If you’re a fan of the NBC sitcom Scrubs, you’re probably not surprised to hear that Donald Faison is a big basketball fan.
The 33-year-old’s character, Dr. Christopher Turk, has had a number of scenes over the years playing ball and even painted his “basketball head” in one episode.
“Turk likes to blow off steam by playing basketball before surgery,” explained Zach Braff’s character before one of their many pick-up games in the parking lot outside “Sacred Heart Hospital.”
Faison will get a chance to blow off some steam on Saturday when the actor competes in the Suns’ Jack in the Box Celebrity Shootout at US Airways Center (2 pm). But before the 8th annual exhibition, Faison and his fellow entertainers enjoyed some inspiration courtesy of the Suns and T’Wolves on Friday night. Well, maybe just the Suns.
Prior to tip-off, I caught up with him for a few minutes in the “B-Lounge” to talk about tomorrow’s run and his love of hoops.
McPeek: You’ve participated in the Celebrity Shootout for the last several years now. Why do you enjoy coming out here every year and playing in this game?
Faison: This is the best city to come and play in. Phoenix takes care of us. That and it’s always good to play in the same building as Steve Nash. It really is. I played here when Steve Nash wasn’t here and it wasn’t that much fun (laughs). No, but I love the fact that I get to play on the same court as Nash and pretend I am him.
McPeek: What do you like about Steve’s game?
Faison: He’s just perfect. Well, he could play a little better defense, but let’s be honest, he and Jason Kidd are the best point guards in the game right now.
McPeek: Tell us about your game. You’ve been playing for a number of years. I remember interviewing you at an *NSYNC charity game in Las Vegas way back when.
Faison: Yeah, my game is getting old (laughs). I’m 33-years-old and it’s a lot different than when I was 26 playing these games. I hurt afterwards now.
McPeek: Are you still in the NBA Entertainment league?
Faison: I am. I’m on an undefeated team this year. The only undefeated team in the league! We’re 8-0. I play on the Cavaliers. James Lesure (actor, Las Vegas), who is also on this trip, is on our team and he is a really good basketball player.
McPeek: What do you enjoy about playing in that league?
Faison: You get to wear official NBA jerseys! I told my girlfriend, “I’m in the NBA!” She’s like, “No, you’re in the NBAE,” and I say, “No, it’s the NBA; there’s just an E at the end. I’m an official NBA player!”
The talent’s really good. There a lot of guys from the entertainment industry, but a lot of people that would never know, because they are agents or managers or producers. Let’s be honest, when we buy records we don’t always look to see who produced the albums. We only know who’s on the cover. But there are a lot of great basketball players in entertainment right now.
B-Lounge Fan #1: Are you Donald Faison?
Faison: I am. How you guys doing?
B-Lounge Fan #1: We love your show!
Faison: Oh, thank you.
B-Lounge Fan #2: You’re a lot taller in person.
Faison: I’ve got my platforms on tonight.
McPeek: How long have you followed the NBA?
Faison: Pretty much ever since Patrick Ewing came into the league. I am a Knick fan. I’ve been a Knick fan my whole life.
McPeek: That’s got to be rough right now.
Faison: Well, we’ve won three in a row. Going for four tonight. Nobody thinks we can do it, but I believe cuz I’m a fan. But yeah, it is kind of difficult. For some reason, we just can’t get it together in New York. We’ve got a great team. We do! We’ve got a lot of talent, we just can’t put it together.
McPeek: What are your thoughts on this year’s Suns team?
Faison: I thought they’d be winning more games to be honest with you. They’ve got the best record in the Western Conference right now, but the West is so stacked. There are so many good teams that it’s going to be a real battle. Grant Hill was a great addition.
McPeek: Do you think the Suns have what it takes to win it all?
Faison: I think you guys need to get a little tougher. I’ll say that. Nash is a pretty tough player, but him going up against 7-footers, he’s getting thrown to the ground. I would like to see Amare get a little tougher. If Amare gets tougher, it’s a wrap!
McPeek: Who’s your favorite Scrub in the NBA?
Faison: I love “Mad Dog”… what’s his name? He played for Minnesota, played for L.A… Mark Madsen! He’s fun to watch.
McPeek: Last question… why should fans come out for the Shootout tomorrow?
Faison: If they want to see bad basketball, they should come out (laughs). No, it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ve got funny people, we’ve got a great group, and we put on a great show for the fans. And also, midnight basketball is a huge deal. That’s great. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard of, getting young men off the streets to play basketball. That’s amazing. If anything, that’s a great reason to come out, to support that. But it’s also going to be a great show.