Suns News

Chapman Press Conference

Posted: Nov. 20, 2000

SUNS CEO/MANAGING GENERAL PARTNER JERRY COLANGELO: "This is one of those press conferences that you don't look forward to in terms of the content. Primarily because it's an occasion where someone is ending his career and, of course, I'm referring to Rex Chapman, who's had, in my opinion, an outstanding NBA career. He was a terrific college player and it's something he's done all his life, that's play basketball. And he'll talk more about that in just a minute. But it's an opportunity for me to thank him for the job he did as a Phoenix Sun. We thank him for that and we wish him the best going forward.

"The official announcement is that he will retire and in order to put that into affect, we will actually be putting him on waivers for that purpose. In doing so, that creates a roster spot for us and gives us that flexibility. Rex has come to that conclusion after consulting with his family and (agent) David Falk, who has been very close to Rex over the years in terms of offering him the advice that he needs from time to time. And so without any further ado, I want to turn it over to Rex."

Although it was a sad day, Rex Chapman kept things light with a few laughs during his retirement press conference.
(Photos by Jeramie McPeek/Suns Photos)

SUNS GUARD REX CHAPMAN: "Thanks for showing up today. I don't know that too many players are afforded the luxury of having a press conference when they're being waived (laughs). I think that says a lot about the Suns and I think everyone knows the respect I have for Jerry and Bryan (Colangelo), and the way they run their business. And I think that because of the things that I've been able to do here, they respect me as well.

"I'm glad that we've been able to work this out. I've felt bad about taking up a roster spot, when the actuality of it was that it was going to be hard for me to come back and play. The doctors have determined that with the injuries that I have, I wouldn't be able to be at this level and get the job done. So I'm glad that the team is going to be able to utilize the roster spot to help make this team better.

"I really feel like I've had a good career and I've had an enjoyable career. My family's been so supportive, following me around everywhere that basketball's taken me.

"I think that basketball's been far better to me than maybe I've been to it. I've thoroughly enjoyed it. I came into the league when I was 20 years old and I think at that time I was the youngest player and Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) was the oldest player at 41, and my father actually played against Kareem in the ABA.

Chapman's wife Bridget and his two oldest children Zeke and Caley had front row seats for the press conference.
(Photos by Jeramie McPeek/Suns Photos)
"My body has just gotten to the point where it's not allowing me to do things that I want to do or compete at the NBA level, where you have to be at your best. I've had six surgeries in the last five years and I need two more.

"I came into the league at a very young age and I think that the one thing I learned really quick is that everybody's good. I think coming into the league, you feel like it's your right to play in the NBA and it's really not. It's a privilege to play in the NBA. And I think if you're going to be successful, you better learn that and learn it quick. And you have to learn that you have to work at it in order to be successful.

"I feel very blessed to be able to leave this game ... In talking with David and Jerry earlier, when you try to put things into perspective, I'm not suffering from any disease or anything that's going to shorten my life. I feel blessed to be able to walk away from the game. I'm banged up somewhat and wake up every morning hurting a little bit, but I've got a great family and I'm looking forward to spending more time with my family.

"One other thing I want to say is I want to thank David. David's always been here for me. He made a point that he wanted to be here today. When I told him that we could do this some other time if he didn't want to be here, he said he wanted to end it like we began it, and that was in Charlotte 13 years ago. He's been a very, very good friend, above anything else to me. We all know the history of the players that he has and I think that in coming out of college, both of us maybe had different thoughts about the caliber of player that I might be. And had it not been for some injuries, who knows. But David's always been there for me and is a great friend, and I appreciate him being here today."

NBA AGENT DAVID FALK: "I'd like to say that this is obviously a bitter sweet occasion for me. But in many ways, I think it represents a lot of the good things that the NBA stands for. It's no secret that Phoenix is a place that a lot of players want to come to play. I think the Colangelos have established a very strong family kind of an environment here. When Rex left Miami a few years ago and was looking for a place to come as a free agent, we didn't expect him to play for the minimum, but I think probably the best small-deal I've ever made in my life was bringing him here for the minimum. He's enjoyed it, it's become a base for his family and I really want to thank Jerry for the opportunity that was presented to us.

"It's been a difficult year for me. I had a week where we had a press conference in Miami to announce that Alonzo Mourning had a very serious kidney disease. The next day Dikembe Mutombo had Malaria and the third day Keith Van Horn broke his leg. The fourth day, I went away for the weekend because I couldn't handle it anymore. But I thank God that Rex doesn't have a serious disease. He has a beautiful wife and four really beautiful children. He has a lot to be thankful for and I think it's really nice that the Colangelos could allow him to exit his career with class and the dignity that he came in with. I think he's accomplished some great things in basketball and I hope that down the road he can continue to be a part of the Phoenix Suns family. I know he plans to live here in Phoenix.

"I think this (organization) is an anomaly. It's a very family-oriented place. They've got a coach who played here (Frank Johnson) and a broadcaster who played here (Eddie Johnson), and Jerry's been able to create a very family-oriented environment, where a lot of our clients would like to play. I know I like to come out here and sneak a little golf in while I watch the games, so I want to say to Jerry that I respect what he's done.

"And Rex, the feeling is mutual. Rex has been a very special friend, not only for me but my family. My kids would like to have been here as well. They're back in D.C. in school. But I'd like to congratulate Rex on a really great career and more importantly on being a really great person and a great friend."

Chapman's agent David Falk and Suns CEO Jerry Colangelo joined Rex for the announcement.
(Photos by Jeramie McPeek/Suns Photos)
COLANGELO: "A couple of notes. Rex has a contract that goes not only for this year, but three additional years, and he will be paid his full salary during the period of time he would have received it had he been playing.

"Number two, where this has an impact on our roster in terms of a roster spot, it really does not have any impact as it relates to the cap, except down the road. The immediacy is that we have some flexibility regarding a (injured list) roster spot, which will probably be filled by one of the players who's here, because we're over the number as it is. So I just wanted to say that before we open it up to questions."

QUESTION: Rex, going back to March 18 when you had your appendectomy, did you have any feel that that was the end of your career?

CHAPMAN: "I really didn't know. I talked with my wife and some friends, and it crossed my mind because I'd struggled so much the last couple years with my ankle and my hand. Once the season was over and I saw the hand specialist, it started to become more clear that that might have been it.

"My last game was in Vancouver and my oldest daughter was with me on the trip. I remember going into the hospital for the emergency appendectomy and thinking, 'I made my last shot!' And I had made my first shot (in his NBA career) and missed a bunch (laughs), but something kind of told me that might be it."

QUESTION: How'd you go about preparing yourself for this?

CHAPMAN: "I really haven't. It's different. I was talking to David and Jerry this morning, and the finality of is hard. I've been one of 300-some-odd people who has occupied a (NBA) job over the last 13 years and that's a great source of pride. It's really an identity that you have. I've kind of always been a basketball player, for as long as I can remember. It's difficult.

"You know, I've run into people in the malls and at the movies, and they ask, 'Are you hurt?' and my answer, of course, is 'Yes.' It's always been 'yes' (laughs). But the 'When are you coming back?' questions, that's been hard for me to say, 'I'm not.' It's a difficult thing and it's going to take some getting used to.

"But we really enjoy it here in the Valley. My kids enjoy it. All their friends are here. My wife loves it and I love it. We're going to be around and I'm just going to try to channel my drive and enthusiasm in other directions that are going to be positive for my family."

QUESTION: Do you have any desire to coach?

CHAPMAN: "I've never really had any desire to coach, but I'm not going to say no to anything. I'm just going to kind of take some time, spend the next few months trying to find things that are going to be fun, and spend a lot of time with my family."

COLANGELO: "He's probably been more of a quasi-general manager than a coach over the years. He always has strong opinions on players and trades. But I have some, and I think everyone should have some, memorable moments on Rex. Think about some of the great games, great shots that he made.

"I remember the whole (Antonio) McDyess fiasco and a number of the guys were in my office on the phone, speaking to McDyess who was hiding out in a hotel room. They jumped on a plane and flew up to Denver to bring him back. We could write a book about a lot of the experiences we've had, but Rex was great to have on the team and he was a real team guy all the way."

QUESTION: Jerry, going back to Rex's first year here, he had a big year and then had a chance to go and make a lot more money elsewhere. Were you surprised he returned to the Suns for less money?

COLANGELO: "I think he knew, because when we were in a position to do something about a contract, our track record says we would. And we've always been consistent that way. At the time, we didn't have any flexibility in terms of room. So on blind faith, he accepted that and chose to be here, because he wanted to be here. And it all worked out in the end.

"I think he can look back now on his career, certainly the time he spent here, and feel that he was amply rewarded financially for a job well done."

CHAPMAN: "I know that had I not come here, I probably would have left this league wondering if there were people that you could trust. I had had some bad experiences at a couple of places and I think one of the main reasons that players want to come here is because of the organization. And you know it from Day One. I came here when I was getting ready to be drafted. I was pretty close to being drafted here. I was the eighth pick and Jerry and the Suns took Tim Perry with the seventh pick in '88, and I remember coming here to visit before the draft and thinking, 'Wow, this is a place I would love to play.' And I think if you ask the players in the league where they would like to play, to a person, I would say Phoenix would be in the top two or three. And that's because of their reputation. This is a class organization."

QUESTION: Rex, was there ever a time in the back of your mind where you thought you might be able to still come back?

CHAPMAN: "Yeah, I've thought about it on and off. Mostly, I've been gearing myself to think about what's the best thing to do for myself and the team. But after being with the doctors and hearing what they had to say, it just wasn't fair to me or the team to try to continue.

"Over the last couple of years, my ankle's had gotten so bad that I would turn my ankles and it wouldn't really even hurt any more that much. And I would travel that night and go to the next city, and by the time I got off the plane, my ankles were huge and I wouldn't be able to play for three or four days. I just really felt like, and Scott (Skiles) and I talked, had I been healthy, I could be a real asset to the team. But not ever knowing whether I was going to be able to suit up wasn't fair to anyone. And they were able to go out and get a player in Tony Delk that I think is better equipped at this point to fill that role and fill their needs."

COLANGELO: "I think it's fair to say also, had he chosen to go forward with surgery on both ankles, there was still no certainty that he would be able to come back and if he had, at what level. So I think that was part of the decision making process. It wasn't as simple as having surgery and coming back in a year.'

CHAPMAN: "The hand also is equally as troublesome. I wish we could've had copies of the X-ray on my hand. It's filled with metal from my wrist to my thumb and in my finger. It shakes a lot and now that my thumb is fused, I have a lot of restriction there. I'm having trouble even tying my shoes. I had to get my wife to button a button the other day. And that's my shooting hand. If I can't shoot, I don't know ... I guess Scott could put me out there for defensive situations, or I could flop and take charges from somebody (laughs)."