In years past, Suns Media Day not only provided the fans with quotes and pictures, but also gave us a vibe as to where the team was at. This year the event was rushed, the vibe subdued. Still, the boys all seem optimistic. The new players are happy to be Suns, and the veteran Suns appear to be in excellent shape, and ready for what will probably be the last run with Steve Nash on the squad.
As with everything the lockout served to compress: the number of games played, training camp, free agency, etc., Phoenix Suns Media Day was short: the players were ushered along quickly. They didn't have a long time to talk as they were preparing for a practice. Oh and the pictures I took came out like garbage. Don't try to be a photographer when equipped with only an iphone. It's not professional or practical.
WC: "The Suns have had the reputation of losing their way so to speak when Steve Nash leaves the game. What do you bring to the table as a potential backup to Nash?"
ST: "My experience is going to help me right there. Steve Nash is an All-Star point guard so it's hard to match what he brings to the table, but I think I have the ability to do that when he goes to the bench."
WC: "Is your focus going to be that of play maker and keeping the offense fluid, or are you going to look to create some offense for yourself?"
ST: "I think both. I'm not exactly sure what coach is going to be asking from me, but I'm an offensive minded point guard. I'll be playing pick n' roll and getting guys the ball but I'll also be looking at the basket to put some points on the board."
WC: "There's a number of other point guards in camp, how do you think the competition will affect your play?"
ST: "That's the best part of the NBA you always gotta stay on your toes to be better than the next guy."
WC: "The landscape of the Western Conference has changed a bit since last season. How do you think the Suns stack up against the rest of the competition?"
GH: "Yeah, well obviously the landscape has changed, the Clippers have added some solid pieces to their team and the West has always been tough, when you look at the teams, Dallas reloaded, and the Lakers will always be the Lakers, San Antonio you can always count on them to be good, Memphis and Oklahoma City have gotten better from last year so every game is important, especially in this compressed, condensed season, so we got our work cut out for us...It's gonna be a dogfight, but it's a dog fight every year, so it's never easy. This year will be unusual for a lot of teams because of the pace. The team that manages the schedule, stays healthy, those are the teams that will do well and I hope we're one of them."
WC: "How have the Suns improved from last year?"
GH: "I think the difference between now and Media Day last year is we don't have as many new faces. We had a lot of changeover from the year before and now we have some familiarity, guys who have been here for awhile and have gotten used to the system. I think Hakim will be a lot better. I think he's a lot more comfortable, I think the coaches are a lot more comfortable with him. Josh will be a lot better, Robin will be back to where he was two years ago, he has his explosion and pop and energy in his game that wasn't there last season...this is the first year where no one has that many expectations for us, but internally we do. We have goals and high expectations for ourselves, so we have to work hard and keep getting better and better."
WC: 'How do you feel?"
GH: "I feel good, as good as you can feel coming out of two a days, now thats behind us and we can get ready for our first exhibition and game and December 26th!"
WC: "What's the difference between the system you are coming from and here with the Suns?"
RP: "It's like night and day, complete opposite styles of play. I'm still getting used to it. I'm used to pushing the ball up to half court then stopping and waiting to get the play and going through our structured motion in Utah. Here everything's free flowing, everything has a purpose, just a lot of basketball reads which is a lot of fun. I'm really excited about it, I'm actually looking forward to playing the game again, it's been a blast."
RP on defense: "That's one thing that never changes, defensive principals are the same wherever you go, one thing that every player can control is how the play defensively. And that's one of the things that will never change for me is mentality defensively, I'll always bring energy and I'll always be up to whatever the challenge is in front of me.
WC: "You haven't been here that long but what's your impression of the guys and the locker room situation?"
RP: "I've been in bad locker rooms and good locker rooms. You can kind of tell right off the bat if a team is close or not and from day one I knew this team was very close which is very important if you want to have success as a team in this league you almost have to be afamily and I can see that here and I'm happy to be a part of it and hopefully we can keep that going for the rest of the season.
WC: "Last year we talked about you come over from Greece and making the change back to NBA basketball. You had a tough season with injuries and then trying to get back into the swing of things. What did you learn from last season?"
JC: "Ah man well I learned to leave last season in last season and really try to build something new and try to improve on myself in all aspects so I'm looking forward to a good year."
WC: "This season you have more of a defined role most likely as Grant's backup. Does knowing when you are going to play affect the way you approach the game?"
JC: "I don't think it changes anything. You have to go to every game thinking you're going to play the whole game. You never know what's going to happen, I'm ready to play at all times. I'm just keeping in shape and I'm ready to do whatever the team asks me to do."
WC: Do you feel more comfortable in the locker room this season compared to last?"
JC: "I do, I feel a lot more comfortable. The whole team dynamic I think is more comfortable. Everybody is on the same page which isvery important for a team."
WC: "Do you think the Suns are going to surprise a lot of people this season with the additions to the team?"
JC: "I think we will. We have a lot of good pieces and I think that we're playing well together. I think it's a matter of us just suring upa couple of things and we really have to concentrate on rebounding. We're not the biggest team, but I think f we do that we'll be pretty solid."
Other Media Type: "What's the difference for you so far this season. How do you feel?"
RL: "I feel (ha), honestly I feel physically better and mentally I think it's just, I feel mentally better, too."
WC: What do you attribute that to?"
RL: "Honestly I didn't do anything too different this Summer, I think the injuries are a little further in the past. Because an injury like that will take a year maybe a year in a half to rehabilitate from. But that wasn't the only thing, I think there were mental problems also, I think having a break gave me a chance to distance myself from the uh...
WC: "The grind?"
Other media type: "Does the contract year have any affect on you?"
RL: "No, I haven't been thinking about it, I just want to play better than last season, I'm not really thinking about anything beyond this season."
Other MT: "Do you think this season you have more to prove to the organization?"
RL: "To myself more than anything, I want to do what I can for my teammates..."
WC: What's going to be the biggest change in Robin Lopez this season?"
RL: "I'm just trying to do the little things I hope I can bring it to the court, just alter some shots, grab some boards, get some dunks."
OMT: "Do you feel any pressure to perform or impress anyone this season in order to earn minutes?"
MM: "I don't have to prove anything to nobody you know."
WC: "Do you have the mentality that you're competing for a starting spot?"
MM: "Of course, I'm not coming to take a back seat, I'm coming in to start."
WC: "How have some of the battles in practice gone?"
MM: "It's cool man, it's not as hard as college so it's easy to get into it..."
WC: "What do you think about being in an NBA locker room with the veterans?"
MM: "It's exciting to just be a part of the team."
WC: "Has anyone taken you under their wing so to speak."
MM: "I think everyone has."
OMT: "Who was your biggest influence to ou growing up?"
MM: "My mom."
WC: "Shannon, you're on the other side of the rivalry. How does it feel?"
SB: "It feels great man, I don't know how it's gonna feel when I go to the Staples Center or when they come here but it feels great to be a Sun and hopefully great things are on the horizon for us."
WC: "Do you feel like you have anything to prove to the Lakers?"
SB: "Um, not necessarily nothing to prove I just want to beat 'em, beat 'em bad, I think they know as far as my abilities they know what I can do but I just want to beat them."
WC: "Obviously you haven't been here that long but what's the difference the locker rooms between the Lakers and Suns so far?"
SB: "You know you definitely form relationships with every team you're with and this like my 4th or 5th team so you know...I'm in to building the chemistry...We got a great group of guys in the locker room and I think if we come together we can do some special things and shock a lot of people."
OMT: "Who was a mentor for you on the Lakers?"
SB: "Everybody that was around me. I mean I learned a lot from coach Phil, Kobe, learned a lot from Derek Fisher, I learned a lot from everybody...everybody your around you try to learn and take something positive so they benefit me in my every day life."
OMT: "Was it weird walking into the building here as a Sun?"
SB: No it wasn't weird, it was actually great, it felt great..for me I think I can help this team out a whole lot with the things I bring to the basketball court...we know we can score points but with our defense hopefully we can get some stops and scare a lot of people."
OMT: "What do you think of coach Turner's defense?"
SB: "It's...bringing that defensive mind to the game. If we can get a couple of stops and keep those guys from scoring a lot of points we can win a lot of games and scare a lot of people and make it to the playoffs."
OMT: "How's the competition been with Jared Dudley?"
SB: "A lot of people say that...I don't look at it as competition, I look at it as playing basketball to get better. There's no competition both of us are going to make each other better."
On Sebastian Telfair:
AG: "One thing about Sebastian is he's never really been in a position where it was a good fit for him. I think this is a really good fit for him. You know I told him, 'We fought for you...' He's a young player, but he's been in the league for a long time...I told him this happens all the time. I told him look at Avery Johnson, got released six times before he found his place in San Antonio. I think with his (Telfair's) age he's got a lot of basketball left and we really want to make this a good fit for him."
OMT: "What's the difference in Robin Lopez so far this camp?"
AG: "I think he's really healthy that's the big thing, and because he's healthy he's been really efficient. Conditioning wise he's in better shape. I think he's got his athleticisim back where he's able to block some shots, he's rebounding the ball better...He becomes very important to us, obviously if he gets better than that gives us another big guy-you can never have too many big guys...I think it was a real frustrating season for him last year. He just really couldn't ever get back to the place that he was in the playoffs the year before...I think it just became very frustrating for him. I think the great thing is that he's back and I think his attitude is great, he seems to be in a lot less stress than last year, and obviously if you're feeling good and you're healthy then he could be a really good player for us.
WC: "What kind of goals have you set for yourself this season?"
MG: "For myself just basically be a better player than last year and try to improve my game, obviously be the force inside and be able to score and punish mismatch and hopefully reach the goal-the magic number 10 and 10..."
WC: "Double double?"
MG: "Yeah but the biggest goal is to make the playoffs. As a team we have to make the playoffs otherwise all the numbers won't come."
WC: "And with the additions to the team so far do you think you'll be in that position?"
MG: (interrupting with enthusiasm) "I really think so, we got a lot of new guys, young guys who can play defense and we're looking good, I gotta tell you we got guys playing at the highest level...Shannon and two championships and you know and he knows how it is to play for a winning team so you know, it's a huge opportunity for us and we're looking forward to it.
WC: "Have you seen improvements in Robin Lopez?"
MG: "Well he's definitly better this year than last year, he definitely, physically he's better...he wants to have the ball in his hands so this is a good thing for us as a team, obviously I have to compete with him for the starting job, but at the end of the day we play for the same thing...we have a chance to play together at the same time on the floor...I've talked to coach Gentry and there's a slight possibility that we might play some minutes."
Observations For Conversing:
- I haven't seen AG smile so much in a long time. I think he's very happy the lockout is over. However, this season will be a serious challenge for him limiting the minutes of his veterans (Nash, Hill) especially on back to backs.
- Markieff Morris is young, so I won't read too much into his comments, but the statement "I don't have anything to prove" was once uttered by another Suns rookie-Earl Clark. Let's hope it means something else to Markieff because it doesn't necessarily sound that great. He should be talking team, team, team, but he didn't. Of course a lot of that talk is scripted, so maybe his quip has to do more with establishing his own confidence in the NBA...
- Everyone I saw looked in great shape. Although no one really agreed with me, Nash looked slimmer-not skinnier persay, but he seemed more cut than years past. FWIW...The Silo looked huge and yoked, but very slimmed down as well.
- I got zero chance to talk to Dudley and Nash was in and out quickly as well. I did talk to Channing Frye's mom though, watched Eutychus make a hilarious blunder I'll let him talk about (or not). She rates Channing's acting ability as "average", and the Fry's commercial did indeed feature Frye's grandma although it appeared to be a man or you know, something else. Here's a a plug for her website: www.girlfriendstalksports.com. Ms. Frye also had some harsh words for Kevin Garnett who we all remember punched Frye in the jewels. Stay tuned for the Euts video where she supports her son defending himself against that ridiculous jerk.