PHOENIX - Life in the NBA is a huge adjustment for any rookie. Not only is the game played at a level that is extremely higher than he is accustomed to, but the added travel, longer season and all the intangibles that come with being an NBA player can sometimes be quite overwhelming.
For Phoenix Suns rookie Markieff Morris, it is all that - and then some. For the first time in his life Morris is separated from twin brother Marcus, who was taken by Houston with the 14th overall pick in June's draft, one slot after Markieff. The two had been teammates in every sport they played growing up in Philadelphia and at Kansas, never separated, never rivals, always together.
"Everything is going pretty good. It's been cool," said Markieff, who collected seven points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes of play in his NBA debut on Monday against New Orleans. "I miss him a lot, but it comes with living our dream. But we're cool. We're older now, and we know what it takes to do this. Of course, there's phone calls and texts every day. We talk every day. That will never change."
Unlike his boisterous twin, Markieff is extremely reserved, chooses his words carefully and responds to questions as if on a word limit. He is completely different on the court, a true, tough Philly player who not only isn't afraid of contact, he relishes it. Those traits have made him a favorite of Suns coach Alvin Gentry.
"I love him. I love him. I think he is going to be a really good player," Gentry said. "He is a little bit different than your typical rookie, because he is a real mature guy and a big-time competitor. He is going to grow through some growing pains, but I think he is going to be fine. Actually, he's going to be more than fine."
As Markieff spoke with reporters yesterday, Gentry made his way past and teased his rookie.
"Talk to them about your brother getting 20 and you getting 12" on Opening Night, he joked. Markieff smiled and gave an approving nod. There was little question that no one in the world was happier for Marcus than his twin.
That he was chosen by the Suns has probably made the transition a little easier for Morris, as they play the type of uptempo game he loves, and they'll be counting on him to bring a physical presence the team lacks.
"It's going pretty well, I'm fitting in pretty good," he said. "This is my type of team, my type of system that we run. Right now, I'm just an extra piece for when we need a rebounder or lend some defense to the team."
Though the move to another team without his brother certainly hasn't been seamless, Morris is adjusting well.
Asked whether he has had any big surprises, he replied: "Not really. The competition is definitely at a much higher level and you have to be in tune with your body more. Not too much different, just not as much practicing as much as we did in college. There, we were doing 3-hour practices every day. I'm excited about playing more games and having less practice."
Speaking like a true veteran, Morris already dislikes practices.
Though he won't be starting, at least for now, in his second season in the NBA, swingman Evan Turner is comfortable with his role as one of Collins' key players coming off the bench. Collins described his second unit of Turner, Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams as his second group of starters. Turner is all in.
"It's cool; it's just cool to have a season after having everything in limbo for so long," Turner said of the 149-day lockout. "I feel like we're prepared and ready to go.
"You have to look at the big picture. I'm just dealing with things and trying to help the team out. I know that it's not about me and that it's all about the team and getting wins and working hard and trying to benefit everyone else."
Collins has said that although Turner won't be on the floor for the start of games, he envisions him being out there at the end, with the game on the line.
"When I got to the NBA, I learned to get used to things," Turner said. "You don't expect anything, you just go ahead and be blessed with what you've got. I'm just learning to adjust."
Robert Whitsitt and Thomas Shine filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit Tuesday against Ed Snider and Comcast-Spectacor, seeking to collect a $2 million finder's fee they say they are owed for helping find buyers for the Sixers.
An investor group, headed by billionaire Joshua Harris, purchased the team for $280 million in a deal approved by the NBA in October. Whitsitt and Shine say they introduced Snider and Comcast-Spectacor general counsel Phillip Weinberg to Jason Levien, who is part of the investment group.
"We have received notice of his claims, which we firmly believe are without merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves in court," Comcast-Spectacor spokesman Ike Richman said in a statement.
Whitsitt was formerly a financial adviser to Paul Allen, Microsoft cofounder, and president of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers. Shine is a senior vice president with Reebok International.