Your Suns Story: John Eberle
Of course, we had to find out more. Turns out that John and his fiancee are huge Suns fans living in Florida (as evidenced by is license plate above) and that he was actually a Phoenix Suns Ball Kid back in the day.
And the towel? Dragic absolutely did throw it to them after the game.
But I'll let John explain where his fandom began, and why it will never leave.
By John Eberle
The Suns had just traded for Sir Charles Barkley and opened up the brand new America West Arena [now the US Airways Center]. My first real Suns memory was my mom (who many Suns fans know on Twitter as @phxgrl123) taking me to the open house for the arena.
I was in awe of the place and started to get excited about basketball for the first time in my life. It's really thanks to her, my dad and stepmother taking me to so many games that I became such a huge Suns fan.
In the midst of the 1993 NBA Playoffs, I moved to Orlando which would be my home for the next three years. We arrived just days before the start of the 1993 NBA Finals and my excitement couldn't be contained.
Then came the crushing defeat of Game 6.
I still remember exactly where I was standing when "he-who-shall-not-be-named" hit that 3-pointer, and I'm not ashamed to say I cried like a baby.
After my three years in Orlando, I moved back to Phoenix for middle school and high school. In 2002, I got to realize a lifelong dream and become a Suns Ball Kid. For two seasons (2002-03, 2003-04), I got paid to sit courtside and watch my heroes play the sport I loved.
After graduating high school, I began classes at Scottsdale Community College. One day on campus I noticed a flyer for the Disney College Program. After interviewing, I was lucky enough to move back to Orlando to begin working for Disney in the entertainment department. It was there where I met my now fiancée Kelly Nolan (@skibaby515).
At first, she pretended to like the Suns just to be a good girlfriend, which was pretty adorable and made me love her all the more. I remember her first trip to Phoenix was during the 2008 NBA Playoffs and she didn't understand why I was so upset and not talking to anyone after the Suns lost Game 1 in double overtime. But through the years since, and after watching many hard fought playoff series with the Lakers and Spurs, she now knows the true joys and sadness that only a Phoenix Suns fan can understand.
Much like most Suns fans, on May 7, 2010 she "fell in love" with Goran Dragic after his 26 point Game 3 against the Spurs. From the second he started talking during the postgame interview, she starting squealing at how cute his accent was. From that point on, we have always joked about Goran being her "other boyfriend" and she's owned both his rookie No. 2 and No. 1 jersey shirts.
Every year since I moved back to Orlando in 2006, I've been at the game when the Suns come to town. Since 2009, Kelly has been joining me. It hasn't always been easy (before this year we hadn't won in Orlando since 2007), and we'd occasionally get some ribbing from the Magic fans. (This year they threw a computer generated pie in my face on the jumbotron.) We’re no fair weather fans so we'll always be there to support our Suns!
We decided to get seats next to the Suns tunnel so that we could give the guys fives and cheer them on as they went on the court. But Kelly’s big goal was to have Goran sign her jersey. After watching a great 106-94 Suns win, we began to collect our belongings to head out. But Kelly refused to leave because Goran was still on the court doing his postgame interview. We knew we were too high up for him to sign, so I suggested she ask him to see if he'd be kind enough to throw her his towel as he walked by.
She was a little shy, so I asked him on her behalf.
He noticed she was wearing his jersey, flashed her a smile and threw the towel up to her. It really made her night, and although she didn't get her jersey signed, it's something she and I will remember forever.
Our wedding is in October of 2014, and the Suns will be absolutely be involved in some part (we may enter the reception to the ‘90s Suns player intro music). Being a Suns fan is part of who I am; it's part of my home. And now I get to share that with the woman I love.
We can't wait to raise another generation of Suns fans together, and be there every year when the Suns come to Orlando to cheer loud and proud in the Magic Kingdom!