Best New Face on the Valley Sports Scene - 2008
Suns big man Robin Lopez
For Alvin Adams' sake, he's 7 feet tall and he's a defensive specialist! Could this 255-pound bruiser out of Stanford University actually be playing for the Suns? Well, you freakin' betcha! General manager Steve Kerr went out and got the team a big man, to spell not just the aged Shaquille O'Neal but Amaré Stoudemire, as well. His being a primo defender in the paint in college should be a big plus. Maybe he can teach Stoudemire how to do it, and maybe Amaré can teach Lopez how to pick up his scoring. The guy's a monster on the court who blocked 73 shots during his freshman season. That was not only the most shots blocked in the Pac-10 Conference that year, but it was a school record at Stanford (which has sported some incredible basketball teams).
Lopez is young (20), having entered the NBA draft after his sophomore season, but he will add muscle to the Suns' D. Not that we give a crap about his twin brother, Brook (drafted by the New Jersey Nets), but the Lopezes together blocked more shots than seven Pac-10 teams in the 2006-07 season. And don't think Lopez can't score. Though his brother was the more offensive player in college, Robin turned in two double-doubles in his sophomore season and has scored in double figures in NBA summer league competition. But the most interesting thing about him is his red Afro. (That and the rumor that he dated pro golfer babe Michelle Wie.)
If we'd given a Best Of for incredible hair (past winners include Eric Byrnes and Steve Nash) this year, he'd have won it, tresses down. To say he hears the beat of a different backboard-pounder would be an understatement. The round-ball giant, along with his brother, is queer for Greek mythology, Michael Jackson music, and anything Disney. The only other way he's light in the sneakers is as a rebounder (he averaged six boards a game in college, and the Suns are expecting more out of him in the, by comparison, wide-open pro game).