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Dave King: Our Suns Daddy

I love Dave King, and what he did for this Phoenix Suns community can never be understated.

Over the past weekend, the world lost a great man in Dave King. We all knew Dave as the editor of Bright Side of the Sun, the host of the Solar Panel podcast, and as an ever-present voice of reason on Suns Twitter. But beyond that, as a person, Dave King was one of the most humble, kind individuals I’ve ever had the honor of knowing. To be very blunt, losing him hurts. It really fucking hurts. But through the pain and maybe even the anger that we feel we have to remember all the great things that Dave did while he was here — and how that contributed to each of our lives.

To see Dave’s humility and kindness, you only need to look at how he handled the situation that ultimately took him away from us. Dave kept his cancer diagnosis very close to the vest. When he first told me about it, he asked that I not share the news with anyone — particularly within the Suns’ community. Dave was still going to games and told me that he didn’t want people to start treating him differently. He just wanted to be Dave and he just wanted people to treat him like Dave. He didn’t want it to become about him.

That was Dave King.

Then, of course, there’s Bright Side Night. If you have been reading Bright Side of the Sun for any period of time, you are familiar with the annual event that year after year sends thousands of kids to their first Phoenix Suns game. You probably also know that Dave started and grew that tradition. But you wouldn’t know that from talking to Dave. It wasn’t coined as “Dave King’s Bright Side Night,” but that is really what it was. That event was all Dave King. Dave took the laboring oar and put in the countless hours and endless legwork to make the event successful each year.

You would never hear Dave lament about all the work because helping underprivileged kids experience something they might not otherwise have a chance to experience was just something Dave wanted to do.

That was Dave King.

A few days before Dave passed, I was speaking with his wife, and I told her that I really hoped Dave recognized how important he was — not only to the Phoenix Suns community but to each individual member of that community. I said that not because Dave couldn’t recognize the impact he had, but instead because he wouldn’t recognize that impact as his doing. But the reality is that Dave is the reason so much of this community exists, and is the reason so many of us have built relationships with one another beyond just exchanging words on the Internet.

I’ll use myself as an example. Paul and I started our podcast at the beginning of the 2016–17 season. Paul reached out to Dave via DM and pitched the idea to him — which speaks to the “take-a-chance” attitude Voita discussed in his piece. If not for Dave taking that chance on me and Paul, this current version of me wouldn’t exist — nor would “SoSaysJ.” And whether we like it or not, in this day and age, that social media existence is part of who we are — particularly in our Suns community.

To that point, but on a more personal level, this Phoenix Suns community that Dave laid the foundation for, as we all know, goes beyond those online interactions. If you listen to our podcast, you know that Paul and I have been close friends since we were in college. But I can certainly tell you that our relationship would not be the same if Dave hadn’t taken that chance on us seven years ago.

And it continues well beyond that. Dan Duarte, Jon Bloom, John Voita, Matthew Lissy, Espo, Saul Bookman, Gavin, Nate, and Boyd (the Aussies), Jake Braugner. I consider each of these guys my friend, and I never would have met any of them if not for Dave King. For the sake of brevity (and privacy), I mention only a few but, needless to say, there are many other people out there (you know who you are) that I consider friends who I would not even know without this community that Dave helped build.

Point being, while there was so much more to Dave than his role in our Phoenix Suns community, our Phoenix Suns community is nothing without Dave. So, even if you didn’t know him, if you’re part of this community, then he probably impacted your life in some way.

As crazy as it may sound, this, at least in part, is why so many of us unabashedly referred to Dave as “our Suns Daddy.” It’s an admittedly silly nickname that was stumbled upon through a series of text messages but, at the same time, was quite fitting. Dave was a leader, a mentor, and a friend to so many in this community. He played roles befitting of a father and, in that sense, truly was - and is - our Suns Daddy.

I could talk about Dave forever, but I’ll close with a story from the last time I really talked with Dave. It was, fittingly, at a game earlier this season. We made it a point to meet up at halftime when we were both at games, but this time we hung out for nearly the entire third quarter, too. He told me how he had made the decision to stop being angry or bitter about things in life that he couldn’t control or were inconsequential. He was done holding animosity about petty things. He spent much of the time telling me about instances where he could have been bitter or angry, but chose not to. Instead, he wanted to enjoy what mattered in life.

In retrospect, Dave likely sensed that may end up being one of the last times he and I had a conversation. And, considering his audience and the subject matter, in my current self-reflective state, I wonder whether his point and the extent of the conversation was less about him telling me about how he was doing but instead, one last time, sharing some wisdom with me. But regardless, his mindset demonstrates the character that Dave possessed. Even faced with the most dire of situations, he focused on the positives in life. An approach from which we can all learn a lesson.

That night, I gave Dave a ride home from the game (his health didn’t allow him to drive anymore). I dropped off a friend first and asked Dave, who was sitting in the back seat, if he wanted to hop up front with me. He said, “No, I’ll just sit back here like you’re my chauffeur.” And he did.

Because that was Dave King.

Dave did not want to be treated differently due to his diagnosis because he just wanted to be who he always was. And he stayed true to that until the bitter end.

Dave King was a leader, a mentor, and a friend. To say that I am going to miss him is an immense understatement. But his legacy will live on — and it will grow — we will make sure of that. And, as cheesy as it may sound, as long as we have this community, Dave will always be part of it and will always be part of each of us.

Thank you, Dave. I love you.

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