H. Jackson Brown once said, “Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.”

The Suns’ locker room was a perfect example of that on Friday night .

After a tough loss to the New Jersey Nets, while most writers and bloggers were trying to do their best impressions of Edward R. Murrow, something truly special that would reveal more about the team than any quote was taking place in the corner.

A young boy who was in wheelchair, most likely no older than seven or eight, was visiting the team. And his special escort for the evening? None other than Suns head coach Alvin Gentry.

As he sat in his chair grasping a black and orange Gorilla basketball that took up the majority of his lap the way some kids would cuddle their favorite teddy bear, Gentry introduced him to one player after another. Despite having just played, and lost, a tough game, each guy greeted the little boy with a smile and took time to sign a t-shirt for him while using Gentry as an easel.

The interaction was simple and yet impactful.

While most of the people there, myself included, who are in and out of the Suns’ locker room on a daily basis take the experience for granted, you could tell for the young boy it meant the world. Each player that spent a few moments with him seemed to realize that and shared a smile and a laugh or two with him as a way of acknowledging it.

It wasn’t an act done for publicity or the cameras. As a matter of fact, not one of them captured any of the few brief moments, as they were all focused on a somber player talking about what transpired on the court.

That’s what made it so special. It was a truly organic moment that was a reminder that these are just men who happen to play a kids game for a living.

The entire event spoke volumes to the character the Suns have on their roster. But what happened before the boy left spoke volumes to the team leader.

See, there was one Sun that the boy didn’t get a chance to meet. The team’s point guard Steve Nash had left right after the game due to an injury. When coach Gentry noticed the boy staring at the star’s locker he took action without missing a beat. He bent down and said to the young man that they’d just have to go find him something special from Nash that he could take home.

After a few seconds the coach emerged from the rectangular cove holding a trinket from Nash’s personal collection just for the boy. While I won’t tell you what he gave him — that’s for Nash and his coach to discuss — , I will tell you that it brought one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen to his face.

Character is what you do when no one is looking. The fact that the Suns organization is full of high character people was hidden in plain sight on Friday night. I’m just glad I was looking at the right moment to see it.

About Greg Esposito

Hi, my name is Greg Esposito, my friends call me Espo and I’m a Phoenix Suns-aholic. I also happen to be the team's Social Media Specialist as well as one of the online content creators. You'll find my sarcastic musings here on Blog.Suns.com as the Suns Retorter.

  • Sillmarillion

    Great thing, Suns and Mr. Gentry! There are indeed things that are more important than sports. Congratulations!

  • Carlos

    WOW! great article Greg, that’s what I love most about the Suns as a team, their true character!
    Most coaches and players (even the nice ones) will be mad about their 2 tough home losses against non-playoffs teams, but here you see the Suns players and coaches giving their time to this kid and trying to make him smile….. is like a priceless gift that not money, not trophy and not ring can buy you that. Just Amazing!

  • Bob Birket

    Life is bigger than basketball.

  • Patti

    Thanks for sharing this story. Heartwarming and confirming what we Suns fans already knew: What a true team, what real men they are; is it any wonder we are so proud of them all? Way to go Suns!

  • Garren Martirossian

    Bless the hearts of Mr. Gentry and the Suns. Beside the game and fame, it is a true gift from within for these players to take a moment with what means the world to this child. I’ve continuously observed the heart and humbleness in each and every player on this team, game in and out. Congratulations and go Suns.