Suns' Al McCoy to Make History Friday

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by Matt Petersen

Al McCoy’s play-by-play resume includes the NBA, MLB, MiLB, hockey, college football and college basketball.

After this week, he can add ‘WNBA’ to the list.

The long-time Suns announcer will lend his legendary radio voice to the Mercury’s cause in Game 1 against the L.A. Sparks on Friday. He recognizes the job as a way to hearken back to his Midwestern roots.

“I’m from Iowa, as you know. Girl’s basketball is huge in Iowa,” he said. “The girls always played the first game, the boys played the second in high school. The tournament tickets, people usually leave them in their wills because you can’t get tickets to the tournaments, the finals are so big. I’ve been very familiar with that.”

The Mercury are several appreciable levels above high school hoops. Phoenix sports the best record in the WNBA this season after a season that included an 18-game win streak fueled by the league’s top offense.

After witnessing their recent success in person (McCoy frequented several Mercury games this season), the Voice of the Suns found his appreciation for the local women’s team mirrored that of the men’s.

McCoy's Phoenix Suns Stories

“The thing that’s fun for me to see them is that their approach and coach Sandy [Brondello’s] approach is the same as the Suns,’” he said. “They’re an up-tempo team. They like to get out and run. To me, that makes it fun tow atch and fun to broadcast. They’re a very talented team and just have been extremely impressive. Their record speaks for itself.”

So do the names. McCoy tabs 6-8 center Brittney Griner (3.89 bpg) as the biggest factor behind Phoenix’s transition game. He recognizes do-it-all forward Candace Dupree as “an excellent rebounder.” Diana Taurasi – who he refers to as DT – receives his personal distinction as “one of the all-time greatest ever to play the game.”

“To my friends I refer to her as the Charles Barkley of the WNBA because she has so much passion for the game as Charles did,” McCoy said of Taurasi. “She has so much energy for the game. She can literally take a game over on either end of the floor. Sir Charles was certainly in that category. That’s a compliment when I use that expression. She is a complete player.”

McCoy is intent on being equally complete in his preparation for Friday’s game. He admits his pre-game work will be more than usual given his relative inexperience with the Mercury compared to the Suns, but feels the games he has seen – both of the Mercury and the Sparks – have given him a helpful first step.

He did joke, however, that he may need a visual reminder to avoid slipping into a nominal routine.

Al McCoy Tribute

“I’ll probably have a big sign that says ‘Mercury’ so I don’t start calling them ‘Suns,’” he laughed. “I’m looking forward to it. Of course, when you have the opportunity to work with the premier analyst in all of basketball in Ann Meyers Drysdale, that makes it special also.”

The opponent adds to the intrigue for McCoy, who has called nearly every “Beat L.A.” game in Arizona sports history. Among his Suns highlights of the city rivalry: the Suns’ first-ever series win over the Lakers in 1990, Phoenix’s comeback from an 2-0 hole in the 1993 first round and a similarly daunting comeback from a 3-1 series deficit in 2006.

McCoy, however, realizes the Mercury have shown a vice-like grip on the rivalry in recent years.

“The Mercury have done pretty well against this team,” he said. “They eliminated them last year in the palyoffs and they haven’t lost to them this year. That’s always a good matchup no matter what the team is, whether it’s the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, the Suns and the Lakers or the Mercury and the Sparks. It’s a little added incentive, I think.”

Overall, Friday will represent another page in McCoy’s novel-like career of work in basketball. After falling in love with the game early in his life in Iowa, the Voice of the Suns is more than happy to become the Voice of the Mercury for at least one night.

“Whether it’s men, women, boys, girls…it’s basketball,” McCoy said. “I love the game, so I’m sure I’ll have fun Friday night.”