Ball-Playing Bear Catches Suns' Attention

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David and Phyllis Slater can barely stand the wait. They'll find out in April if their devotion to the Phoenix Suns will win them tickets to the April 19 game against the Golden State Warriors.


"I've never been to a live game," Phyllis said. "I'm one of the best cheerleaders the Suns have."


The Slaters caught the attention of the Suns organization with their seven-foot wooden bear that stands watch over traffic on Zurich Drive at Timber Drive.


"We've been dressing up Teddy for about a year and half," David said. "He's been Santa Claus, a cowboy, a pirate, even a hula dancer with a grass skirt."


These days, the behemoth dons the uniform of Suns injured forward Tom Gugliotta, complete with basketball in hand as if he were going up for a slam dunk. It was this latest outfit that caught the attention of the Suns.


The Suns' Tom Leander will be in Payson Monday to interview the Slaters for the contest.


"It's called the 'Why I'm a Suns Fan' contest," Leander said. "We're asking diehard Suns fans to write in and tell us why they're fans."


Leander said the Slaters sent in a picture of their bear, "which definitely helped cheer up our fallen forward."


The Slaters, he said, would be profiled on a pregame show, and the contest winner will be announced during the pregame show at 5:30 p.m. April 6.


If the Slaters win, they'll get round-trip tickets to San Francisco for the April 19 game.


"I'm not sure what I'm going to say," Phyllis said Wednesday. "I told them not to ask me any questions, because I'll get too nervous. It would be really fun if we win, though."

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