For most college students, the end of summer vacation comes once school starts in the fall. For the past few years, mine has officially concluded at the ending of Suns training camp. With the team ready to tip-off the regular season tonight in Seattle, I guess I’m a little late hitting the books.
Among the highlights of the offseason was the luncheon for Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo. (NBAE Photos)
Having been a college student now for what seems like 35 years, it seems like I find myself learning more outside of the classroom than inside it. Not to take away from the importance of school, but my job with the Suns has taught me much more about journalism, videography and life itself.
Take this past summer for example:
READING – didn’t do as much of it as I’d have liked, but that usually ends up being the case for me over the summer. I read a couple of novels (counting CliffsNotes), some Suns blogs and of course, comic books.
WRITING – for the Suns I did quite a bit. When the organization drafted Wisconsin’s Alando Tucker, I had the opportunity to discuss the move with not only Tucker, but new General Manager Steve Kerr and Head Coach Mike D’Antoni. Both are confident the guard has plenty of potential, not only for his ability on the offensive end of the floor, but his ability to “badger” opponents on defense as well. What the front office like best is the fact both he and second-round pick DJ Strawberry have plenty of collegiate experience.
ARITHMETIC – One Team. One City. One Goal. Mathematically, it added up for Phoenix’s first ever WNBA Championship. I’m obviously a bit biased, but don’t think it could have gone to a more deserving group. Everybody you speak with from the front office to the players themselves is a class act, and it’s no wonder why so many people were pulling for them (other than the fact it involved rooting against Bill Laimbeer that is).
CHEMISTRY – While the Mercury were busy perfecting their chemistry on the court, the Suns did their best to improve their chemistry off of it. The signing of All-Star forward Grant Hill is a move which just looks better by the day. He’s looked great in practice and many are predicting he’ll be making his eighth All-Star appearance when the game is played in New Orleans later this season.
You can’t seem to talk to anybody about Hill without some discussion of the person he is when away from the game of basketball. I’ve had the chance to talk to him a few times now and couldn’t agree more. But to be honest, what’s really impressed me throughout preseason is his decision-making ability. Whether he has the basketball in his hands or not, he seems to do the right thing each and every time on the break. With he and Steve Nash on the court together, Phoenix’s assist-to-turnover ratio could be tops in the league this season.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION – I don’t think I ever regretted a workout more than when Jeramie McPeek and I decided to take on Steve Koek and Josh Greene in a little two-on-two. Still in our work attire, we decided to play a “quick” contest to seven points, the winner having to win by two. That little stipulation cost us dearly as we played and we played and we played deep into the afternoon. McPeek and I emerged the victors (although I felt like anything but for the remainder of the work day) but it was Koek who delivered the best line. Passing by the air hockey table, an out-of-breath Steve asked, “Air hockey, why couldn’t we just play air hockey?”
STATISTICS – Having been a fan since the day the organization drafted him, going to San Diego with Amaré Stoudemire for the motion capture process was indeed a surreal experience (although I’ve learned in my time surreal is just another way of admitting I’m getting old).
It was my first time traveling to San Diego and playing video games for “business” and it’s an experience I highly recommend. Speaking of San Diego, I had another great time at Comic-Con this past July. Fellow blogger Adam Beechen and I caught up on old times and Jim Lee sketched me a picture of the X-Men’s Rogue (those of you who appreciate comics can really appreciate the coolness in that).
HISTORY – It was in the making when the Suns.com Newsroom was unveiled on August 8. A number of celebrities were in the house including Stoudemire, D’Antoni and Suns owner Robert Sarver. The organization has been very good to us web guys over the years and the team is definitely enjoying their time in the new digs.
GRADUATION – We’re just a few hours from tip-off now and I am definitely ready to roll. My Suns predictions include a new franchise record of 63 wins, an All-Star appearance for Grant Hill and, of course, an NBA Championship.