With my fellow colleague Joe Tait of Cleveland having been in the Broadcaster of the Week spotlight recently, it is only fitting that I should follow close behind seeing that both Joe and I are the elder statesmen of the league. Both he and I have been announcing in the NBA for 35 years. The only difference is that this is my 35th year consecutively with the Suns, whereas Joe had stops in New Jersey and Chicago that broke up his tenure with the Cavs.

Who would have thought a farm boy like myself from Iowa would be behind the mike? Growing up, I was fortunate enough to play high school basketball and actually am still in touch with my high school basketball coach who is 85 years old. In fact, he loves to tell the story that when people would ask him why he kept playing me so much in games, he would reply, "Well, when Al is on the bench he keeps pretending he's broadcasting and he is so bad I would rather have him in the game than listen to him." So I guess I have always had a great passion for basketball.

Prior to the Suns, I had worked in broadcasting in Iowa, Chicago and Buffalo and actually came to Phoenix to do minor league baseball. Since I've been in Phoenix I've done Arizona State football and basketball, and I was actually doing minor league hockey in the old Western hockey league on radio and TV when the Suns came to Phoenix in 1968. I met with Jerry Colangelo and eventually in 1972 became the play-by-play man for the Suns. I think we were the first team to bring everything in house radio, television, etc. We simulcasted, as several teams like the Lakers and Chick Hearn did for many years, up until just the last two years. However, I think initially my first year we might have done 12 TV games and then that went to 15 and slowly up the ladder because teams weren't doing that much television back in the early '70s. When we did do them, we simulcast.

I had been involved in management in broadcasting so I had a background in those areas. For many years Jerry Colangelo and I handled the radio and television. We sold it, we produced it, we did it all. In fact, I was just looking at an old press guide from 1972-73 and I think we had seven people in the Suns' office. Now there are over 200. That shows how times have changed.

It has really been amazing to be here and watch this city grow, not only population wise and business wise, but to see the tremendous interest in sports. Phoenix is now one of the new cities in the country that has the four major sports basketball, baseball, football and hockey and the tremendous facilities to go with them. It certainly speaks loudly that there is sports activity in the West and that it is centered right here in good old Phoenix, Arizona.

We have been extremely fortunate here in Phoenix with the teams that we've had. We haven't won a championship, but we've had great players that involved themselves in the community and with the fans. Connie Hawkins, who helped lead the Suns to the playoffs in only their second year of existence and who was one of the great All-Stars, was one of the first players instrumental in getting fans involved with NBA basketball. He was not only a terrific player, but a terrific pied piper for the game with fans and with youngsters.

This current group of players certainly fits that category as well, in particular Steve Nash. There is no other player like him. Steve's a great person. If you erase his basketball abilities, he is the kind of guy you just like to spend time with. He's a tremendous individual, a humanitarian and a great, great basketball player. Steve was originally drafted by the Suns, but at the time, the Suns had a couple of pretty fair point guards in Kevin Johnson and Jason Kidd. So eventually the Suns traded Steve Nash to Dallas. Of course Steve returned and with him the Suns were able to put together a group of players with the drafting of Amare Stoudemire, the signing of Raja Bell, the long-term commitment of Shawn Marion and the addition of Boris Diaw that fit the style of his game to a tee. With a coach in Mike D'Antoni that loves up-tempo basketball basketball the way it should be played the glove fit all the way around.

As a broadcaster, this Suns team is what you wait for and what keeps you going a team that stimulates the excitement and response from the fans and everybody that watches them play. In all my years in the NBA, I have gotten to know many of the long time season ticket holders in New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles the long time hotbeds of NBA basketball and I can't tell you how many times in the last three years, when the game is over, fans have come up to me in these cities and said, "Al, we just can't believe what a great, great team the Phoenix Suns are to watch. This is basketball as it used to be in the heyday of the Celtics and the Lakers. The Suns have brought back NBA basketball back to the way we love." It has really been terrific to hear that from fans all around the NBA. So for me, even though the plane might have landed late or the hotel room hasn't been made up or the bus wasn't on time, when they throw that ball up, analyzing and broadcasting the greatest athletes in the world on this team is still very exciting.

Our new owner, Robert Sarver, who I had known before he purchased the team, tells me I am here as long as I want to be. I don't know how long that will be. I just kind of take it a year at a time. Thirty five years is a long time. Obviously I would like to see this team win a championship so we'll see what happens.

Al McCoy's Top 5 Suns' Moments

The history of the Suns has kind of been in cycles. We were fortunate with winning teams and great players. You can start with Dick Van Arsdale who was the original Sun. Connie Hawkins of course. Then go up through the era with Paul Westphal's great years, Walter Davis, Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, Charles Barkley, and up to the present times with Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire.

1970 Western Division Semifinals vs. Lakers
As I mentioned, in the second year of the franchise they did make the playoffs and had a great series with the Lakers. That series established a real intensity with the Lakers and the Suns through the years. Of course, there weren't as many teams in the NBA in those days so you saw teams more often. I think the rivalries perhaps became a little more intense, not only with teams but with players.

1976 Western Conference Finals vs. Golden State
The real turnaround for the Phoenix Suns came in 1976. Coach John MacLeod was the coach at that time and the Suns really had kind of a mediocre year in 75-76 going 42-40. They just barely got into the playoffs, but started to play very well and wound up getting into the Western Conference Finals against Golden State who had won the NBA championship the year before with Rick Barry and company. It was a great series that included the Suns winning a double overtime thriller in Game 4. For the first time in my career as the Suns defeated the Warriors in a Game 7 played in the Bay Area, I was able to say, "The Phoenix Suns will be playing for the NBA championship."

Game 5, 1976 NBA Finals vs. Boston, 3 OT Class: "Shot Heard Round the World"
Moving on to play Boston, the Suns didn't get a lot of respect from around the country and the media. They lost the first two games in Boston Garden, but then came back to Phoenix and won the next two games. The series was tied at two a piece when Game 5 was played the first week in June. Of course that turned out to be the famous triple overtime game the first in NBA Finals history and my most memorable Suns' moment, in which Garfield Heard hit the "Shot Heard Round The World." So 1976 really started to turn Arizona into an NBA area. Fans really started to become involved. Of course, that's what NBA playoffs will do.

1993 NBA Finals
Of course the next big stop on the Suns road to success was the 1992-93 season. A lot of things happened that year. First of all the Suns moved into a new arena. They had a new head coach in Paul Westphal. They had new uniforms and they had a new player named Charles Barkley. They went on to have the best record in the NBA at 62-20. Charles Barkley was the MVP and again, the Suns were back in the Finals. This time the matchup was against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Wouldn't you know it, there would be another triple overtime game in that series, only the second time now that the NBA had a triple overtime game in the NBA Finals. The Suns won that game, but they did lose the series to Chicago. The one that broke their back was of course the three-point shot by John Paxson, now the GM of the Chicago Bulls.

1993 Parade
One of the most exciting things happened after the 1993 Finals however. Despite the Suns' loss, on the Saturday following the final game, over 300,000 fans turned out in downtown Phoenix to celebrate that team that they literally had fallen in love with that season. It was a very peaceful demonstration devoid of any any problems. It was just a love affair with the fans and that ballclub. That certainly was a high point in the history of the Suns.

Al McCoy's Catchphrases

"HEARTBREAK HOTEL"
Throughout the years I've also become known for a number of my catchprases. Many, many years ago, the Suns were involved in a close game that was tied with seconds left. The Suns got a fast break and the player who shall remain nameless drove in for a layup and missed the shot. All of a sudden I said, "Oh, Heartbreak Hotel!" How did that come about? Well, back in my days as a disc jockey, when Elvis Presley had the song Heartbreak Hotel, the thesis of the song was that this guy was going so bad, that he was down at the end of lonely street at "Heartbreak Hotel." All I could think of was that this is how this guy must have felt after missing that shot that could have won the game. Other phrases like, "zing go the strings" and "twine time" were just spur of the moment things.

"SHAZAAM!"
But probably the most widely popular is the three point call which is "Shazaam!" When the league put the three point shot in, from a broadcast standpoint, I kind of looked at that as a homerun. As you know most baseball announcers have a call, so I thought maybe I should come up with something when a three point shot is hit, not realizing that maybe we would have a team that might hit 18 or 20 in a game. But anyway, when I was a kid back on the farm, I used to read the Captain Marvel comic books. Billy, the little radio reporter who became Captain Marvel, used to say, "Shazaam!" and lightning and thunder went off and he became this crusader to fight crime. That "Shazaam!" came from Socrates, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, etc. and I thought, hey, this might be just the thing. I tried it out a couple of times and it caught on. That is undoubtedly the biggest one. I get that all over the country. As a matter of fact, the Suns were training in Italy this year and my wife and I were in Venice walking down the street and I hear, "Hey Al, shazaam!" As a broadcaster, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. Apparently that one worked.

As the "Voice of the Suns" for 35 seasons, Al McCoy currently calls play-by-play action on Sports 620 KTAR, the Suns flagship station, and on the Suns Radio Network. McCoy's consecutive tenure with the Suns is the longest with one team among current NBA broadcasters.

The Phoenix Suns and Sports 620 KTAR recently honored McCoy with the naming of the Al McCoy Media Center at US Airways Center, a newly updated and improved media center which will be unveiled at the beginning of the 2007-08 season and will feature displays tracing Al's legendary career.