Reporters Notebook Archive - 2003 Offseason
Welcome to the Reporters' Notebook archive, your online home for Phoenix Suns news and notes, odds and ends, and all sorts of misc. tidbits worth mentioning from the 2003 offseason.
Oct. 1, 2003: Suns Head Coach Frank Johnson is amazed by his team's new-found diversity. Two of the three players the team acquired in Tuesday’s trade with Memphis are the firsts from their respective countries to have played in the NBA. Cezary Trybanski is a 7-2 center from Poland, while 6-11 forward Robert Archibald is the first player ever in the league from Scotland.
“Now I’m going to (lose) one our coaches, because he’s got to go learn Polish," Johnson joked with reporters after practice. "We’ve been working on Portuguese (for Leandro Barbosa) and we’ve been working on our Slavic (for Zarko Cabarkapa), now we’ve got to spend about a week going to learn Polish.”
Oct. 1, 2003: Frank Johnson's wife, daugther and dog stopped by the Coliseum Wednesday evening to catch the tail end of practice. Afterwards, the Suns' coach dropped down on all fours to play with his pup, whose name, ironically, is "Bo." The black Yorkie-Poo is not named after the just-departed Suns forward Bo Outlaw, however. "It's 'B-E-A-U," Johnson spelled.
Sept. 30, 2003: Stephon Marbury has had a hectic schedule of late. The All-Star guard spent the entire weekend filming new shoe commercials for And1 in Los Angeles and then flew back into Phoenix today for an extensive photo shoot at his Scottsdale home for an upcoming issue of HOOP magazine. The NBA's official publication will feature the Suns' floor general styling and profiling in full-on model mode. "They made me look fly," he said following the three-hour shoot.
Sept. 30, 2003: Two members of the 2002-03 Phoenix Suns have made it onto NBA rosters as training camp begins league-wide today for players with three years experience or less. Forward Dan Langhi has signed a free agent contract with the San Antonio Spurs, while forward Alton Ford signed a free agent deal with the Orlando Magic. Ford had played in 64 games over the last two seasons in Phoenix, while Langhi appeared in 60 games for the Suns last year after spending his first two campaigns in the league with the Rockets.
Sept. 29, 2003: Former Suns guard Joe Crispin signed a free agent contract with the Miami Heat on Monday. The six-footer out of Penn State averaged 4.6 points and 1.6 assists in 15 games for Phoenix in 2001-02. The Heat also signed ASU product Isaac Austin. Details of the deals were not released.
Sept. 26, 2003: A recent fire destroyed the school buses used by the elementary schools of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, but students there received a nice surprise when the Phoenix Suns Gorilla and assistant general manager Mark West paid them a visit this morning.
The former Suns center and current furry mascot visited with kindergarten through third grade students, where “GO” acted out his story, “A Winning Sneeze,” and distributed new books for each student to take home. The books were compliments of Scholastic, sponsor of the NBA Read to Achieve program.
Sept. 24, 2003: Shawn Marion will be sporting a new look beyond the added pounds he piled on in the wieght room this summer. A tattoo down his right leg in Chinese lettering which translates to "The Matrix" was added to his body art early in the offseason.
Sept. 24, 2003: A group of former Suns players gathered at the AWA practice court for a photo shoot on Wednesday afternoon. The shoot was for an article in this season’s yearbook and featured such greats as Alvan Adams, Connie Hawkins, Dick Van Arsdale, Rex Chapman, Neal Walk, Mark West, Frank Johnson and John Shumate.
Eddie Johnson and Dan Majerle were shooting around while waiting for the picture session to begin. EJ, the self-proclaimed “best shooter on the planet,” flipped the ball to Majerle who calmly sank a shot from the free throw line. “That’s the first time you ever passed me the ball,” Thunder Dan quipped.
When asked who had more career assists in their playing days, Majerle said it had to be him, but Eddie suggested his four extra years in the league might have given him the edge. For the record, Majerle had a 2,755-2,550 edge over EJ in all-time assists.
Sept. 23, 2003: The 2003-04 season preview issue of NBA Inside Stuff magazine contains a wealth of Suns information. In addition to a short preview of the new campaign, you'll find a unique and entertaining interview with Amaré Stoudemire, a brief Q&A with rookie Leandro Barbosa and some shooting tips from assistant coach Phil Weber. The league's official publication also features an interview with R&B star Usher, who says he's a huge Stephon Marbury fan. "He's about the closest thing I've seen to having that street game, as well as having court smarts."
Sept. 22, 2003: Guard Penny Hardaway participated in informal workouts at AWA today after a productive summer in which he was actually able to train instead of spend the offseason rehabbing from surgery or an injury. “There’s a big difference,” the 11-year veteran said. “In rehab, you don’t get a chance to get better. When you’re working out, like I did this summer, you have an opportunity to take your game and your body to another level.”
Despite overachieving last season, Hardaway said the Suns still must continue to work hard to show the league and themselves that they can be a legitimate contender. “Teams still don’t respect us,” he said, “and they’re going to really keep their eye on Amaré (Stoudemire), because Amaré shocked a lot of people last year. It’s up to us, but it’s going to be a tough year regardless, because there are other teams that got a lot better in the offseason.”
Sept. 22, 2003: The Suns two incoming rookies, Serbian forward Zarko Cabarkapa and Brazilian guard Leandro Barbosa, are in New York this week participating in the NBA’s rookie orientation. Now in its sixth year, the program is designed to ease the transition into the league, with seminars on everything from money management to dealing with the media.
Sept. 17, 2003: Suns forward Amaré Stoudemire was in New York on Tuesday taping an episode of Wheel of Fortune as part of the long-running game show’s NBA Week, airing in November. Stoudemire played against the Lakers’ Derek Fisher and Teresa Weatherspoon of the WNBA’s New York Liberty. “It was a lot of fun,” last season’s Rookie of the Year said. “I got a chance to meet Pat Sajak and Vanna White and I enjoyed every moment.”
While contractually obligated to keep the results of the game secret, Stoudemire was pleased with how he played and gave due credit to Suns.com for supplying him with Wheel’s handheld game to practice. “Yeah, that helped me out."
Sept. 17, 2003: Anthony Lever has NBA blood in him and did not even know it until a couple of years ago. The Tucson resident, who has been working out with Suns players at AWA recently, found out just before enrolling at Oregon that former NBA star Lafayette “Fat” Lever is his father.
“Growing up, I always looked up to him and I didn’t know he was my father,” said Lever, who legally changed his last name after the paternal discovery. “I have a basketball card of him I've had since I was little and still carry with me everywhere I go. I used to go to his basketball camps and then I came to find out he was my father.”
Lever has been a basketball student of Suns assistant coach Tim Grgurich and played with Penny Hardaway and Bo Outlaw last summer. He most recently was a teammate of former Suns center Horacio Llamas on the Mexican National Team at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico this summer, and reports that Llamas is headed to play ball in Spain. “Horacio and I got along really well,” Lever said. “He’s a great guy.”
Sept. 15, 2003: Suns Head Coach Frank Johnson received some local television air-time this morning with an appearance on the series premiere of Channel 3’s Your Life, A to Z with Heidi Foglesong. FJ sat on the couch and answered questions from the former news anchor before moving to the kitchen to observe chef Eddie Matney make some strawberry ice cream. “It was good stuff,” Johnson said. “Did you see me keep going back in there? It was very tasty.”
Sept. 15, 2003: An influx of the old and the new highlighted the Suns’ informal workout Monday on the AWA practice court. Two weeks from the start of training camp, rookie forward Zarko Cabarkapa joined in the fun after arriving back in town late Saturday night. Veterans Bo Outlaw and Scott Williams also participated in a scrimmage or two, with Williams spending the remainder of the workout pacing the sidelines and shouting out instructions.
“It’s always nice to see veterans like Bo, Scott and, of course, Googs (Tom Gugliotta) has been here all summer working his butt off,” marveled Head Coach Frank Johnson. “That’s always encouraging because usually the veteran guys, especially the older veterans, are the last ones to stroll in.”
Sept. 15, 2003: Dudley “Do-Right” Bradley is doing right by the state of Maryland. The former Suns guard is currently in patrol officer training for the Maryland Transportation Authority, the agency responsible for keeping aggressive or drunken drivers off toll roads. The force works with Baltimore, state and federal agencies to patrol the Port of Baltimore.
Bradley, 46, averaged 5.1 points a game for the ’81-82 Suns, one of seven teams the former North Carolina star played for in his 10-year NBA career. Training began September 3, and Bradley is crediting his time with the Suns for an easy adjustment to early morning start times. "That's nothing unusual for me," he said. "When I played for Phoenix, you had to."
Sept. 11, 2003: Taking yet another big “step” following toe surgery, Amare Stoudemire participated in five-on-five workouts today for the first time this offseason. Last year’s Rookie of the Year reported no pain after working four-on-four half court for 30 minutes, followed by the five-on-five full court for another 30. “I’m in better shape than I thought,” he said. “I was ready to play more.”
Stoudemire admitted he’d probably feel some tenderness once he cooled down, but nonetheless the workout was encouraging to both he and his teammates.
“The kid’s really good,” center Jake Voskuhl said. “His ‘rust’ is better than a lot of people’s ‘good.’ It’s good to see him back out there.”
Sept. 11, 2003: Lawbreakers beware. Maricopa County’s newest deputy is 6-8 and can still run you down. Connie Hawkins was sworn in as an honorary deputy on Wednesday by Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
“They made it official,” the NBA Hall of Famer said. “I had the oath I had to repeat. They set me up with a badge. I’m officially deputized. (Sheriff Joe’s) officially my boss now. Jerry’s not my boss anymore (laughs).”
As far as new duties, Hawk has one goal in terms of his new position. “(Arpaio) was talking to me about being from Boston and how great the Celtics were. I told him my job was to make sure he became a Phoenix Suns fan.”
Sept. 8, 2003: Tom Gugliotta will have a close eye on tonight’s regular season debut of Monday Night Football. The veteran forward is leading his Week 1 matchup in the fantasy football league he participates in with several Suns employees entering the game between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. Googs, who is looking to rebound from a near-last place finish in last year’s league, admits to getting some help with his picks this season, which included Trent Green, Stephen Davis and Eddie George.
“I tried a little strategy,” he said. “I read through some of the (fantasy football) books they rob you for (laughs) and I learned how to play. Running backs are a commodity in fantasy football. I think I did pretty good.”
Sept. 8, 2003: Former Suns broadcaster “Hot Rod” Hundley was honored with the Curt Gowdy Media award by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame over the weekend. Hundley has been broadcasting Utah Jazz games since 1974 after two seasons with the Lakers and five years in Phoenix.
Sept. 5, 2003: Head Coach Frank Johnson has been attending the Suns’ informal workouts all week sporting a new-look goatee. “It’s a preseason thing, maybe exhibition too,” he said. Like the hair on his head, the new whiskers are speckled with gray, but the 44-year-old insists the additional coloring has its advantages.
“It’s the distinguished look,” FJ said with a smile. “It’s really not gray. I had it painted on to get more respect.”
Sept. 5, 2003: More players from the Suns’ roster are expected to take part in informal workouts next week. Rookies Zarko Cabarkapa and Leandro Barbosa could arrive early in the week, with Stephon Marbury and Scott Williams getting to town a few days later. Shawn Marion and Penny Hardaway should be in the Valley by the end of the week and are expected to join the team the following Monday. Younger players and free agents report for the official start of training camp on September 29, while veterans are due October 3.
Sept. 5, 2003: Former Suns guard Mario Elie has been named assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, the team he won an NBA championship with in 1999. Elie played for six teams and finished his 11-year playing career with the Suns in the 2000-01 season, averaging 4.4 points in 22.1 minutes.
Sept. 4, 2003: In ranking the NBA’s small forwards CBS.Sportsline.com’s Mike Kahn describes Suns All-Star Shawn Marion as “an exceptional athlete, he can jump out of the gym and has great anticipation for steals and open-floor dunks.” The Matrix is listed as the third best at his position, with the Hornets’ Jamal Mashburn and Peja Stojakovic of Sacramento taking the top two spots.
Sept. 4, 2003: When Emily Adams, the daughter of former Suns great Alvan Adams, takes the court to play for the USC volleyball team this season, she will be doing so as the tallest female athlete in Trojan history. Emily grew a full inch over the last year and will enter her junior year at 6-6, still a full three inches shorter than her dad, the NBA's Rookie of the Year in 1976.
The Suns' connection to Trojan volleyball does not end there, however. Adams is joined on the team by Alicia Robinson, daughter of former Suns forward Len “Truck” Robinson. Emily and Alicia have been friends since their dads were Suns teammates in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
Sept. 2, 2003: Long-time Suns equipment manager Richard Howell has returned to the Valley and is back on the job after suffering a stroke early this summer. Howell will continue his weekly rehab and although he does not expect to be back at 100 percent by the start of the 2003-04 season in October, Howell smiled and said, “I’ll be here.”
Sept. 2, 2003: If his play in Greece this summer is any indication, center Jake Tsakalidis has recovered from last season’s back surgery and will be healthy for the start of his fourth season in Phoenix this fall. Eurobasket2002.com reports that Big Jake’s inside presence has given the Greek national team quite a lift and “any doubts about his fitness were erased with his superlative performances for Greece in games against Australia, Bulgaria and Serbia & Montenegro (this summer).”
Aug. 29: Suns players of the past and future played prominent roles in Mexico's 102-92 defeat of Brazil Thursday night at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico. Neither team has advanced to the semi-finals, meaning the next time Suns rookie Leandro Barbosa will suit up for a game will be at America West Arena on October 7 when the Suns face New Jersey in the preseason opener.
Barbosa scored 21 points on 5-18 shooting in 30 minutes for Brazil and finished the tournament with a 12 point average, gaining invaluable experience heading into his rookie season in the NBA.
Former Suns center Horacio Llamas, the first Mexican-born player to play in the NBA, scored 18 points for the victorious Mexicans. Llamas played for the Suns for two seasons starting in ’96-97.
Aug. 29: ESPN.com’s NBA Insider Chad Ford handed out summer grades for the NBA and gave Phoenix a B- for their work in the offseason. With the play of rookies Zarko Cabarkapa in the Rocky Mountain Revue and Leandro Barbosa at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Ford notes, “the Suns are fortifying their lock on the label of best up-and-coming team in the NBA.”
Aug. 28, 2003: Casey Jacobsen will be taking the next step in his broadcasting career aspirations this season. Coming off his successful Jacobsen's Journal on Suns.com chronicling his rookie year, the former Stanford communications major will be doing a weekly feature for ESPN this season called Casey's Camera, reporting on his day-to-day life in the NBA.
Aug. 28, 2003: Leandro Barbosa scored all four of his points from the free throw line while shooting 0-for-3 from the field in Brazil’s 72-70 loss to host team Puerto Rico in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament Wednesday night. The Suns’ rookie guard is now averaging 10.7 points in seven tournament games.
Aug. 27, 2003: Suns rookie and Brazilian point guard Leandro Barbosa had his worst outing of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico Tuesday night. Barbosa scored only two points and committed five fouls in Brazil’s 101-97 loss to Canada. Brazil (2-3) plays Puerto Rico tonight in the continuation of the second round of the tournament which will decide which teams will compete at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens next summer.
Aug. 26, 2003: The NBA season preview issue of Sports Illustrated for Kids will feature Amaré Stoudemire on its cover, as well as a pull-out poster of the Suns' forward. Stoudemire spent an hour striking poses in mid-air during a photo shoot on the America West Arena practice court this afternoon. "It's like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," joked veteran Scott Williams, who stopped by during a break in his workout. The publication is scheduled to hit newsstands in mid-October.
Aug. 26, 2003: Suns rookie Leandro Barbosa continued his strong showing at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico Monday night, scoring 15 points in 25 minutes of Brazil's 76-74 loss to Argentina. The second round continues for the Brazillians tonight when they face Steve Nash's Canadian squad.
Aug. 25, 2003: Barbosa scored a team-high 22 points in leading Brazil over the Dominican Republic in Olympic Qualifying Tournament action on Sunday in Puerto Rico. Barbosa’s Brazilian team finished the first round with a 3-1 record, their only loss coming at the hands of Team USA, and advanced to second-round play beginning today. Barbosa is averaging 13.5 points in 15 minutes of play.
Aug. 22, 2003: Don’t tell Danny Manning you can’t go home again. The one-time Suns forward and 15-year NBA veteran will be returning to Lawrence, Kan., to work for Kansas Head Coach Bill Self, reports the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World. Although the Jayhawks are at their limit for assistant coaches, Self said the former KU All-American, “wants to be involved. We want him involved.” Manning spent five productive seasons in Phoenix in the ‘90s and played for the Pistons last year, his fifth team in the past five seasons.
Aug. 22, 2003: Suns rookie Leandro Barbosa pumped in 15 points in 18 minutes to help his native Brazil team beat the Virgin Islands 110-74 Thursday night in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico. Brazil (1-1) next plays Venezuela Saturday night.
Aug. 21, 2003: Barbosa got his first taste of playing against NBA players in Team USA’s 110-76 victory over Barbosa’s Brazilian national team Wednesday night. The 6-3 point guard, acquired by Phoenix in a draft day trade with San Antonio this summer, scored seven points in 11 minutes of play of the bench.
Barbosa was part of the Brazilian team which took home the gold in last summer’s Pan American games and understands the importance of this qualifying tournament for next summer’s Olympic Games in Athens. "We need this spot at the Olympics," he told the Denver Post.
Aug. 20, 2003: Stephon Marbury heads a list of underrated NBA players on CBS Sportsline.com, edging out Hornets’ forward Jamal Mashburn for the top spot. The article, which also lists the league's most overrated players, states the Suns' All-Star guard is “a bigger, stronger version of Allen Iverson who may have finally grown up… he is ready to become a superstar.”
Aug. 20, 2003: Inside Stuff will be airing a segment on forward Bo Outlaw’s involvement with the Phoenix Mercury this Saturday, August 23 at 10:30 a.m. on Channel 15. In the same show, there will also be a segment featuring Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano’s appearance as a Mercury celebrity guest host from earlier this month.
Aug. 20, 2003: A feature in the new issue of Kicks magazine calls Suns All-Star Shawn Marion “one of the best rebounding small forwards ever.” The hoops and basketball shoe publication presented by SLAM magazine states that The Matrix’ career 9.4 per game rebounding average is higher than current or future Hall of Famers Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, James Worthy, Alex English and Dominique Wilkins, among others. The article also chronicles Marion’s charity work and says that he has improved his game to the point of being the best player on the Suns roster.
Aug. 20, 2003: Assistant coach Mike D’Antoni will get a close-up look at Suns rookie Leandro Barbosa tonight when Team USA plays Brazil in the first game of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico. The Arizona Republic reports that D’Antoni will work as an analyst for the pay-per-view broadcasts throughout the Americans’ bid for an Olympic slot in Athens next summer.
Aug. 18, 2003: Two players from the Summer Suns roster signed with the Los Angeles Lakers last week. Forward Koko Archibong and center Eric Chenowith spent the better part of the summer working out in Phoenix and played with the Suns in the Rocky Mountain Revue in Salt Lake City last month. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Aug. 10, 2003: Suns rookie guard Leandro Barbosa has returned to Brazil to continue training for the Olympic qualifying tournament which begins next week in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Barbosa and fellow Brazillian Nene of the Denver Nuggets will face Team USA in the opening game next Wednesday, August 20.
Aug. 8, 2003: Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo discussed a wide range of topics as a guest on ESPN Radio Thursday afternoon. In addition to an extensive conversation on baseball and his Arizona Diamondbacks, Colangelo talked about Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban’s comments on the Kobe Bryant case as well as the general state of the NBA at home and abroad.
When asked about the relative importance of Yao Ming’s impact and the arrival of LeBron James to the NBA, Colangelo said they both have their place in the future of the league.
“They’re equally important in their own right,” he said. “Certainly when you all of a sudden are now a factor in a country of a billion people like in China, that’s big. Your marketing expands incredibly with Yao Ming. Conversely, it’s important to have another brand name in the NBA in LeBron James. He hasn’t even played his first game in the NBA and look at all the things that have come his way. Everyone who has seen him has said that he’s the real thing and I think that’s important for basketball here in the states too.”
Aug. 7, 2003: Suns scout and former guard Rex Chapman has decided not to pursue an assistant coaching position under Rick Pitino at the University of Louisville. The Times Leader (Princeton, KY) reports the father of four said that coaching would take too much time away from watching his children grow up and that he will remain a scout for the Suns.
Aug. 7, 2003: Former Suns center Daniel Santiago is a member of the Puerto Rican national team which beat Team USA in the bronze medal match of the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Domincan Republic on Wednesday night. Santiago last played in the NBA during the 2001-02 season in Phoenix.
Aug. 6, 2003: The New York Post reports today that former Knicks guard Mark Jackson saw Suns' Rookie-of-the-Year Amaré Stoudemire play in a high school All-Star game at Madison Square Garden and commented at the time that the Knicks should take "STAT" with their seventh pick in last summer's NBA Draft. The Knicks passed and wound up trading that pick (Nene Hilario) with Jackson and Marcus Camby to Denver for the oft-injured former Sun, Antonio McDyss.
Aug. 5, 2003: ESPN.com's Marc Stein is now reporting that Terry Porter will be named the next head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, beating out Suns' assistant Marc Iavaroni and Hawks' interim coach Terry Stotts. Iavaroni interviewed with the Bucks in Milwaukee last week. Porter, a Milwaukee native, spent last season as an assistant in Portland.
Aug. 5, 2003: Former Suns forward Kenny Battle has been named new head basketball coach for the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Battle led Illinois to the Final Four in 1989 before a four-year NBA career that included 75 games in Phoenix over two seasons.
Aug. 5, 2003: The Desert Morning News in Salt Lake City, UT is reporting that former Suns guard Jeff Hornacek will not return to the Jazz as a part-time shooting coach this season. Jazz senior vice president of basketball operations Kevin O'Connor told a local television station that "Horny" has moved back
to Phoenix where he spent the first six seasons of his NBA career.
Aug. 4, 2003: Suns guard Stephon Marbury will be an in-studio guest on Tuesday's Best Damn Sports Show Period. The program airs on Fox Sports Net Arizona at 10:30 p.m. and will feature guest hosts Dan Cortese and Raymont Harris.
Aug. 4, 2003: ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting that Suns assistant coach Marc Iavaroni is one of two favorites to land the head-coaching job for the Milwaukee Bucks. Iavaroni was in Milwaukee last week to interview for his first head
coaching position. Hawks interim coach Terry Stotts is reported to be the other finalist.
Aug. 4, 2003: Suns guards Casey Jacobsen, Joe Johnson and Leandro Barbosa are in Las Vegas today for assistant coach Tim Grgurich's annual skills camp. The young Suns are just three of several dozen players attending the week-long camp, which also finds Suns assistants Marc Iavaroni and Phil Weber lending a hand.
Aug. 3, 2003: The Bluefield (WV) Daily Telegraph featured a three-part series of articles (1, 2, 3) this weekend on legendary coach Lewis D’Antoni, father of current Suns assistant coach Mike D’Antoni. The elder D’Antoni turns 90 this year and reporter Jim Nelson chronicled the life and career of one of the greatest high school coaches in West Virginia history.
Aug. 2, 2003: All-Star forward Shawn Marion put on a superstar performance in Vince Carter's annual charity game on Friday night. The Matrix exploded for 63 points for his "Throwback Ballers" squad and also had a center court dance off with Shammond Williams of the Denver Nuggets to the delight of the Toronto fans. "This game is for the fans so we put on a show for them,” he told the Raptors' official web site.
Unfortunately, despite his thrilling dunks and crazy dance moves, Marion lost both the game to Carter's "Ol' School" squad and the dance contest to Williams, who busted out some ol' school break dancing for the win.
Aug. 1, 2003: Justin Adams, a former Suns PR intern and the son of Ring of Honor member Alvan Adams, is currently in Australia working on an alligator farm.
July 31, 2003: Rookie forward Zarko Cabarkapa has returned home to Serbia-Montenegro, where he will be spending the next few weeks leading up to the Suns' informal workouts in September. The 17th overall pick in the 2003 draft, "Z" is currently in the mountains of Montenegro at a strength and conditioning retreat, along with several other European players, including Detroit Pistons center Zeljko Rebraca.
July 30, 2003: Suns forward Shawn Marion turned down an invitation to play for the U.S. Men's National Team during this summer's Olympic-qualifying tournament, according to nationalpost.com. Marion, who played for Team USA each of the past two summers, was reportedly offered the roster spot that opened when Lakers guard Kobe Bryant pulled out due to injury. Toronto's Vince Carter was named to the team instead.
July 29, 2003: Suns rookie Leandro Barbosa is quickly adjusting to the American culture. The 20-year-old Brazillian guard attended the 50 Cent concert with Amaré Stoudemire at America West Arena on Monday night and took in a couple of big screen blockbusters last week. Barbosa, who watched Bad Boys II and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen during his down time in Salt Lake City, where the Suns participated in the Rocky Mountain Revue, will even review movies on Suns.com this coming season. Stay tuned.
July 29, 2003: Assistant coach Marc Iavaroni will interview for the Bucks' head coaching position in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Fellow assistant Mike D'Antoni, who ran the Suns' summer camp and split the coaching duties with Iavoroni at the Rocky Mountain Revue, says Iavaroni is ready to make that move down the bench from assistant to head coach.
"I’ve moved over the six inches," D'Antoni told Suns.com, "and moving over that six inches is the longest move in sports. Marc has a really good grasp of this game. He’s ready to do it. Hopefully for him, it will happen sooner or later because I know that’s what he wants. I just wish him luck on Wednesday."
July 28, 2003: LeBron James' deal with Nike got all the press nationally, but Suns forward Amaré Stoudemire is starting to appear in national ads for the swoosh. The NBA's Rookie of the Year is featured in a full-page ad in the August/September issue of NBA Inside Stuff magazine, promoting the "Nike Shox Status" shoe, and is one of a number of stars featured in new Nike TV spots. The commercials congratulating Lance Armstrong on his fifth Tour de France victory also include Lakers guard Gary Payton, tennis star Andre Agassi, Rams running back Marshall Faulk and comedian Jerry Seinfeld among others.
July 28, 2003: Congratulations to Steve Koek, who has been promoted to Suns publishing coordinator. Steve joined the Suns.com staff in January as a part-time publishing assistant and will now assume even greater responsibilities with the Suns and Mercury web sites. The 40-year-old also won a recent "Around the World" shooting contest held during Employee Appreciation Week and, as Cotton Fitzsimmons has always said... you can never have enough shooters.
July 28, 2003: Shawn Marion made an unexpected and uncomfortable appearance on the Howard Stern radio show this morning. The Matrix was approached by one of Stern's studio sidekicks for an interview at a weekend charity event and, in typical Stern fashion, was asked a number of offensive questions. The Suns' All-Star refused to answer the embarrassing questions, however, repeatedly saying, "Your crazy, man!"
July 28, 2003: ESPN reporter Ric Bucher praised the play of Suns rookie Zarko Cabarkapa in his latest online column. Describing him as an "overlooked Euro talent," Bucher was particularly impressed with the forward's hands. "They're so big they look like fruit bats hanging off his wrists."
July 28, 2003: Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo joined Fox Sports Radio’s Tony Bruno Monday morning on XTRA Sports 910 and although the majority of the conversation was about the Diamondbacks, he did get in a few words about his Suns. “I feel very good about our team,” Colangelo told Bruno and sidekick Andrew Siciliano. “We are rebuilding and I like where we are.”
The Suns' CEO said he was especially impressed with the summer play of rookies Zarko Cabarkapa and Leandro Barbosa. Bruno then made a connection between Barbosa and the character with the same name in The Pirates of the Caribbean, Barbossa, played by Geoffrey Rush. “(Leandro)’s not a skeleton though,” cracked Bruno. “He’s the real deal.”
July 27, 2003: Shawn Marion participated in Magic Johnson's annual charity game at the Staples Center tonight. The Suns' forward played for a team of veterans that included Gary Payton, Paul Pierce and Baron Davis, but was defeated by a rookie squad that featured LeBron James and Carmello Anthony. Marion will also play in a celebrity game hosted by Jalen Rose next month in Chicago.
July 24, 2003: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Suns assistant coach Marc Iavaroni will interview for the Milwaukee Bucks’ vacant head coaching position next week. Suns President and GM Bryan Colangelo gave the Bucks permission to interview Iavaroni, who joined the Suns in June 2002 after working three years under Heat Head Coach Pat Riley. Former Bucks coach George Karl was dismissed after five seasons on July 20.
July 23, 2003: Suns forward Amaré Stoudemire was in Secausus, New Jersey today filming a new commercial for NBA League Pass at the offices of NBAEntertainment. The promotion spot, which was filmed in a office setting, complete with cubicles and board room, will also feature Bulls swingman Jalen Rose, Hornets playmaker Baron Davis and Rockets guard Cuttino Mobley.
July 21, 2003: Three games into the Rocky Mountain Revue, the Suns' summer roster now stands at 10 players. The Suns released Kansas center Eric Chenowith today and forward Florent Pietrus is returning to France to join the French National Team.
July 21, 2003: Brazillian guard Leandro Barbosa made his Rocky Mountain Revue debut on Sunday afternoon, scoring 12 points in the Suns' loss to the Bulls. The rookie was unhappy with his play, however, having shot just 4-of-11 from the field. So disappointed, in fact, he reportedly took a basketball to bed with him Sunday night and worked on his shooting form throughout the night.
July 18, 2003: Todd McFarlane – famed comic book artist, sports memorabilia collector, toy manufacturer – will release his fourth line of NBA action figures next month, including the Suns' own Amaré Stoudemire. The series, titled the "Debut Line" also features the Cavs' Dujuan Wagner, the Bulls' Jalen Rose and the Pacers' Jermaine O'Neal. Stoudemire, who played with G.I. Joe figures as a kid, is sporting his white home uniform and is sculpted in a lay-up position.
"That’s pretty smooth right there, man," the NBA's Rookie of the Year said when he saw a photo of his figure. "That’s pretty neat. It looks like me. But I should be dunking, I think. Or shooting a jumper."
July 17, 2003: The Suns' original athletic trainer, Joe Proski, was spotted at America West Arena today. The Ring of Honor member was sporting a "Lambeau Field" cap and a big smile, having just returned from Green Bay, where he attended the Packers' workouts.
July 17, 2003: The Suns trimmed their summer league roster to 12 following this morning's final Rookie/Free Agent Camp practice. Not making the cut were forward/center Solomon Hughes, forward Nikita Morgunov and local product Curtis Millage. The Arizona State guard, who was beat out by Arizona's Jason Gardner, did impress Frank Johnson, however.
"I tell you what, he’s a tough kid," the coach said. "He comes out every single day and plays hard. I know he didn’t come in here with point guard skills, but he did a nice job of running the team at times."
June 16, 2003: Amaré Stoudemire's doctor cleared him to start wearing a shoe on his right foot this afternoon. The Suns' forward, who underwent successful toe surgery on June 12, has been wearing a soft boot and is anxious to get back out on the court.
"I’m ready to play, man," said the 20-year-old forward, who will travel with the Summer Suns to Utah on Friday. "It’s very hard. You know me, I’m a basketball-a-holic."
July 14, 2003: Bo Outlaw outdid himself again in the Summer Pro League in Long Beach, CA. Last season's recipient of the first-ever Dan Majerle Hustle Award poured in 45 points Monday to lead the NBA Pros to a 118-107 victory over the Panthers. The 10-year NBA veteran also blocked six shots and grabbed nine rebounds in 43 minutes of play. Penny Hardway added 24 points and dished out seven assists for a Pros team that also inlcuded former Suns guard Todd Day.
July 11, 2003: While the Phoenix Suns held their annual summer basketball camp, rookie guard Leandro Barbosa spent the week putting on clinics for kids in his home country of Brazil. Barbosa, who will participate in next week's Rookie/Free Agent Camp at America West Arena, was joined by Nuggets forward Nene Hilario and Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.
July 11, 2003: Suns first-round draft pick Zarko Cabarkapa made a surprise appearance at the Suns' youth basketball camp at Thunderbird High School on Friday, and he arrived with a new hairdo. The 6-11 forward, who signed autographs and handed out awards during the closing ceremonies, was sporting a short buzz cut. "My brother cut it for me," he reported with a laugh. "It's too hot here for big heads."
July 10, 2003: Last year's top draft pick, Amaré Stoudemire, met this year's first-round pick, Zarko Cabarkapa, for the first time today. The two big men's paths crossed inside the tunnel leading to the main court at America West Arena while both were attending the Phoenix Mercury's afternoon game. Following the game, Cabarkapa also got his first taste of Major League Baseball as he enjoyed a late afternoon Arizona Diamondbacks game down the street at Bank One Ballpark.
July 9, 2003: Tom Gugliotta is expected to participate in the Suns' Rookie/Free Agent Camp at America West Arena next week. The veteran forward, who played in just 27 games last season, will not join the Summer Suns in Salt Lake City for the Rocky Mountain Review, however.
July 9, 2003: Scott Williams enjoyed a full day with his son, Benjamin, on Tuesday. The veteran center, who is expected to resign with the Suns in the coming weeks, was spotted with his 22-month-old at the Phoenix Mercury's Open Practice during the morning and again with son and wife, Lisa, at the Arizona Diamondbacks game tonight.
July 8, 2003: Bo Outlaw has continued his annual dominance of the Summer Pro League in Long Beach. The Suns' forward, who ironcially is the only NBA player playing for the "NBA Pros," scored 37 points in a win over HB Sports on Monday. Outlaw also added eight rebounds, nine assists and three blocks for good measure... Other players of note competing in the SPL include Jason Gardner (SFX), Koko Archibong (Lakers) and Curtis Millage (Panthers), all of whom will play for the Summer Suns in the Rocky Mountain Revue later his month, and former Sun Cedric Ceballos, who recorded 20 points and 12 boards for the Surf on Monday.
July 8, 2003: Suns center Jake Tsakalidis was seen working out at America West Arena today. The fourth-year pro, who missed 49 games this past season after undergoing back surgery, reports his back is feeling good. "No problem," he said.
July 7, 2003: The first of two Phoenix Suns youth basketball camps tipped off on Monday at Thunderbird High School and featured a late-afternoon appearance by Shawn Marion. The Suns' forward was scheduled to arrive earlier in the day but had several hours worth of flight delays in Chicago. The Matrix is expected, however, to spend the entire afternoon with the campers on Tuesday and Wednesday, and will also be appearing at the Suns' Overnight Camp in Prescott, July 26-30.
June 22, 2003: The NBA's Rookie of the Year, Amaré Stoudemire, was featured on the cover of today's New York Times Magazine. The six-page article, titled "The Leap of His Life," chronicle's the 20-year-old's difficult childhood and provides a unique look into his life today, as an up and coming NBA star.
June 21, 2003: Suns guard Stephon Marbury tipped off his eighth annual Basketball Classic today. The six-week tournament, held in his boyhood neighborhood of Coney Island, New York, features more than 60 teams in six different divisions and is dedicated to his high school teammate, the late Jason “Juice” Sowell.
June 19, 2003: Congratulations to Suns director of basketball communications Scott Leightman, who is coming off a big weekend. The five-year Suns veteran proposed to longtime girlfriend Margo Fernandes during a trip to San Diego and was also hired by the Charlotte Bobcats to run the expansion club's communications department. The happy couple are planning to move next month and marry next May.
June 17, 2003: Suns.com has received more details on Shawn Marion's trip to the Persian Gulf. Marion, who left Monday, is one of more than 25 pro athletes and entertainers participating in Project Salute 2003, paying tribute to the men and women of the U.S. and coalition armed forces. The tour includes performances, movie screenings, basketball clinics and visits with service members in various locations in the region. Joining the Matrix in the Middle East, to name just a few, are Timberwolves guard Troy Hudson and Lakers forward Mark Madsen, recording artists Kid Rock and Neal McCoy, and actresses Brittany Murphy, Alyssa Milano and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.
The tour is part of a cooperative effort between the NBA, the Defense Department’s Armed Forces Entertainment Office, the USO, the Intrepid Museum Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, Vanity Fair and MTV. Check back with Suns.com for a full report and photos from the trip.
June 17, 2003: Suns All-Star Stephon Marbury told Suns.com on Monday he was excited that the San Antonio Spurs defeated the New Jersey Nets to win the NBA Championship on Sunday. "I was happy as (heck) they won. It doesn’t make us look too bad losing to them," said the former Nets guard, who gave the Spurs fits in the first round of the playoffs. "It shows that we are definitely a team that can play with anybody or play with the best team in the NBA. I think for our sake we just need to come with the same intensity and determination or more that we came in with last year."
June 17, 2003: Suns forward Bo Outlaw, guard Stephon Marbury and center Scott Williams were all spotted in the crowd at America West Arena for this afternoon's Phoenix Mercury-Seattle Storm game. Outlaw even joined the Hip Hop Squad in throwing a few mini basketballs into the stands and Marbury clowned around with the Comets' mascot, Haley, who was in town for a birthday party for Scorch, the Mercury mascot. Starbury also made an appearance at Monday night's "And 1 Basketball Mix Tape Tour" at AWA and was even introduced to a loud ovation.
June 16, 2003: Point guard Chris Thomas, who worked out for the Phoenix Suns on May 27, withdrew from the NBA Draft Monday and announced his return to Notre Dame for his junior season. During his private workout in the Valley of the Sun, the playmaker said he could run a team like Sacramento guard Mike Bibby and lead a team like former Suns guard Jason Kidd, which led Suns Head Coach Frank Johnson to joke, “Let’s sign him up them.”
June 16, 2003: Suns center Scott Williams will step into the broadcast booth on Thursday afternoon, subbing in for the vacationing John Gambadoro on XTRA Sports 910 AM. Williams will join Gambo's co-host Mark Asher from 1-6 p.m. and will welcome his college coach, the legendary Dean Smith, as one of their guests.
June 16, 2003: Spurs guard Steve Kerr, a second round draft pick of the Suns in 1988, was also on the Dan Patrick Show today, discussing his fifth NBA Championship. The University of Arizona alum, who is leaning towards retirement, said that he had received congratulatory calls from two of his closest friends, former Bulls teammates and also former Suns Jud Buechler and Luc Longley.
June 16, 2003: Former Suns great Charles Barkley was on the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio today and repeated past statements that he would like to go into the Hall of Fame as a Sixer. Sir Charles explained that although he played on better teams in Phoenix, he played the best basketball of his career in Philadephia.
June 14, 2003: Suns scout Rex Chapman recently met with current University of Louisville and former Boston Celtics Head Coach Rick Pitino to talk about King Rex’s interest in becoming a collegiate coach, according to
The Courier-Journal. Chapman's father, Wayne, was a longtime coach at Kentucky Wesleyan.
June 11, 2003: Suns legend Connie Hawkins was featured in a video montage at halftime of tonight's NBA Finals game on ABC. Only the clips of The Hawk lacing up his sneakers and swooping to the hoop were taken from his short-lived stint with the Lakers.
June 11, 2003: Although we're still awaiting more information from the NBA regarding Shawn Marion's trip to Kuwait, today's Chicago Sun-Times reports that Bulls guard Jay Williams is also leaving on Monday for the Middle East.
June 10, 2003: XTRA Sports 910 AM radio hosts John Gambadoro and Mark Asher talked NBA Draft with ESPN.com's NBA Insider Chad Ford today. Here’s what Ford had to say about the Suns, who have the 17th selection overall in the June 26 draft, “I think that is the great position the Suns are in right now. They have young players at every position. They can afford to take the best player on the board and then wait, and develop him.”
June 9, 2003: Suns forward Bo Outlaw played street cop on Monday, stopping traffic at several intersections in Downtown Phoenix to let Suns employees cross safely. The staff made the three block trek from AWA to the AMC Theater at the Arizona Center for a private showing of Bruce Almighty, courtesy of Suns Presidents Bryan Colangelo and Rick Welts. The free film tipped off the organization’s annual Employee Appreciation Week.
June 7, 2003: Mike D’Antoni has been mentioned as a candidate for Marshall University’s head coaching vacancy, according to a new report in The Herald Dispatch. The Suns’ assistant coach played at Marshall and graduated as the school’s career assist leader.
June 5, 2003: Shawn Marion made a surprise pop-in at the offices of Suns.com today and brought some breaking news along with him. The Suns’ forward reports that he’s headed for Kuwait later this month, joining a handful of celebrities and NBA players, to visit and entertain U.S. troops in the Middle East. Stay plugged in to Suns.com for more on this story and a full report from the Matrix upon his return home.
June 3, 2003: Heading into the 2003 NBA Finals, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker says that Suns guard Stephon Marbury is a much tougher matchup for him than the Nets’ Jason Kidd. "He's a scoring point guard, he attacks every time,” Parker told The New York Post.
June 2, 2003: Former Suns head coach, current Pepperdine coach Paul Westphal turned down an interview request for Suns.com’s 1993 Retrospective, stating through an assistant that he “was not accepting interviews regarding that subject at this time.”
June 1, 2003: Current and former Suns point guards, Stephon Marbury and Jason Kidd, are featured on the cover of the June/July issue of NBA Inside Stuff magazine, and each are profiled inside. The four-page spread on Stephon, titled “A Second Impression,” breaks down his impressive season and takes a look at the Suns’ bright future with Marbury running the show.
May 30, 2003: ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons ranked the NBA’s top players, in terms of trade value, in his latest “Page 2” column today. While a number of factors were weighed, such as salaries and age, three Suns made the top 20. Suns forward Shawn Marion was categorized as a “building block,” checking in as the 20th most valuable, and guard Stephon Marbury (11th) and forward Amaré Stoudemire (10th) were both labeled “Franchise Guys.”
May 28, 2003: Suns forward Amaré Stoudemire appeared in a full-page ad on the back of the sports section in today’s issue of USA Today. The photo, which shows the 20-year-old sporting a milk mustache, reads: “Congratulations on winning the GOT MILK? Rookie of the Year. It takes a very active body to lead NBA rookies in rebounds. So for the 9 essential nutrients active bodies need, milk can’t be beat, just like Amare.”
May 26, 2003: The newest issue of Sports Business Journal (May 26-June 1) features a full-page article on the ongoing renovation of America West Arena and the proposed $25 million entertainment complex next door. “Can an arena be successful in continuing to reinvent itself and stay competitive?” Suns President Rick Welts was quoted as saying. “We believe that’s the story that’s going to unfold here.”
May 8, 2003: Suns rookie Amaré Stoudemire underwent successful LASIK surgery today at the Schwartz Laser Eye Center, the official LASIK center of the Phoenix Suns. Check back later this summer for more on Amaré and his improved vision.