Gortat Honored by Poland's Ambassador
Posted: March 22, 2011
Solidarity is a concept that runs deep amongst Polish people.
In the 1980s, “Solidarity” was a movement that helped Poland earn its freedom from communism and the U.S.S.R. And while a Suns-Warriors regular season game doesn’t quite measure up to a national movement, there was an admirable amount of solidarity spread amongst the 300 Polish fans that came out to cheer on Suns center Marcin Gortat on Friday.
Gortat, who was born in Lodz, Poland, was honored on behalf of the minister of foreign affairs of Poland before the Suns tipped off against Golden State. “The Polish Hammer” was being recognized for his contributions both on and off the court and as someone who represents the best of Poland.
The award was presented at center court by Robert Kupiecki, Poland’s ambassador to the United States, on behalf of Minister of Foreign Affairs Radoslaw Sikorski. The award specifically recognized his work in promoting the sport of basketball among youth through camps since 2008.
"Marcin is a rising star in the NBA and is quickly becoming one of the heroes of the Phoenix Suns," the ambassador said. "As the Foreign Minister of Poland, Mr. Radoslaw Sikorski awarded Marcin this special diploma for the work that Marcin does for the promotion of Poland through his success and hard work. I decided to come to this environment of 20-plus-thousand people to present this award to Marcin."
Gortat was eager to please the Polish faithful that traveled as far as Washington, D.C., to see him play. He recorded 18 points, nine rebounds and a block on 7-for-11 shooting off the bench against Golden State.
“A huge appreciation goes out to the fans that helped me play today,” the 6-11, 240-pound center said. “I’m grateful to everyone in the Phoenix Suns organization for helping me organize everything. That’s how you know you have a family in this organization.”
It was just the second time that Gortat and Ambassador Kupiecki met. The first encounter occurred when the ambassador came out to witness Gortat face the Wizards in Washington, D.C., earlier this season.
Since Gortat arrived in Phoenix midway through the season, he has been unable to plan many events with the Polish community in Phoenix, although he has visited a few Polish bakeries and signed a bevy of autographs after the event. However, the Polish community in Phoenix can count on seeing more of Gortat in the future.
He’s already planning something for next season. Could there be a “Kielbasa Night” in the future?
According to the “Polish Hammer,” perhaps.
“Thanks to the Phoenix Suns, we’re promoting Poland, the ‘Polish Hammer’ and we’re going to promote a lot of other people that are going to promote kielbasa ,” he said. “So I’m grateful for everybody.”
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