What: Suns induct Al McCoy into the Ring Of Honor
When: Friday, March 3, at halftime of Suns vs. Thunder
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona
What to do: Buy some discounted tickets!!
A game at the beginning of March for the second worst team in the NBA probably shouldn’t be sold out. I mean, can you really blame Suns fans who have struggled through another losing season to spend their cold hard cash on a meaningless game? Then add on the fact that said team is about to miss the playoffs for the seventh straight season and you can begin to understand a fan base acting more apathetic than a hipster at, well, anything.
That’s how I’d normally look at Friday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. A game that if you go to, I applaud you for being a diehard fan, but that I wouldn’t begrudge you for not attending.
That is until you realize exactly what Friday night is.
It is the night Suns legend Al McCoy is being inducted in the team’s Ring of Honor.
Watch and listen to come of Al’s best calls right here.
Al has provided the soundtrack to every single last great moment in Suns’ history. From the Hawk gracefully flying through the evening air in Phoenix, the Sunderella Suns shocking the NBA world, the Man with the Velvet Touch making the game look easy, TC, Horny, KJ and Majerle slaying the evil Lakers for the first time, Sir Charles being in charge of the entire league, Backcourt 2000 coming and going as fast as Y2K, Seven Seconds or Less and Steve Nash redefining the game all the way to this year’s young Suns taking their first steps towards greatness, he’s called every last second of it. (OK, that last part is wishful thinking.)
Players, coaches, GMs and yes, even the guy who plays the Gorilla, have come and gone but the one constant since 1972 has been Al.
I talked about this in my rant at the end of this Solar Panel podcast over the weekend.
For me, Al holds a special place in my Suns-loving heart. Growing up my parents refused to pay for cable. That meant my only connection to home games was through a little black Emerson clock radio perched on my nightstand that the gloriously booming voice of Mr. McCoy emanated through. He was my eyes and ears to everything that was the 1990s in the Purple Palace. Those hundreds of hours spent listening and imagining the beautiful ballet that is basketball being played in all of its purple and orange glory defined not only my fandom but what I wanted my adult life to be. Al was the reason I wanted to get into sports media and, in particular, radio.
About 15 years after those nights spent listening to those dulcet tones, I got my first official, published, writing assignment. It was to write a piece on a book entitled “The Real McCoy” the autobiography of none other than, you guessed it, Al McCoy. Here’s a Q and A on the book here.
The man who made Shazam cool was gracious enough to give me an hour long interview and a prerelease copy of the book. We talked about every aspect of his career and the challenges of writing the book - his ghostwriter became too ill to help with the memoir about halfway through - and everything in between. I spent the next two weeks working on a feature to honor a man who had an immense impact on myself and fans like me for decades. The day after the piece was published I noticed a voicemail on my office phone. As I listened I recognized the familiar voice on the other end of the line. It was Al McCoy, but instead of his booming tone that we all have grown accustomed to, his voice was reserved and, dare I say, somewhat emotional. He proceeded to take the time to thank me for writing such kind words about him and for helping share his story.
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to call Al a coworker and even live out my dream of working on the radio broadcast with him as the halftime and postgame co-host. No matter how well I got to know him, I never lost the awe and reverence for him that the much younger version of myself gained while spending those nights listening to him.
For me the fact that Friday’s game isn’t sold out is personal. The stark reality that Suns fans have yet to show the much deserved respect and passion for a man who has given so much of himself to them and this team is downright despicable. Al has spent over half his life, 45 years, behind the mic calling games for our enjoyment. The game on March 3 is our chance to give back to him. A chance to return a small fraction of the enjoyment he’s provided us all by honoring his legacy and giving him the halftime ovation he deserves.
You have the right to spend your entertainment dollars wherever you want for whatever reasons you want any other night of the year. But Friday we should come together to be there to honor the man who has painted the verbal masterpiece that is our history as fans. Put aside your bitterness about on-court play and anything else. We should all be there to recognize me celebrate the Hall of Fame career of Al McCoy because we never know when the next time he says “So long, for now” will be farewell for good as our Suns broadcaster.
You can read Espo weekly at Sports360AZ.com’s Purple Reign and hear him as part of the Solar Panel podcast with Dave King and Tim Tompkins.