"To me - coming from you, ‘friend' is a four letter word
‘End' - is the only part of the word, that I heard
Call me morbid, or absurd
But to me. Coming from you.
Friend is a four letter word
When I go fishing - for the words
I am wishing you would say to me,
"I am really only praying that the words you'll soon be saying
Might betray, the way you feel about me..."
But to me, Coming from you,
Friend is a four letter word"
Those are the words of John McCrea, lead singer of the band Cake... But for me they are the perfect and poetic ending to one emotional investment of this fan.
Nash is a Four Letter Word
Stay with me here – because in the end, this post isn’t even truly about my disappointment in betrayal and Nash giddily choosing the one team that would actually make me throw-up in my mouth. Swallowing that regurgitation is exactly how it feels. It’s been a week now of marinate reflection, the denial inevitably shifted to resentment, and now dismissal.
"There’s really no true loyalty in sports. You have to do what’s best for you. Once I realized the Suns were going to do what’s best for them, as they should, I figured I have to do what’s best for me and not cut off my nose to spite my face."
I get it. I understand it. When all is said and done and the context and consequence is viewed through a ‘real-life-lens’, it’s not a big deal. Good for Nash and his family.
But I watch basketball primarily to be entertained. To enhance the entertainment experience I invest in it emotionally and my interest evolves into a passion and my passion renders me a fanatic. My viewing lens is not of the ‘real-life’ variety when it comes to basketball.
You can root for a team, a player, a sport in general, etc., or all of the above. As you cultivate your rooting interests a hierarchy is formed and precedence is assigned. For me, with regards to basketball, the Phoenix Suns as a team top that hierarchy, then basketball in general – then there are players I root for, I list my rooting interests in that order. If a player (like Steve Nash) topped my list – then that player switching to a rival team wouldn’t be so hard to stomach.
But that’s not what happened for this Suns fan. That’s not what happened for many Phoenix Suns fans.
For 8 years we enjoyed a beautiful friendship. You came into town and flattered us with your curious aura and masterful leadership of example and cohesion. You led the infantry with innovative weaponry and we went to war against our enemies - shedding blood, sweat, tears, daggers and dunks. Often times is was your will alone in battle that brought victories or even the chance thereof – as your career grew longer in the Valley our friendship seemed to bond stronger and your place on my hierarchy illusorily seemed to rise.
"There’s really no true loyalty in sports,"
Words that echo and reverberate. Could have fooled me, bro. You did fool me... There is definitely loyalty in sports... just apparently not from the same side of the glass you dance in.
I shake my head and the reverb fades, all is clear. You are the enemy now.
To me, coming from you - friend is a four letter word Steve.
Team Chemistry Sans-Nash
Nash brought us great years in Phoenix, there’s no denying that. One of his many gifts his ability to manifest team chemistry through his leadership. The complimentary coupling of Steve’s playmaking and a Phoenix Suns coaching philosophy of performing to players’ strengths produced incredible results often times with underwhelming talent.
We can site great team chemistry in nearly every team that Suns management has put on the floor with Steve Nash. It’s one of those unquantifiable yet completely real team modifiers. It floats in the realm of intangible – but its results are most definitely visible.
Another ex-Suns Player and fan-favorite Casey Jacobsen wrote a great piece last year on team chemistry for SLAM Online (I really enjoy Jacobsen’s writing, he’s pretty spot on with most of musings and his perspective is intriguing) . He said of defining team chemistry,
"Team chemistry has little to do with whether guys like each other. In my opinion, whether guys went to dinner with one another on the road had no [a]ffect, positive or negative, on that team’s ability to win basketball games. You don’t have to be buddies with your teammates or your coach. That type of team chemistry is highly overrated.
A team with real chemistry is one who uses the strengths of each respective individual on the roster (including coaches) while at the same time hiding their weaknesses."
Casey mentions two specific types of chemistry in this passage
- Type A- the ‘buddy-buddy’ type where players are making videos and eating and hanging together – and
- Type B - the on-the-court type where players play to improve and FOR one another, not just WITH each other.
He expresses his opinion that Type A chemistry is overrated and expounds further on how playing to the strengths of teammates and having willing role players is key. All of it should sound familiar to Suns fans. We have enjoyed high levels of team chemistry for nearly a decade. It’s engrained in our reputation as an organization. And though Casey dismisses Type A chemistry I would argue that it can only augment the former. If teammates genuinely like each other they are generally more likely to play for each other or take criticism more readily or become more easily coachable. We’ve seen it firsthand.
With that said – I express my concern and excitement as a fan. With Nash gone and likely Grant Hill as well, who is the leader on this team? Who will facilitate the chemistry by example and direction?
Jared Dudley has seniority and has all the right tools to be a leader – having watched him interact with teammates in practice I believe he can do it… but does he want to?
Should it be Goran Dragic? He’s new to the team, but by no means is he new to the team. Maybe it’s my familiarity with the Steve Nash leadership mold but I tend to feel that the floor-general should take the flag as the team leader (and that doesn’t always implicate the PG – ex. LeBron James as point-forward is the leader).
Everything could change in this and the coming week with transactions but as the roster currently stands I’m having a difficult time envisioning the next real leader of the team. Thus my concern is stated – but I’m also excited to watch and witness the chance occasion that one of our young players will rise and accept the call to lead a team whose reins currently fall to the back of the steer.
What’s your take?