Phoenix Suns' Preseason Nothing to Sneeze At

The Phoenix Suns are a busy bunch during this year’s preseason – playing 8 games in 15 days.

The Suns’ preseason includes a trip to Vancouver – where Steve Nash had a busy summer. 

(NBAE Photos)

There are 3 games at US Airways Center where fans can get a first glance at the new team – Saturday, October 13 against New Orleans, Monday, October 15 vs Utah and Thursday, October 25 against Denver.

This preseason is loaded with potential “up-and-comers” in the Western Conference. After meetings against Sacramento and New Orleans to start off the preseason, the Suns meet up with the Utah Jazz on October 15. The Jazz made it to the Western Conference Finals last season and should be just as good this coming season with most of their team returning along with some off-season free agent signings.

The Suns then spend the next 4 days in Los Angeles where they will play 3 games in 4 nights. Up first in L.A. are the Clippers. After that game, the Suns will participate in the LA Shootout at the Staples Center which is somewhat like a mini-tournament between the Suns, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers and the Charlotte Hornets.

After the LA Shootout, Phoenix will take on Denver but this time it’s in Phoenix in October so there is no chance of the game getting snowed out.

The Suns wrap up their preseason in Vancouver against Seattle where they will meet a very different Sonics team. The Sonics added several pieces to their puzzle this offseason, including acquiring Kurt Thomas from the Suns. This will also be the first opportunity for the Suns to see the #2 draft pick, Kevin Durant.

Speaking of Vancouver, Steve Nash was busy there this summer. He held a charity game there in July where he met up with some current teammates, including Raja Bell. He also opened the Steve Nash Sports Club around that same time.

Getting back to the schedule, do you think this preseason schedule will help the Suns warm up for the regular season? Is it too many games in too few days? Just right? Is there anything you wish would be changed? Let me know in the comments below!

The Tasmanian Devil and Me

I literally can’t tell you how long I’ve been looking for the photo that accompanies this blog.

Taz and Adam Beechen 

(NBAE Photos)

For the last eleven years, I’ve had a ton of stuff in a storage locker. Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve never had a residence big enough to allow me to keep it all with me. Like most people’s storage lockers, it was filled with a little bit of everything: old golf clubs, school papers, photo albums and scrapbooks, severed heads floating in jars (Wait, that’s the storage locker in “The Silence of the Lambs,” not mine. See what living in Hollywood does to you?)…

But two weeks ago, I rented an office. For years, I’d worked out of my living room, and wished for a place that could be a separate workspace so I don’t spend all my time surrounded by the same four walls. Now I have one. And it’s big enough that I was able to move all my stuff out of storage and into the office with me. In doing so, naturally, I did a little spring cleaning, and not only brought back a lot of memories, but found some actual ones as well – trophies from my childhood days playing in the basketball leagues at the Phoenix Jewish Community Center; decades-old autographs of former Suns players; group photos of the campers at former Suns Coach John MacLeod’s summer basketball camp, and so on. They were all great to see.

But the photo that runs alongside this blog…that was the Holy Grail. I’d searched photo albums for it for years, both mine and my mother’s. And then, there it was. I’m on the right side of the picture, accepting a trophy from Suns guard Ronnie Lee, the guest presenter at our awards ceremony for our PJCC basketball league. The year is probably 1977, and that means I’m eight years old.

Far too few Suns fans remember Ron Lee today. He was the team’s first round draft pick for the 1976-77 season, a muscular guard out of Oregon who was so athletic, he was actually drafted in three different sports (football and pro soccer, as well). He endeared himself immediately to the Suns faithful as the team’s sixth man – he played fierce defense, ran like the wind, and spent more time on the floor than my carpet.Literally. When Ronnie wasn’t running, he was diving. Or crashing. Or smashing. He led the league in steals one year. He came close to winning Rookie of the Year, which would have given the Suns three winners of that award in a row (he was sandwiched between Alvan Adams and Walter Davis, losing the title to Adrian Dantley). His non-stop, whirling-dervish style earned him the nickname “The Tasmanian Devil.”

I thought he was the best thing since sliced bread. The energy level in the old Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum ratcheted up six notches when Taz came into the game. On the playgrounds, we all strawberried our knees trying to dive like Ronnie. If the Suns had sold Ron Lee afro wigs in those days, all of my friends and I would have had one each. He worked so hard on the court, never quit, played with such joy, and did anything and everything to help his team win. In short, he was a terrific role model for young people in general, and particularly young basketball players like myself, who had no idea they’d grow up to be five-foot-nine and resoundingly uncoordinated.

So you can imagine how I must have felt, walking up there to receive that trophy from Taz himself that night. What he said to me and what, if anything, I said back, are lost in the mists of time, but I imagine I probably said something snappy like, “Wow, your hair really IS big!”

Ronnie didn’t stick with Phoenix very long, unfortunately, because he was the key Sun in a multiplayer deal made with the New Orleans Jazz (With a name like “Jazz,” you didn’t think they started in Utah, did you?) for power forward Truck Robinson, who was supposed to bring toughness to Phoenix. My friends and I knew the Suns had just traded away the toughest guy in the league.

One guy who remembers Ron Lee is Larry Bird. There’s a new book out that basically asks NBA legends who they considered the best players they ever saw in a bunch of criteria – best shooter, best defender, best athlete and so on. When asked who hustled the most, Bird thought back to Taz, diving into the stands after a loose ball during a meaningless game when Ronnie played for Detroit. Bird was a young player then and Ronnie’s actions taught him something he carried with him his entire career.

I never forgot Ron Lee either. Maybe I don’t play basketball for a living, but he’s still one of my role models (no, not for the hair), a reminder that, when you’re down, you just have to dig in, sacrifice, do whatever it takes, and most importantly, find the joy in whatever you’re doing.

I felt a lot of joy seeing this photo again. I hope you don’t mind my sharing it with you.

A Day In the Life Of…

The Suns.com Newsroom opening was a big deal around here. I wrote a “diary” post on Thursday but didn’t get a chance to put it on the blog until today. It’s basically a “Day In the Life Of” post from a fan who had the opportunity to experience the whole thing.

Amaré Stoudemire visited the Suns.com newsroom but didn’t do this to any Suns.com team members. 

(NBAE Photos)

Today, August 9, 202007, is a really busy day here at
Suns.com. We have the grand opening of
the Suns.com Newsroom
and there is a lot going on centered around that.Of course, today of all days the traffic
going into the office was especially slow and while I left in time to get to
the office at around 7:45, I didn’t make it until 8:15. There was a slow time of about 30 to 45
minutes when I got into the office but starting at 9:00, the place went
nuts. The PR people were coming in to
make sure we had the offices clean and looking nice, the balloon people were
creating some cool orange balloon bouquets and during all of this I had IT
working on my computer.

On top of all that, the Internet went down and it was
chaos. If you work for a web site and
the Internet goes down, you don’t even have to fake like you’re working!Since this is such a big day in Suns.com
history (and on a personal note, it’s a big day for me since I’m meeting all of
these people for the first time), I figured I would keep a running diary. Kind of like Bill Simmons, but not as
funny. Probably not funny at all! But if you’re a Suns fan, you might find the
run-down a little interesting.

11:33 am: Mike
D’Antoni walks into the Newsroom. I
introduced myself and managed to not giggle because I was meeting the famed
Phoenix Suns coach.

11:38 am: The Gorilla
came in to scope things out, but it was hard to recognize him without all the
fur.

11:47 am: Gambo arrives
to set up shop for the day. He’s as cool
in person as he sounds on the radio.
He’s very personable and can talk about anything.

12:2007 pm: Since it’s
Amare Stoudemire Day and all, NBA TV decided to oblige and show the top 10
Amare dunks. Nice!!

12:45 pm: Fifteen
minutes until show time. I’ve switched
desks for the day since Gambo and Burns are taking up the spot I normally sit
in. The Internet finally came back on so
now we can try and get some work done for the next 15 minutes. Then we start the festivities.

1:00 pm: It’s getting
hectic in here. People are running
around everywhere. But the excitement is
ramping up as well. You can feel the
energy in the air.

1:20 pm: I met Amare
Stoudemire! WOOHOO! As an employee of the Phoenix Suns, I’m not
supposed to get excited about that stuff, I think. But as a fan?
It’s just plain awesome. He was
very personable and genuinely seems like a nice guy.

1:30 pm: Stoudemire
just sat down with Gambo and Burns for their on-air interview, less than 10
feet from my desk! Amare is a great
interviewee. I’m amazed at how easily
these guys can answer questions that seem difficult to even think about let
alone just answer on the fly.

1:33 pm: The
interview is still going on. And there
are a lot of people waiting for the ribbon cutting ceremony outside the
Newsroom. A LOT of people. You can tell they’re getting restless. Probably because they know the refreshments
are on the other side of the room and they can’t get to those until the ribbon
is cut.

1:45 pm: Amare
finished his interview a few minutes ago and now Coach D’Antoni is in. I just got kicked out of my desk, so Amare
could sign our wall. We have a
“Celebrity Wall” where our visitors can sign it. So far we have Amare and The Gorilla
signatures on the wall.

1:58 pm: It’s
interesting watching the different people get interviewed. Amare is a great interviewee and answers the
questions very well. Then Coach D’Antoni
comes in and he has a different demeanor, but is still just as good. He has a more conversational tone and it
really just sounds like they are having a conversation as opposed to having an
interview. You know how you see Coach D’Antoni on the air or in interviews and he seems like a really cool guy, and just likes to shoot the breeze about basketball? Yeah, that’s exactly how he is in person.

2:35 pm: It’s been
more than 30 minutes since I was sitting at my computer. I’ve been running around, kicked out of my
desk (again) and getting printouts of the submissions for the impromptu
sweepstakes Gambo talked us into throwing up on the site. We’ve probably had almost 500 submissions in
the first 90 minutes!

3:00 pm: We now have
over 800 submissions for the contest. So
if you didn’t win, don’t feel bad. There
are 800 other people right with you. Everything
around here has slowed down since Amare and Coach D’Antoni left. I’m actually the only other one in the office
with Gambo and Burns at this point.
Everyone else is around the arena doing other work. Me?
I’m sitting here doing metrics and just listening to the radio guys,
like I’ve always done. It’s just kind of
weird hearing them in person.

5:00 pm: Things are
starting to slow down around here now, although Gambo and Burns are still going
strong. I’m just about ready to leave
for the day. The prizes are about to be given
out, but I’ll listen to that on the way home.
We had over 1,500 submissions!
Amazing!

It’s been an awesome day and I just wish that more fans
could see things like this in person. If
you’re interested in seeing more from the day, you can check out the video at
Suns.com
. It takes all the best parts of
the day – including interviews with Amare Stoudemire, Mike D’Antoni, Robert
Sarver and a couple of Suns Dancers – and puts them all into an easily viewed
format.

The main reason such a big deal was made out of the Newsroom
opening was that now we will be able to provide more information at a quicker
pace to the fans who visit Suns.com.
Which brings me to the question I want to ask: If you were running Suns.com for a week, what
would you implement? In other words, if
you could do anything to make Suns.com better, what would it be? I can’t promise that any of the ideas will be
put into place, but it is always interesting to hear from the users of the site
to see what they would want changed or added.
Let me know in the comments below.

New Addition to the Hill Household

Congratulations to new Phoenix Suns player Grant Hill and his wife, Tamia, on the birth of their second daughter – Lael Rose Hill – on Thursday, August 9, 202007.

She was born at 8 pounds, 6 ounces. There was no announcement on how tall she was. People.com reports that the couple also have a 5-year-old named Myla Grace and according to Grant, “Lael looks like Myla.”

Lael was born in Orlando where the Hill’s resided prior to Grant signing with the Phoenix Suns earlier this summer.

We wish the entire family well!

Introduction of Suns.com's Stefan Swiat

After spending two seasons at NBA.com in Secaucus, NJ, I began to think about where the grass might be greener. For me, ironically enough, it was in the Arizona desert.

Getting the call from coach pushed me over the edge.
(NBAE Photos)

Although I’ve come to Suns.com after only two seasons with the NBA, my basketball journey started at a much younger age. Growing up in the suburbs of New York City, one can’t really avoid becoming a hoopaholic. If you were a kid from a working-class family, all you ever needed to do was show up to court with a ball and you were ready to roll.

 

I remember first being seduced by the game after watching the “Showtime Lakers” dismantle the legendary Boston Celtics. As a nine-year old kid, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the winning style, smile and nickname that Earvin “Magic” Johnson sported during the late 80’s. After watching a game, I would record the best moves from the night in my trusty notebook and go outside and practice them until they became second nature.

 

I took that habit and applied it to my annual summer trip to Manhattan College basketball camp, and I filled my notebook with tips from basketball luminaries such as Rollie Massimino, Steve Lappas, Rod Strickland, Ed Pinckney and Rolando Blackman. By the end of eighth grade and a growth spurt later, I could see that I had a natural affinity for the game.

 

After receiving a full scholarship to attend a Division II college in Long Island, I really accelerated my basketball journey by playing at three different schools in the next three years. I never thought that I would transfer once, let alone three times, but that’s the way things worked out. My basketball vagabonding didn’t end there, and persisted even after I graduated from college.

 

Through sheer serendipity, I received a contract to play in the third level of the Italian professional leagues. I lived about 200 yards from the beach along the Adriatic Sea. After playing a year in Pesaro, Italy, I received an invitation to try out for a first division team in Poland. I played with four different teams in less than a month in a professional system that can be most aptly described as a debacle.

 

Not wanting my last playing experience to end that way, I managed to find a way to get invited to a Nike All-Star Camp in Zofingen, Switzerland. I coached kids in the morning, while playing at night in front of coaches and general managers from Swiss professional teams.

 

Each year Nike would send one NBA player over to coach and play throughout the week. The year before, the camp acquired the services of Darvin Ham, who, by the way, is a first-class dude. Two years prior to when I was there, the camp brought in Steve Nash. I got Michael Bradley.

 

Whereas Bradley was reticent to mix it up with us on or off the court, I heard that Nash was a blast to be around and refused to let anyone even take him out of the scrimmages. While Bradley was worried about looking poorly against “lesser” competition, Nash was worried about wasting an opportunity to play. Heraclitus once said, “Character determines destiny.” I can’t think of a better example I’ve seen in basketball which illustrates that proverb.

 

Although I still had the opportunity to continue playing for a break-even salary, I realized that my real talents lied elsewhere, and I had to go pursue them. I decided that my love for basketball and creativity should be combined, so I started applying at NBA Entertainment. After a few interviews, one of which lasted only 10 minutes because of my inability to speak Mandarin Chinese, I finally ended up at NBA.com.

 

During my times there I performed nearly every job possible, and worked every shift imaginable. I updated team sites, the NBA homepage, created photo galleries, posted video, wrote articles and blogged. Deciding to make a move to further my career, I applied for the Suns.com position. Knowing how long it takes to find or get offered a job, I couldn’t believe how fast VP of Interactive Services Jeramie McPeek got back to me. Within a few days we had an hour and a half interview and the prospect of moving cross country began to dawn on me. Upon receiving the job offer, I said I was completely flattered, but that I wanted to take some time to consider the magnitude of the decision.

 

While I was pondering the move, I received a phone call from a 602 area code that I figured was from someone in human resources or something. When the caller identified himself as Mike D’Antoni, it took me a good couple of seconds before I could even respond. He said he was just calling to find out why I would even think twice about leaving New York and come out to Phoenix. He went on to suggest that I would be crazy to ignore the weather and the other various perks of working for the Suns.

 

Once realizing that it was in fact, really Mike D’Antoni, and not someone playing a prank, I took the opportunity to gush about my admiration for him as a coach stemming from the time when we were both in Italy. After almost completely embarrassing myself, he reiterated that he was calling me to let me know how great of a guy Jeramie is to work for and how the Suns are an unbelievable organization. I thanked him repeatedly, assuring him that his words had not fallen on deaf ears.

 

A lot of people want money, fame and fringe benefits, but I am the type of person who just wants to be appreciated. I had already felt like I was being appreciated, and I hadn’t even worked a second yet. So I started to think, what would it be like once I got there?

 

It was difficult to leave my life in New York, but since I was offered the position of Web Content Coordinator, I have been so busy moving, getting readjusted and having such a great time, that I haven’t even had time to stop and reflect on the change.

 

But I think that is a good sign, one that indicates that there might just be a plot of green grass awaiting me in the desert.

Big and Busy Summer for Suns.com

“So what do you do during the summer?” I get that question a lot this time of year. When new acquaintances find out that I work for the Suns, they often assume that the NBA’s so-called “off”season must be slow or even boring.

Far from it!

Now, I do admit that I spent more than a few of my summer hours as an intern in the early ’90s playing H-O-R-S-E on a Nerf hoop with Frank Johnson and David Griffin. But those days are nothing more than a distant memory at this point.

 

Summers for the Suns.com staff are almost as hectic as the regular season these days, though. From the moment the playoffs end, we move into full NBA Draft mode. Then there is Summer League and the free-agency period with press conferences and introductions of new players, a la Grant Hill. And in recent years, we’ve had Suns players and coaches participating in USA Basketball to keep an eye on, as well.

 

Throw in the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, who we also cover for PhoenixMercury.com, and Suns front-office maneuvers such as the hirings of new GM Steve Kerr and assistant coach Jay Humphries, and we are running like the LB on a fast break.

[Quick tangent: I can't forget to mention that we were also asked to record video tours of a couple of potential new homes for Hill and his wife, Tamia, who was eight months pregnant and unable to travel to Phoenix to see them in person. Not that I'm complaining. My crew enjoyed it and we now hope to feature the Hills on a future episode of Suns Home Court!]

 

I personally, however, did very little of the above this year. Instead, I’ve spent the majority of the summer playing GM. Thanks to the vision of Suns owners Robert Sarver and Sam Garvin, and President Rick Welts, not to mention the full support of Suns Sr. VPs John Walker and Lynn Agnello, I was given approval to double the size of our Suns.com team!

 

So for the past two-plus months, I have been evaluating talent, recruiting free-agents and negotiating contracts. Or something like that. After sifting through more than 300 resumes and conducting some 40 or 50 interviews, I am proud to officially introduce the newest members of our team:

 

Dan Hilton: I don’t think I could have found someone better suited for our newly created Web Analytics Coordinator position than Dan Hilton. Not only does he bring more than nine years of web metrics experience with him, but he is a lifelong Suns fan and actually ran his own Suns fan blog site in his spare time!

[Read an interview he did with his successor at BrightSideoftheSuns.com earlier this week]

Dan will be responsible for analyzing and reporting on the daily, weekly and monthly traffic on Suns.com, as well as the online behavior pattern of our visitors, to assist in sponsor integration, search engine optimization and ease of site navigation. Confused yet?

I have also asked him to take over moderation of this official Suns blog. It wasn’t in the original job description, but his license plate reads “SNSBLGR,” for crying out loud. How could I not ask him to oversee the blog?

 

Stefan Swiat: With two years on NBA.com’s newsdesk writing articles and blogs, posting photos and videos, and updating both the teams and league sites on game nights, Stefan Swiat was another perfect fit, filling our new Web Content Coordinator role.

Convincing him to leave NBA.com in New Jersey and move to the opposite side of the country was the only tricky part. Not that coming to work for the three-time Pacific Division Champions AND the NBA’s reigning Web Site of the Year, wasn’t attractive. After all, Stefan did apply for the position. But changing jobs and coasts is, understandably, a life-altering decision. And so I called in a little favor.

 

After playing at least a wee bit role in helping to recruit Steve Nash back to Phoenix in 2004 – putting together a coffee table book custom-made for the then-Mavs’ playmaker – I figured Mike D’Antoni owed me one. Okay, not really, but Coach is such a great guy, I figured he wouldn’t mind helping me out. So I called Mike, Mike called Stefan, and the rest is history. But I’ll let him tell you more about that in his intro blog, coming soon.

 

Daniel Banks: Although talking, typing or thinking about this past playoff run is still painful for me and most Phoenix fans, our new Suns Structure Coordinator wasn’t quite as hurt by the circumstances surrounding the Suns’ pre-mature exit. You see, Daniel Banks is coming to the desert fresh off an NBA Championship parade (or would that be championship float?) down the Riverwalk, as a web manager with Spurs.com

 

But we can forgive him for that, as long as he doesn’t wear any “rings” around the office, for he has thankfully seen the light. Or, as I’ve proudly been announcing his impending arrival, he’s wisely chosen to “leave the immediate vicinity” of the Spurs’ press box to sign with our team. Let’s hope he becomes the first web geek (no slight to Daniel; I often refer to myself as a web geek) to win championships in back-to-back seasons with two different teams!

 

Daniel, a creative web designer, who brings a wealth of online talents and experience, will be moving to the Valley this weekend and is scheduled to officially begin his career with the Suns on Wednesday.

 

———————————-

In addition to adding to our award-winning team, I’m thrilled to announce the promotions of Suns.com’s veteran All-Stars, whose names you might recognize:

 

Josh Greene, aka “JAG,” has been promoted to Web & Publishing Manager. Josh crossed the street from then-Bank One Ballpark to US Airways Center back in 2003 after a year as a ballpark tour guide and several years as a TV sports & entertainment writer in upstate New York prior to that.

In his new role, Josh will continue to oversee the Suns’ print publications, including Free Throw (we’re looking for more fan artwork!) and the Suns Yearbook, in addition to helping manage the day-to-day updates of the Suns and Phoenix RoadRunners‘ web sites.

 

Steven J. Koek (he says “the J stands for J”) has been promoted to Web & Multimedia Manager. Steven joined the Suns in January 2003, but was already a familiar face to many within the organization as he produced video features for Suns TV broadcasts in the early ’90s while with a local television production company.

In his new role, Steven will continue to oversee all of Suns.com’s multimedia productions (webcasts and podcasts) in addition to helping manage the day-to-day maintenance of the Suns and Mercury’s web sites.

———————————-

 

“So what will you do the rest of the summer?”

 

Good question. I thought I’d just take the next couple months off and let my staff of seven (which also includes our “swiss army knife,” Web Content Assistant Brad G. Faye, who does a little of everything on the sites) handle things around here for a while. You guys don’t mind, do you?

 

I wish. My wife and I did get a few days in San Francisco for our 10th Anniversary last week, and my son and I spent a day at Comic-Con last month, but I don’t think I’ll be leaving the office again anytime soon.

 

Now that I’ve got my team in place and we’ve officially opened the new “Suns.com Newsroom” (special thanks to Gambo, Burnsy and Sports 620 KTAR for all of the love!), my full attention turns towards some exciting new projects we have on the horizon.

 

I don’t want to reveal too much too soon, but I will tell you that we have been working closely with the NBA’s Creative Services department for the last four months on a complete redesign of Suns.com, which is scheduled to for an early October unveiling.

 

As part of the relaunch, we will also be introducing an expansive social network for Suns fans, which will allow you to create your own fan profiles, write your own blogs, and upload your own photos, artwork and video! The new fan network will also contain Suns message boards, which I know you have been asking for, and we will be organizing a team of die-hard fans to help us moderate the boards. Stay tuned to details.

 

Let’s see, what else? We’ll be providing in-depth coverage of the Mercury’s playoff run over at PhoenixMercury.com. We’ll soon be putting up an official page on MySpace. We’ll be featuring more historical content on Suns.com, as the Suns celebrate their 40th anniversary this season. We’ll be launching a new 2007-08 Suns Dancers section. We’re planning on offering more behind-the-scenes video and live webcasts. We’ve talked with several Suns celebrities about joining our blog squad. More, more, more.

 

But again, I don’t want to give away too many of our secrets just yet. Instead, I’ll just ask you to circle October 1 on your calendar, as all the online fun tips off with our annual live Media Day Webcast, followed by exclusive camp coverage from Tucson.

 

Only 53 days of summer left and I can’t wait!

Introductions and the Phoenix Suns 2007-2008 Schedule

Let me start out by saying that writing on a blog again feels really good. For most of you, you’re probably thinking, “Huh? I’ve never even heard of this guy before!” So I’ll back up a little bit.

As Jeramie McPeek explained in his last blog post, I just started working for the Phoenix Suns as the new Web Analytics Coordinator. But before I started here, I wrote a Phoenix Suns fan blog located at BrightSideoftheSun.com. Before that, I was writing over at TheSunsBlog.com. Hopefully, you’ll be hearing a lot more from me over the coming weeks and months.

I’m not sure about you but, as a fan, by the time the season ends (unfortunately over the past several years it seems like the season has always ended too early), I’m ready for a break from all things basketball. When the draft comes around, I’m ready for a bit of basketball talk and then I go into basketball hibernation for a few weeks. Now it’s almost the middle of August and I’m beginning to get a hankerin’ for some NBA basketball again.

The NBA schedule came out last week and there are some interesting things to note:

  1. The Suns start traveling early in the season and get 20% of their Away games out of the way before the end of November.
  2. In December, the team will have a good “litmus test” trip when they play San Antonio on the 17th and Dallas on the 19th.
  3. In both December and January, the team has two away games where they won’t have to travel between games. On December 25th and 27th and then again on January 15th and 17th the Suns play both the Lakers and the Clippers on the road. Since both teams play in the Staples Center, the Suns shouldn’t have to travel between those games.
  4. Between January 29th and February 24th, the Suns play 10 out of their 11 games at home. The only away game is at Golden State on February 13.
  5. All 4 of the Phoenix/San Antonio matchups will be nationally televised this season.
  6. All 3 of the Phoenix/Dallas matchups will be nationally televised this year.
  7. From February 10th to February 24, the Suns have 6 games in a row that are nationally televised.

What do you think of the schedule? Where do you think the Suns will have the most trouble? Where do you think the Suns have it the easiest?

I look forward to hearing from everyone now and throughout the season. We’ll be making some changes on the blog over the next few months, too, so let us know what you think!

Suns Big Throughout Galaxy

I just got back from the 202007 International Comicon, which is usually reported by some smirking news anchor saying, “Hundreds of thousands of nerds descended on San Diego this weekend to trade action figures, talk comic books and dress up like aliens.”

 


I’m not the least bit embarrassed or angry. It’s all true.

On the non-Suns side of my life, I write, among other things, comic books for one of the major publishers. I also write television animation, and that’s a big deal at Comicon as well. So I go to San Diego every summer for the show – It’s one of the major business networking events of my year.

And it’s a blast. I shmooze, I see old friends, I speak on a few panels, and spend some time sitting at the booth run by my publisher, ostensibly to sign autographs, but really just watching the artists that are there do sketches for fans, because fans aren’t likely to hang writers’ autographs on their walls.

As I’m sitting there, I tend to have a lot of time on my hands, so I talk to the fans in line. About anything, whether it’s a costume they happen to be wearing (WAY too many Pirates of the Caribbean this year), where they’re from, or what they’ve seen at the convention that they’ve enjoyed. The fans are very personable, very willing to chat and, best of all, very non-judgmental…which is a good thing, since there was a guy this year walking around in green briefs and nothing else, carrying a tinfoil trident and telling people he was the Prince of Atlantis.

As it happened, when I arrived at the convention center last Wednesday night, I was wearing a Suns shirt. I didn’t think twice about it…until, as I was watching my neighboring artist sketch away, I heard a voice ask, “So, is Grant Hill gonna help you guys?”

I looked up, and there was Superman.

Okay, not Superman, but a (rather portly) fan dressed as Superman, asking me, with dead seriousness, a basketball question. So we talked for about ten minutes, a perfectly enjoyable conversation about pro hoops with a surprisingly well-educated fellow fan.

In a convention filled with unexpected sights, sounds and, in some cases, smells, it was maybe the last thing I expected.

And it got weirder. And more fun. I wore my Suns watch all weekend long, and at least three people a day noticed it and asked me basketball questions. They ranged from everyday comics fans in Batman t-shirts and Spiderman hats (“Do you think Boris and Amare should have been suspended for that playoff game?”), to editors from various comic companies (“I love Alando Tucker; I saw him play in college.”), to Klingons (“Steve Nash will never burn out…He’s a machine!”). So I spent the weekend talking about my two favorite things: basketball and comics.

And it turns out I’m not the only geek in the Suns family. Suns VP Jeramie McPeek showed up with his son in tow (or perhaps it was the other way around), and fellow Suns.com blogger Brad Faye stopped by to say hi and drop off the rather excellent comic book he wrote himself…and he was wearing a Leandro Barbosa jersey to boot.

Sometimes I get self-conscious about my interests. The intensity of my fanhood (Is that a word or a super-villain? “The Fearsome Fan-Hood!”) for the Suns can cause even the biggest of basketball fans among my friends to occasionally back away slowly, smiling nervously like they would at a suspected axe murderer. And my job writing comics, which I love…Well, let’s just say it tends to be a conversation-stopper when I’m at a dinner party with lawyers and doctors, and someone asks me what I do. I’m usually asked to move to the “kids’ table” (I have a better time there anyway).

But the San Diego Comicon pretty much has it all for a guy like me. It’s a place where I can feel good about what I do and what I’m into, because chances are, there’s a lot of people there just like me. I knew going in I’d find fellow comics fans, but finding as many Suns fans as I did – among the faux Dark Knights, the ersatz Wonder Women, and the ever-present Imperial Storm Troopers — that was a thrill.

Next year, I’m going back, of course. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and new, and talking Suns roundball and superheroes. And I’ll be prouder than ever.

But not so proud that I’ll wear green briefs and carry a tinfoil trident, don’t worry.