Maturing Dragic embraces changing roles
PHOENIX -- Goran Dragic is not backing down from this time of considerable change.
"It's gonna be something new for me this season," the Suns guard said during a media-day chat with reporters at U.S. Airways Center, "but I'm looking forward to that."
Please note Dragic was not referring to the prospect of operating in the same Phoenix backcourt with newcomer Eric Bledsoe. For the record, he's really happy about that event, too, but the referenced change is the prospect of becoming a father.
"We're expecting a baby boy Nov. 16," Dragic said, speaking for himself and wife, Maja, who joined him in matrimony a little more than a month ago.
"I was in training camp with the (Slovenian) National Team," he said. "I asked my coach if I could take a day off."
As the rock star of the team that would host this year's Eurobasket tournament, taking a personal day didn't prevent "The Dragon," – with considerable help from brother Zoran -- from leading Slovenia to a fifth-place finish.
"That was one of the best experiences of my career," Dragic said of competing for, and being embraced by, the fans of Slovenia. "Even now when the economy is bad and our country is not in a good situation, we could bring all the people together as one."
That's his job with several new teammates in Phoenix, where last season's catastrophic 25-57 Suns finish provoked a full-tilt rebuilding plan accompanied by genuine excitement.
Does he feel like it's his time to take over?
Flanked by reporters, Dragic smiled, straightened his 6-foot-3 a bit and provided a decisive, one-word answer.
And sharing the playmaking load with Bledsoe is something he welcomes.
"He (Bledsoe) can push the ball, he can defend," Dragic said of his new backcourt pal. "He can create for others. It's good to have two players who can create; sometimes you get too tired to create, so it's good to have someone else."
Although brother Zoran did his best to ride shotgun for him on Team Slovenia, Goran -- with several top players not competing -- found himself outgunned in a quarterfinal game with eventual champion France.
With "oran" working so well for the Dragic family, will Goran and Maja go that rhyming route in naming their son?
"No way," he said, adding that the citizens of social media can be a little rough when it comes to such things. "A lot of people are making fun of me and Zoran because our names are so similar."
No name has been selected, so – much like his dad -- the next Dragic might be obliged to make a name for himself. Pops will be a good role model for that.
"Five years ago … a lost kid from Europe …," Dragic said, wistfully looking around the U.S. Airways practice gym. "Didn't speak English … shy … but that's the ways of life. You learn new things."
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