One-On-One With Alvan Adams

Although he was just a rookie, Alvan Adams helped lead the "Sunderella Suns" to their first-ever NBA Finals appearance in 1976, averaging 19 points, 9.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists a game en route.

It was those type numbers that earned him Rookie of the Year honors that season and made him an invaluable contributor for 12 more years in the purple and orange. In fact, in spite of his 6-9, 222-pound wiry frame, Adams is considered the greatest center to have ever suited up for the Suns, and his No. 33 hangs proudly in the team's Ring of Honor as a reminder still today.

Speaking of today, "Double A" continues to contribute to the Suns' organization as the club's senior vice president of operations, overseeing the day-to-day operations of both the America West Arena and Bank One Ballpark next door.

While his post-basketball career brings with it a hectic schedule, Adams will take a timeout on Wednesday to chat live with fans on Suns.com. Log on at 2:30 p.m. local Phoenix time (4:30 p.m. EST) and ask Alvan about that memorable battle with the Boston Celtics, or about the two newest additions to the Suns' Ring of Honor, Kevin Johnson and Joe Proski.


Adam from [207.108.154.116] at 4:29pm ET
Hi Alvan. What was it like reaching the NBA Finals and battling Boston to six games while you were just a rookie?

Alvan Adams at 4:31pm ET
I didn't know much about the NBA when I entered the league because it wasn't as widely covered then. I did know that Boston was a good team that season and not much was expected of the Phoenix Suns. We had some good newcomers, like Paul Westphal and some good veterans. We got to the Finals against Boston and we felt we could win any game we entered. We lost the first two games there and then won two exciting games here which set up Game 5, which I was told was one of the best games ever played. But we lost to them for another one of their titles.
Adam from [207.108.154.116] at 4:31pm ET
What do you think that Celtics team in '76 had that allowed them to hold off the Suns?

Alvan Adams at 4:32pm ET
I think it was experience. They for the most part had been there before. They knew what the Finals were all about, from the importance of every shot to dealing with the media to travel. We had youth and exuberance and the underdog tag, which helped us in many ways. But ultimately their experience won out.
Dustin from [207.108.154.116] at 4:33pm ET
You reached the NBA Finals as a rookie. Did you realize the significance of where you were at the time?

Alvan Adams at 4:33pm ET
Not at all. I remember some days after we lost and came in second, I felt bad for some of the older guys on our team. I knew they were at the end of their careers, but I had a number of years to get back there. And when I retired after 13 years, guess what? I only got back there once. Our team did it that year.
Dustin from [207.108.154.116] at 4:34pm ET
I hear that longtime trainer Joe Proski is going up into the Suns Ring of Honor next. What was it like working with him over the years?

Alvan Adams at 4:35pm ET
Joe was fantastic. That is a very tough position because you are the true middleman there. You are reporting to coaches and ownership and you're friends with players there. I've only been with one team and being with Joe those 13 years, I can't even imagine the balancing act that must take. Joe did it magnificently. You knew he was looking out for your well-being and he was still responding to ownership. It's probably one of the most underrated positions in a sports team and he's one of the reasons why we had so many good teams.
Barry from [207.108.154.116] at 4:35pm ET
KJ said in a chat last week that he thought either you or him would win a one-on-one tourney between the Ring of Honor members. Do you agree?

Alvan Adams at 4:36pm ET
Wow. Some people think I'm in shape, only because I'm still skinny. I'm in no shape. I'm sure he would beat me. I think Tom Chambers would beat me. Ambidextrous as he is, I think Paul Westphal could beat me. Connie Hawkins and Dick Van Arsdale might be the only ones that I could beat. That would be some contest though.
Sambo from [207.108.154.116] at 4:37pm ET
I still have that Sports Illustrated issue that featured you and Dave Cowens on the cover. What was that matchup like for you as a rookie?

Alvan Adams at 4:38pm ET
Going into the Finals, we had already played the Celtics four times. I had heard of Cowens, seen him on TV. What a combination of strength and quickness. He was not a tall center, but playing for the Celtics, he knew how to play basketball and win. I remember thinking that I had to keep him neutralized in some way. I tried to keep him moving up and down the floor. We both scored a lot of points. He grabbed a lot of rebounds. His play is why they won and my play helped us get to six games. But it was cool being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. I still get a few of those a month asking me to sign them and send them back.
Bobby from [207.108.154.116] at 4:38pm ET
You were rather undersized for a center, yet put up some big time numbers over the years. What were the advantages and disadvantages of playing that position for you?

Alvan Adams at 4:40pm ET
It's interesting. I was talking to Bob Lanier yesterday. He lives in Phoenix. We were talking to Jerry Colangelo. Bob was lamenting about having to guard me. His coach said don't let Alvin beat you don't the floor and my coach said don't let him find his spot. He was successful being a low post player, with a nice little mid-range shooter. And my strengths were more being the director of the offense at some points from the top of the key. I couldn't stand still. I had to be a moving target.
Bobby from [207.108.154.116] at 4:40pm ET
Are there any centers in the game today that remind you of yourself?

Alvan Adams at 4:42pm ET
There's not too many guys who set up at the high post. Not really. I wouldn't be a center today - I was barely a center back then. I like the guys that can move, don't stay in one place, what you see in the great centers today. And there's many of them. They have strength and quickness. At the end of my career, Hakeem was kind of the first of those, with strength and moves.

I'd like to say Tim Duncan reminds me of me, but that's flattering myself way too much. He's not a bulk-up center. He can move. If he has to put it on the floor he can. Even Shaquille can lead the break if he needs to. I'm glad I'm not having to play those guys. I'm glad I retired!
Eric Switzer from [154.20.82.76], at 4:42pm ET
Who was your favorite player growing up?

Alvan Adams at 4:44pm ET
We didn't get to see much basketball on TV. We did have the all-college tournament in Oklahoma City where I grew up. I got to see Bob Lanier, Pete Maravich, Artis Gilmore. We did get to see the NBA playoffs so I did know about Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. And of course, Lew Alcindor being big in college basketball. That's why I picked the #33. And the Harlem Globetrotters. They always came to town once a year so I followed them too.
Eric Switzer from [154.20.82.76], at 4:44pm ET
What do u think about the quality of the NBA today? Are the young guns right out of high school starting to make an impact on the way the NBA is ran?

Alvan Adams at 4:46pm ET
The young players coming out are certainly talented. There's plenty of proof that there have been some great ones to come out. I don't know each family's situation. I would sing the praises of spending time in college, but I only spent three years myself. I thought it was time to move on.

Is it changing basketball? I think the cream rises to the top and the best players wind up in the NBA. I'm quite impressed with their athletic ability. Of course they would gain a lot by spending time at college and developing their games, but not knowing their situation, I can't say that they have to go to college. I had good teaching coaches in college and I always say that you're only as good as you are in practice. So each situation is different. I can't imagine going straight from high school to the pros, but I can see there are a lot of great players who have done this.
Geoff Rothstein from [209.134.130.186], at 4:46pm ET
Alvin,
Do you feel that this years suns team can contend with the best in the west such as Portland or Sacramento when the suns are healthy? if so, how?
thanks.

Alvan Adams at 4:49pm ET
The key part there was when they're healthy. Being a part of the organization and a Suns' fan, I know our injury situation better than that of other teams. I wish we had everybody. I wish Tom Guggliotta was 100% all year and Penny Hardaway. I like our center position with Chris Dudley, Tsakalidis has come on strong and Santiago. I think we have the best player in his position in Jason Kidd. Shawn Marion might be the best small forward in the league right now and Cliff Robinson gives us great offensive and defensive contributions. So I'd like to think we could do anything if we're healthy. I believe we can win the west and get to the NBA Finals. We're not the best team in the West right now; we're not the healthiest team, but I'm optimistic.
Eric Switzer from [154.20.82.211], at 4:49pm ET
If you were playing today, what team would u want to play for? Why?

Alvan Adams at 4:51pm ET
It's an easy answer. I'd want to play for the Suns. I've only played here; I've only lived here since I left the University of Oklahoma. I remember the year I retired, someone said, you should go play for the Celtics - you'd be good with Larry Bird. I thought, why would I want to do that? They're the Celtics! And anyone would be good with Larry Bird!

I was one of the ones who got to play a long career in one place. Do I think it would be fun to play on the team that makes it to the NBA Finals this year? Sure, but we don't know who that is going to be. So like KJ did for us last year, I'd only want to come back for the Suns. Although there are a lot of players in the league I'd love to play with, I can't imagine leaving Phoenix for any reason. So please don't trade me!
Eric Switzer from [154.20.82.211], at 4:51pm ET
Alvan, who are you chearing for in the NCAA March Madness? GO LSU!!!

Alvan Adams at 4:52pm ET
I have two teams: University of Oklahoma - that's where I played college basketball and then Gonzaga. One of my son's high school friends plays on that team. If they both win in the first round, they'll play each other in the second round. And I don't want to answer who I'm pulling for in that one in case someone might be reading. And then I'm pulling for Arizona because they're our local team.
Kyle Switzer from [154.20.82.211], at 4:53pm ET
Who has given you your best advice? and what was it?

Alvan Adams at 4:55pm ET
I would say John MacLeod. He recruited me out of high school to go to the University of Oklahoma and then coached me here in Phoenix. He taught me to respect my teammates and that it's a team game. You even have to respect your opponent. You're trying to win, but when it's all done, you don't gloat, you don't thump your chest. You also become a gracious loser. You need to respect your surroundings, your job, your coworkers and walk away and say today's finished. I prepared for it and did my best. Then I move on to the next day.
Kyle Switzer from [154.20.82.76], at 4:55pm ET
What was the hardest part of retiring from basketball?

Alvan Adams at 4:56pm ET
Everyone who retires knows they aren't going to make as much money as they were when they were playing. People ask me if I wish I was playing now and I say no because I wouldn't want to guard Shaquille. So I think the knowledge that you're not going to be performing against the best in the world and so you're not going to be paid accordingly. You have to move on to something else.

Alvan Adams at 4:57pm ET
With the NCAA tournament right around the corner, I want to say good luck to Jimmy Tricco and Mike Schwertley and good luck to Justin!

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