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This Is The Life
JACK McCALLUM
October 31, 2005
In eight splendid days as an assistant coach for the PHOENIX SUNS, the author took a hit from Shawn Marion, lost a bet on Amar� Stoudemire and learned to love the game in a whole new way
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October 31, 2005

This Is The Life

In eight splendid days as an assistant coach for the PHOENIX SUNS, the author took a hit from Shawn Marion, lost a bet on Amar� Stoudemire and learned to love the game in a whole new way

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"Maybe then Kurt is free and can watch Amar� and play off him," says Mike. "Either [Kurt] gets in the drag or he runs to the wing."

"I can see Kurt in some quicks, too," says Iavaroni. In Phoenix's set offense a quick occurs when, as Nash dribbles above the top of the key, a player races to the corner to set a screen, freeing up a teammate to receive a quick pass from Nash for a shot. Last year both Marion and Richardson scored on countless quicks.

Many conversations come around to the faith that they have in Nash and Stoudemire, a tandem that is effective on the run and in the half-court. But, being coaches, they even worry about those two players. "They were so good last year because they relied on each other," says Mike. "If they stop realizing that, we're lost."

Some of the players stop by Mike's office to say hello. It's like the first day of school. When Stoudemire sticks his head in, Mike says, quietly and firmly, to the coaches, "Fellas, give me a few minutes with Amar�." (Later, Mike tells me the talk was pro forma: Make sure we're on the same page, let's have the same goals as last year, etc.)

Media Day passes uncomfortably for me; wearing the team logo, I try to avoid most of my colleagues in the press. Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune spots me and asks, tongue-in-cheek, "What do you hope to bring to the Suns?" Tongue similarly placed, I answer, "I think they should slow it down this year. Nash and Stoudemire are out of control, and I want to rein them in."

OCTOBER 4

A COLD SLAP IN THE FACE

My first official coaching duty at training camp in Tucson is pulling up the tape that the Arizona women's volleyball team has used to outline a court for their practices. "This is nothing," says Dan D'Antoni, pulling along with me. "As a high school coach I swept the gym and kept count of every time I did it. I still remember the number-20,152."

"You're a long way from that now," I say.

"Apparently not," says Dan, ripping up another piece of tape.

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