I recently wrote this article for an upcoming issue of my school paper. I'm the Sports Editor, which is basically a fancy title that gives me a column to gripe about whatever I want with no added responsibility. I don't mean to throw negative vibes into this pleasantly surprising start but I worked pretty hard on this so I figured I'd post it on the site where I go to get all my Suns news. So without further ado, my top three scapegoats for why the SSOL Suns never won a title:
As an Arizona sports fan, if you’ve been distracted with organized tackle football this winter, then congratulations are in order. The beloved “Seven Seconds or Less” Suns are back on a reunion tour and it’s a limited engagement.
Yes, the surprise of the 2009-2010 NBA Season has been the revitalized Suns and they’ve abandoned all false misconceptions of last year’s failed half court style and are back to their track meet ways.
Although they make me feel all warm and fuzzy, realistically, I realize that our championship window was already impolitely slammed shut and boarded up and this isn’t the Association giant Gum Drop Mountains and fairy tale endings. This version of the Suns is nothing more than a cute story and a way for me to fill my column until they show they can beat the Spurs, Nuggets, and loathsome Lakers.
I’ve felt the bitter letdowns of investing too much hope and trust into the wasted seasons of the past for me to ever fully believe that we have any more than a puncher’s chance at prying the championship window back open.
To help purge the excruciating memories of whispering death threats at Tim Duncan through my television and crying in the fetal position, questioning if God had some personal vendetta against me, I will now point fingers like some delirious, early modern Europe witch hunt. Because it seems to me the only way to get anything done in this world is to gripe and bash endlessly, even if you have no formal education on the matter at hand. Let it also be known that this grudge/hit list is not something that I thought up for the sake of this column and may or may not be permanently stitched on the inside of my Amar’e Stoudemire away jersey:
3) General Manger Steve Kerr- Most fans are quick to burn him at the stake for the Shaq for Marion, swap but I actually applaud him for going out on a limb. The sacred S.S.O.L. routine simply wasn’t cutting it come playoff time. So Kerr made a move that would either make him the toast of the town or have a mob of disgruntled Phoenicians shouting “grab your torch and pitchforks!” Unfortunately for the U of A alum, it was the latter. As much as I love the mob mentality, I was not part of those blood-thirsty fans, well, at least for that reason. I despise just about every other move Kerr has made. Like when he admitted epic failure with the Shaq trade and quite literally “gave” the future hall of famer away to the Cavaliers for a ham sandwich and an autographed LeBron James poster for his office. Or the awkward shoving overboard of former coach of the year D’Antoni, only to replace him with that blundering, egg-head Terry Porter. For those of you that don’t know, Porter is most famous for his pointless yelling that was reminiscent of an Alzheimer’s patient that can’t remember where they are, and the fact that he drilled the team so hard they had the players questioning if they were playing basketball or taking part in a Nazi arts and crafts lesson. Oh yeah, and the fact that he was fired halfway threw the 2008 season only to be replaced by Alvin Gentry, who is basically the black version of Mike D’Antoni minus the sweet ‘stache. My favorite Kerr transaction by far was one that went partially under the radar: the trade of Kurt Thomas and two of our future first rounders to the Sonics for a conditional second round draft pick and a trade exception. Yes, you read that correctly; we gave up a much needed defensive big man and a two future first round quality players that could infuse some much needed youth into a lineup that is so cripplingly old that they went to high school with Mick Jagger, for cap relief and a second rounder. That’s the equivalent of me buying an Escalade, driving it for a year, then giving it my neighbor because I can’t make the car payments. Then, for wasting his valuable free time, I also hand over my flatscreen TV and Xbox 360 in exchange for his toaster oven. To add unbearable insult to hysterical injury, Kurt Thomas was later released in the same season and signed with the Spurs. He then proceeded to play big in the crunch time in a playoff loss to the Spurs.
2) Owner Robert Sarver- With Sarver calling the finacial shots, it’s a shock that our team hasn’t entirely imploded or died of old age. See Sarver, the poster boy for the greedy, obnoxious business men who want to own a sports franchise simply for bragging rights, hates rookies almost as much as spending money. To avoid the luxury tax, Sarver traded the number seven draft pick in the 2004 draft, which could have been Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, or Al Jefferson, for a future first rounder from the Bulls. The next year, they drafted point guard Nate Robinson, the perfect back up to Steve Nash, then immediately traded him and Quentin Richardson’s bloated contract for Kurt Thomas. Two years later, they traded the draft pick they acquired from the Bulls for Deng and another expensive mistake in Brian Grant to the Celtics for another future draft choice (Boston chose Rajon Rondo with that pick, who is now currently a top five and would be the perfect transition from the Nash era to the future). Later in the offseason, realizing that they need a backup to keep Nash’s knees from shattering, they threw $24 million dollars over five years in the trash. And that trash can was polite enough to spit perpetual loser Marcus Banks back out. For those of you who aren’t in a bad-management-induced coma yet, they paid four times more than they would have if they developed Rajon Rondo for Marcus Banks. Who? Exactly. The next draft we sold the draft pick we acquired from the Celtics to Portland for cold hard cash because apparently Sarver just can’t get enough to waste on bad contracts, like the five-year, $45 million flaming turd he dished out to the fat Frenchman himself, Boris Diaw (God, I hate those croissant eaters). Just to push any Suns fans who haven’t jumped in front of the nearest moving vehicle into the suicidal range, the draft pick we sold turned into foreign scoring machine-in-the-making Rudy Fernandez. The worst part is, we wouldn’t even have had to pay him when we drafted him because he stayed overseas and became more seasoned, FOR FREE. So basically Sarver said, “Man this Spaniard looks pretty good and he would be pretty cheap, so even if he fails miserably, it won’t haunt me like every other time I open my checkbook. But that $3 million Portland is offer comes pleasantly rubber band and organized in a shiny new brief case. God I’ll look cool holding that brief case…” Yet somehow, although every transaction he has ever made has us believing he’s cheaper than the guy who buys his underwear used from Goodwill, we’re to buy that he would have matched the 5-year, $70 million contract Joe Johnson signed with the Hawks if J.J. didn’t kindly ask him not to? I think not, my good sir!
1) The San Antonio Spurs- Sure it’s easy to point fingers at Kerr and Sarver and call them “poopy-mouth jerk-faces”. It takes a real man to admit that your biggest problem was just that your arch-rival was just so implausibly good for such an inconceivable amount of time that we never stood a chance. See, I hate the Spurs for the same reason I hate Hines Ward and Derek Jeter; everything about their game is just so conventionally correct that you spew hatred directed towards them just because your jealous you’re team’s roster isn’t stacked to the brim with their carbon copy clones. See we had an ever better nucleus than the Spurs (Nash, Marion, Stoudemire, and Johnson compared to Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker). Except they kept theirs intact and built around them while following a strict no-flash, all-success philosophy, earning them three title rings in five seasons- much to my chagrin. The Suns shattered theirs, tried to repair it with scotch-tape and then convince their parents that that was the exact way they found it when they got home from work (trust me, it doesn’t work). Sure you can say, “If J.J. doesn’t shatter his eye socket then we beat the Spurs in ’05, J.J. stays happy and doesn’t pout his way out, and we begin a dynasty proving that running and gunning really can win it all.” And if I put tights and a tutu on, I can prance around with a wand and steal children’s teeth claiming I’m the Tooth Fairy. The point is that no matter how many times I get arrested on charges of breaking and entering while impersonating the Tooth Fairy, I will never be her. Just face it; we got some tough breaks, and hip-checks, and sadly were at our best at the height of one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history. As much as it makes me cringe to type this next phrase, I must be honest with myself as a fan of the purple and orange: it was fun while it lasted.