The Suns had an all-employee meeting this morning in the Casino Arizona Pavilion at US Airways Center. It’s something they usually do a few weeks before the season starts. With employees spread out through the entire arena, it’s hard to fathom how many people actually work for the team. But when we are all there together, you realize how many people it takes to keep an arena, 3 teams and many other events going on a daily basis.
Team President, Rick Welts, usually speaks to the employees and lets them know how the business is going, what the goals for the upcoming season are, etc. That still happened and it was great to hear his vision of the next year. After Welts spoke, we had several other people talk about the upcoming season including the All-Star Game that is coming to Phoenix in February 2009. We had some discussion of what that would bring to Phoenix and to US Airways Center. Then because of all of the changes that happened in the off-season, we also had some special guests.
Terry Porter spoke to us for a little bit regarding his plans for the 2008-09 season. The guys working on the web site get to see and hear from Coach Porter quite often. We’re on the practice court with the media asking him questions. But I wonder whether it was a shock to some of the other employees who hadn’t heard him talk about the team yet. As you probably have seen and heard, Coach Porter is intense. Coach D’Antoni liked was fairly jovial when it came to speaking publicly. So I imagine that employees who hadn’t seen Coach in public yet may have been a little surprised at how intense he was at an all-employee meeting. He spoke for several minutes. At one point, he talked about what he expects from his team offensively. ”All of the main guys on the team still have the ability to attack the rim so from an offensive standpoint, we’re still going to push the ball up the floor and attack the rim. But if we get stuck, we will try to get into a set and will try to take advantage of our matchups.” Regarding defense, Porter commented that we would “probably see a little more agressiveness.”
After Porter was done speaking, Steve Nash addressed us for a few minutes. (Speaking of Nash, did you know he’s getting his own shoe?) After joking about how bad it is having to come to work at 8:00 every day (considering he has two little girls, he’s probably up much earlier than that!), he said, “We’ve given ourself a good chance to overcome the shortcomings we’ve had in the past.” He was talking about the new guys that the team acquired in the offseason: Coach Porter, Robin Lopez, Goran Dragic, Matt Barnes, Sean Singletary and Louis Amundson. Nash doesn’t think this is going to be easy though: ”Change is always difficult at first because you’re trying to get into a pattern that is different than the previous one.” But he also mentioned that he thought it was a necessary change and something that would help the Suns in the long run.
After Nash spoke, he and Coach Porter left to go to practice while the employees were treated to yet another special guest: TNT NBA Analyst, Doug Collins. Collins reviewed the NBA and specifically the Western Conference. He pointed out that the Suns aren’t the favorite in the Pacific Division this season. But that last season could be exactly the thing the team needed to get over the hump. In Collins’ words, “You don’t know how much something means to you until it breaks your heart.” The Suns had their hearts broken last year and it could get the team to work harder than ever.
With the main seven guys on the team staying with the team between 2007-08 and 2008-09, this could be a really good chance for the Suns to remember what it felt like to lose last year and to help the team get over that hump. What are your predictions for the team? Do you think the team will blast out of the gate or will they stumble a bit? Leave your comments below.