By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
After ASU alum House had scored still another field goal during an exceptional scoring night this season, Leander screeched in falsetto: "The House is burning down!"
Three-D's his name for all-around playmaker Boris Diaw (his jersey number's 3 and his last name starts with a D), and whenever Suns shooting guard Raja Bell sinks a three-pointer, Leander often proclaims, "Raja that!"
It's become so ridiculous that TNT analyst Doug Collins recently regurgitated "Brazilian Blur" during a nationally televised Suns game. His broadcast partner shot back, "Where'd you get that?!" Collins lives in Phoenix and had caught Leander's play-by-play.
And just what was Leander thinking when, earlier this season, he shouted during a broadcast, "Steve Nash put a little secret sauce on that shot!"?
"I have no idea," Leander, a hometown guy who went to Brophy Prep and was once a Suns ball-boy, confessed to The Bird. "I'm still paying for that one. [UPN analyst and former Sun] Dan Majerle still gives me crap about it."
UPN producer Bob Adlhoch has never had to pull in the reins on Leander's overzealous oratory. In fact, he wouldn't want to.
"I'm actually kind of surprised Tom doesn't use '3D' five times a game," Adlhoch snitched to The Bird. "There are plenty of opportunities for him to go overboard, but he usually knows the limits."
Really? Then why does this pretend pigeon wake up in cold sweats to nightmares of Leander yelling, "Little Stevie Wonder!"? A Toronto newspaper actually came up with that one during the star point guard's successful run for MVP last season, and Tom's purloined it.
The Bird wanted to blame Leander for "The Matrix" for Shawn Marion (he flies through the air like Keanu Reeves' character in the movies), STAT for Stoudemire (he fills up the stat sheet) and particularly T-Squared for Tim Thomas (get it?) -- but they aren't his fault, damn it!
Who knows who came up with the first two, but it was Gary Bender, the Suns play-by-play guy on Fox Sports Net, who first spouted Thomas' handle -- literally an hour after he'd donned a Suns uniform for the first freaking time!
The lesson here is, gone are the days when only superstars like Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Julius "Doctor J" Erving had handles. Not only do Marion and Stoudemire have theirs (Nash wishes he didn't have his), but so does a clumsy brick-shooting Irish guy. In Tom Leander's world.
Yet Tom's unapologetic. "I'd rather have the fans saying I'm having too much fun," he argued, "than not enough."