In 2000, it was Tony Delk's Diary. Last year, we had Tom Gugliotta's Gazette. This season, Suns.com drafted rookie guard Casey Jacobsen to keep a journal of his training camp experiences.
Logging on each day, Sept. 30-Oct. 5, Casey offered his thoughts on his first pro camp, his new teammates and the city of Flagstaff, and shared a number of entertaining stories on subjects such as mashed potatoes, jingle bells and a teammate's colorful choice of swim trunks.
Monday, Sept. 30
I'm really looking forward to Training Camp. Although, I've got to admit, I'm a little nervous about it, too. I would be a liar if I told you that I wasn't. I mean, it's starting to get real now. Yes, I played in the summer leagues, but this is going to be my first real NBA experience. This is Training Camp! It's pretty intimidating just to say it.
We just got done with our Media Day, talking to reporters and getting our headshots taken for all of the newspapers, so they can try and make us look pretty. They may have the hardest job in all of America, trying to make us look decent.
Suns photographer Barry Gossage takes Casey's portrait on Media Day.
(Photos by Jeramie McPeek)
I got my physical out of the way first. I had my eyes, ears and nose checked, and then went down to the practice court and shot some baskets, and ran on the treadmill for a while. Since then, I've just been hanging out with the guys. Randy Brown was telling some stories in the locker room about Dennis Rodman that were really funny.
After Media Day, I filmed a dance video for the NBA. I think it was a general commercial that all teams are doing, because they showed me a demo and it had Gary Payton dancing in front of a green screen, and then they would project an image behind him. But when I first got in there, the Suns' entertainment team was in there, so there were a few lovely young ladies watching me, too. I felt a little nervous, but I just let it go. They put some Nelly on the juke box and they just said, "Do whatever you want." So I just started getting down.
Then Bo Outlaw heard the music and he came running, and we both started dancing in front of the camera. It was a lot of fun. I got some high-fives from the dance squad. I told them if they wanted a cameo from me this year, during halftime or whatever, I'd be willing to do it.
I don't know when it's going to air, but I'm sure going to be embarrassed when my girlfriend and family see it. I'm not a good dancer, but I'm not a horrible dancer either. I'm not like a Mark Madsen dancer or anything. So it will be funny to see whenever it does come out.
I better wrap this up. We're getting ready to head up to Flagstaff here pretty soon. I'm anxious to get up there. I've never been to Flagstaff. Although, it's supposed to be freezing cold. I checked the paper. The high yesterday was like 50. Unbelievable!
Not only is the air cool, but it's thin, too. The veterans have been trying to scare Amare Stoudemire and I, telling us that it's going to be hard to breath up there. Shawn Marion was telling us that he was doubling over after the first few times running down the court last year, and all kinds of stuff. I'm going to go in expecting the worst, but I think it's all in the head. As much as I can, I'm not going to let it bother me.
Tuesday, Oct. 1
Just like I thought, it's freezing here.
We just finished our first practice, so my body temperature is pretty warm now, but for the first hour we were out on the court this morning we were blowing on our hands like we were playing at Lambeau Field. I think I need one of those fanny packs like Brett Favre, so when I'm not playing I can be warming my hands.
But I'm having a lot of fun. You only get to do this once as a rookie, so I'm trying to enjoy it and soak everything in, and just learn from the veterans as much as I can. This is really going to be a learning process. It's like a crash course and I'm trying to treat it that way.
Jacobsen played H-O-R-S-E with Stephon Marbury after Tuesday morning's practice.
But that was just the beginning. To open up the ceremonies, they made all the rookies – Mo Baker, Chris Burgess, myself and Amare – sing the National Anthem. Mo and Amare didn't know it, so I had to write it down five minutes prior to the song. We sang it in the best tone that we could, which was not good.
I've never sang the Anthem in front of people before. It's probably the last time I'm every going to do that, too, by the way. You won't hear me singing before any Suns games this season. I don't want to do a Carl Lewis. Although, if Britney Spears would sing it with me then maybe I'll go out there and sing.
After that we went over the Phoenix Suns' and the NBA's rule books, as far as what they expect from our team on and off the court, the rules and regulations, how the fine system works and all that. And we had to continue to stand up there and actually read out loud the first four pages of the handbook. They're trying to initiate us and embarrass us and it worked good. Coach (Frank) Johnson was smiling the whole time watching us. He thought it was pretty funny.
I watched some Monday Night Football after our meeting. I'm a big NFL fan. I've got the Direct TV package at home, so I can watch every game. But Todd Heap, Baltimore's tight end out of ASU, is my cousin-in-law. He married my first cousin and I'm good friends with him. He really played well last night and the Ravens whooped up. Todd's going to be a good player, so I always try to watch him when I can.
We had to leave at 7 a.m., so I woke up early this morning. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I can't miss it. So I had some pancakes and then we headed over to the Skydome, got taped and did some drills before the vets arrived.
The Suns' owner, Jerry Colangelo, paid us a visit this morning, too. Before we started practice, he talked to us about his background and how much the Phoenix Suns mean to him. Even though he played baseball and has a love for baseball, he said he's a little bit more grateful for basketball, because it got him to where he is today.
He also talked about the Arizona Diamondbacks a little bit. He said that they are not necessarily the most talented hitting team and not necessarily the most talented defensive team, but they are successful because everybody checks their egos at the door when they play. He tried to share that message with us and it was great to hear.
To have Jerry come and say a few words was nice, because we don't get to hear him talk a lot. And, of course, he's got a big game back in Phoenix tonight, so that shows that he really cares about us and that he wants us to do well. Even though the Diamondbacks are in the playoffs, he hasn't forgotten about us. That means a lot.
Wednesday, Oct. 2
I just got done doing an interview for an upcoming Suns' TV special. We did it under the patio outside the hotel and it's getting even colder out there. I was telling Al McCoy this is the first time that I've been in Flagstaff and it's probably going to be the last time until we come back next training camp.
It's raining now, too, and I don't like rain that much. It makes me depressed. That's one of the reasons I was real excited to be drafted by the Suns, not only for the opportunity I have to play for a great organization, but because the sun is shining every day in Phoenix. The sun makes me happy.
With his hands tucked warmly in his sweatshirt, Casey talks about his rookie season with longtime Suns broadcaster Al McCoy.
The coaches and the vets, they do give you a little bit of leeway. They understand. They were there. It's hard for us, but at the same time, I don't want to use being a rookie as an excuse for me to screw up every day. I don't want to be one of those guys where the coaches are saying, "He's a rookie. He'll get it." I don’t want to be that guy. I want to be, "Hey, Casey's really picking it up. He's really intelligent as far as learning the plays and not making the same mistake over and over." I want to be that guy.
Being a rookie in the NBA is intimidating. It can be frustrating, because in drills I have to guard guys like Shawn Marion and Stephon Marbury. I mean, All-Stars in the NBA can't stop those guys, so they score on us pretty much whenever they want to. That is one of the hardest things as a rookie. You don't know the tricks that they know. Not only that, but they have so much more confidence that they can beat a rookie like me. I don't have that confidence yet because I haven't done it. I haven't proven to people that I can play at this level. I'm working every day to do it, but Steph and Shawn and Googs, when they see a rookie like me trying to guard them in practice, they're like, "Shoot, this one's going down. There's no way he can stop me." So that's really hard.
I don’t want to complain too much, because even though my body hurts and Steph has been killing me in practice, training camp has been a lot of fun. There's nothing else I'd rather do in my life, no other job I'd rather have than playing basketball. So I always try to remind myself of that and keep everything in perspective. When you read this column, I hope you know how much we appreciate the fact that we get to play basketball for a living. We really do feel lucky. It is a blessing and I thank God every day for that.
Well, I'm going to try and get off my feet for a bit now. I only got about an hour nap yesterday, but it was definitely one of the best hours of sleep I've had up here. Getting sleep and taking care of your body is one of the most important parts of being an athlete, especially when we have two practices a day. If we were going one practice a day, you could probably get away with hanging out and not getting a nap. But, man, I need sleep wherever I can get it.
I'm trying to make sure that I eat healthy, too. I haven't been drinking any soda or eating any candy, and for anybody that knows me, they know I love candy. I'm trying to stay away from that stuff so I can make it through the camp and be in really good shape for the preseason.
Thursday, Oct. 3
Today was a good day. We had the morning off, we got some scrimmaging in and we're having dinner together tonight.
Actually, last night, I went to dinner at Red Lobster with Scott Williams, Mo Baker, Steph, Joe Johnson, Amare and Jake Tsakalidis. I had some chicken and shrimp, and got to know some of the guys. We spend so much time together but, at the same time, Steph and I, or Jake and I, for example, don't get a chance to hang out much and just talk. It's nice to get to talk about "stuff" besides basketball. I mean, we talk a little about basketball, but it's more just telling jokes and talking about each other's families. I like getting to know my teammates because that's important to me.
One guy I'm really enjoying getting to know is Scott Williams. He's just a great guy and I have a lot of respect for him. He always has a great attitude, he's always helping the rookies on the court and has definitely helped me a lot. He just leads by example. He's been playing for a long time and works hard and that's an inspiration to me. I'm 21 years old and I have no excuses for not working hard – absolutely none. Watching him, that's a guy that does it right and someone you can learn from.
We've had a chance to do some full-court scrimmaging the last couple practices, so camp is getting a little more fun. Not that drills aren't a necessary part of basketball, they're an important part of basketball or really any sport. But when Coach says, "Put some time on the clock, divide up the teams and put the ball out there," everyone breaks into a smile because it's time for some fun.
Jacobsen is getting pumped up for his first season with the Phoenix Suns.
As for me, I've been playing okay. I'm not worrying about how many points I'm scoring. I'm just worrying about getting to know the offense, being an unselfish teammate, taking what the defense gives me and I know the shots are eventually going to go down. I've been happy about the way the scrimmages have been going.
I was REAL happy that we had the morning off today, though. I woke up at about 9 a.m. and my legs were still burning, they were so sore. I had a late breakfast and then we went to a workout in the pool on campus. The whole team was there and the water was cold! It was a heated pool, but it was freezing! So that wasn't very fun, but there was a good reason to do it. It was to get the soreness out by doing a lot of range-of-motion exercises underneath the water. It's kind of a light resistance training.
The funniest part was that some of the guys forgot to bring swim trunks or extra pairs of shorts, so they had to swim in their underwear. Everybody started laughing when Amare's boxers said "Would You Be My Valentine?" on the waistband. And they had a bunch of hearts on them, it was really funny. We all knew we were going swimming, we just thought somebody was going to bring some shorts. I was just lucky that I had an extra pair.
A few of the guys were interested in a female lifeguard teaching a class on the other side of the pool, too. Of course, I was respectful and didn't look at all. I'm not going to name names, but some of the guys weren't completely focused on Coach Pound's instructions.
After that, I went back to the hotel and got a massage. I had to skip lunch to do it, and I'm not one to be skipping meals. It has to be a pretty good reason, but a massage is a pretty good reason. Lori Marick has been a massage therapist with the Suns for a while and she really worked on my legs. My hamstrings and my calves have been really tight, and she helped with that. Not only that, but she was a really interesting person. We talked for about 40 minutes and it was just really nice to meet her. I love massages, so I'm grateful that the Suns hired her.
Like I said, I didn't have time to eat lunch, so I ate some protein bars and drank some sports drinks in the locker room. I tried to stay hydrated, I just didn't get much food. I came over to practice early and, let me tell you in on a little secret... Coach Johnson is ALWAYS looking for people to bet with on trick shots. That's his forte. All the rookies walked in and he wanted to bet. Mo Baker, Joe Johnson and a couple of other guys bet him on a half-court shot he would shoot with his back to the basket. He had six tries to make it and he made it on his fourth shot. Amazing. I'm never betting Coach Johnson on anything. On second thought, maybe a three-point contest, because he's scared of me.
Actually, I'm surprised Steph hasn't challenged me the last couple days. I don’t want to get too big headed, because I know he will get mad, but I beat Steph in HORSE our first day up here. He's got some tricks, though. He definitely has some tricks.
I have a very simple HORSE strategy. I just shoot outside jump shots and shots that I know I can make. Steph, he does those bouncing off the floor, off the rim, in the hole shots. He does the shots behind the basket. I don't do any of that. I just shoot threes, I shoot off-the-dribble jumpers and eventually wear my opponent down. After I won two out of three games he wanted to play for money and I knew he was trying to hustle me, so I immediately said no. I'm sure he'll ask again one of these days, though.
Tonight we have a team dinner at Oregano's, so I'm excited about that. Any time we can get out of the hotel and eat somewhere, it's great. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.
Friday, Oct. 4
We went to Oreganos last night and the veterans wanted some entertainment. And, of course, who better to provide the entertainment than the rookies, right? So at the request of Scott Williams and Coach Johnson, we got up in front of everybody again for the second time in four days. This time we sang Old McDonald and a very, very broken version of Jingle Bells. We just sang the melody because not everybody knew the words.
After that we all sat down and "Big A" and Joe, being second-year guys, had to go up front. Joe gave us a little MC Hammer dance. It was funny, but it was pretty good. Joe was getting down. And then Alton told a joke, "Why did the state of Arkansas raise the drinking age to 32?" The answer was, "To keep alcohol out of the high schools." Joe didn't think that was very funny, being from Arkansas, but everybody else thought it was great.
Then we all came back to the hotel and I watched a little bit of the Giants vs. Braves game. I always get into the baseball playoffs, so I watch them whenever I can. I think Atlanta has a really good shot this year of winning it all.
Casey took time to sign autographs for his new fans in Flagstaff before Friday night's scrimmage.
All they have to do is win this next game and then Randy and Curt are going to pitch again, back to back. And you know those two are going to be mad. They're going to be real mad after they both lost already. They're going to be looking to get some revenge. Saturday is obviously a crucial game, because if they lose they're out. So good luck to them. I definitely want to see them win it.
Anyway, I woke up this morning and got breakfast, and then I talked to my dad. My mom is ill right now and he told me that she is doing a lot better today. She's had one of her best days in the last month. She's been sick for a while, so that really picked up my spirits. I want to wish my mom well. It's hard to not be there to support her, but it was really good to get that call from my dad that she was doing well. After breakfast, I headed over to practice. I had a career first today. I practiced with full sweats and a long-sleeve T-shirt the entire time. I've never done that in my whole life, ever. I'm guessing the gym was 50 degrees in there. I might be exaggerating a little, but it felt like 50 degrees.
Today's practice was light. It was just a lot of review, making sure everybody's on the same page as far as all the plays and all the options, so we can be sharp tonight in our public scrimmage. Everybody wants to look good tonight, because it's kind of the first showcase of our new team. I don't know about the other guys, but I'm taking it pretty serious. I want to play well and get off on the right foot.
It will be fun to get out in a game setting and play with everybody, because we didn't have Shawn, Steph, Bo and those guys during summer league. And it will be great to get out there in front of some fans cheering us on, too.
We just got back from Flagstaff Middle School. We took the bus over there after practice and we talked with the students about respect, because that's one of the main points that the school has been trying to teach their kids. So we talked about that a little bit and we had some question-and-answer sessions that went well.
Kids always ask the same funny questions. "How much money do you make?" "Have you played against Shaq?" They kept asking Dan Langhi why he was wearing Allen Iverson's shoes. The kids are funny. They can ask an NBA player any question they want and they ask about his shoes.
I never got to meet any NBA players as a kid. In fact, the first NBA game I ever went to was when I was 16 years old. My dad was never really an NBA fan. We were mostly college fans, so we went to college games. But I know if I ever got a chance to meet any players, I would've asked them a really good question. I would've asked them about their work ethic or about practice or what it took for them to get there.
But the funny questions do make everybody laugh. We don't want to be serious all the time. We want to have fun with the kids and some of them don’t even like basketball, so they're going to ask questions that don't have to do with basketball.
It was a good trip. It was our first community outreach we've done so far as a squad. The younger kids are the ones that we can actually influence. By the time people get into their late high school days or college, a lot of people already have certain habits that are difficult to break. So if any of us got through to even one kid today, then the trip was well worth it.
We found out that we're going home after the scrimmage tonight. Coach Johnson recognized that everybody has busting their butt for four days in a cold gym. I don't want to make excuses or complain at all, but the conditions with the altitude and the temperature have not been normal. But we've still been working and getting after it, and we've definitely gotten better these four days with each other. So Coach Johnson recognized that and said, "Guys, it's time to pack up and head back to Phoenix." So everybody's really excited to get back home.
I'll check in again tomorrow when I get back to Phoenix and let you know how the scrimmage went.
Saturday, Oct. 5
I've got to give a shout out to Coach for a good call on ending camp early and giving us the day off. It feels great to be home, to be able to sleep in my own bed and drive my own car, instead of taking the team bus everywhere. I've definitely taken advantage of the free time, getting lots of rest today and playing with my puppy. I've got a Bulldog named Harley.
Jacobsen's "Black" squad defeated Bobby Lazor's "White" team, 72-64, in Saturday's public scrimmage.
(Photos by Jeramie McPeek)
I'm also still learning how to come off the bench. I'm used to being in the starting five and playing a lot of minutes. At Stanford, I'd get an open shot and knock it down. It's different sitting at the start of the game and then having to come in and hit shots. That is tough to do when you're not warmed up. But I know that eventually when I get more practice doing it like last night, I'll get used to it and those shots will start falling.
I've never sat on the bench for very long during my basketball career and I'm hoping I won't have to do it too much now. I'll accept any role the coaching staff wants to give me, of course, whether big or small. But I'm going to be working my butt off this season to hopefully force the coaches to put me on the floor and let me do something. My last season at Stanford was my most disappointing season, so coming off that I’m pretty hungry to get a lot of wins this year. I want to help this team win and get back to the playoffs.
For now, though, I think I'm going to go back to sleep. We have two practices at the Arena tomorrow and I guarantee those are going to be killer. We've got our first preseason game next Friday in New Jersey, so we've got to get ready. After spending the week up in Flagstaff, training in the high altitude, I know we'll be in great shape.