SHE WON’T BACK DOWN

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An incredible image in Phoenix earlier this week as a young ICU nurse, Lauren Leander, silently stood up to the dopes protesting stay-at-home measures at the state capitol. And there’s more to this story than you may have read on CNN.com.

Sports-addled Phoenicians are familiar with the surname Leander. That’s because Tom Leander has been the pre- and post-game (and halftime) TV host for Phoenix Suns games for more than a decade or so here. Maybe closer to two decades, I’m not sure. Tom Leander is Lauren’s father. If you’ve seen the guy who sits next to Tom Chambers on these broadcasts, that’s Tom. He’s a well-known and well-liked figure in the Valley. And he’s probably never been more well-liked (and more despised by some) than he is today.

Now, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably know that I attended a Jesuit high school in Phoenix (Brophy), which is also Tom Leander’s alma mater. He’s two years older than I am. When Tom was a senior he was the starting point guard on what may have been the best Brophy basketball team ever put together: it also had Mark Alarie, the state’s player of the year who would go on to be a four-year starter at Duke (part of Coach K’s first great recruiting class, that also included Jay Bilas and Johnny Dawkins), Rich Zacher (whose younger brother Mike remains one of my closest friends and is also the Arizona Cardinals’ team dentist), Curtis Bruggman (whose son Tyler played quarterback at Wazzu before transferring to Louisville) and a glue guy named Bill Van Dyke.

Anyway, an incredible team (that somehow lost before even reaching the state finals). But in the past two weeks the daughters of two of those teammates have made national headlines. Early last week, I think it was, Bella Alarie was taken fifth overall in the WNBA draft, which is quite a feat for anyone much less a Princeton grad. And now Lauren Leander. These young women have done their Brophy pops proud.

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