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Getting to know Phoenix Suns assistant coach Tyrone Corbin

Sacramento Kings head coach Tyrone Corbin applauds his team during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. The Kings won 85-83.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

One of the first things Earl Watson did after he was named the 17th head coach in Phoenix Suns history was hire a staff. He brought on board three former head coaches — two with NBA experience — plus a wealth of knowledge, both on and off the court, to complete the player development side of the organization.

“Each coach we have here has a purpose,” Watson said. “The impact they had on my life was monumental. Without them I would not even be standing here today let alone be the person I am today. So, for me, it’s deeper than just a resume or a good coach, it’s great teachers who reach beyond the game of basketball.”


“Positive energy. Defensive mindset. Ty was big for me in Utah because it was a very critical point in my life as a person, and Ty was teaching me how to not only just be a new father but how to be a father who is not living in the same city as his daughter. We all know I’m crazy about my kids, so to understand how to become a man and how to plan ahead and be a parent and be a father and how to be a professional,” Watson said.

Corbin returns to Phoenix where he played in 107 games and averaged 8.1 points over two seasons with the Suns as a player from 1987-89.

Following a 16-year NBA career, Corbin entered the coaching ranks. He’s been a head coach with both the Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz.

Sacramento is where he was most recently, serving as an assistant before being promoted to interim head coach for 28 games in the 2014-15 season. Prior to his time with the Kings, Corbin spent four seasons as head coach of the Jazz, finishing with a winning record in two of his three full seasons.

Corbin served as either an assistant or head coach for each of Watson’s three seasons as a player with the Jazz from 2010-13.

What interested you about joining the Suns?

“The main thing is I liked and enjoyed the time that I was here. I still have great friends here in Eddie Johnson who I played with and Mark West, who I played with, lives here. And then Earl Watson I coached in Utah, and to come in and be a part of what he’s trying to do here was a tremendous opportunity for me. (Also), it’s an exciting roster. We’ve got a lot things to fix and put together, but if we all get on the same page and play with enthusiasm — I thought the guys, even in a tough situation last year, they finished playing hard and playing together. We continue to build on those things with the talent that we’ve added, we have a chance.”

What is your strength; where are you going to best help the team?

“Just basketball-wise. I’ve always coached and played both sides of the ball. Whatever Coach needs me to do to help this team grow going forward, I’m willing to do. I can coach both sides of the ball, so I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help these young guys grow. (And) I think (my prior head coaching experience) is a huge advantage for me in assistance to Coach Watson because I know what he’s going through on a day-to-day basis in that top seat. To have a feel for the players on the team to kind of help him manage whatever is going on on the court or on the bench or in the locker room with the guys. Scheme-wise, both offense and defense, seeing some things that we may be able to change or enhance or maneuver to help us grow. So, all those things that he’ll go through, I’m been through as a head coach.”

Away from the basketball court, what are your other interests?

“Family. I have a wife and two kids who are older now. My son, Tyrell, is playing ball and he played in Mongolia last year. Hopefully, I can keep him in the states this year and play in the D-League somewhere. Our daughter, Tyjha, is married and living in Greenwood, South Carolina so we’ll try and spend some time with her. My wife and I, we’re empty nesters for the most part and I have basketball, so my plate’s full. I try to play a little bit of golf when I get an opportunity for the golf and there’s some great golf in Phoenix, so that won’t hurt either.”

This is part two of a four-part series. Thursday, we introduce Nate Bjorkgren.

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