Heralded as the “Original Sun,” Ring-of-Honor member Dick Van Arsdale unveiled some of his original artwork for a very special event on Wednesday night.
During halftime of the Suns-Thunder game, Van Arsdale presented his former coach, John MacLeod, with a piece of art to commemorate MacLeod’s own induction into the Ring. With jersey numbers to represent each of the players in the exclusive club, initials to mark the front office executives and a pair of socks in recognition of former athletic trainer Joe Proski, the unique artwork is a tribute to the 13 legends whose faces overlook the court at US Airways Center.
Van Arsdale – the Suns’ first player taken during the 1968 NBA Expansion Draft – played for MacLeod from the coach’s inaugural season in 1973-74 through the end of his playing career in 1977. Along with fellow Ring-of-Honor members Alvan Adams and Paul Westphal, “Van” played for MacLeod’s “Sunderella Suns” team that reached the 1976 NBA Finals.
“I didn’t see a future for him as an artist, but to be honest, I didn’t see Pat Riley or Paul Westphal as being future coaches either,” said Adams, now the organization’s VP of facility management. “When you’re playing with these guys, you see them as basketball players. But when you’re not able to run anymore, you’ve got to start doing some other things like coaching or managing a facility.”
While he also has coaching, scouting and broadcasting experience on his resume, Van Arsdale took up his latest hobby as a form of natural therapy after suffering a stroke six years ago. Some of his artwork has even helped raise money for charity.
“I’m very impressed with the work he’s produced,” said Adams. “I took a sketching class once and can kind of sketch a column with some straight lines, but he’s talented.”
Van Arsdale’s Ring-of-Honor painting was printed and distributed to the first 10,000 fans to arrive for Wednesday night’s game. But it may not be his last Suns-inspired piece. When asked if there are any more players he would like to bring to canvas in the future, he didn’t have to think very long. “Steve Nash and Al McCoy,” he said with a smile.
Perhaps he can present those pieces during Nash and McCoy’s retirement ceremonies one day.