after the game.

But why Madsen did not wait to finish the game before walking up to Tiger? Well, he left out one interesting detail, which he later revealed as he recounted the story.

According to “Mad Dog,” he thought his teammates did not notice him trying to make the most of the spotlight and approached Tiger right after he pulled off a dunk. But, as it turned out, he was wrong.

The next day in the locker room [former Lakers point guard] Brian Shaw said ‘don’t think we didn’t all see you hug Tiger after you dunked’ [laughter],” Madsen recalled.

Indeed, making it to the NBA and winning a championship is a dream come true for guys like Madsen. And apparently, meeting one of the greatest athletes in the world as well.

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