Suns Assistant Coach Corey Gaines Excels Beyond the Court

by Ben York

Phoenix Suns assistant coach Corey Gaines is always moving.

Always.

He’s 50-years-old, but doesn’t look a day over 30. Maybe it’s because he’s worked out multiple times per day for decades. Eats clean. Takes immaculate care of himself.

Gaines, though, is far from a “square.” When he was head coach of the 2009 WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury, Gaines was endearingly referred to by fans as “Coach GQ” in reference to the popular men’s fashion and style magazine.

To be blunt, he’s just a cool, good dude who’s easy to get along with – which has been especially important in his role with the Suns over the years, and now as an assistant coach for Jeff Hornacek.

“Corey adds great balance to our staff,” Player Development Coach, Irv Roland, said. “Besides being knowledgeable, he is always positive and that's huge given the young team we've had the past few seasons.”

Following five seasons as a player development coach with the Suns, Gaines was promoted to assistant coach over the summer. In addition to his tenure with the Suns that dates back to the 2010-11 season, Gaines coached eight years (2006-13) with the Phoenix Mercury, the first two as an assistant to Paul Westhead before taking the reins as head coach in 2008. His time with the Mercury featured the first two WNBA titles in franchise history in 2007 and 2009.

But it was his life-changing decision in college transfer from UCLA to Loyola Marymount that ultimately made him the person he is today.

“I consider that to be my biggest accomplishment because it helped me to be a better player, man, and father,” Gaines said. “It was a tough decision. I was roommates at UCLA with my best friend at the time, Reggie Miller. But I had to do it for my family. Overcoming that fear made me a better parent and coach. I wasn’t the most talented player but I was in the best shape and I kept working and working.

“I’d tell myself, ‘It’s not for me; it’s for Meg.’”

Needless to say, Megan Gaines, Corey’s daughter, grew up around basketball. But life was always normal thanks to how hard Corey worked to make her life better.

“Growing up, I witnessed my dad dedicate his life to balancing time between fun activities with me, family, and work,” she said. “Not until later in life did I realize what a hard working role model he was; I never saw him sleep or miss a single practice. When I would arrive at the breakfast table he would already be done with shooting hoops, a workout and ready to take me on a fun day filled with adventure.”

A 28-year veteran of the up-tempo, fast-break style that he first honed as a point guard for Westhead at Loyola Marymount from 1986-88, Gaines played for four different teams over a five-year NBA career. Originally selected by Seattle in the third round (65th overall) of the 1988 NBA Draft, Gaines played with the New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks throughout his career, earning a trip to the 1994 NBA Finals as a member of the Knicks.

Gaines has been instrumental in working with the Suns’ rookies and is universally known as an incredibly hard worker. To Megan, though, he’s just “dad.”

“My favorite memories with my dad are the zoo visits, amusements parks, and freeze tag with my friends and I at the local park,” Megan Gaines added. “Even after that, he would come home and watch game film, which we turned into a game as well. He did all this to provide the best environment for me growing up.

“He never missed a beat.”

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