Dragic Back With Suns After Hectic Offseason
As fast-paced as the Suns want to play this season, Goran Dragic may feel his NBA life is a downshift from his whirlwind summer.
The noteworthy events of the point guard’s “offseason”: marriage, finding out he’d have a son, building a house in his hometown and leading the host nation of EuroBasket 2013.
The first event was, of necessity, preceded by a proposal to Dragic’s then-girlfriend, Maja. He did need permission, and not from the father of the bride.
“We had training camp for national team and I asked my coach if I could take a day off,” he said. “I went back home and I proposed.”
The marriage itself happened in late August, in the midst of Slovenia’s 12-game exhibition season leading up to EuroBasket. While the team gained local and national popularity behind the Dragic duo of Goran and brother Zoran, the Suns playmaker says not to expect any more obvious similarities in the name department when his son arrives in November.
Back on the court, Slovenia became the fastpaced underdog of the tournament on its way to a fifth-place finish. Dragic was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 15.8 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds.
EuroBasket took on a more emotional tone for the Slovenian point guard. When the host country played, the home fans packed the arena, all wearing the team’s off-green color. The players were given the Twitter hashtag junaki (yoo-nah-kee), which means “heroes” in the Slovene language.
When Slovenia to eventual EuroBasket champion France in the quarterfinals, Dragic took the PA mic after the game to thank the fans – and received a standing ovation in return.
“That was one of the best experiences of my career,” Dragic said. “It was the first time that we were the host of the European championships. Even now, when the economy's bad and our country's not in a good situation, we bring all the people together as one.”
The Suns will look to their floor leader to help create a similar effect in Phoenix. He admitted on Monday that he is more comfortable in that role now after a full year back in the valley and after the EuroBasket experience.
The example is already there. Two days after making the flight back from Slovenia to Phoenix (roughly 6,000 miles), Dragic is already putting in reps at training camp in Flagstaff. Other than slightly red eyes and a severely shattered sleeping pattern, the Suns’ veteran has exhibited his usual energy and optimism, to the point where Head Coach Jeff Hornacek may have to reign him in from time to time.
“I know the type of guy Goran is,” Hornacek said. “These guys tell me he wants to go all the time. He wants to practice. I went into it saying, 'Goran, let me know if you feel like you're getting a little tired or something. We'll try to keep you out a little bit.' We'll just communicate and figure that out. Sometimes I'll just take him out even though he doesn't want to because it is a long season and he just got done with a long, grueling season.”
Overall, however, Dragic considers his hectic summer as a plus rather than a pounding.
“I'm in good shape,” he said. “I can run a lot. I had a busy summer, so this training camp...isn't going to be so hard.”
Video: Dragic at Suns Media Day