As the Suns landed here in Oklahoma City for the start of a back to back set with the Thunder(thanks, Dan, for releasing the naming rights)and the Wolves, my trusty Treo phone illuminated with an email message from Berlin. Lo and behold, it was Casey Jacobsen just checking in to say “hey” while he plays in the Euroleague. He gave me the update on his family–his wife Brittney is 7 months pregnant with their 2nd daughter. They have just moved into a new apartment in downtown Berlin and are loving the culture and adventure of raising their youngest daughter in this bustling, Euro hub. Just yesterday they took her to The Berlin Zoo, and they also live right across from Germany’s Niketown which gives the Jacobsens a little dose of American commerce to relieve some of their homesickness.
Casey had many questions about the Suns. He has been reading the box scores from the papers in Berlin and wanted to know how the transition was going under Terry Porter. He noticed that Nash’s assists were down and the turnovers were up but all the while the Suns were accumulating wins. He knows this team is too talented to fail and the system will begin to click over time.
The call made me realize the coolest part of my job: developing and maintaining friendships with some very diverse and enriching NBA personalities. Recently we were in Sacramento and had a chance to visit with Mayor-elect Kevin Johnson. His polished and sophisticated nature always impressed me along with his desire to impact and change lives for the better. Many of you may have seen and heard the chat which came during the 2nd quarter of the Kings game. He is one of the most unique and impressive individuals…plus I just love his Mom who desparately wanted a copy of the interview after the game!
Then this past week, “Pike” paid a visit to the Bud Light Paseo for an appearance on Suns Live with Tom Chambers and myself. Eric Piatkowski and I became good friends over the past couple years as we shared the passion of reading interesting novels and drinking fine wine. He is currently headed to his hometown in Nebraska where he will be working as a TV analyst for college basketball games in the region. Pike and his family are still living in Scottsdale and he is embracing this concept called “NBA retirement” by spending time with his kids while also still working out like a madman. He was, of course, one of the founding fathers of the Suns “Fitness Club”, a moniker given to the bench mob who rarely saw action in Mike D’Antoni’s strict rotation.
So an email from Casey, a chance to catch-up with KJ and Pike, and the daily interactions with some of my favorite Suns like Alvan Adams(who works at the arena), Connie Hawkins(who sounded GREAT last time we spoke on the phone), Dick Van Arsdale(who still looks like he is in his early 40s) along with assistant coach Thunder Dan, and broadcasting partners EJ, TC, and Scott Williams. It’s an absolute thrill to keep these friendships fresh and alive and it’s a testament to the Suns who over the years have assembled some of the classiest guys the league has seen!