Suns News

Former Suns Remember "The Prosk"

Former Suns share their stories about legendary trainer Joe Proski

Posted: April 1, 2001

Dozens of former Suns were on hand Sunday night for the induction of longtime trainer Joe Proski into the team's Ring of Honor. Suns.com caught up with a number of the Phoenix favorites to get their thoughts on The Prosk.

FORMER SUNS HEAD COACH JOHNNY KERR (1968-70)

"He's a man's man. I love him. He's everybody's' main man. I never had to worry about a player. If he needed treatment, he got it. If he needed medical assistance he got it. Joe was the guy who got people ready for the game. I never asked him how long is a guy going to be out, I'd say, 'When can I have him back.' And Joe got them back in quite a hurry."

GUARD DICK VAN ARSDALE (1968-77)

"My fondest memory of Joe was when we were in New York one night having a late dinner after a game and Joe found a TV set discarded in a trash can. He picked it up, brought it home and he still has it to this day and it works. Joe was a character. One of my favorite all-time people in a lot of different ways."

GUARD PAUL WESTPHAL (1975-79, '83-84)

"Well, Joe is somebody I've always associated as the heart and soul of the Suns. People come and go over the years. There's a lot of talk about family and most of it is just talk, but Joe has been the one constant in the organization. There has never been a better employee or a better friend of the other employees than Joe Proski. So I think he is very deserving of the honor."

Proski
Former Suns player and coach Paul Westphal shows The Prosk is close to his heart.
Phoenix Suns Photos
(His memories of Joe)

"It's not a memory of any one incident as much as the fact that Joe was always Joe. Joe was always there doing his job professionally and having fun doing it. He enjoyed the ups and downs more than anybody else. It's really a loss when people like Joe aren't a part of the picture anymore. People like him make the NBA really special. When you lose a guy like that you lose a lot."

CENTER MARK WEST (1988-94, '99-00)

"He was here when the franchise started. It was well deserved. He pretty much held all the players together. A lot of, most of the success of the Suns relies on his shoulders. The thing that impressed me the most was the way he treated me and Kevin (Johnson) and Ty Corbin when we got traded here. It's hard when you go from one team to another team. To have somebody embrace you and show you the ropes and not just put you out there and throw you the rope and try to learn on your own -- it means so much to the players. That's what I remember the most."

FORWARD CHARLES PITTMAN (1982-86)

"Being around Joe, he always kept the guys upbeat. When you come in and got hurt -- the first thing he would do with you is start joking with you. He would try to get you to forget about your injuries. He would try to heal you as quick as possible. That's one thing I really remember about Joe."

FORWARD JEFF COOK (1979-83, 1987-88)

"He's more than what you hear. It's all kept in the locker room. I'm trying to think of one I could tell. There was the one time he was tired of the rookies giving him garbage and he put their shoes in the middle of the hallway in the hotel or it could be the time he and I and Al McCoy went out after a game in Dallas. We went out to get something to eat and Al took over the piano bar and they started singing. That was fun. It doesn't happen too often anymore."

SCOUT AL BIANCHI

"Oh, we all loved him. There are so many memories I can hardly think of any. Joe was great and we miss him."

GUARD DICK SNYDER (1968-70)

"What a tribute. I'm sure it's never been done for a trainer before. Joe deserves it, though. Joe is a great presence. I will say this though. I would never let him tape my ankles until after I made that team the first year. I taped them myself. If I was on the roster, I didn't want Joe to give me any sprained ankles until I had made it. Joe is a great guy. I'm really happy for him. I enjoyed his whole demeanor. When you've been around here that long, I think Joe was pretty valuable, just keeping the locker room loose."

CENTER DENNIS AWTREY (1974-78)

"I was with Joe for four years and afterwards he was very important to the franchise. He kept people in the right frame of mind. He was very funny. I think he paid retail for groceries and that was it. If you needed to buy something, you'd talk to Joe."

CENTER TIM KEMPTON (1992-93)

"It is pretty impressive, from the standpoint of someone who has worked with the organization, trainers don't get a lot of publicity. They don't get a lot of notoriety, but because of his loyalty and a little bit of the character that Joe was. The special part of it is that he was here for as long as he was. That really makes it unique."

(Favorites memory of Joe) "Those seeds, there was sunflower seeds we always used to eat at the bench. Joe used to have boxes and boxes of seeds. He got me into eating them. To this day I still do."

CENTER NEAL WALK (1969-74)

"He's deserving. He took care of all the Suns players over the years, not only ailments, but taping, treatment and therapy... He would come to your room in the middle of the night if you needed it. He's an interesting fella. He was fun to be with, a great sense of humor, reliable. Joe Proski is a unique man. He made life in the NBA, it seemed to me, a little bit easier. Somebody said he might be the glue. I think Joe might have been the oil that took the friction out of the deal. My best memory of Joe is that he took care of everybody, regardless of whether he liked them or didn't. He was always there for everybody."

GUARD WALTER DAVIS (1977-88)

"It's well deserved. Joe Proski is a great guy. He really took care of me when I first got here when I was a rookie. He was just a wonderful person to know. So I think it's great. He was just a regular guy. He's someone you could talk to other than just basketball. I could talk to him about anything. He's a good friend, a well-liked person. Whenever you needed to get a deal or go somewhere, he always knew where to go and sent you to the right place."

GUARD KYLE MACY (1980-85)

"I think it's great. He's one of the originals, in more ways than one, especially for me since when I first came out here; I lived in the same housing complex. He looked out for me and took me in. As a young guy on his own, he kind of watched out for me. He's just a character all in himself. He's a great guy. He'll do anything for you, but at the same time he likes to give you a hard time. He likes to throw up that front that he's a tough guy, but down deep he's got a heart of gold."

GUARD DON BUSE (1977-80)

"Joe was a super guy. I spent three quick seasons out here. He's the guy who just makes you feel at home. He'd do anything for you. During the middle of the season, a guy gets down, you have a losing streak or whatever, but Joe was one guy who always made me laugh. I've been on two or three different NBA teams with some great trainers but you've got to put Joe right at the top of all of them. He is a super guy and I think what they did for him tonight was great."