I begin by expressing my gratitude to the Bright Side community.
The selflessness that you displayed coupled with the willingness to support the Bright Side Night cause was amazing. Sending children to see their first Suns game is truly unquantifiable. Couple that with the fact that the Phoenix Suns put together, a shocking 22-point comeback victory against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night, and that is truly a memory those kids will never forget. Heck, I’m 41 and I will never forget that game.
The excitement in the building, the thrill in the fourth quarter, the smell of the Wetzel Pretzels in the arena, the taste of an ice-cold lemonade; these are core memories. And you are responsible for creating them. So I applaud you, Bright Side. And I thank you.
Before the game, we were treated to a personal question-and-answer session with none other than Suns legend, Rex Chapman. For those who were in attendance, I hope you enjoyed the conversation.
I don’t have the actual quotes in front of me; I was busy asking the questions. I’ll do my best to sum up the not-too-serious interview. It went by too quick and I hope I remember it all.
I asked him who his favorite wide receiver was growing up, seeing as the catch that he made in his 1997 postseason “The Shot” was practically an uncatchable ball.
His response? “Lynn Swann”.
Chapman, who was born and raised in Kentucky, enjoyed the artful way that Swann played football for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jason Kidd was no Terry Bradshaw on the play as Rev believed the ball was headed out of bounds. He caught the ball, felt Hersey Hawkins on his hip, and shot the ball. Why? Because he thought that Hersey was going to foul him.
As to who his favorite players were growing up? Chapman loved the athletic scorers, from David Thompson to Dr. Julius Iriving. He was not initially impressed with Larry Bird. Bird is from Indiana, a direct rival of Kentucky, and a young Chapman was unimpressed with his game. Until he witnessed it firsthand.
Ahead of his time, Chapman noted how Bird never shot a three-pointer until he made the NBA. And he made that look seamless as well. His entire game was seamless.
Rex talked about the modern NBA, how the game has evolved, and who the closest player is to Larry Bird. “Luke Doncic,” he stated. Rex is impressed with Luka and the cerebral way he approaches the game, noting that there is some opportunity to manage his emotions relative to officiating.
We talked about Michael Jordan and how different he was athletically. Jordan would be the one to get the ball if it was heading out of bounds and nine players were vying for it, according to Chapman. As everyone else was still moving in the same direction to try to catch the ball, Jordan grabbed it and it was moving in the other direction. His athleticism was off the charts.
Chapman spoke about the first time that he ever witnessed Devin Booker in person. Booker, like Chapman, attended the University of Kentucky. Chapman was in Lexington watching workouts on a team that included Tyler Ulis and the Harrison twins, and it was Booker who impressed him. His smooth jumper, a put-back dunk, and the confidence in which he played caught his eye.
Chapman asked head coach John Calipari at the time how long Booker would be at Kentucky, to which he replied, “Not long if he plays.”
While Booker didn’t play as a starter — he came off of the bench for all 38 of his appearances — he impressed as the sixth man on that Kentucky team that lost to the Wisconsin Badgers in the Final Four.
Rex continued to explain how Booker is simply built differently. At community events he is there for the duration, playing with kids and interacting with he community. He is an ideal player to have on your team and a perfect representative of the organization.
We had a conversation about shoes, as Chapman is always known to have a fresh set of kicks, which he did last night as well. He noted how he fell asleep to his first pair of Cons, which were baby blue. He truly is one of us. He even complimented my purple and orange Nike Dunks, which I will continually remind my wife of as she questioned the purchase.
Of course, I had to ask one off-the-wall question, inquiring as to which he’d prefer to be: a ninja, a pirate, or a knight. His response? “Which one is warmest”. Ninja it is.
Overall, it was a fantastic conversation. Thank you Rex for spending some time with us and answering my interesting inquiries.
Again, thank you Bright Side for opening these doors and for allowing us as a writing team to be the conduit between you and the team. Your support, not only here with every word you read, but for the children that you impacted on Bright Side Night, I am forever grateful.