They talk about the NBA's new dress code, which is aimed at cleaning up the league's image. By and large the Suns are a dapper bunch, though Nash, their leader, perpetually looks as if he were headed for a Green Day gig. The respect and affection the staff has for Nash is endlessly evident: They love his competitiveness, his leadership, his smarts, his sense of humor and his absolute lack of pretension-in short, his ability to look like a hobo and play like a hero. "The bad news," says Mike, "is that Steve will be in violation even when he's dressed up."
When the conversation turns to Stoudemire, whose five-year, $73 million contract extension will be announced on Media Day, the coaches sound more like fans. "Last season he dunked on [the Houston Rockets'] Yao Ming and didn't even look at him," says Weber. "Yao is 7'6". How is that possible?"
"Yao wasn't looking at him, either," says Iavaroni. "He had his eyes closed in fear."
"I'm not sure his best dunk wasn't against Adonal Foyle in the Golden State game," says Gentry.
"The one against [the Minnesota Timberwolves' Michael] Olowokandi was better," counters Weber. "Olowokandi's 7'1" and his wingspan must be 9'6"."
"That doesn't count," says Gentry. "Olowokandi's a pussy."
"That's Gentry," Iavaroni says, turning to me. "G-e-n.... "
GETTING THE DRILL DOWN
It's 1 p.m., and the coaches are on the America West floor. The court had been taken up for a concert, and there are no lines on the concrete surface and no goals. "Stand here," Iavaroni tells me. "We'll pretend Jack is the low block."