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2007, March 20: The Arizona Republic – Welcome to the Suns Fitness Club

June 24, 2008

Welcome to the Suns Fitness Club.

That’s Eric "Pilates" Piatkowski over there, sculpting his jump shot.
Pat "Spinner" Burke is tightening up his post move. And Marcus Banks
must be on a treadmill, because it doesn’t appear as if he’s going
anywhere.

They all have had their moments this season for the Suns, but
ultimately they ended up back in the "Fitness Club" – the fellows who
occupy the end of the Suns bench, cheer on their teammates and work out
together after practices in hope of someday breaking into coach Mike
D’Antoni’s tight rotation. advertisement

"To be honest, we don’t kid around about the Fitness Club. It’s
serious," said Jalen Rose, the veteran swingman who is about to get his
chance to break out of the club.

True, it is getting to be a serious point in the season.

The Suns looked more than bored in losses to Detroit and Denver. They looked spent.

Naturally, this rekindled questions about D’Antoni’s use of his bench
and whether the Suns’ all-out style takes a toll over 82 games.

TNT analyst Charles Barkley has been the most vocal critic of
D’Antoni’s approach. So we thought we would ask Rose about it, because
he’s one of those players on the Phoenix bench and he also has done
some work for TNT during the playoffs.

"In order to win a title, everybody has to contribute," Rose said. "That’s just how it works.

"You look back at the history of NBA champions – the unlikely guys are
sometimes the ones who put you over the top. Hopefully we have the same
situation here, and we’ll get over the top."

When the Suns signed Rose, we speculated at the time that he just might be that player. It hasn’t worked out that way yet.

Of course, Rose isn’t campaigning for minutes. That could lead to immediate expulsion from the Fitness Club.

But we wondered if he agrees with Barkley that a team must use its bench to have enough left in the playoffs.

"Hopefully I’ll be a coach someday, and I think like this," Rose said.
"If you play two lineups and you play your starters 30 minutes a game,
that leaves 18 minutes a game for each guy coming off the bench. So you
can play your starters 30-something and still have time for your bench.

"Mike has a different philosophy, and how can you argue with a guy who
won coach of the year, coached the All-Star team this year and his team
has the second-best record overall?

"As a player, of course you want to be out there. But as an analyst, which I am also, I’d say whatever he’s doing is working.

"It remains to be seen this season if it’s going to work in the postseason. So far it is working."

Forget coaching. Rose has a future in diplomacy.

But does he have a future in the Fitness Club?

"I don’t think I’ll lose my membership," Rose said, smiling. "I’ve been a faithful member for too many months now."

Bob Young