Proski Steps Down
In 32 years of Phoenix Suns
Joe Proski the first and only trainer the Phoenix Suns have ever
had has stepped down after 32 years with the club it was announced
today. Proski, a 33-year veteran of the NBA, was one of the longest
tenured athletic trainers in the history of the sport. He will
retain the title of "trainer emeritus."
Proski credits a pair of head trainers, Detroit's Jack Homel and
the Cubs' Al Scheuneman, along with Cub equipment manager Yosh
Kawano for his early and successful start in athletic training.
Reminiscing, Proski said, "My first big break was going to the
Cubs at age 24 to fill in for Al Scheuneman who was injured in a
car accident. My next great break was making the move with Jerry
(Colangelo) and Ruthie (Dryjanski) to Phoenix to start a new
franchise and be able to spend 32 years in the Valley of the Sun.
After 40 years in professional sports with year-round demands and
extensive travel, it's time to relax."
As the Suns' athletic trainer, Proski has tended to the
day-to-day health of the team overseeing therapy and
rehabilitation, and acted as the traveling secretary. "The Prosk"
or "Magic Fingers," as he is affectionately known, has worked with
200 players and 10 head coaches. Amazingly he's watched all 2,789
regular season and playoff games the Suns have played. He missed
just two games in person when his father passed away, but had them
taped for his viewing later.
The son of John Proski, a longtime fixture with the Green Bay
Packers, Prosk grew up in the business of athletics. After
graduation from the Gus Mauch Florida School for Trainers in 1959,
Proski started his athletic training career in baseball's minor
league serving stints with the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers
and Chicago Cubs. He went to the "big leagues" in 1964 spending
three seasons with the Cubs. In 1967 he joined the NBA Chicago
Bulls for what turned out to be just one season, as he joined
Colangelo and moved west after Phoenix was awarded an expansion
team in 1968. He maintained his ties to professional baseball
working four years with White Sox AAA team in Tucson during the
Commenting on Proski's departure, the Suns' Managing General
Partner Colangelo said, "Joe Proski has been associated with this
franchise since the very beginning. He contributed greatly to the
franchise's overall success. He will always be part of the Phoenix
Suns family and we will recognize him this upcoming season for
those contributions and years of service."
Suns President Bryan Colangelo added, "Not having Joe day-to-day
will take some getting used to. His magic touch and colorful banter
will be greatly missed."
Respected by both players and peers, Proski received the first
30-year award ever issued by the National Basketball Trainers
Association (NBTA) in 1998. He was named the NBA Athletic Trainer
of the Year in 1988 and received the 25-year service award from the
National Athletic Trainers Association in 1986. Four times he
served as the athletic trainer at NBA All-Star Games ('71, '75, '85
and '95) and 10 years he served as the Western Conference
representative for NBTA's Executive Committee.
One of the most colorful and accomplished sports personalities
in the Valley, the Phoenix Press Box Association named him "Arizona
Sports Personality of the Year" in 1979. He was honored as the
first recipient of the "Warren H. Lee Arizona Trainer of the Year"
Award in 1984, and in 1996 he was bestowed the Distinguished
Service Award from the Arizona Athletic Trainers Association (AATA)
for his contributions to the Association and the athletic training
profession in the State of Arizona.
An avid car collector, Joe reconditions and shows automobiles.
Among his show stoppers: a 1953 Bentley, a custom 1950 Mercury and
a 1964 Buick Rivera. He and his wife Jan have two grown daughters
Jolene and Jori. They reside in Glendale. Proski was born in Green
Bay, Wisconsin in 1939, and his mother Dolly still resides