PHOENIX – It didn’t take long for Marcin Gortat to realize what he misses most from his time in Phoenix. When the Wizards left behind the below freezing temperatures in Washington and walked off the team plane at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Thursday, Gortat gazed at the sunny sky and took it all in.
“It was like, ‘This is ridiculous.’ The weather here is beautiful,” Gortat said. “That’s probably the biggest adjustment” being in Washington.
Gortat had some other pleasant experiences in Phoenix aside from the warmer winters. Several of those memories came flashing back as the Wizards held shootaround Friday morning at US Airways Center.
“Great moments, also some painful moments,” Gortat said of his return, “but overall, it brings a lot of happiness.”
Gortat won’t ever forget his final meeting with Suns brass on Oct. 25, when the 6-foot-11 center was informed that he was going to get traded to the Wizards – along with former Bishop O’Connell star Kendall Marshall, Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee – in exchange for Emeka Okafor and top-12 protected draft pick. He was the last to hear the news, but the most prepared for a change of scenery.
“It’s funny, because guys from the front office said I handle this the best way. I was the coolest about it. I knew it was going to happen,” Gortat said with a laugh. “The first question when I walked into the room, I started smiling and laughing. I’m like, ‘OK, where am I going. They tried to play the business game, like, ‘We really like you. But we think it’s going to be a great opportunity. I’m like listen guys, ‘It’s a business. I know how it is.’ It was no hard feelings.”
Phoenix was expected to be one of the league’s worst teams after the deal. Instead, the Suns (24-17) have been a pleasant surprise in the Western Conference and currently have a better record than the Wizards.
Gortat remains grateful for his time with the Suns, who gave him his first chance to start after acquiring him from Orlando in December 2010. He averaged 13.3 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 54.7 percent in 182 games, including 139 starts, for the Suns.
“I’m always going to be fortunate for everything they did for me,” he said. “Two-and-a-half years I get to play as a starter. I get to play with the best point guard in the game, in the history of this game [Steve Nash]. No hard feelings. But at the end of the day, I want to win.”
Martell Webster will be a game-time decision as he recovers from an illness. The Suns are coming off a 124-100 win over the league-leading Indiana Pacers. The Wizards haven’t fared so well against the Pacers, scoring just 139 total points – and losing by a combined 47 – in two games.
(TV: Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WFED-1500).
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