Joe Kleine is on Tom Leander’s First Team of top per-sun-alities. (NBAE Photos)

Well, I figured we know the great performers on the court, but what about off the court. Since joining the Suns in 1993 as a studio host, many colorful characters have come and gone. I have intereacted with these players through various interviews and features for our pregame show, Suns Gametime. Also, for the last 5 years, I have been travelling with the team, and you really get to know a guy while 35 thousand feet in the air amidst wicked turbulence!

So I am submitting my own Top 5 with the caveat that my 3 broadcasting partners(TC, Thunder and EJ) are ineligible because they are obvious “shoe-ins” and then I’d have only two spots left! Also, I am disqualifying two of my all-time favorites–Hawk and Van(Dick Van Arsdale)–because they have received so many honors(Ring of Honor, Hall of Fame etc.)that making my list would be like Angelina Jolie winning a State Fair beauty contest.

So here goes…

Tom’s Top 5 “Per-Sun-alities”


REX CHAPMAN–a slam dunk for his wit and outstanding performances as a street musician in our hidden camera series “Suns Undercover” and his self-deprecating spoof “Rex’s Retirement Press Conference” where only one reporter(that would be me)showed up. Far and away the funniest player I’ve ever met! And he’s just as funny when the camera is not rolling.

JOE KLEINE–again, like Rex, a man with an incredible sense of humor who has a one-liner for any occasion. Joe once filmed a TV segment in a shower stall, wearing the shower cap and delivering lines while soap dripped into his eyes. That deserves an automatic berth in my Top 5!

KURT THOMAS–unlike the previous two, he doesn’t make the grade for his humor or telegenic allure, but for his wonderful way with people. Always approachable, friendly and classy, Kurt’s on-court, intimidating demeanor is in stark contrast to the warmth and “realness” he exudes off the floor.

WAYMAN TISDALE–always with a smile on his face, his affable nature in turn put smiles on the faces of the people who are lucky enough to know Tizzy. His love of music and bubbly personality made him a first-teamer! Wayman once wrote and produced a Suns song and music video for our shows–at no charge!

TOM GUGLIOTTA–you would be hard pressed to find anybody who had a bad thing to say about Googs. Down to earth, warm and friendly, he never basked in the “celebrity” of being an NBA player. It’s always a highlight going to Atlanta and seeing Googs, who moved there to be with his daughter.

PIKE AND THE KIWI(Eric Piatkowski and Sean Marks–paired as one since they are unseperable on the road!)

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