Iconic Families: Phoenix Suns A Family Affair

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Perhaps no team in the NBA has placed more emphasis on the family effect than the Phoenix Suns, who regularly draft and sign players who have a sibling in the NBA as well.

With the (so far) keeping of Luke Zeller on the Phoenix Suns roster, that makes no less than six "brothers" signed to play for the Suns in the several years. Apparently, the Phoenix Suns put extra weight on the unique life experienced by families with multiple world-class athletes playing the same sport at the same time.

The Zeller Family

Luke Zeller is the oldest of three NBA-quality brothers between the ages of 19 and 25. Middle brother Tyler was drafted by the Cavaliers this spring while Cody Zeller is projected to be a top-5 draft pick next spring. All are nearly 7 feet tall, though their skill sets vary. Luke is an outside threat, Tyler plays closer to the basket and Cody is the most well-rounded of the three. As a freshman last year, Cody led the Indiana Hoosiers in scoring, rebounding, blocks, steals and free throws.

Each was Mr. Indiana Basketball - Luke in 2005, Tyler in 2008 and Cody in 2011 - and a McDonald's All-American. Each led Washington (Ind.) High to at least one Indiana state championship. Each finished first, second or third in his high school class academically.

Luke is the least heralded of the crew, but is known as a leader. He was captain of his Notre Dame team despite averaging few points and rebounds throughout his career, and is the most outgoing of the three.

"He could probably be mayor of town," mother Lorri Zeller said in an excellent article on the brothers last year.

The Morris Family

The Suns already have Markieff Morris on the current squad, twin brother to Marcus. Both starred at Kansas, and both were drafted in the first round a year ago (Markieff at 13 to Phoenix, Marcus at 14 to Houston).

There's twins, and then there's TWINS. These boys look exactly alike, right down to facial expressions and body movements. But their games are different. Marcus is a tweener SF/PF while Markieff is a pure PF. In college, Marcus was the more offensively gifted of the two while Markieff covered the defense and the boards.

Once they hit the NBA, though, their paths have diverged. Marcus is buried on the depth chart of a team that employs no less than half-dozen tweener forwards fighting for minutes, while Markieff has a clear set of responsibilities and substantial minutes with the Phoenix Suns.

Still, their motto is #TEAM FOE (Family Over Everything). They talk every day and spent the entire summer together - mostly working out at the Suns facilities to further develop their skills.

The Lopez Family

Robin and Brook Lopez are a taller, clunkier, version of the Morris brothers. Both went to college together (Stanford), both were drafted in the first round of the same 2008 draft. Brook went 10th to New Jersey and Robin went 15th to the Suns. Both have suffered with health issues since 2008 (Brook's feet; Robin's back, foot and knee).

This one didn't go the Suns' way, though. Brook flashed enough to earn a maximum-salary extension over the summer with NJ, while Robin was shipped to New Orleans and signed a kinda-good but largely non-guaranteed contract with the lowly Hornets. Robin just never developed into a regular player because he never provided game to game consistency. One night, he'd look like a real NBA starter, then the next night he'd look like a dud.

The Griffin Family

Here's another case of the Suns giving so much credit to "genes" that they drafted uber-talented Blake Griffin's brother, Taylor, in the second round of the same draft that Blake went #1 overall.

Taylor was athletic, for sure, but never caught onto the NBA game because he wasn't quick enough to play the perimeter or big enough to bang underneath. He hung on with the Suns for a cup of coffee before moving his game overseas.

The Collins Family

Twin brothers Jason and Jarron Collins also went to Stanford (like the Lopez twins) and moved onto the NBA as first round picks. Neither became a stat machine in the NBA, but each was a valuable defensive rotation player for teams that valued their impact on the win column more than the stat column.

Jarron famously (for Suns fans) filled in for Robin Lopez in the spring of 2010 to provide a defensive anchor for the surging Suns during their magical playoff run to the Conference Finals. He was the subject of a lot of Sun fan boasting that spring: "We're so good, we can beat you with Jarron Collins at center. So there!"

The Van Arsdale Family

The Phoenix Suns history with brother tandems dates all the way back to 1960s. After college careers at Indiana, Dick starred for the expansion Phoenix Suns after a 3-year stint in New York while twin brother Tom played for several NBA teams throughout his 12-year NBA career. Both were 3-time all-stars and both made the All-Rookie team in 1966.

The brothers finally got to play together in the 1976-77 season on the Phoenix Suns - the only time the Suns have had both brothers of a twin tandem at the same time. Surely, the Suns wouldn't mind doing that again, with say the Griffin brothers.

Dick stayed with the Suns organization for the rest of his life - spending time as coach, GM, VP and broadcaster, and recently suffered from and recovered from a severe stroke that sapped his strength. Tom lives in Phoenix as well, and yes they both still look exactly alike.

--The Iconic Families series is brought to you by New York Life. At New York Life, everything we do is to help Keep Good Going. Find out how to keep the good in your life going at newyorklife.com

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