PHOENIX — The Suns’ marketing team coined the phrase Planet Orange a few years back to encompass the idea that all Suns fans share an almost familial bond on this planet.
At the #SunsTweetUp during Tuesday’s game against the Spurs, Suns tweeters came together like a bunch of long-lost cousins at a family reunion.
Unfortunately I didn’t really get to share in this family bonding until the question and answer period at the end because my last-minute seats were way up in the nosebleeds away from many of the tweeps.
But the question and answer session saw tweeps finding out that the random stranger walking in front of them is somebody they talk to all the time after a glance at their name tag. Others you could tell by their Twitter profile pic (either that or you’ve been doing a bit too much Facebook stalking …..)
One tweeter, @CWebbie, flew all the way from ATLANTA to be a part of the festivities, which makes me ashamed for thinking that US Airways Center is far from my North Scottsdale home, and she took pictures with all the tweeters she encountered.
I asked her what made her become a Suns fan all the way over in Hawks territory, and she said it started with her being a Grant Hill fan since he was a Dukie but that the Suns were the first team she really fell in love with.
A check of my Twitter page after the game showed a multitude of Suns tweeps expressing how excited they were to finally meet their Twitter friends in real life while lamenting the fact that there wasn’t enough time to meet all the tweeters in attendance.
Like Jeramie McPeek was talking about in the preview of this event, meeting face to face takes that connection to a whole new level. On one hand, you feel like you’ve known these people all your life, and on the other hand you just met.
For example, i rant with @ZoDogg34 about Suns basketball and University of Arizona sports all the time, but it was nice to meet the man behind the Twitter handle.
It really did feel like a big family reunion, only the US Airways Center ushers were shooing us out before we had a chance to meet that one final long-lost cousin.
The speaker of the night, to me at least, was Suns head coach Alvin Gentry. He was his usual humorous self, a side that the media gets to see of him during pregame chats in his office but that the general public doesn’t always get to see. He looked like he would be happy to answer questions all night.
His funniest response came to a fan who asked him about clearing some space for his upcoming 2009-10 Coach of the Year award. He replied that he’s happy to be November Coach of the Month, but he doesn’t want win the year award because the last handful of coaches to earn that honor have since been fired.
He also joked that 10 of his autographs equal one Phil Jackson autograph and he asked a fan questioning how he keeps his cool when the refs stink if they watched the Denver game. Gentry also said Kobe should be the MVP at this point and gave the Suns’ team MVP award to the whole squad before invoking the name of Steve.
Jared Dudley came out for a quick taping of JMZ — Fan Edition. Dudley has developed something of a cult following in Phoenix between his hustling style of play and the unprecedented inside access he provides the fans.
I think JMZ is one of the greatest things a pro athlete has done for fans in terms of taking them behind the curtain, BUT — and you knew one was coming — he seemed more concerned with promoting all he’s doing than really interacting with the fans tonight.
I’ll be the first to say that I LOVE all of his inside access, it’s the kind of stuff fans were missing even a year ago. It’s just that his talk was all about getting fans excited about what Dudley was doing instead of being more of a give and take. I do have to give him credit for his perfect display of showmanship to the adoring crowd, and signing a fan’s “Dudley No. 3″ headband as he walked off was a nice finishing touch.
Finally, the main man Amare came on with his two little kids by his side, and he did not disappoint. One of STAT’s first questions was about how far out he was when dunking on Duncan, and later he said he felt like he’s 100 percent healthy at long last, and he really looked it during tonight’s game.
It was interesting to see a mix of questions the media would ask and questions the media would never ask. We also got the predictable question about whether Amare will stay in Phoenix past this season, and we got a predictable, “Absolutely.” I just wonder what Amare would say if he were speaking to New York fans.
One last interesting note from Amare, he was asked about the Hebrew words he sometimes tweets. STAT said that he studied Hebrew during his recovery from eye surgery when he had to sit face down for 22 hours a day for 10 straight days. It looks like Sun Tzu spent time catching up on the education he never got in college this summer when he could not work on his game.
As the #SunsTweetUp reunion came to a close, my only disappointment was not getting to meet more citizens of Planet Orange.
An odd sight
You see your regular stream of Amare, Nash and Hill jerseys at any Suns game, but I was surprised to see a girl wearing a homemade Goran Dragic jersey as I was entering US Airways Center. I asked her why she fashioned a shirt after the Dragon and she said he was her favorite player.
I thought it was a little strange at the time being that it wasn’t like she was his girlfriend or anything, but after Goran’s 18-point explosion I promise not to doubt anybody wearing homemade Goran Dragic jerseys again.