Gerald Narciso, special to SUPERSONICS.COM
| October 28, 2007
VANCOUVER, B.C. - Friday's Seattle SuperSonics preseason finale against the Phoenix Suns served as sort of a reunion for newly acquired veteran Kurt Thomas
. For the past two seasons, Thomas played in Phoenix, where he was one of the team’s most popular players.
“Oh yeah, he is missed,” said Suns Head Coach Mike D’Antoni prior to Friday night's game against the Sonics at Vancouver’s GM Place. “With our players, he was our favorite guy.”
"Oh yeah, he is missed. With our players, he was our favorite guy."
His bond with his former teammates was evident. Thirty minutes before tip-off, Thomas was at midcourt laughing with Suns players Shawn Marion
and Raja Bell
. From Thomas’ vow to shut down Marion during the game to Raja telling Thomas he needed to get a hair cut, it was all jokes.
“It’s great," said Thomas, the 13-year vet out of TCU. "I had two years in Phoenix and I had great, great teammates there. I’m just glad to see these guys."
While Sonics fans know they are getting a great person in Thomas, they should also know they are getting a good ball player too.
“Kurt brings a lot of toughness; he’s a professional and he works hard and sets a good example,” says Bell. “On the court, Kurt can still do a lot of things. He can definitely get you buckets. He’s got to be one of the better jump shooters as far as big men go.”
In the 121-108 Sonics victory over Phoenix, Thomas came off the bench to score 19 points while shooting an efficient 8-of-12 from the field. He also collected seven boards and two blocks in just 21 minutes of action. Thomas displayed a great shooting touch early, hitting three straight midrange jump shots in the first quarter.
He also spent a lot of the game serving as a coach on the floor, encouraging teammates and giving young players like rookie forward Jeff Green some advice throughout the game. It is that sort of leadership that D’Antoni says will benefit this new-look Sonics team.
“He’s really good in the locker room; he’ll be a great mentor for their young kids. He really knows the game,” D’Antoni said.
As the most experienced veteran on a young Sonics roster, Thomas is expected to fill that leadership void, a challenge Thomas is ready to take on.
“It’s a new role to me,” said Thomas. “But I’ve been fortunate enough that I have had a tremendous number of veterans over my career who took me under their wing. Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning - those guys really molded me to what it takes to be a leader. I’m just trying to share my experiences with the young guys on the team.”
Although it has only been a month, Thomas’ presence has already been felt with the young Sonics.
“He has already brought veteran leadership,” says Sonics guard Delonte West. “He’s a player you need on your team to build a successful franchise.”
Then asked if Thomas could be as popular as guy as he was with his Phoenix teammates, West quickly smirked.
“Oh yeah," West said. "He’s one of the coolest cats to know.”