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Suns players focused on basketball with Super Bowl in town

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A handful of Southwest Airlines employees at Sky Harbor Airport lost their jobs last week – temporarily.

A group of former and current Phoenix Suns players, along with Coach Jeff Hornacek, switched jobs with several employees of the team’s official airline for their annual Trading Places event.

Music pumped from speakers at the end of the D concourse and cheerleaders, dancers, players and the head coach mingled with fans in the area before heading off to their assigned duties.

Hornacek grabbed the microphone at Gate D5 and welcomed passengers to board their plane to St. Louis.  After a successful run as an operations agent, he handed the job off to Suns’ swingman, Gerald Green, to announce the last call for a flight to Kansas City.

The atmosphere was festive but this year the event took place prior to a four-game home stretch that leads up to the Super Bowl.  The players and their coach hoped the influx of fans and energy for football’s biggest spectacle would translate to even more enthusiastic crowds at U.S. Airways Arena.

“The added people and the excitement of the weekend will probably help fill it up.  We love it when the fans come to the games and cheer so the more, the better,” said Hornacek.

Forward P.J. Tucker was confident the atmosphere will be electric.

“There’s countless people coming in for the Super Bowl so us having home games, it’s going to be pretty crazy.  Hopefully the arena gets pretty loud,” said Tucker.

But the players noted that the key to performing well in the midst of the added excitement was to remain focused on basketball.

“We’re trying to make the playoffs and the next 7 games are really important to us,” said Goran Dragic.  “We’re going to be focused on all those games.  Only basketball – that’s the number one thing for us right now.”

Dragic and his brother, Zoran, then donned their reflective vests and made their way down to the tarmac to help Suns’ mascot, Go the Gorilla, load luggage into a plane.

As the event wrapped up and the players posed for a group photo with their Southwest counterparts, Hornacek deemphasized the possible distraction of the Super Bowl.

“Sometimes you can’t eliminate it.   You almost have to enjoy it a little bit.  The guys get excited when they know there’s a big focus on the city of Phoenix and of course within the different events that are going on that weekend, we play. The guys are pretty excited about it,” said the coach.