"Danny has been very diligent with his money, to a point of knowing that money is not what it's all about," Grinker says. "In spite of players getting $40 million, $50 million and maybe $100 million, I see Danny smiling a lot more now than I've ever seen him since leaving Kansas.
"And that's nice. It's refreshing. It's wholesome."
The Suns are swimming in wholesome. After Manning's announcement, they got Wayman Tisdale, a free agent departing Sacramento, to turn down a $2.4-million offer from the Clippers--for $850,000 in Phoenix.
Tisdale had averaged 56 losses for his five full seasons as a King and wanted to see how the other half lived.
"Oh, yeah," Tisdale says. "You learn to appreciate a lot more of the things that are real and what's real is winning in this game.
"I mean, you can say, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm getting paid.' But when you go home and really sit down, any player who has pride, he's not happy. And that was my whole thing and I'm sure it was Danny's thing. . . .
"(When the Suns called) I said, 'When do you want me in town?' Once I got here, saw the atmosphere, saw the reality, the good people who are here, it was pretty easy."
Can it work?
Superstar jams in the NBA often turn into ego wars of the kind fought by the West-Baylor-Chamberlain Lakers, but this situation looks more promising.
For one thing, everyone knows who is first in Phoenix.
"We don't have any superstars," Charles Barkley says, "except me. . . .
"I don't worry about it. I just do my thing and hope they can catch up."
In the second place, Manning is there at Barkley's invitation. The two talked last season and Barkley told Manning he ought to come to Phoenix.
They seem made for each other on a basketball court. Barkley is a 6-foot-5 power forward who can rebound but has trouble guarding taller players. Manning is a 6-10 small forward who can guard taller players.
Barkley expects to lead. Manning expects to complement.
"I'm not trying to knock Danny Manning, but Charles is a superstar," guard Danny Ainge says. "I think there's only a handful of them in the league."
When Barkley retires--he again is vowing this is the year--Manning will become "the man." It might take him a while to grow into it, as it did at Kansas, with the Clippers and the Hawks, but he has the ability, if not the disposition. It is where he has always been headed, although it has taken some time to get there.
"I don't worry about on the court," Manning says. "Because when I get on the court, I'm versatile enough, I'm unselfish enough, I'm going to get along with my teammates and I'm going to hopefully make them better. That's what I like to do when I step out on the court.
"I don't worry about the basketball. Basketball's the easiest part to me. The hard part's trying to get all these damn (moving) boxes out of my house. They're everywhere. That's the hard stuff."
DANNY MANNING'S NBA STATISTICS
Sea. Team Fin* G FG% FT% Reb Pts 93-94 Atlanta 1st 26 47% 65% 6.5 15.7 93-94 Clippers 7th 42 49% 67% 7.0 23.7 92-93 Clippers 4th 79 51% 80% 6.6 22.8 91-92 Clippers 5th 82 54% 73% 6.9 19.3 90-91 Clippers 6th 73 52% 72% 5.8 15.9 89-90 Clippers 6th 71 53% 74% 5.9 16.3 88-89 Clippers 7th 26 49% 77% 6.6 16.7 Career 399 52% 74% 6.4 18.9
* Team finish in division.