MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Joanne Ralph can still dribble drive with the best of them. The 81-year-old Mesa grandmother used to play hoops in high school, which explains her love of the game and passion for the Phoenix Suns. "You don't call me when the Suns are playing," said Ralph. "You don't bother me because I am in front of that TV."
The retired health care worker has an extensive Suns memorabilia collection that dates back to 1984 when Ralph moved to Arizona from Michigan. Bobbleheads, a Suns clock, a souvenir mug mark the time and teams she's rooted for over the years.
"I don't really have a favorite other than (Charles) Barkley," said Ralph. "I just wanted to hug every one of them. They just were good." Ralph is especially proud of her photos with Suns' legends Connie Hawkins and Tom Chambers, who she met years ago at a bowling tournament they were all playing in.
She also has a pair of warm-up pants that former Suns star Shawn Marion tossed to her before a game. The senior Suns' fan is focused on the current team's run for their first-ever NBA title. Ralph likes offering players advice while watching the games from her living room. "I talk to them, I talk to every one of them," said Ralph. "Don't do that again, get over there. Why is (sic) there no black shirts underneath the basket? I just get into the whole thing."
This longtime Suns fan knows she's not getting any younger and this may be the best shot she has of watching her favorite team win it all. Ralph doesn't want to jinx it, but deep down, she believes that this is the Suns' year. "I get my hopes up, but it tears me up just talking about it," said Ralph. "It's going to happen."