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Friday, July 11, 2014 @ 11:01am

LeBron James and learning life's lessons

By: Doug Franz
The Cleveland Cavaliers would have never won a championship with LeBron James.

The Cleveland Cavaliers will win a championship with LeBron James.

Name an athlete who has done what he has done. No athlete in American history has dealt with more hype from an early age. There was talk that he might leave school early for the NBA. HIGH SCHOOL!

A number one overall pick to his hometown team. Very few experience pressure like that. Although he struggled at times, he has learned from every mistake and become a better person. Very few can say that about themselves.

The list of failed athletes due to overrated talent, burned out, drugged up, self-centered is frighteningly longer than the LeBron list. He shouldn't have run off the court avoiding the Celtics. He shouldn't have burned the Cavs with a phone call from "his people" five minutes before his announcement on "The Decision." He shouldn't have tried to revive Jim Gray's career.

Other than Jim Gray, he's admitted every time he's wrong and comes out a better person. We've been able to sit back and watch a 17-year-old boy--under tremendous pressure to make mistakes that hurt his PR but not expose some tragic character flaw-- grow into the definition of a man.

It's not because he's going back to Cleveland that he deserves so much praise. It's his reasons. Remove any feelings you had about LeBron James before reading, and focus on two things: how he feels about leaving and why he said he's coming home.

When you're done reading, remember this...he's 29 years old.

What man can read that and not learn how to be a better man?

Thursday, July 10, 2014 @ 9:53pm

Take the Snake's advice

By: Doug Franz
I met my Pat Tillman Thursday.

On July 3rd of last week, my family and I were only about 20 yards from the back porch of Robert E. Lee's when the sky opened. We were hit by an enormous downpour. Instead of walking in a suspended, painful peace through Arlington National Cemetery, my daughters, wife and I stared only at our water-logged shoes in a slow gallop to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Knowing her place, Mother Nature softened the rain to show respect as we witnessed American perfection during the changing of the guard at the Tomb. We left the scene in silence, too drenched to appreciate the pounding torrent had become drizzle. After reaching a respectful distance, I apologized to my family since I was the vacation organizer. I felt obligated to explain the powerful affect of Arlington in the sunlight versus our experience. My nine-year-old saw things differently.

"It's better this way, Daddy. I imagined this is what the soldiers went through. Death is gloomy."

As I left work Thursday, I was greeted by one of the warmest men on Earth. Jim is the golf-cart security guard at our building. I've always appreciated the way he's so committed to his job. He greets everyone, knows almost everyone and makes you feel great on your way into work.

He asked me if I went back to Ohio for my vacation. I told him it was Washington this year and shared some pieces of my vacation. He let me know where his Marine barracks were located in relationship to downtown.

I've talked to Jim for years and never knew. Now knowing, I told him the story of my daughter's comments while walking through the storm at Arlington. A soft smile of approval came across his face. With love and pain he asked, "Did you take them to the wall?"

I've heard the phrase, "Vietnam War Memorial" so many times. Obviously, I haven't spent enough time with Vietnam Veterans because "the wall" rolled off his tongue with such familiarity, hinting of a formal relationship with pain, death and respect.

"Absolutely, I did. We walked slowly and, although I have no family members on the wall, Jennifer's father fought in Vietnam. I told the girls that 'Papa has friends who died for their country on that wall.'"

A look I had never seen in any human came across Jim's face: remorseful pride.

"I have 16 on that wall."

Two years ago, Jake Plummer was on "Doug & Wolf." Wolf asked him about Pat Tillman. Plummer has a way of talking about Pat with pent-up passion it makes you think he's never talked about him before while you know he talks about him every time he gets a chance. When he was done sharing, I said I was jealous since I never got to meet Pat. I've never forgotten Jake's response.

"You know, I'm going to go Pat on you. Pat would tell you, 'Don't be jealous you haven't met me, go meet your Pat.' Pat would talk to everyone. He made everyone feel the team needed them. I don't mean just his teammates. Everyone he talked to. Go talk to a meter maid. Talk to the checkout person at the grocery. Find out about other people. That's what Pat did. Go find your Pat."

I re-met Jim Thursday, a man I thought I knew. I met my Pat.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 @ 6:34pm

An All-American vacation

By: Doug Franz
If you can, you've got to go.

My family vacation was to Washington, D.C.

I sat down with my wife in a dark room looking at the actual Star-Spangled Banner.

We cruised up the Potomac to Mt. Vernon and saw the home of the only man in world history to successfully lead a revolution without a desire to become dictator.

My daughters saw the true price for freedom at Arlington.

I had a picnic dinner with family and friends on the National Mall for the concert and fireworks.

It was the trip of a lifetime for an American father.

If you've listened to the show with any regularity over the last seven years, you also know what the game of baseball means to me. Clearly, baseball is not as important as American independence, Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address -- which is on the wall of his memorial -- or what the U.S. Capitol stands for.

However, it's impossible to write the history of America without baseball. The World Series being played during two World Wars and a month after the terrorist attacks on New York brought the nation together during a difficult time. The tradition of playing the national anthem at sporting events was started in 1918 at the World Series.

Baseball also gave us the story of Jackie Robinson and its implications.

There's a lot to see in D.C. If you ever get the chance to go, include a game on your trip.

We went to Nationals Park to root against the Rockies. That franchise has got it going. For one, I think all D-backs fans love the manager. And Nationals fans don't yell at you for standing up because they are standing up as well.

The Nationals aren't afraid to honor the organizational history with Andre Dawson and Gary Carter acknowledged in the park while combining that with the history of baseball in the city by placing "Cool Papa" Bell, Josh Gibson and Walter Johnson on a pedestal, as well.

Go to the mall. Go to the museums. Go to the monuments. Go to the game, too.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 @ 6:34pm

An All-American vacation

By: Doug Franz
If you can, you've got to go.

My family vacation was to Washington, D.C.

I sat down with my wife in a dark room looking at the actual Star-Spangled Banner.

We cruised up the Potomac to Mt. Vernon and saw the home of the only man in world history to successfully lead a revolution without a desire to become dictator.

My daughters saw the true price for freedom at Arlington.

I had a picnic dinner with family and friends on the National Mall for the concert and fireworks.

It was the trip of a lifetime for an American father.

If you've listened to the show with any regularity over the last seven years, you also know what the game of baseball means to me. Clearly, baseball is not as important as American independence, Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address -- which is on the wall of his memorial -- or what the U.S. Capitol stands for.

However, it's impossible to write the history of America without baseball. The World Series being played during two World Wars and a month after the terrorist attacks on New York brought the nation together during a difficult time. The tradition of playing the national anthem at sporting events was started in 1918 at the World Series.

Baseball also gave us the story of Jackie Robinson and its implications.

There's a lot to see in D.C. If you ever get the chance to go, include a game on your trip.

We went to Nationals Park to root against the Rockies. That franchise has got it going. For one, I think all D-backs fans love the manager. And Nationals fans don't yell at you for standing up because they are standing up as well.

The Nationals aren't afraid to honor the organizational history with Andre Dawson and Gary Carter acknowledged in the park while combining that with the history of baseball in the city by placing "Cool Papa" Bell, Josh Gibson and Walter Johnson on a pedestal, as well.

Go to the mall. Go to the museums. Go to the monuments. Go to the game, too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 @ 11:53am

It's not 1984, but...

By: Doug Franz
If you are between the ages of 25-35, you have no real memory of the 1984 NBA Draft. There's a chance if you type "1984" into Google, "1984 NBA Draft" will come up as the first option. It was that big.

Four Hall of Famers.

Seven All-Stars.

Nineteen 5+ year players.

One great dunker (had to give Terence Stansbury some love for that cool 360/Statue of Liberty dunk in the dunk contest).

Thursday is your 1984.

The 2014 draft is amazing. It's not quite as good as the 1984 draft, but it really isn't that far off. If you're younger than 35, this will be the draft you look back on like those of us 40 and above look at Michael, Hakeem, Charles and Stockton.

I don't see a guy that I would label as a sure-fire Hall of Famer. However, I see about 20 guys I would consider taking at No. 5. This draft is crazy deep. We are blessed to have a Ryan McDonough in charge of the Suns' draft because a mistake this year will set a franchise back two years.

Seven teams have more than one pick in the first round. Five teams have a legitimate shot at LeBron James, and how those teams handle Thursday night might affect his decision. One team could "draft" Kevin Love.

The Suns could trade up to the eighth spot. Phoenix could package picks and players to Minnesota for Kevin Love. They could pull a draft and stash. It's not far-fetched to trade one of the first-round picks in this loaded draft for two future first-round picks.

My favorite scenario is to draft Adreian Payne and Dario Saric. Leave Saric in Europe to mature. Trade a pick for future picks. Sign Luol Deng in the offseason.

June 26, 2014 will be the date we look back on as a huge moment in Suns history. I believe it will be a positive one.

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