Retorter's Notebook: Dragic Goes From Sun to Father
“That is one of the biggest assists of my life. I’m happy I was there and we were not away from home.”
Goran Dragic isn’t talking about a thrilling behind the back pass to P.J. Tucker for a corner three or a brilliant half court lob to Gerald Green. No, he’s talking about something much bigger... becoming a father for the first time.
The miracle of life occurred for Dragic and his wife Maja last Monday, November 11, as they welcomed their 7 pounds, 6.9 ounce bundle of joy into the world. Like a game, it was an event a few stitches, a sprained ankle or any other ailment wouldn’t have kept the proud father from. In fact, he spent the entire process in the delivery room.
Saying it was an “unbelievable experience” and the biggest assist of his career is quite the declaration. Especially from a man who has been under brighter lights than the ones used in a hospital delivery room as an NBA player and was treated by his countrymen in Slovenia during Eurobasket this summer the way Americans would treat a Kardashian.
But, that is just the way Dragic is. He is one of the most humble human beings -- you read that right, human beings -- not just players you’ll ever meet. Despite being the most recognizable name and face among the Suns roster, he acts more Mary Ann than Ginger.
He never turns down a request for an interview -- even one where he has to call in from home right after the birth of his child. He takes the time to get to know those who spend a significant amount of time around him and he cherishes every moment of a career that may have not happened if his mother hadn’t pushed him to basketball after an unfortunate soccer injury as a boy. Not enough? Off the court he is one of the least flashy stars you’ll meet. He shares a car with his wife and lives a modest life thanks to his humble upbringing in Slovenia.
The best part though, he’s the exact opposite on the court. His passes are not only effective but gain attention. His Euro-step behind the back move is flashy and lands him on Top 10 lists. And his toughness is comparable to Rocky Balboa’s, that is if he were short, from Philadelphia and beat up butchered meat.
Getting 13 stitches above his eye, taking an in-game hit from P.J. Tucker that would have landed the forward a fine if he played in the NFL and returning from injuries earlier than expect is nothing compared to what his wife went through according to Dragic.
“All the congrats to my wife Maja,” Dragic said humbly and with a smile. “She did a great job. I don’t know if I could do that. That’s why I’m a man.”
As a man on the court, Dragic has proven himself to be a leader helping his Suns navigate games the way a kid in the 80s who drank too much Tab would navigate Pacman through a maze. Fast and efficiently. But will it translate to being a good father?
“I’m playing basketball my whole life so I know what to expect,” Dragic explained. “I am 27 years old I was never a dad before. This is first time for me. It will probably be tougher to be a dad.”
Head coach, and fellow guard turned father, Jeff Hornacek offered advice and perspective.
“I’m not sure about that,” Hornacek said of basketball equating to fatherhood. “I think when you’re a player you’re gone so much the wife is in charge. She’s the home point guard.”
Hornacek does think that being a father could eventually offer Dragic a second career when he hangs up his Adidas.
“As the kids get older, I think having kids help coaching,” Hornacek said. “You kind of learn your lesson on how you handled the kids. You did good things and bad things. They’re like our kids out there. You have to figure out some days you have to get on them and some days you have to praise them.”
Dragic isn’t focused on the distant future though. He has his hands full in the present. He’s focusing being good on and off the hardwood.
“Hopefully I’m going to be a good father,” Dragic said. “I’m going to try and give my best. It’s just an amazing feeling. I don’t know how to describe it with words. I’ve never experienced before.
“It’s an amazing feeling. When you hold that little thing in your hands I want to cry because I’m so happy. I know it’s going to be long nights but I think I’m ready.”
So hats off to Dragic and his wife on adding the newest member to the Suns family. Hopefully he can conquer fatherhood and along the way help Suns fans experience something they never have before. Maybe someday he can hold the Larry O’Brien trophy in his hands the way held his son after his birth. That’s something we can all get emotional about.