Having made myself eligible for the NBA draft, I notified all teams that I was available to work out privately. None of the teams responded, but that’s okay. I only really want to play for the Suns anyway. Of course, the Suns didn’t respond either, but I assume that’s just because their invitation got lost in the mail.
How hush-hush was this workout, you ask? Let me put it like this: All parties were so desperate to keep it out of the press that there was no pre-workout communication between the Suns and myself. No plane was sent to ferry me from Los Angeles to the Valley; I drove myself. No swank hotel reservations were made in my name; I stayed with my mother (she wasn’t expecting me, either – I’m telling you, this was very hush-hush).
When I got to US Airways Center, the Suns continued the subterfuge, just in case there were any nosy NBA reporters lurking around. The team brass pretended they had no idea I’d be coming. In fact, they pretended they’d never heard of me. They carried the act so far, I actually waited in the arena lobby for a good six hours before anyone even came out and spoke to me – that’s the sign of a first-class organization!
Finally, Senior Vice President for Basketball Operations David Griffin came downstairs to see me. His “cover” was that he was going out to a submarine sandwich place for lunch, so he didn’t actually look my way, but I knew that was just code. So I got in my car and followed him. I stood behind him in line at the sub place. When he ordered his veggie deluxe, I ordered a meatball supreme. I paid for my own sandwich. Not a word was exchanged between us. Our subterfuge was perfect.
Driving back toward the arena, I hastily ate my sandwich. Finally, at a stoplight, I “broke cover,” pulling up alongside Griff, honking my horn and waving wildly. He stared straight ahead. I got out of my car and banged on his window. “I’m sorry, I paid for my sandwich with a debit card and don’t have any change,” he shouted.
“Griff, it’s me,” I shouted back.
“I’m calling the police,” he warned.
“No, it’s Adam Beechen,” I countered. “I’m here for my private workout! You saw me in Orlando at the pre-draft camp, remember?”
Finally, he turned his head to look at me. I saw the look of recognition spread slowly across his face. Yes, the Suns had taken this so far, they’d actually convinced themselves they didn’t know who I was or that I was even coming! “Oh crap,” he said, car horns honking behind us. “You’re that guy who won’t go away, aren’t you?”
He remembered me!
With mock reluctance, he led me to a nearby outdoor high school basketball court. “I’ve only got about ten minutes,” he said. “What advice did I give you in Orlando?”
“You said I was a classic ‘tweener,’” I told him, “somewhere between ‘hopeless’ and ‘delusional.’ I took that to mean I needed to solidly pick a position for myself, so I decided I needed to get taller.” I proudly pointed to my sneakers, where I had several Sunday newspapers strapped to the soles. “The extra weight has really built up my calves,” I offered as a bonus.
“Oh, and you said I needed to improve my shooting eye,” I recalled, “so I had Lasik.” I winked at him proudly with my remaining good eye.
“You also told me I needed more weight to play in the NBA,” I reminded him. “So I packed on thirty pounds!”
He looked me up and down. “Of muscle?”
“Well, you didn’t specify it had to be muscle,” I muttered, tugging my shirt down over my belly. As much as I could.
Griff sighed and tossed me a basketball. After I chased it down over by the soccer field, he ordered, “Run a full-court layup, and let’s see what you can do.”
Obligingly, I took off with the ball. Unfortunately, at about the free-throw line, the meatball sub caught up with me, and it caught more air than I did.
When I looked back, Griff’s car was peeling out of the parking lot. I assume he was headed back to the arena to report on our private workout, and was making all haste to throw any clever basketball rumor-mongers off the trail. Clever guys, these Suns!
As for me, I’m committed to improvement (prospective teams like that), so I decided to stay at the outdoor basketball court until I hit that full-court layup, only leaving when the custodian kicked me out about eleven hours later.