Historic Play-By-Play Reprises Suns 1993 Postseason

The Phoenix Suns strive to honor the communities and cultures that support them. Arizona has one of the strongest Native American communities in North America with 22 tribes represented. To come full circle, the Suns are partnering with Native Broadcast Enterprise to broadcast and stream their NBA Playoff games in the Navajo language.

Native Broadcast Enterprise radio stations include KTNN, The Voice of the Navajo Nation, and KWRK/KCAZ, Capital Country. Broadcast veteran L.A. Williams has been tapped to call the games in her native language and her unique style.

Williams, who credits broadcast legend Al McCoy as an early mentor, started her radio career in 1992. Williams and fellow Navajo broadcaster Kenneth Maryboy called the first Suns game play-by-play in the Navajo language on April 24, 1993, when the team defeated the San Antonio Spurs. Williams and Maryboy would continue to call Suns games in Navajo during the 1993 NBA Finals. She has also provided play-by-play coverage in Navajo for the Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders.

Williams is revered for her fluency in Navajo over the airwaves where she makes live sporting events accessible for community elders that speak only Navajo. Her approach is to paint a picture of the action, and less traditional play-by-play.

“This is another level. This is the NBA. It’s bringing a national event to a local level for our audiences and listeners,” said Williams. “From the youth to the elders, we love basketball in the Navajo Nation and now, they’ll be able to tune in and hear the game called in Navajo play by play.”

Williams herself has created unique translations for members of the Suns roster and basketball terms in the Navajo language, examples are listed below:

SUNS - Jó honaa'éí    

FREE THROW LINE -  t'aa jíík'ęę ííhinił dóó  

HALF TIME  - ałniiji' ãhoolzhizh

BASKETBALL GAME - jooł nikidílniihí   (bouncing the ball)

BOOKER - báházhooníí  (one who respects the game of basketball)

CHRIS PAUL  -  Naat'áaní  (leader)  

The partnership would not have been possible if it weren’t for Shawn Martinez, Director of Live Presentation for the Suns and Phoenix Mercury. Martinez grew up on the Navajo reservation across Chinle, Ft. Defiance and Window Rock. He said the game of basketball was vital to his upbringing and to the community he calls home. Martinez joined the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury organization in 2019.

"Basketball on the reservation is king. Basketball was always the number one priority," said Martinez. "Basketball brings the community together. Every time we'd play, the gym was packed. Family, friends, aunts, uncles, everybody was there, it brought us all together and basketball did that for all of us. I am excited to help bring playoff basketball to my Navajo community in our native language for all to enjoy.”

Williams will be calling the games at the newly renovated Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix. The Navajo broadcasts will be available locally in northern Arizona on 96.1 FM KWRK and 99.5 FM KCAZ and globally at CapitalCountryFM.com  

The Suns are scheduled to host Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs at 6 p.m. PT on Sunday, April 17. The opponent is yet to be determined.


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