- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2009

From combined dispatches

PHOENIX | Suns coach Terry Porter will be fired Monday and replaced by assistant Alvin Gentry, a person familiar with the decision said Sunday night.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the official announcement had not been made.

The move was first reported by the Arizona Republic on its Web site Sunday.

The Suns were attempting, without success, to avoid making news during an All-Star weekend on their homecourt. The franchise also is in talks with numerous teams about trading Amare Stoudemire, a starter in Sunday night’s game.

Porter was four months into his first season on the three-year, $6 million contract he got to replace Mike D’Antoni, who left after four highly successful seasons to coach the New York Knicks.

Gentry, extremely popular with Suns players, has been a coach in the NBA for 20 years, including interim head coaching stints with Miami and Detroit. He was head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers from 2000 to 2003.

Gentry was the only holdover from D’Antoni’s staff in Phoenix.

The decision to replace Porter came in a series of meetings between owner Robert Sarver and general manager Steve Kerr reviewing the entire basketball operation.

McCain makes impact

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, met with 20 boys and girls selected by the NBA to the 2009 Junior NBA/WNBA national teams before the All-Star Game on Sunday night.

One of the first questions he faced was about his favorite Phoenix Suns player.

“I love them all, but I have not seen anybody take control of a basketball game as consistently as Steve Nash does,” said the former presidential candidate who often attends games at US Airways Center. “I’ve never seen anybody, when the game is on the line, to take control of a game and win the game, and obviously that’s what it’s all about. So he’s my favorite with the Suns. But I don’t think I’ve seen anybody with the talent of Amare Stoudemire.”

McCain also praised Suns center Shaquille O’Neal for his efforts in law enforcement.

The youths were chosen for their basketball, education and community achievements. McCain appeared with his wife, Cindy, and was introduced by Bob Lanier, a special assistant to commissioner David Stern.

McCain stressed sportsmanship in a 10-minute question-and-answer session.

Super ratings

Nate Robinson’s dethroning of “Superman” Dwight Howard drew super ratings for TNT.

Saturday’s coverage on the network earned the largest viewing audience in the history of the event, according to preliminary national ratings.

The events drew more than 5.8 million viewers, up 12 percent from last year. The best previous year was in 2002 when there were 5.24 million total viewers.

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