What a difference a season makes.
There are a lot of ways that phrase is used, however the way I am about to use it feels a little bit different then how others would use it. Normally it would be used to acknowledge something great that happened. I'm going to use it to share my story, which you can interpret as great, idiotic, or just plain BS. That is your call, I am just writing what I feel.
So I am a Canadian basketball fan. It used to be a pretty hard kind of person to be, since all your friends would be playing hockey and did not care at all about basketball. That was until we caught wind of Steve Nash. I have been and always will be a Steve Nash fan. The man was my idol as a basketball player, because I could see part of myself in him. I followed him religiously with the Mavericks, and then once he got traded to the Suns, I began to follow him again. I started to become a Suns fan more then I had been before. I liked Barkley and Johnson, but never was a huge Suns fan. Even when Steve got here, I was more a Nash fan then a Suns fan. This would change.
Well with Steve Nash in Phoenix, I slowly began to grow into a Suns fan. His first season here, I watched as they stormed the league but came up short. The injury on Joe Johnson was painful, but it did not cause me a huge amount of sadness or duress. The same thing happened again as the Suns exceeded expectations the following season, with Amare being down with the knee surgery. Once again though, despite huge efforts we could not make it. I was on the way to being a Suns fan but still, loses did not affect me personally
The next season was the infamous season that ended with the hipcheck. It was at this point where I really became attached to the notion of who and what the Suns were, and I started on the path to becoming a diehard fan. The next season I watched with mixed apprehension, horror and optimism as Marion got traded for O'Neal. The Duncan three killed me, as he hit that shot and sank the hopes of the Suns. The next season was a tough one, as we watched our team wallow in mediocrity, watched hairtrigger moves happen, listened to rumors of trades and did not make the playoffs. Things were certainly down for me but at the same time I felt bad for Nash more then the Suns, because of how he had stayed loyal and how things blew up.
Then we met the 2009-10 Suns this season. This team captured my heart and my undying loyalty, and turned me into a die hard Suns fan from now on. Whether it was seeing Grant Hill and Nash defy age, Jason Richardson finding his role, Amare dealing with rumors and emerging as an unstoppable force, Robin Lopez showing that he belongs in this league and can play as well as his brother, Frye becoming a bomber, Dudley becoming such an effective player and such a personality, Amundson becoming a valuable asset, Barbosa struggling, finding himself, then repeating the cycle, and finally Goran Dragic making people realize that he is here for the long run and deserves a spot in the NBA, something changed. I was no longer just a hardcore Nash fan, and a Suns fan, but I was hardcore in both respects. I stuck with this team through all the ups and downs, watched the development of pure chemistry and watched as the Suns defied the odds again and again and again. Something had changed within me, and I had found a team I will cheer for always.
I do not really know why I am writing this post tonight, considering what has just transpired, but it just felt right. If no one reads this, I would not be surprised, but for those of you who do, thank you. I just wanted to share, that after tonight, after this season, this loss hurts. It really hurts. After all the courageous and heroic things we saw during these playoffs. We saw Grant Hill and Jason Richardson lead us past the scrappy young Blazers, as Amare stepped up his game. We exorcised the Spurs demon behind the one-eyed exorcist Nash and his fiery apprentice Dragic, and there legion of warriors. We battled through adversity to level with the Lakers and unfortunately, a man more famous for things off the court as compared to on, threw a wrench in the plans. I am so proud of this team, and so proud to be a fan.
I can take solace in the fact that we defied the odds but it still does not make it any easier. Every up and down this season, everything that happened with this team affected me on a personal level. I watched as many games as I could, commented here kind of frequently, and became a really diehard fan. That is why I want to thank this 2009-10 Suns team and their season...for turning me into a Suns fan, someone who will now follow them even when #13 is just a number in the rafters, and a one-eyed ghost on the court. Nash is still and always will be my favorite player, but now the Suns and every player on this team are favorites for a long time to come.
What a difference a season makes.