As part of NBA Europe Live, the Phoenix Suns are in Treviso, Italy for the first stage of training camp. They will practice at La Ghirada and take on Lottomatica Virtus Roma in a preseason game on Oct. 6 in Rome. After the game, the Suns will travel to Cologne, Germany where they will take on the Sixers on Oct. 10 and will the next day against either CSKA Moscow or Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv.
More from Italy: John Hareas' postcards from Treviso | Suns Notes | Shawn Marion Blog
More Europe Live Blogs: Barcelona (Sixers) | Lyon (Spurs) | Moscow (Clippers)

Here's the latest from NBA.com's John Hareas, who is traveling with the Suns.

Arrivaderci Roma, Nash & Michelangelo... Graci
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 6:15 p.m. ET

And it’s time for yours truly to sadly wave goodbye as the Suns enjoy a well deserved off day tomorrow before heading to Cologne on Sunday to continue with this unprecedented, phenomenal NBA Europe Live Tour as it picks up even greater momentum as it heads into the home stretch……..An official wrap to a wonderful week of basketball and cultural euphoria following the Suns to Treviso and Roma and gaining access and perspective and meeting people you can only hope and dream of.

Eyes on the Prize – the Suns’ season long slogan – has truly just begun for this team that has knocked on the Finals door the last two years …… Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, Hold On ….A big Thank you to Mike and Laurel D’Antoni, Marc Iavaroni and the rest of the Suns coaching staff, the entire Suns’ organization, Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, Amaré Stoudemire and the rest of the players …. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, Hold On …. Thank you to Julie Fie and Jeramie McPeek, redefining professionalism and smiling every step of the way ….. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, Hold On …Bruce, we’re truly sorry we can’t hang til Tuesday to hear you rock the PalaLottamatica and sing Eyes on the Prize with the rest of the Suns players but we’ll be there in spirit …..the season is now a mere 25 days away ….. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, Hold On.

Postgame Appreciation
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 5:42 p.m. ET

A presentation at center court as Mike D'Antoni receives a momento from Lottomatica Roma as Suns players waive to the crowd one last time who continue with the standing ovation.

It's a Final
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 5:40 p.m. ET

3, 2 , 1 ...... It's official: Suns defeat Lottomatica Roma, 100-93. Players hug and shake hands as fans stand and cheer.

Closing Seconds
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 5:35 p.m. ET

Vlado Ilievski nailes a three with 3 seconds remaining ... 100-93.

Lottomatica Roma is still scrapping, playing hard to the end regardless of the score and time remaining.

Luca Garri nails a three to reduce to 11 ...followed by Luca Garri's slam to make it 9.

Suns In Control
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 5:31 p.m. ET

100-85, Suns, 2:32 remaining ....... the Lottomatica Roma fans are dwelling on a 15-point deficit, not when the Suns dancers and dance team take over.

What you don't see on TV: Suns set to huddle and Nash is high-fiving the three ballboys on the sideliness, making small talk, smiling.

Suns Score Quick
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 5:28 p.m. ET

A Barbosa basket suddenly makes it a 13-point game ... just like that. The Suns' speed, precision, fluidity, footwork, passing, quickness all on full display.

Rally Time
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 5:25 p.m. ET

Alex Righetti just made it a 6 point game, but Matrix's basket plus foul temporarily derails thoughts of the Sixers Part Deux tonight.

Lottomatica Roma Hangin' Tough
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 5:15 p.m. ET

David Hawkins power slams 2, Lottomatica Roma is down by 9..... I know I wrote this earlier, but how nice are the Suns unis? So sharp ....

Marks Fitting In
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 5:05 p.m. ET

Sean Marks going strong to the rack and the foul ---- Marks has looked good all week ... nice addition by Suns, once again, identifying players who fit their system. Speaking of perfect fit ... offseason acquisition Jumaine Jones just nails a jumper ....

Third Quarter Update
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 4:58 p.m. ET

78-62, Suns are in complete control with 2:06 left in the 3rd. On the court as we head to the 4th quarter: Barbosa, Marcus Banks, Sean Marks, James and Jumaine Jones.

D'Antoni in Charge
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 4:53 p.m. ET

I have such an appreciation for Mike D'Antoni and how he runs Suns' camp as I watch him direct his players on the sidelines ....the calm, the brilliance, the leadership, the encouragement, the player accountability, the lack of self promotion, the selflessness ...Suns pulling away, 71-57.

Slams, Jams and Oops
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 4:46 p.m. ET

Matrix is a crowd favorite here -- another Photo of the Year candidate slam by Marion that brings fans off their seats.

Pure Shooter
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 4:40 p.m. ET

I wish I was one, but Ilievski Vlado sure is, smoothly nailing a top of the key jumper.

Second Half Has Tipped Off
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 4:35 p.m. ET

Remember Jerome Moiso? You may from the NBA -- Celtics, Hornets, Raptors, Nets, Cavs -- last team in '05. He has 5 points in case you're wondering.

Amazing Halftime Show

The halftime entertainment.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 4:25 p.m. ET

Oh, my gosh: I didn't just see that!! A lady on a unicyle balancing 6 bowls on her foot and flipping them on her head??!!!

The number rises: it's now 9!!!!

It's 12!!!

The lady with 12 bowls on her head riding a unicyle is now balancing 12 more on her foot for the finale --- I'm almost afraid to look .....

She DID IT!!!! Wow!!

Frantic Halftime Finish
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 4:19 p.m. ET

David Hawkins brings down the house with a thunderous slam only to be negated by a Marcus Banks' 3 as both teams head to the locker room: Score 54-43 in favor of the Suns.

Goose Bump Moment of the Night
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 4:17 p.m. ET

11-time champ Bill Russell is introduced during a break in action and 12,000-plus rise in unison as Russell makes his way to center court ..... the crowd showers Russell with appreciation for a good 40-plus seconds, if not longer .....

One for the Highlights
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 4:13 p.m. ET

Prettiest play of night (thus far) goes to Barbosa who crosses over while driving to the hoop, gets fouled yet hangs in the air to convert acrobatic shot, crowd loved it and so did Suns bench ....LB may be most overlooked Sun when you think about it ...Nash, Amare, Matrix, Raja, what about D'Antoni, too?

Keeping it Close
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 4:10 p.m. ET

Vlado Ilievski for 2? No, charge called, would have cut lead to 2, crowd is ALL OVER officials ..whistling from crowd in full force.

Want Scoring?
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 4:05 p.m. ET

Who is the last player sitting on Suns bench? ... Amare ......

'84 Nuggets vs. (Current) Suns: Imagine the Possibilities. Caught up with Kiki Vandeweghe who is in the house along with Bill Russell. I asked the man who scored 15,890 points and who starred for the high scoring Doug Moe Nuggets of the 1980s (123.55 ppg during '81-84), what the score would be if his former team played the Suns today what the score would be? You remember Kiki starred in the triple OT classic vs. Detroit, dropping 51 even though Detroit prevailed 186-184. "I'm not sure. The game would probably be 140-130. In order to break that record, the game would have to go into 3 overtimes and both teams would have to really want to run it down each other's throats," said Vandeweghe. By the way: Pistons and Nuggets broke six NBA records that December 13, '83 night.

Most points by two teams: 370
Most points by one team: 186
Most field goals made by two teams: 142
Most assists by two teams: 93
Most field goals made by one team: 74
Most players with 40 or more points: 4
.....Matrix rejected by Jerome Moiso .... Iavoroni's player to watch: Dejan Bodiroga nails a jumper, the Suns lead is only 4 ...38-34 ...

On-Site Action
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 3:53 p.m. ET

Nuances: Stuff you don't see on TV, Matrix doing a little dance to Freak Out after time out when Nash discreetly shows him a little break dancing move of his own, you had to focus on those two solely to see the exchange .... As play resumed, Nash eludes (crossdribbles) his defender and finds Marion in the corner who buries the jumper ...

TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 3:46 p.m. ET Lavaroni is right, Euroleague play is physical ---Alessandro Tonolli gave Marcus Banks a hard foul in his drive to the hoop, body slamming into him and Banks didn't budge ---how strong is he?? Catcalls and whistles from the crowd came raining down.

TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 3:31 p.m. ET Rotation: first two players off Suns bench --Leandro Barbosa and James Jones (starters by the way were Nash, Bell, Kurt Thomas, Matrix, Boris Diaw) as the Suns are up 13-7.

TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 3:29 p.m. ET Roma's David Hawkins, who wants to play in the NBA, just made an NBA move swooping under the hoop ...Lucas Garri -- another jumper --- Suns 16, Lottomatica 11.

TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 3:27 p.m. ET Timeout called and you can add Marcus Banks to the mix as Nash takes a seat ...

Game Time
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 3:20 p.m. ET

Here they come, Nash and Suns take the court as the crowd erupts .....minutes later so does Lottomatica Roma as they go through warmups ..... Players eventually head to halfcourt as they exchange gifts, the Suns offer Suns caps while Lottomatica Roma give the Suns mini team pennants ...Suns shed the warmups and reveal their nice Euroleague style uniforms, which agrees with Shawn Marion who drained the game's first basket less than 30 seconds into action (looks like no go for Amare who showed up minutes before tip off and didn't warm up).

TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 3:15 p.m. ET

The crowd erupts as I think Nash and the Suns took the court only to realize when I turn my head that its the Suns' dancers as the in-arena entertainment continues to mesmerizes the fans ....

Here We Go
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 2:45 p.m. ET

The PalaLottomatica is rockin' as we're less than 30 minutes away from this historic 21st Century tip off .... As the Clash's Rock The Casbah pumps through the speakers as fans with banners sway while others eagerly file into their seats, this place is ALIVE in this 12,000 seat architectural masterpiece that was designned in 1956 in time for the 1960 Olympics .... A place open 365 days a year, Bruce Springsteen and his smokin' Seeger Sessions band (currently making its way through Italy just like Steve Nash and the Suns), adding to this historic and unprecedented week in Europe, will host a bluegrass, jazz revival, a musical baptism in this very SAME place in 4 days --- what a magical week for these incredibly nice Roman citizens .....

Primer: Virtus Lottomatica
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 11:45 a.m. ET

Fans are already mulling the arena, Palalottomatica, and we're just a tad less than four hours til tip off ....Don't know much about the team the Suns are playing tonight -- Virtus Lottomatica? Here is a brief primer on the team's history ..........Virtus Lottomatica was founded in 1960, Italian champion in 1983 and Euroleague champion in 1984, defeating Barcelona in the finals ... Virtus won a Korac Cup in 1992 by defeating Scavalina in the two-day finals ...... Roma reached the Korac Cup final in 1993, losing to Adecco Milan in the finals ... The 2002-03 seasons was one of the best seasons Lottomatica has ever had in the domestic league, 25-9, and a second-place finish in the regular season .... Lottomatica made it to the 2003-04 Euroleague and hosted the opening game against Barcelona, but didn't reach the Top 16 .. Last season, Lottomatica made it to the Italian Cup semifinals andd rallied in the final games of the regular season to reach the playoffs and beat Montepaschi Siena to reach the semifinals ..... For closer look at tonight's game, superb Suns' assistant coach Marc Iavaroni says look out for Virtus Lottomatica's David Hawkins and Dejan Bodiroga as he breaks down tonight's matchup ...... scouting report.

Racing In the Streets ... to adidas Court Dedication
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 6 -- posted by John Hareas on October 6 2006, 9:45 a.m. ET

The first ever NBA team to visit the PalaLottomatica, a place that has been rocked over the years by Bruce, Bob, Bono, Eddie and Mick is now mere hours away as yet another spectacular morning greets us here in My City of Ruins ..... We are now zigzagging through these treasured streets in a top flight bus as the motocade once again defies description and laws of gravity racing through the streets en route to the NBA Cares and adidas Basketball Court Refurbishment Dedication Ceremony at the Parco del Colle Oppio ..... Transportation strike? What transportation strike? These streets are hustling, bustling with activity .... With Kiki Vandeweighe in front of me, Bill Russell to my left and Mike D'Antoni, Phil Weber and Vinny Del Negro two rows up everyone is jovial with the topics ranging from the Sixers' loss to FC Barcelona (22 missed FT's and 21 TOs??!! Really?) to the Mets and Yankees' respective series to the limited viewing options in the hotel but make no mistake, everyone's primary focus is the police escort and the razor thin margins we are witnessing unfold as we barely miss cars, motorcycles, you name it ...... Now in the shadows of the Coleseum (where is Russell Crowe?), D'Antoni turns to Russell and asks, "Hey, Bill, do you think they used that in the 1960 Olympics?" Russell smiled politely and shook his head no. ..... Minutes away from the court dedication, Commissioner David Stern is in the house along with Mayor Veltroni as they greeted Russell, D'Antoni, Leandro Barbosa as they chatted before prepping for the event ...

....Approximately 40 kids listened as Commissioner Stern thanked Mayor Veltroni for the warm hospitality and the efforts of the city and NBA in working together on the event. Today's event represents the shared values of basketball in improving life in all communities said Stern..

For Mayor Veltroni, not only is today's event a special one, but one whose impact is far ranging. "This court is one of the courts we placed in the various neighborhoods in town to increase the number of playgrounds in town," said Veltroni, who also elaborated on the NBA visiting. "Today is a big day, it was a dream years ago to have the Phoenix Suns in Rome. I do hope this collaboration lasts a long time. We hope today attracts many young people to play basketball for years to come."

Nash Has a Kick at Skills Challenge
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 5 -- posted by John Hareas on October 5, 2006, 12:45 p.m. ET

Nash with the other competitors.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE
Under a burning sun in the heart of downtown Rome, gladiators of a different sort converged on the Champion Jam Session basketball and soccer skills challenge. The Suns' Steve Nash, Francesco Totti, captain of Italy's World Cup team, Guglielmo Stendardo of Rome's S.S. Lazio soccer team and Alessandro Tonolli, captain of Lottomatica Virtus Roma, put their impressive resumes and reputations on the line in navigating a skills course that required each to dribble (hands and feet), shoot baskets from varioius designated spots and ultimately nail any one of three targets with a soccer ball. Each player was partnered with a younger teammate. Given Nash's supreme basketball and soccer skills, no doubt he and his teammate were considered the favorites. So what happend? "It was a big upset," said Nash who didn't take home top honors. "I have to get my teammate and practice with him a little more". That was not a problem for Stendardo who held his own on the basketball court while excelling on the soccer end, nailing two of the targets, while Nash missed two of his three perimeter shots. "I think I did better at the soccer portion than I did at the basketball," said Nash, who also reflected on the afternoon. "It was a great event and I'm really thankful that the soccer players would come out and join us in this. It was a lot of fun."

My City of Ruins
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 5 -- posted by John Hareas on October 5, 2006, 8:16 a.m. ET

Nash and Marion in front of the ruins.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE
As the players made their way to Mayor Veltroni's office, they were greeted by the old Roman Forum, the ultimate keeper of the remains of this phenomenal city, three thousands years of history before their eyes, before our eyes .....after the coaches and players met the mayor, they all took turns looking at the breathtaking view from office balcony, "It's amazing, it's literally going back in history," said Alvin Gentry. "You see all of the ruins and you're looking at 3,000 years of history. It's amazing what they could do with such little machinery at that time. It makes you have a tremendous of respect about what happend so long ago." ..... As players made their way into the Flag Room, a room constructed by Pope Martino V in 1430, they viewed all 14 flags of the Districts of Rome on that are on display ....after a team photo with the Mayor in the Flag Room, in which Coach Mike D'Antoni presented him with an autographed team ball, they went to the room next door for lunch, in which they ate an assorted spread under 16th Century Renaissance art .... "It is a great pleasure to see Mike D'Antoni again," said Veltroni. "Someone who has been one of the most popular basketball players here in Rome. He is such a special man with such intelligence and sincerity. It was great meeting Steve Nash and Shawn Marion and the rest of the players. We hope these events will help boost the love of basketball in Rome."

Next Stop: Mayor's Office
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 5 -- posted by John Hareas on October 5, 2006, 6:38 a.m. ET

Off the charter and onto a bus accompanied by a police escort to Mayor Walter Veltroni's office. You know that siren sound you hear in foreign movies or movies filmed in Europe (either one) --- WHEE-AH, WHEE-AH- that is what we are hearing continously as we briskly wind down the streets of Rome, wondering if you're a key figure in a real life video game as cars from adjoining streets abruptly stop, nearly/barely missing the bus as members of the Suns coaching hoot and holler, "WHOAH!!!!!!" Shouted Alvin Gentry as police motorcycles continue to set picks on ensuing cars ....."Did you see that!" ...... Yelled out Marc Iavaroni: "I hope someone is blogging this!!"

The Ultimate Backcourt: Michelangelo and Steve Nash
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 5 -- posted by John Hareas on October 5, 2006, 5:55 a.m. ET

The Suns have arrived in one of the cultural epicenters of the world ... St. Peter's Square, The Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon, the Colosseum are among the abundance of eye-popping sights in this architectural metropolis known as Rome... Steve Nash, Michelangelo, two geniuses in their respective fields (is there really any difference?) located in the same region for at least the next four days .... As the plane was set to touch down at Caimpino Airport, various members of the Suns including Pat Burke and James Jones were digesting the last pieces of information in the Rome tour primer- "So, You Are Going to Rome with the Suns"-a wealth of information in form of a packet courtesy of Laurel D'Antoni who enthusiastically gave a brief overview on the brilliance of Michelangelo as she handed out the info ......

Thank You, Treviso
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 5 -- posted by John Hareas on October 5, 2006, 4:25 a.m. ET

As the Suns charter ascends 20,000 feet en route to 30,000 for the 45-minuted flight to Rome, we officially say our last goodbye to Treviso (for now) and a heartfelt "Thank you" to this "painted city" for its over the top generosity, warmth, charm and terrific people ...... Thank you Treviso for your timeworn streets and beautiful frescoes that were evident at every turn ..... Thank you for Piazza Dei Signori, the people watching hub of town, and for its outdoor cafes ... Thank you for the beautiful gothic churches and their vaulted ceilings -- especially San Nicolo and the seven domed Duomo, the Malchiostro Chapel ... Thank you for the cool nightly breezes .....Thank you for the passionate and enthusiastic support at the La Ghirada and Palaverde and every where in between that fans encountered any one of the Suns players or members of their coaching staff...Thank you to the Benetton family for opening your hearts and home in extending yourselves in making everyone feel so welcomed ....Thank you for the delicious food, the risotto, pasta, bruschetta, truffles, countless other dishes and assorted scrumptious deserts ....Thank you for EVERYTHING, Treviso. We'll miss YOU

Getting Hotter in the Palaverde
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 4 -- posted by John Hareas on October 4, 2006, 6:02 a.m. ET

Intense scrimmage is iunderway: Orange team---Nash, Bell, Diaw, Thomas and Matrix vs. Banks, Amare, Piatkowski, Jumaine Jones and Barbosa. How intense? Aside from bodies occassionally clashing, Bell missed a three from the corner and voiced his displeasure, which echoed off the concrete wall and could be heard all the way back in the hotel lobby. A few minutes later, Bell drove the lane as Banks sealed the gap when the Iavaroni's whistle blew."That's all body, that's all body!" said Banks with arms spread wide and talking to no one in particular as Leandro checked on Bell as they walked up the court. "It's all good. It's all good," replied Bell.

Players Play, Coaches Coach
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 4 -- posted by John Hareas on October 4, 2006, 5:09 a.m. ET

Cool drill: players lined up at halfcourt with one stationed at free throw line defending while the ensuing player goes one on one. After basket, player then switches to D as another player comes racing down .....mentioned to Bill Russell yesterday how Steve Nash doesn't say a word during practice. Russell's reply, "That would be out of order if he did. Players play and coaches coach. In all of my years, I've never had one teammate say that I cursed him out."

Slowly Slipping Away
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 4 -- posted by John Hareas on October 4, 2006, 4:40 a.m. ET

Another postcard perfect morning greeted the team on sadly the last day in beautiful Treviso as the team bus pulled into the Palaverde for its final practice before moving the entire operation to Rome. Countdown: It's now two days away from the much anticipated Suns-Lomattica game at the Palalottomatica. Around the hotel, assistant coaches could be seen scurrying around, equipped with laptops and thick binders reviewing not only Suns practice footage from Tuesday's scrimmage while efforts have also intensified in reviewing Friday night's opponent (i.e. Alvin Gentry watching footage until 3:30 a..m. in the office).....Listening to Marc Iavaroni provide detailed defensive instruction to the players reinforces what you've read in the internet and papers on why he's on the NBA head coaching short list ....

Steve Decides: Soccer or Basketball
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 3 -- posted by John Hareas on October 3, 2006, 5:50 p.m. ET

He grew up on soccer yet also fell in love with basketball. OK, Steve, so what is it: Soccer or basketball? "I think the thing for me, the grass is always greener," said Nash. "When you're playing basketball everyday, it's easy for me to say soccer would be my choice. Basketball has really afforded me a lot, I love to play basketball. I hate to say I would turn my back on basketball after everything it has afforded me." .....

Special Time at the Palaverde
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 3 -- posted by John Hareas on October 3, 2006, 4:01 p.m. ET

D'Antoni gets involved.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE
“How are you doing?!” enthusiastically asked Suns assistant coach Phil Weber as his words were immediately translated in Italian. “How are you doing?!” The 50 kids gathered underneath the basket at Palaverde arena in Treviso responded with arms raised and voices that could be heard on the opposite end of the court.

“BENE!!!”

The enthusiasm was again on full display as Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni, Boris Diaw, Sean Marks and Weber conducted drills as part of the Special Olympics Basketball Clinic. Layups, chest passes, full court dribbling competition, you name it, these kids were having a blast. “It’s really special to be able to give back something to the community and really makes you feel good as a person,” said D’Antoni.

Bill Russell also in attendance, embraced the opportunity to put smiles on the participants' faces.

“It takes events like this to make you realize that kids are the same the world over,” said Russell, who once was the chairman of the Special Olympics for the state of Washington in 1973. “If you can create one moment that they can have fun, if only for a moment, that’s a real accomplishment and if you have to be honored to do that.”

The event, which was a prelude to the Suns scrimmage at the Palaverde, was one held in great anticipation for the kids, according to Elisabetta Cusiol, Sr. Officer of the Special Olympics Committee in Treviso.

“They really looked forward to this,” said Cuisol. “It was a great event for the kids and it was great for the Suns to acknowledge the special skills that these kids have. It showed that they do care about people who are disabled.”

Bill Russell Dishes in Treviso
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 3 -- posted by John Hareas on October 3, 2006, 2:38 p.m. ET
Russell with Nash.
Randy Belice/NBAE

Bill Russell is in the house of Treviso and D'Antoni... The 11 time NBA champion arrived at the hotel with his wife Marilyn and shorty after their arrival were visited in the lobby by a parade of well wishers ..... "Hi Mr. Russell, Marc Iavaroni. Nice to see you again. ..... Replied Russell: "Marc, I remember watching you play with the Sixers when you had hair," as his cackle could be heard just outside the lobby. .... Shortly after, Steve Nash stopped by to pay his respects to the 5- time NBA MVP ... After a brief exchange, Russell asked: "Steve, where's the Eh? How come no Eh? What happend to Eh?" (cackle) ...Said Nash smiling: "They made me stop saying that at Santa Clara." .....Russell who was a visitor at practice greeted Amare Stoudemire with the following: . "Hey, Amare. Are you trying to be an athlete?" ..........On a serious note, Russell did give Boris Diaw perhaps the ultimate compliment: "Thank you for playing in the NBA. Us old guys like what you do with our game."

End of Practice
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 2 -- posted by John Hareas on October 2, 2006, 12:38 p.m. ET

What better way to close out practice than by running sprints throughout the Palaverde stands, which the Suns did with Nash leading the charge as the majority of players belted out the AC Milan soccer chant..... Amare Stoudemire mostly sat this one out, not wanting to risk strain on his right knee. Dressed in his practice gear, he stretched the majority of time holding a dumbbell in each hand.... Marcus Banks appears to be one of those sleeper types of additions, fitting right in, loves the top of the key shooting spot ...spent second half of last season with Minnesota after being traded by the Celtics .....

Leadership by Example
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 2 -- posted by John Hareas on October 2, 2006, 11:38 a.m. ET

Three practices in and I haven't heard Nash say anything on the court, not even a mumble or peep..... all business all the time.... Very cool by the way, virtually every time Nash receives the ball, it's soccer style ....While coaches huddle at half court talking about next area of focus, guys grab a drink except Nash who sneaks in 20 jumpers between the NBA and international three-point line ...nailed 14 of them.

At Practice
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 2 -- posted by John Hareas on October 2, 2006, 11:30 a.m. ET

Less than 12 hours after Benetton's impressive Supercopa victory over Napoli, the Suns now call the Palaverde home for the next few days of practice ..... Interesting, while the Suns run sprints north to south, Steve Nash is the only player dribbling and still leads the pack ......tassels hanging from the bottom of the net are a nice touch but always interfere any time a player makes a move underneath ... Cool defensive drill led by Assistant Coaches Mike Weber and Alvan Gentry. A player receives the ball between the free throw line and three-point line in the corner and go one on one to the hoop ....was that Marion that got snuffed or was he fouled? Matrix's smile after the play indicates the latter not so sure......With drum beats STILL pounding my brain, was that the horn that just went off or is sleep deprivation rearing taking over? No, that was the horn, all 15 seconds of it. Even Coach D'Antoni stopped practice and looked at the scorer's table, like what??

D'Antoni's Awakening
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 2 -- posted by John Hareas on October 2, 2006, 11:20 a.m. ET

Caught up with Coach Mike D'Antoni and his wife Laurel who took a stroll through downtown Treviso hours before Suns practice ....Not the nostalgic type, D'Antoni did acknowledge that the time spent in Milan and Treviso represented a critical period in his personal growth ...."I came to Milan when I was 26. Growing, in a sense of, before it was almost always basketball, in a world that was pretty tight. And just getting here in Italy, being away from home, no friends, no family. Really, just the whole world opening up, learning a new language, reading books every day because there was no TV, there was no movies to go to, there was nothing. It was an awakening. Really, the 20 years that I spent here really helped me grow as a person."

Fight to the Finish
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 4:25 p.m. ET

Napoli's furious finish couldn't overtake Benetton, who won, 76-73 , capturing the Supercopa Cup ..... Congrats to all of the coaches and players who kept their Eyes on the Prize....I have a feeling my ears will be ringing for awhile tonight similar to those who took in Bruce's Seeger Sessions tour opener 180 kilometers from here in Bologna ...

Crowd Pleasers
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 4:07 p.m. ET

Ohhhhhhh, Oooah, ohhhhhhhhn, Oooah, the crowd is more than feeling it as Benetton is in control of the game ... 68-57

Pulling Away
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 4:02 p.m. ET

Marcus Goree's tip in slam extends Benetton's lead to 13 as the drum beats just got LOUDER (is that possible?) here in the 4th ....

Del Negro Honored
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 3:47 p.m. ET Benetton isn't looking back, building on its momentum, thanks to Frahm and Spencer Nelson ..... At halftime, Gilberto Benetton presented former Treviso player Vinny Del Negro with a No. 14 Benetton Treviso jersey ....

Treviso Leads at the Half
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 3:21 p.m. ET

Halftime: Treviso 43, Napoli 34, Richie Frahm leads all scorers with 8 points.

Marcus Mordente Again!
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 3:11 p.m. ET

Marcus Mordente's 3 from the corner makes it a 5-point lead for Treviso, 37-32 ...

Counting Banners
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 3:10 p.m. ET

1995 Coppa Delle Coppe ..... 2002 Sipercoppa Italiana .... 2004 Campione D'Italia Serie A .... I counted a total of 47 such championship banners in this arena .

Treviso by Three
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 3:05 p.m. ET

Treviso is up 3 thanks to Marcus Mordente's jumper from the free throw line.

Now That's Dedication
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 2:57 p.m. ET

Did I mention how passionate these fans are? Including several who are shirtless banging on the drums while sitting on railings at least 50 feet above the floor?

End of First Quarter
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 2:51 p.m. ET

21-21 at end of the first quarter

Road Presence
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 2:48 p.m. ET

5,000 seats and Napoli's cheering section maybe has 100 of them and four signs .... My favorite: Brigata Neapolis ... Napoli 16, Treviso 15

T-R-E-V-I-S-O! T-R-E-V-I-S-O!
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 2:44 p.m. ET

T-R-E-V-I-S-O!! T-R-E-V-I-S-O!! Napoli is up 15-10

Familiar Names
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 2:41 p.m. ET

D'Antoni with Benetton.
Randy Belice/NBAE
Scanning the rosters of Treviso and Napoli and a few familar names jump out (Richie Frahm, Treviso) and Ansu Sesay, D-Leaguer Tierre Brown, Jeff Trepagnier of Napoli) ....Frahm spent time with Minnesota and Houston, Sesay with Seattle, Dallas and Golden State, Brown with Houston, Golden State and the Lakers, and Trepagnier with the Nuggets ... Just before the game, Mike D'Antoni is honored by Benetton Treviso owner Gilberto Benetton, who presents the former Benetton coach with a beautiful crystal award.

Fans Are Fired Up
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 2:33 p.m. ET

These fans are fired up ...the pulsating sounds of drums greet you as you enter the Palaverde and we're 30 minutes from tip off.... Never thought I would hear Edge's guitar riff on Vertigo get completely swallowed up by drums and chants from this sold out, shirtless. (a good portion of males) green and white flag waving crowd ....coach D'Antoni can't walk five feet without being greeted by someone in the arena ..

Did You Know?
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 2:29 p.m. ET

Did You Know? Benetton Treviso was founded in 1954 and purchased by the Benetton family in 1982. Soon after the family took over, the team emerged as a juggernaut in Italy and Euroleague play .....

Did You Know? Top pick Andrea Bargnani played 3 years with Benetton Treviso Lega A team and 3 years with the Benetton Treviso Euroleague team ..

Some Names You Might Know
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 2:25 p.m. ET

Some well known players to have worn the Benetton Treviso uniform include .....Toni Kukoc .... Vinny Del Negro ... Zeljo Rebraca ... Jorge Garbajosa (whom Maurizio Gherardini tapped into his Benetton connection in recently bringing Garbajosa to Raptors) ...Andrea Bargnani ... Ramunas Šiškauskas ...What does Gherardini say about Garbajosa: "He's a guy who's not afraid of fighting anybody," Gherardini. "He's got the size to go against guys in the paint without being afraid of anybody." ... Note: Garbajosa also played for Mike D'Antoni.

More Connections ... Countdown to Naples-Benetton Treviso Game
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 1:02 p.m. ET

Not only was Andrew Bargnani the first Italian selected No. 1 overall, when the Raptors tabbed him with the top pick of the 2006 draft but the new architect (Pres. & GM) of that team, Bryan Colangelo, was also responsble in hiring Mike D'Antoni when he was in Phoenix ..........Colangelo also selected Italian personnel legend, Maurizio Gherardini, as the new Raptors Asst. GM and VP this past summer, giving him the honor of becoming the first European to hold a senior management position with an NBA franchise .... Gherardini built Benetton Treviso into a power house ...Treviso won the Lega A championship versus Climamio Bologna, the fourth such title in the last 10 years not to mention 7 Italian Cups and 2 Eurocups ....

Italy & the NBA: Deep Roots
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 12:48 p.m. ET

As I prep for my first-ever visit to Palaverde, you realize that Italy and the NBA have deep roots .... How deep? .... In the first ever NBA game (then known as the Basketball Association of America, the forerunner to the NBA) on November 1, 1946 between the visiting New York Knickerbockers and Toronto Huskies, in Maple Leaf Gardens, Hank Biasatti, an Italian-Canadian was the first ever international player in the NBA. Quite an accomplishment considering that upon the start of the 2006-07 season, the influx of international player will reach around the 90-plus threshold ... Unfortunately Hank couldn't prevent the Huskies' 68-66 loss to the Knickerbockers that night .....It was nearly 50 years later for the next Italian players to compete in the NBA --- Vincent Esposito (Raptors) and Stefano Rusconi (Suns) .......in 1985-86

Baskets and the Boss
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 12:16 p.m. ET

Less than two hours away from making the 10-minute ride to Palaverde to watch Benneton Treviso host Naples in the first championship game of the Lega A .....It should be rockin' .... Palaverde is a 5,000 seat stadium built in 1983 ..... Speaking of rocking, are you kidding me?!!! Bruce Springsteen and his Seeger Sessions band are tipping off the European leg of their tour 90 minutes away in Bologna .....Oh my gosh!

Stars Step Up
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 7:03 a.m. ET

No surprise here Steve Nash's team won thanks to a Shawn Marion basket thus concluding practice ....

Fast and Furious
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 6:40 a.m. ET

First team to score three baskets wins, an abbrievated scrimmage has begun ...

Same Old Suns
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 6:14 a.m. ET

Jet Lagged? Who is jet lagged? The Suns haven't been in Treviso for 24 hours and they're not showing any effects of the long journey. Game plan: Running, running and even more running. As the team shifts its focus from running through some offensive sets, it's now orange versus white, three on three ...

Day 2: Practice
TREVISO, ITALY, Oct. 1 -- posted by John Hareas on October 1, 2006, 5:32 a.m. ET

While the cappuccinos are flowing fast and furious here in beautiful Treviso, I dusted off my back pages (and memory bank) reflecting on the Suns' impressive season while coach D'Antoni dials practice up a notch in Day 2 ..... The Suns still led the league in scoring (108.4) despite losing three-fifths of its starting lineup (Amare's injury, Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson to Atlanta and New York, respectively) ...... The Suns led the league in scoring even though they ranked last in free throws made and attempted ......Leandro Barbosa ranked 3rd in 3-point shooting percentage last season at an impressive 44.4 percent .... When the Suns were eliminated by the Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals Game 6 some 120 days ago, did you know that they actually enjoyed a 15-point lead with 6:34 remaining in the third quarter (6:34, a time stamp all too familiar for Mavs fans) ...

Jumaine Jones Pays a Visit
TREVISO, ITALY, Sept. 30 -- posted by John Hareas on September 30, 2006, 4:26 p.m. ET

Jones stops by.
John Hareas/NBAE
Feverishly working to bring you the latest content back in the bowels of the hotel when suddenly someone taps me on the shoulder. Headphones in ears, transcribing quotes, I barely budge until the tap arrives again seconds later ..... My mind races, saying to myself, now is NOT the time for small talk chatter when so much is at stake.... Finally for the third time, I receive another tap and finally relent, look up and see it's Jumaine Jones, smiling, all 6-8, 230 pounds of him ...Of course, I spring to my feet and he politely asks if he can check out NBA.com's Suns coverage, which he soon dives into, photo galleries, postcards, blogs and all ..... Jumaine and his wife Donna were walking around the hotel when they stopped by ..... They're desperately trying to hold off falling asleep, for another few hours (they're nine hours behind Italian time) ...... No such luck, however, Jumaine just got sleepier after reading my blogs ....Sorry, Jumaine ...

Suns Set for the Night
VENICE, ITALY, Sept. 30 -- posted by John Hareas on September 30, 2006, 1:47 p.m. ET

After a 14-plus hour flight, an hour and 20 minute practice, the players showered and walked to a building a bounce pass away from La Ghirada for a team dinner hosted by the Benetton family ... Then it's back to the hotel for some R and R ...

Practice Makes ...
VENICE, ITALY, Sept. 30 -- posted by John Hareas on September 30, 2006, 1:08 p.m. ET

After roughly an hour and 20 minutes, the Suns concluded practice while the majority of players stayed to shoot. In the gym next door, Nash shot at least 50 extra jumpers (at last count) before grabbing a drink, energy bar and hitting the showers.

Three in a Row?
VENICE, ITALY, Sept. 30 -- posted by John Hareas on September 30, 2006, 12:24 p.m. ET

Watching Nash nail his third consecutive three from the corner, the inner motors of my mind were churning and wondering why can't he win his third MVP in a row? An honor neither Magic nor MJ can claim (the other guards to win multiple MVPs). Each won it 2 years in a row, with Magic owning 3 overall and MJ tying Bill Russell with 5. The record holder of most MVPs is Kareem with 6 (Note: award was first issued in '55-56 to Bob Pettit). By the way, the only non-center to win 3 MVPs in a row: Larry Bird (1984-86). Of course, Wilt and Russell each won the award in 3 straight seasons.

Personal Touch
VENICE, ITALY, Sept. 30 -- posted by John Hareas on September 30, 2006, 12:11 p.m. ET

Think Coach D'Antoni was happy to get things started? As the team was getting off the bus, D'Antoni enthusuastically greeted everyone individually, welcoming them to practice.

Humming Along
VENICE, ITALY, Sept. 30 -- posted by John Hareas on September 30, 2006, 11:58 a.m. ET

We know it's (very) early, we know not to get carried away here, but Nash is moving with precision (no doubt, the buzz cut is enhancing his quickness) zipping along looking ALL business as the team runs through it's offensive sets ..... We know it's early, we know not to get carried away but Amare, the man whose had surgeries on both knees, is moving swiflty while working up a sweat and without reservation, looking even more svelte than the last time we saw him in Las Vegas this past summer.

Ramping Up the Octane in the High-Octane Offense
VENICE, ITALY, Sept. 30 -- posted by John Hareas on September 30, 2006, 11:45 a.m. ET

So what did coach Mike D'Antoni tell his team in the very first day of camp? We had a listen:

"For the new guys and the old guys kind of know, there will be a lot of shooting, a lot of running, and there will be short and quick practices. So every day you come here, we run. This year we'll run more than last year. I think we can. We got the type of guys and athletes that we can do that. I know everybody is tired. The purpose of this (practice) is to get over the jet lag and this will help you. We'll get in a little bit of sweat."

The bad news for opposing teams is the NBA's highest scoring team of the last two seasons isn't resting on its laurels as Coach D'Antoni alluded to tweaks he is making in the greatest offensive show on earth.

A Homecoming for the D'Antonis
VENICE, ITALY, Sept. 30 -- posted by John Hareas on September 30, 2006, 10:41 a.m. ET

Not a bad view, huh?
John Hareas/NBAE

The Suns checked into the hotel and have just a few hours to get settled before heading over to the practice facility -- Benetton La Ghirada -- for practice before having dinner hosted by the Benetton organization. We ran into Laurel D’Antoni, Mike’s wife, in the hotel who not only is as nice as Mike but also, we think as excited about their return trip to a country they called home for 20 years. We asked Laurel about the plane ride over before switching gears on their return to Italy.

“We had a fabulous plane ride, I think we were about 70 something people between our partners, our operations staff and our guests. We flew out of Phoenix around 2:30 and took a brief stop at Goose Bay, Newfoundland. It was a little shaky in the jet stream but then it was most fascinating because the northern lights of aurora borealis, we could see the whole light over the whole horizon. Just the stars showing, the ions in the atmosphere, everyone was in awe. Everyone was in a wonderful mood. Everyone is jovial, in a wonderful mood. We have several of our players who have never been to Europe. So were’ really excited to show them.

"Our objective is to have everybody stay up as much as they can, otherwise their clocks won’t be right. Everyone is trying to cram as much in.

“Mike had always promised to take me back, now he brought me back for work so it doesn’t get him off the hook because I really want to come back and do vacation here. Treviso is the most beautiful city. We spent most of our life in Milan, we were here for 20 years, most of it was in Milan but the four years we were here in Treviso was a very loving, kind and generous community. They brought us into their home and families. This is very much part of our family, coming back. I find myself saying, there’s my supermarket, there’s my vet, there’s my house!

“We had a wonderful life here. The Benetton’s are a wonderful family, organization. They let Mike out of his contract to return to the NBA without any penalties, which shows you what a class organization they really are.”

Gondolas, Nash, Orson Welles... Welcome to Venice
VENICE, ITALY, Sept. 30 -- posted by John Hareas on September 30, 2006, 3:15 a.m. ET

Similar to the Suns offense, a multitude of options exist for you to explore in Venice as we wait for the Suns charter to touch down in Treviso and later the team's first official practice of the 2006-07 season... The Grand Canal, similar to Amare, is the first go-to move of this tour ... This main street, err waterway, is best served by a water taxi or gondola, similar to Steve Nash, serving as the ultimate navigator skillfully guiding you through Venice's main street simply overwhelmed by more than 200 palazzos (palaces) I've been told, all ranging from the 12th to 18th centuries .....Byzantine, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, take your pick. Regardless of your structural preference, all are simply breathtaking .... Moseyed on up to Palazzo Labia, where I was told that in 1951, it hosted the party of the century whose invitees consisted of such distinguished guests as Winston Churchill, Orson Welles and Salvador Dali ... well, the training camp of the 21st Century, Europe Live, is only hours away from tipping off in Treviso where this All-Star guest list features Nash, D'Antoni, Amare, Boris, Raja and the rest of the Suns are preparing to report for duty.

On the Menu: Frescoes, food and the Duomo
TREVISO, ITALY, Sept. 29 -- posted by John Hareas on September 29, 2006, 3:15 p.m. ET

Sun-drenched skies, warm breezes, bustling streets, frescoes splashing buildings and churches, flanked by 15th and 16th Century houses every where you look and Treviso couldn’t have had a nicer introduction for yours truly …

These folks make a mean risotto.
John Hareas/NBAE
Minutes after checking in, I high tailed it to Piazza dei Signori, the main street in town strewn with cafes and well wishers all sensing something truly special about to happen with Europe Live officially descending upon this beautiful medieval city as the Suns arrival now stood at less than 24 hours …

Stumbled into a terrific restaurant, Trattoria Toni del Spin, where the host Mario Sartor unveiled the most delicious array of Trevigian cuisine -- risotto with mushrooms, ricatoni, bigoli in anchovy sauce and don't forget the soups ---beef barley, bean, you name it, which was soon all walked off courtesy of the seven-story trek up the stairs into the seven-domed Duomo church …

The journey of dark and dank passage ways was eventually greeted with the most beautiful payoff, a panoramic view of the city ...

More to come soon.