‘Countdown: Tip-Off’ goes behind scenes for Suns opener

By Josh Nacion

Ever wondered what Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver does on game day before tip-off? How about the life of a team’s equipment manager?

Find out on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at 5:30 p.m. and against at 10 p.m., when FOX Sports Arizona premieres “Countdown: Tip-Off,” a behind-the-scenes look at what members of the Phoenix Suns organization went through leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013 season-opener.

“Countdown: Tip-Off,” produced by Josh Kelman and Tom Elsner, follows four  Suns employees — Sarver, Seth Shepherd, Jay Gaspar and Julie Fie — as they perform their game-day duties in advance of the Suns’ season opener against the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 30.

Sarver is in his 10th season serving as the Suns’ managing partner. During this 30-minute program, he is shown transitioning from his CEO duties at Western Alliance Bancorp across the street from US Airways Center to game night.

Fie is in her 22nd season with the Suns as vice president of basketball communications, handling all media inquiries for the players and coaches.

Gaspar has been an equipment manager for the Suns since 2000 and is showcased preparing the team’s belongings.

Shepherd is in his third year as director of operations for Levy Restaurants. Cameras follow him as he manages U.S. Airways Center’s five clubs, 80 suites, 35 concessions stands and his staff of 250 employees.

“When you do a show like this, you start to realize, ‘Hey, the equipment manager has a really cool job’ or, ‘Hey, the person who handles the media relations has a very complex job,’” Kelman said. “We are putting the spotlight on people who work behind the scenes instead of the guys who play for the Suns on the court.”

This is FOX Sports Arizona’s second “Countdown” special. The first aired in April and focused on the Arizona Diamondbacks and their Opening Day preparations. Kelman said FOX Sports Arizona received a positive reception from the D-backs and their fans, and more of these shows are planned in the future. In fact, the same crew who put together this show will be at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, Nov. 10, to work on “Countdown: Green Flag” in order to showcase what happens leading up to the start of the AdvoCare 500.

“I think the teams like it because they’re big, complex organizations with a lot of moving parts,” Kelman said. “There are so many people who make the game day experience look good and keep everything running smoothly — and a show like this highlights all the hard work that’s done.”

Kelman said viewers should expect an enjoyable experience as FOX Sports Arizona brings a unique spin to the show’s four subjects behind the scenes.

“I think fans are going to like it,” Kelman said. “We spent 12 hours with our respective crews, so in total, 48 hours facetime with these people. Viewers will get to enjoy that in 22 minutes. They’ll get an appreciation for a really honest look at what makes the Suns tick.”