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Getting to know Phoenix Suns assistant coach Mark West

One of the first things Jeff Hornacek did after he was named the 16th head coach in Phoenix Suns history was to hire a staff. He brought on board four fresh faces: Three former players, including two former teammates plus a defensive guru.

Together those four individuals have more than 80 seasons of NBA experience both on and off the court.

“The guys that I tried to hire were not just guys who knew offense or defense. They were guys who knew basketball,” Hornacek said.


“We wanted a guy, an assistant coach to be behind the bench, someone that could bridge the analytics group to us coaches on the bench…and he’s a big guy that can pound and bang with our big guys on the court,” Hornacek said.

West is the rookie on staff. He has no prior coaching experience. He does, however, have 20 years of experience with the organization.

West spent eight years of his 17-year NBA career with the Suns, including five seasons as a teammate of Hornacek’s and three alongside assistant Kenny Gattison, whom he also played with at Old Dominion. West remains the Suns’ all-time leader in field goal percentage (.613) and ranks fourth all-time in league history.

Following his playing days, which saw him make stops in Dallas, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Detroit and Indiana, he joined the Suns’ front office as assistant general manager in 2001. For the past seven seasons, West has served as the club’s vice-president of player programs, responsible for player relations and development, business of basketball training and community representation.

What interested you about joining the Suns

“Well, the biggest thing is that Jeff asked me to come. When he asked the question, I was kind of, ‘Well….’ That was never my aspiration to do the coaching, but it was an opportunity. For me, it was just the right time, right person to ask.

“Right now, I’m having a blast as far as working with the players and being around the kids. I enjoy that part; not only hopefully teach them about a little about basketball, but a little bit about being a professional athlete.”

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

“Hopefully, some defense: how to defend the interior, how to think the game a little more, how to stay calm in the storm because there’s going to be a lot of storms out there, and then stay focused on the task rather than on that particular incident that may have happened.

“Sometimes when you’re teaching, with my methodology I like to get in there and at least let them feel some of the contact and see how it’s going to be. It’s not going to always be picture perfect where you just catch and you can shoot it like you think are. The guys are going to be banging you, trying to knock you off balance, throw you out of your s pots, not letting you get to where you want to catch it. Let them deal with some of those different things and make them find a solution.”

Away from the basketball court, what are your other interests

“I like following the stock market. I like reading books. I like hanging out with my family, so those are going to be my priorities probably with the family the number-one priority.”

Got any stock tips

(Laughs) “Not here.”

This is part four of a four-part series, concluding our introduction to the new Suns assistant coaches. Interviews with Jerry Sichting, Mike Longabardi and Kenny Gattison preceded this one.