The Cotton Express

Team GM: Jeramie McPeek, VP, Digital

Honorary Coach: Cotton Fitzsimmons
I originally became a Phoenix Suns fan as a teenager in the late ‘80s when the Cotton Express rolled through the Valley. I even sat in the live studio audience for the Cotton Express TV program shot at Max’s sports bar in Glendale each week during the Suns’ seasons. But I chose the name of my team because of the man it represents, not because of my fond memories of those amazing teams. The late-Lowell “Cotton” Fitzsimmons was one of my all-time favorite co-workers, and I say co-worker because he treated all of us like we were equals. It didn’t matter if you were a janitor, ticket taker, one of his assistant coaches or an NBA All-Star, he always made you feel special and appreciated.

First Pick: Kevin Johnson
I’m not sure why, but I assumed Al McCoy would select Connie Hawkins with the first overall pick, so I had an old Charles Barkley jersey in my bag and was ready to pull it out and hold it up for all of the cameras when I walked to the podium to announce my pick. Okay, I admit, I was the only one taking photos at our draft, but Al beat me to the punch anyway, selecting Sir Charles. “Heartbreak Hotel!”

I knew my only choices at that point were Steve Nash and Kevin Johnson, but making that decision was like choosing between my two kids. Not only are they two of the Suns’ all-time greatest players, but they are two of my personal all-time favorites. Nash is a two-time NBA MVP and the Association’s assists leader five times, but KJ is one of the only NBA players in history to average better than 20 points AND 10 assists in three different seasons. In fact, only Tim Hardaway and Chris Paul have averaged a 20/10 over the course of a season since Johnson retired. It’s true. Look it up.

Ultimately, I considered the rules for this fantasy league, and realized that with only one season for each player considered in these “What If” simulations, and not an entire career’s worth of statistics and awards, I had to go with my guy KJ, who had one of the most impressive seasons in team history in 1988-89.

Favorite Pick: Jim Fox
Other than KJ, I can’t say I was a huge “fan” of any of the other players I selected. I enjoyed watching and getting to know Stephon Marbury during his time in Phoenix. I had a ton of respect for A.C. Green’s mental toughness, on and off the court. And I always thought Jake Tsakalidis was a nice guy. But I didn’t make too many picks based on my personal feelings for players. I tried to choose the players that had the most well-rounded statistical seasons I could find.

That said, I’ll submit Jim Fox as my favorite find. The 6-10 forward only spent two seasons with the Suns, but one of those seasons, 1968-69, he averaged a monster 13.3 boards a night, which would be a franchise record had he not been limited to just 51 games played that inaugural season.

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FANTASY ROSTER

[PG] Kevin Johnson (1988-89)
Points: 20.4 Assists: 12.2 Rebounds: 4.2
[SG] Stephon Marbury (2002-03)
Points: 22.3 Assists: 8.1 Rebounds: 3.2
[SF] Curtis Perry (1974-75)
Points: 13.4 Assists: 2.4 Rebounds: 11.9
[PF] Larry Nance (1987-88)
Points: 22.5 Assists: 3.4 Rebounds: 8.7
[C] Jim Fox (1968-69)
Points: 13.8 Assists: 2.8 Rebounds: 13.3
[BENCH] Gar Heard (1975-76)
[BENCH] A.C. Green (1993-94)
[BENCH] Ronnie Lee (1977-78)
[BENCH] Sam Cassell (1996-97)
[BENCH] Hot Rod Williams (1996-97)
[BENCH] Andrew Lang (1991-92)
[BENCH] Jake Tsakalidis (2001-02)