One of the perks of working in professional sports is that when I take a break to walk around the office… I end up walking around the arena.
Whereas most people gather around the watercooler to talk about what’s going on in sports, I actually go to the watercooler and see what’s going on in sports.
During the mornings, I usually sashay my way down to the practice court so I can catch glimpse of who is in the house and working on their game. The other day, it was reported that we would be working out some big man prospects. The “Ukraine Train” Vitaly Potapenko, Elton “Not Brand” Brown, Michael Ruffin and Zarko Cabarkapa were all in the building, and all hoping to be that 12th player to give the Suns some insurance down low.
The “Ukraine Train” had a couple of good seasons a few years ago, Ruffin is really active, and Brown led the NBADL in rebounds last season, but none of them stood out to the degree that the guy standing next to me did.
Everyone in the organization was down there checking out the talent in the gym. And as Grant Hill was schooling everyone during 5-on-5, Mike D’Antoni, Dan D’Antoni, Alvin Gentry, Phil Webber, Mark West and Steve Kerr all casually looked on in hopes of finding that last piece to the puzzle. Within this small crowd of basketball minds, there was a smattering of other people mingling about, including an older African-American gentleman standing next me.
As I was telling my coworker who some of the lesser known players were on the court, he started asking me about them. He was a real exuberant guy that I couldn’t�help to�like instantly. He’s just one of those people that just exudes a cool vibe, and when I asked him where he was from, I wasn’t surprised that he told me he was from New Orleans.
What did surprise me was that he told me he was Wynton Marsalis’ personal chef. For those of you who don’t know, Marsalis is one the preeminent jazz musicians in the country, a veritable legend. But what I also came to find out, is that my new acquaintance was also Amare Stoudemire’s personal chef, and was there to give his personal sales pitch to Grant Hill.
Having been a personal chef for many athletes and entertainers, he has learned that the veterans are much easier to deal with than the younger players, and at his level of his experience, he prefers to go through his day without the hassles of dealing with an entourage.
Maurice, known as Chef Mo to everyone around the team, is just one the many of the behind-the-scenes personalities that can play a major factor in a team’s well being. Mo is providing the gas that goes into the the engines that make the Suns run. He helps them maintain their energy level, gives them nutrients so they can recover faster and basically keeps them from getting food poisoning.
I hope that Mo�becomes�Grant’s chef because I look forward to hearing more about his journeys through the world of show business. But not only would I like to hear some interesting anecdotes, I wouldn’t mind hearing them over gumbo from a world-class chef…