Best Cheerleader in Local Sports - 2011
Alvin Gentry, Phoenix Suns
Alvin Gentry hardly is pretty enough to be a Phoenix Suns dancer — the closest thing to a cheerleader for the professional basketball team. But the slow-talking Suns coach (he's from Shelby, North Carolina, and played basketball at Appalachian State University) is the best motivator in the huddle we've ever heard. No matter how bad it gets, Gentry is upbeat: "Look, we can score on them whenever we want, okaaaaaay. All we need to do is get back on defense, okaaaaaay. We can win this game, okaaaaaay." Oh, if Gentry could have held on to the team that made it to the Western Conference Finals a couple of seasons ago! That team, of course, included Amar'e Stoudemire, now departed for the New York Knicks. Because Gentry worked a miracle with that squad after he was tapped to take over from the awful Terry Porter. In the conference finals for the 2009-10 season, Gentry was masterful against a superior Lakers team, taking the series to six games before the Suns were eliminated, okaaaaaay. We've given Gentry Best Pro Coach in a previous Best Of edition, but not even his considerable skills as a molder of freakishly tall men can help the existing crop of Phoenix Suns players to even get to the playoffs, much less make it into a championship round. (If there's even an NBA season. At this writing, it looks as if labor negotiations could stall or stop the upcoming campaign.) Tightwad owner Robert Sarver is putting budget over talent when it comes to the current Suns.