I’d like to start this blog entry by taking a look at my Top 5 NBA cities, many of which were on the Suns’ latest road trip:
1) New York: Growing up in Long Island, it was always great returning home to play in front of my friends and family. We’ve had countless arenas come and go over the years, but Madison Square Garden is still standing. Everybody wants to play well under the bright lights of the Garden. I’d be going through lay-up lines, and guys I played against in high school would come down and say hello or just yell something out at me from the stands. There is no better place to play.
2) Indiana: It’s a little bit of a homecoming for me because I played college ball at Notre Dame, but I think Conseco Fieldhouse is by far the best basketball building out there. The atmosphere is unbelievable and the fans are really knowledgeable. They also appreciate the way the Suns play basketball.
3) Toronto: It is very similar to New York in that it is a very cosmopolitan city and the basketball culture is getting better. The food and the atmosphere in that city are outstanding.
4) Chicago: It is a terrific basketball city and the arena has some history to it because it is the “House That Michael Built.” Plus, I am a fan of the Midwest.
5) Boston: I hate the building, but love the tradition. It might be the worst building in the NBA, but Boston is still fantastic because legends like Red Auerbach and Larry Bird make up its championship history.
My honorable mention choice would be Seattle. They have a storied past, as well as excellent food and restaurants. And lastly, if we could get a team back there, Vancouver might crack my Top 5. It was so much fun going back there in the pre-season, especially when you have someone like Steve Nash on your team.
You never know who will be in the crowd at the Garden.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE Photos/Getty Images
New York Stories
Having just visited New York last week with the Suns, it made me recall some memorable stories from the road, one of which occurred during the 1992-93 season. We were facing the Knicks, and Charles Barkley was really getting into to it with an official named Eddie F. Rush. As Charles was going off, I was trying to stand between him and the ref. When the official started walking away, he went over a table in pursuit of Rush and I tried to tackle him. Unfortunately, my plan didn’t work out because he broke the tackle and I came up with a fistful of air. I looked up and saw Charles storming after the official into the locker room.
A good New York story comes from when I was playing with the Nuggets. After finishing our game at the Garden, I went out with some family and friends and stayed out pretty late. When I got back to my hotel room, I was so tired I just collapsed onto my bed, dead to the world. The next thing I knew, I woke up and the bus was already gone, so I had to hightail it to the airport in a cab. It was the only time I ever overslept in the NBA.
Back in my playing days, we used to always stay overnight in New York because we flew commercially. But now that we have charter flights in the league, coaches have tried to keep their players out of places where they might get into trouble. That’s why a lot of coaches don’t allow their teams to stay overnight in New York. They don’t want their guys out all hours of the night.
Although most teams adhere to that practice, the Suns did stay overnight during their recent visit. Everything was fine with our guys because we have a mature team. The players talk amongst themselves about being responsible and Steve Nash will talk to them about when they need to rest and when they can enjoy themselves a little bit. Not that there are many teams with a curfew in the NBA, but there is no need for one with the Suns. They are much better than most teams as far as taking care of their bodies.
Speaking of Steve, being on the road with him is a great experience. Since Steve spends his summers in New York, he has a few favorite joints that he likes to go to. This past week we went to one of his favorite restaurants in the East Village. All of the people at the restaurant love him and he even has a picture of himself in his soccer uniform hanging on the wall.
Nash always leads with a smile.
Barry Gossage/NBAE Photos/Getty
I talk about him all the time and people may get tired of it, but I don’t. People absolutely love him, but not just as a basketball player. They love him as this Canadian guy who loves to play rec-league soccer and goes to Greenwich Village because he’s not going to be recognized. He is like the Pied Piper on the team in that if he wants to go somewhere, everyone follows him. They follow him because they know he’s such a good guy and that they are going to have a great time.
Basketball fans love Amaré Stoudemire and Shawn Marion, but with Steve it’s different. He’s much more diverse in his fan base. His reach extends much further than basketball.
Basketball is just a microcosm of Steve’s influence on people. It’s very similar to what it was like being around Jordan and Barkley. They were all-encompassing, as well. But Charles was a little different though. Charles’ personality was so large and loud, whereas Steve is so laid-back and genuine. But they both had the same effect on people. Even kids that don’t know basketball know Steve Nash. That’s what’s amazing to me.
Sometimes life on the road can get guys preoccupied, and that’s when blunders can happen. On this recent trip, the assistant coaches and I were walking into the freight elevator in Madison Square Garden. The freight elevator is quite large and is used to transport elephants for the circus, so it can fit at least 15 people. So all of us were crammed inside of the elevator, and all you heard was Dan D’Antoni yell out in disgust. It was at that point that he realized that he had forgotten his suit at the hotel.
It wasn’t so bad that he had forgotten his suit. In fact, he called his brother and had him bring it with him on the second bus. The problem was that he let everyone else in the elevator know that he did. With three games still left on the road trip, that’s not something he should have done. All he heard about for the rest of the trip was how he forgot his suit. He’s still hearing about it.
And although most blunders happen on the road, they can happen to a home team, too. When we visited Minnesota last week, we noticed something off with Wolves guard Marko Jaric. He came out of the tunnel and onto the court with his uniform top on backwards. You never know what’s going to happen next in the NBA, so check in soon for the latest and greatest……