One-On-One With Dick Van Arsdale

He was the very first player in Phoenix Suns history, selected in the 1968 Expansion Draft from New York. He scored the first points in franchise history, driving inside against the SuperSonics for a layup on Oct. 18, 1968. And he helped guide the team to its first-ever NBA Finals appearance in 1976, where it met up with the Celtics. He is the "Original Sun," Dick Van Arsdale.

Although he admittedly was not too excited about heading to the Arizona desert back in 1968, "Van" played a vital role in the Suns' organization (make that many roles) and continues to today.

From 1968-77, the three-time All-Star manned the guard and forward spots, averaging 17.6 points, 3.6 boards and 3.5 assists a night. He spent half a season as the Suns' head coach in 1986-87 and several years in the broadcast booth as a color analyst. Currently, though, Van Arsdale serves as senior vice president of player personnel.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the '76 Finals, as well as the induction of Kevin Johnson and Joe Proski into the team's Ring of Honor, Van Arsdale will chat live with fans on Tuesday, March 13. Log on beginning at Noon local Phoenix time (2 p.m. EST) and ask Van about his memories of battling Boston, or of having his own jersey No. 5 retired to the rafters.


Eric from [64.20.109.156], at 1:59pm ET
What was your most memorable moment of playing as a Phoenix Sun in the NBA. Also who was the most difficult player for you to guard during your years in the league.

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:00pm ET
The first question is easy -- playing in the Finals in 1976 was the most memorable, particularly our triple-overtime loss in Game 5.

The one player I matched up with who was very difficult was Rick Barry. Also Jerry West and Oscar Robertson.
Eric S from [154.20.82.154], at 2:00pm 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?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:02pm ET
That's a loaded question ... I've been asked it many times, and I would love to see a system where we were not taking high school players. I think an education is extremely important, whether you're a basketball player or not. I'm against high school players entering the league, but at the same time I recognized that it's a fact of life, and the game has changed a great deal by including high school players. But you're much better off with players like Tim Duncan who have completed college.
Eric S from [154.20.82.154], at 2:02pm ET
Who was your favorite player growing up?


Dick Van Arsdale at 2:03pm ET
My favorite was Oscar Robertson, who played in Indianapolis, where I grew up. His high school team won two state titles, and I looked to him as the ultimate basketball player. As far as pros go, the guy I looked to who I'd have wanted to build a team around, that was Bill Russell. He was the best team player as far as I was concerned.
Eric S from [154.20.82.154], at 2:03pm ET
What was the best part of your game?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:04pm ET
The best part of my game was that when I entered the pros, I was known as being very competitive and a good defender. I worked on my shooting and became fairly consistent later, but defense, competitiveness and the ability to drive to the basket were probably my strongest suits.
Twinsin AZ from [207.108.154.116], at 2:04pm ET
How special was it to play on the same team as your twin brother, Tom?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:05pm ET
It was great. Tom and I felt we were better off playing for different teams, otherwise we'd be fighting for the same position. But it was fantastic. The only problem was that we had been to the Finals the year before, while my brother had never been to the playoffs. I was hoping we'd make the playoffs again so that he'd be able to enjoy it. Unfortunately, we didn't make it, so that was disappointing from a basketball standpoint.
Sammy from [207.108.154.116], at 2:05pm ET
Hi Van! What's your fondest memory of that Finals series with Boston?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:06pm ET
Just the realization that after 11 years in the NBA, I had the opportunity to participate in the Finals. It was tremendous to be the focal point of the league that year, and we got better and better as that year went on. We knocked out the defending-champion Warriors in the Conference Finals, and that was a total surprise. It was just a thrill and I wish that on every player who participates in the NBA.
Myron from [207.108.154.116], at 2:06pm ET
That last-second Googs shot the other night was something. Are the Suns ready to roll to the playoffs now?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:07pm ET
I think we're ready -- it'd be great to put a run together to get a little higher seeding. We've had a lot of unfortunate things happen this year with injuries and so forth. But if we can stay healthy between now and the end of the year, we have a good chance to be a good playoff team. It'd be difficult as a lower seed, but if everyone's healthy, we have a chance to make some noise in the playoffs.
James from [207.108.154.116], at 2:08pm ET
As the Suns' senior VP of player personnel, what do you think this team needs to do in the offseason?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:09pm ET
It'd be nice if our team could stay together -- we have good young players. We need to try and find some better shooting. I think Jake Tsakalidis needs to work hard and refine his game a little bit. And maybe add one or two players from the draft or free agency. But I like our team, and I'm just hoping we won't have too many disruptions or injuries.
Madelyn from [207.108.154.116], at 2:09pm ET
For those of us who weren't fortunate enough to see you play, who in today's NBA reminds you of your style of play?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:10pm ET
One of my all-time favorites -- we're not too similar aside from our competitiveness -- is Dan Majerle. He's a bit bigger and stronger, but other than that, I don't really know. Just someone who plays both ends of the court and competes.
Madelyn from [207.108.154.116], at 2:10pm ET
What role did you enjoy more, coaching, broadcasting or working in player personnel?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:11pm ET
None of those compare to playing, but coaching is the most exhilarating because you're right in on the action. But the most fun for me is player personnel. I like to look at college players, working behind the scenes and evaluating talent for the draft. Overall, I'd have to say that's been my favorite.
Chad from [207.108.154.116], at 2:11pm ET
What does it mean to you to have your No. 5 retired and hanging in America West Arena?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:12pm ET
It's an honor, an indication that you're part of the team's tradition. I'm just happy that the team considered me valuable to do something like that. It's a nice feeling. I've been here 33 years now, and I wouldn't trade my experience with this organization for anything.
John from [207.108.154.116], at 2:12pm ET
Who was your all-time favorite teammate to play with?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:13pm ET
There's no one in particular, but right up at the top is Connie Hawkins. One of my favorite teams was me, Clem Haskins, Paul Silas, Neil Walk and Connie Hawkins. And of course the '76 team that went the the Finals. All those guys provided me with memories and I enjoyed them ... to just pick one guy out would not be fair.
J-Kell from [207.108.154.116], at 2:14pm ET
Hey "Original," what's the biggest change in the game of basketball since you played?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:15pm ET
The biggest change is that players today are more athletic but far less adept at fundamental basketball. They're bigger, stronger, faster, better athletes, but they don't understand the game as well as the old veterans. One of the problems is entering the league at too young an age. Fundamentally, older players were better, there was more movement without basketball -- today's game needs to be refined a little bit and get back to the fundamentals.
J-Kell from [207.108.154.116], at 2:15pm ET
I've seen pictures of the airport packed with people after the Suns won the West in '76. What was that like?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:16pm ET
It was unbelievable. We just had one or two terminals at that point. The airport was packed and it was a very emotional experience. We had no idea there'd be that many people there, and it took forever to get out of there. It was wonderful because it showed tremendous fan support, and it was a great time for Phoenix as a city.
Phil Cary from [64.20.39.203], at 2:16pm ET
To what or whom do you credit your success as a player and person?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:17pm ET
I always had great support from my parents -- they always supported us as long as we studied hard and got good grades. I always had good quality coaching. My brother and I just had really good support all along the line between family and coaches.
Michael from [63.14.198.104], at 2:17pm ET
If you were playing today, what team would u want to play for? Why?

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:18pm ET
To be realistic about it, I would like to play with a team with a chance to win a championship. Last year it would have been the Lakers, but today, I don't know. San Antonio would be interesting because I think that in general, they have a good group of guys. And it's nice to have the kind of big people underneath that give you the support they do.
Mike from [198.26.130.38] at 2:18pm ET
Dick Van Arsdale,

Who does it feel to be in the same organization since being the first "Original Sun" to play and then continuing on with the Suns with your vice president job of player personnel?

r,
Mike

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:19pm ET
It's been wonderful. I've always had great rapport with Jerry Colangelo, and I've never had any desire to go anywhere else. My wife and I love the Southwest, and it's a great feeling to know your wanted and that you can still contribute to the organization. And whatever happens, it's been a good run.

Dick Van Arsdale at 2:20pm ET
I appreciate your interest in me and the Phoenix Suns, and whatever you're doing, I wish you all the best.

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