They're not making headlines. They're not at the mic during press conferences, or leading the huddle during timeouts. They're the engines behind player development and team preparedness for our Phoenix Suns, but we might not know much about them at all.
They're the Phoenix Suns assistant coaches.
Let's see.....you may know we have former Phoenix Sun all-time favorite "Thunder" Dan Majerle on our bench, and we've been talking recently about the new hire, "defensive coordinator" Elston Turner, but what about Noel, Igor, and Bill? We have an off-season and a lockout, folks. Let's use it to educate (or re-educate) ourselves about our Phoenix Suns!
Break it down with me.....
1. "A Basketball Coach Who Plays Guitar"
Well known for his role in the first Chicago Bulls three-peat (1991-93), Bill Cartwright now calls Phoenix home. At 7'1" in his prime, he's invaluable to the Phoenix Suns as a mentor and teacher to big men such as Robin Lopez and Marcin Gortat. After retiring as an NBA player, Cartwright continued to an assistant coaching position with the Bulls, becoming the head coach from 2001 through the 2003 season.
2. Booed on Draft Night
Dan Majerle, aka Thunder Dan, aka Dan the Man, was selected by the Phoenix Suns as the 14th overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft (a familiar position), and was immediately believed by the fans to be a bust. The current Suns "Ring of Honor" member and assistant coach, who played ball at Central Michigan University, was booed on draft night when his name was called.
Majerle is now loved universally by Suns fans, owns a chain of Phoenix bars, and says he has "no desire to leave Phoenix." That's okay by us, Thunder Dan.
3. Proud to be an American
A truly international addition to the Phoenix Suns bench, assistant coach Igor Kokoskov was born in Serbia, coached in Belgrade and Yugoslavia at the young age of 24, and was a member of the University of Missouri coaching staff until he became the first non-American assistant coach in the NBA for the Clippers, Pistons, and finally the Phoenix Suns in 2008.
As Seth reported in June of this year, Igor became an American citizen! Though his wife is already an American citizen, Kokoskov decided to go through the entire process, finally becoming an American citizen this year after a lengthy 7-year process. Video of the (awesomely strange) ceremony is below:
4. The Super-Scout
You may not have heard of Noel Gillespie, but he does about as much for the Phoenix Suns as anyone does. Formerly the team's "advance scout", Noel's job was to prepare scouting reports on upcoming opponents, a seemingly thankless job that required late nights watching tape and a lot of travel.
Noel decided that wasn't enough, though. Now adding "assistant coach" to his title, he will presumably have a higher level of collaboration with the existing coaching staff. After 8 seasons with the Suns, starting as a video coordinator, I think the promotion to assistant coach is a good one.
Also, I believe that this picture of him proves that he is a badass.