Suns Enjoy Some Company In D.C.

by Brad Faye

The Suns weren’t alone in Washington, D.C. during their matchup this weekend against the Wizards. Along with all the usual residents and tourists, they also found themselves accompanied by the winners of the Symbol of Freedom Art and Essay Contest presented by the Phoenix Suns and Southwest Airlines.

The contest, which asked participants to draw a picture that symbolizes freedom to them, saw 10 winners selected out of approximately 150 Maricopa County seventh graders. The winners – along with one guardian apiece - were then flown to D.C. where they not only had the opportunity to watch the Suns in action, but also had the chance to take in several sites. One stop even included a visit with Arizona native and Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema who took a photo with the group outside of the Capitol Building.

“We just think there’s so much value in being here and seeing the history as opposed to just reading about it in a book,” Community Relations Director Chris Mallory explained. “And I think by visiting the memorials and by seeing the exhibits at the Smithsonian, it’s going to help them better understand the lessons they are taught in their seventh grade history classes and other classes moving forward.”

While Suns guard Goran Dragic said on Monday it would have been nice to have gotten a win for the fans in attendance, it was still nice to have them there nonetheless.

“When you play at home, it’s great knowing that you are surrounded by fans who support you, so to hear that support on the road when you’re shooting free throws and during timeouts is nice,” the playmaker said. “It was also great to see how supportive they were of us after the game even though we had lost.”

In previous years, other stops for the event winners included trips to Houston and Boston. But as Suns President of Basketball Operations – and former D.C. resident – Lon Babby explained to, there is no shortage of sites worth seeing when visiting the nation’s capital.

“You’ve got the various parts of the Smithsonian, all of the monuments, and the White House just to name a few,” Babby said. “And while I don’t miss the traffic or the weather, it’s obviously a very exciting and wonderful place.”

Dragic agreed, “There’s a lot to see there so I think it was great for them to have had the opportunity to do that. There’s obviously a lot of history there and I think it’s great that their hard work paid off.”