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Inside the dogpound: What’s behind the Suns’ pregame hype routine?

Apr 15, 2022, 11:47 AM
JaVale McGee #00 of the Phoenix Suns is introduced before the NBA game at Footprint Center on Octob...
JaVale McGee #00 of the Phoenix Suns is introduced before the NBA game at Footprint Center on October 20, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As the NBA playoffs begin, you might notice that the Phoenix Suns have a pregame routine that’s both chaotic and well-choreographed.

There is woofing. There is barking. There are large humans crawling on four legs.

Parts of it are kind of like a mosh pit.

But in all that, handshakes happen. A lot of them.

Words are said. Sometimes, they are bad words.

What in the world are the Suns doing?

Maybe it seems silly, but there’s a method to it all. And it’s important.

“Everybody has something with each other individually and then we top it off with JaVale (McGee) doing his thing,” Suns guard Devin Booker said. “It’s a good way to get us ready to go, man. We enjoy doing it, we enjoy doing it on the road. It keeps us together … keeps always running out at the same time, too.

“If you watch a lot of teams that I’ve been on in the past, you don’t see everybody run out at once. It lets you come together before you go out.”

Are there roles?

McGee deserves a lot of credit. He’s the mastermind in bonding who led similar pregame hype routines with teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers.

After that, there are tiers of contributors. Cam Payne said that Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton bring much of the energy.

Every player, though, has a unique handshake with every other teammate — although some take it to extremes.

“I was the handshake guy in the past, now it’s Mikal,” Payne said. “He took the reins, he the king now. For sure, he got 50 handshakes before every game.”

Of course, it’s easier to have fun when wins pile up. The Suns finished 64-18 this year, eight full games ahead of the NBA’s next best team.

Phoenix has earned the right to have fun. It matters that the team follows up any pregame antics with stellar play.

“Really just to get our juices going,” Payne said. “We have 82 games, a long time, so we just try to find a way to have fun but stay locked in. Kind of do it for the fans, too. We’re just the best team in the world, just go out there and act like it.”

Added McGee: “Nobody is doing what we’re doing and going out there and busting (expletive).”

Well said.

Here are a few samplings of the Suns’ pregame routine from the regular season.

Penguin Air

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Inside the dogpound: What’s behind the Suns’ pregame hype routine?