Bonjour, Suns fans, from Maribor, Slovenia! I am currently traveling with the French National Basketball Team during their preparation, Pool Play, and FIBA European Championship matches.
Boris Diaw is traveling with the French National Basketball Team (NBAE Photos)
My only job while here is to attend to our own player, Boris Diaw. While Boris has done great work to get in shape physically over the summer and has received the proper medical insurance to play for France, it is my job to get him through the rigorous three-week tournament while maintaining and improving upon his physical fitness level. We all want him to come back in top shape
when the Suns start training camp in October.
I left Phoenix on August 22nd and traveled to Paris via Philadelphia. About 13 hours later (22 hours with the time change), I landed in Paris.Unfortunately it was very cloudy and I didn’t
get to see anything out of the airplane window.
After retrieving my luggage, I took a train to another terminal and met
the team. I met the team’s GM, coaching
staff, training staff, equipment manager, public relations director, and
players. I was familiar with some of the
team – Tony Parker (Spurs), Ronny Turiaf (Lakers) and Yakhouba Diawara
(Nuggets) – as well as a few others that I had seen through pre-draft
workouts. The team and staff was
somewhat hesitant to accept me, as expected, because they are preparing for Olympic
qualification and visitors are usually not invited into practices, team meals,
therapy sessions, or sitting on their bench during games, etc. Luckily, Mike Elliott, the Suns Assistant
Athletic Trainer was with the team for a few weeks prior to me and they
hopefully understood that we are just looking after Boris’ health. Over the last few days they have really
warmed up to me and my attempt at speaking French. The staff has been helpful in explaining most
things to me, albeit a few minutes after everyone has finished laughing! One of the players, Frederick Weis, has been
especially helpful in teaching me phrases that I can’t repeat on this website! Thanks, buddy! Thankfully, I have Boris around to check with
before I make a fool of myself.
Seriously though, the French Federation led by Patrick Beesley has taken
tremendous care of me. Once I arrived in
Paris, they booked all my travel and hotels, I eat every meal with the team,
and I am included on all the team schedules.
I couldn’t have asked for a smoother trip or access to working with
To back-up a little, we flew from Paris to Ljanljana, Slovenia (about a two hour flight), then bussed to Maribor
(another two hours). We checked into a hotel at the base of a ski slope. The area is much like Vail or Steamboat Springs, CO. We practice and play at an arena, the Dvorana
Tabor, which is in the town. We practiced the next few days, two times per day, then had our first game vs. Slovenia (led by Rasho Nesterovic of the Toronto Raptors). France
beat them 90-87 in a close game. Tony
Parker and Florent Pietras played well and Boris was very steady with 11 points,
eight rebounds, and seven assists. The
crowd was great, complete with drums, fog horns, buzzers, and chants. It was a tough battle with a few scuffles and
questionable refereeing. Both teams were
actually staying at the same hotel and we scrimmaged them without fans the next
night, which France
won by 20 points behind strong play by Ronny Turiaf and Sedrick Ferchaud.
Personally, I enjoyed Maribor. I have gone on a few jogs into town and back
(about five miles) and met some of the staff for a 7 a.m.. hike to the top of
the mountain. It took about one hour, 15
minutes to get to the top and about 40 minutes to get down. I’d say it rates right up there with Camelback Mountain. I took a trip into town to take pictures and
site-see but it was Sunday so there weren’t a lot of shops open. It was very relaxing though! There was some sort of mountain bike race
over the weekend at the ski area so there were a lot of people, music, etc. It was fun to watch.
Well, off to Alicante, on the
east coast of Spain
for the next eight days. It is supposed
to have great beaches and night-life and is very close to Ibiza. I mean… I’m here working, so if I get some
time off, I will let you know!