Happy New Year, Bright Siders! I hope everyone's New Year's celebrations were safe and fun. And if not, I hope 2014 brings you something better and brighter. In my circle of friends, we've got a New Year's tradition that I'd like to share with you, and of course, the Phoenix Suns.
It's called "The Burning of the Man." To start off the New Year as something indeed fresh and new, we gather at a fire pit on the beach here in Los Angeles. Someone donates some old clothes and then we stuff those clothes with newspaper. Then everyone, to themselves, writes down on a piece of paper what they'd like to let go of from the previous 12 months and stuffs it in the man who then gets lit on fire and turned to ashes. Then, everyone draws a name from a hat and we go around and say to the person whose name we've drawn, "The old man of the previous year bequeaths to you... (a wish, hope, etc. for the new year)." So it's literally raising our hopes and dreams for the new year from the ashes of the old one. That's got a nice Phoenician ring to it, doesn't it?
So, in kicking off the new year here at BSOTS, I thought I'd go down the roster and let the team know what I think should go up in ashes and what I bequeath them in 2014. Do you have your own man to burn for the Suns this year? Burn and bequeath in the comments below!
Ashes: Reputation as a cheapskate and bad owner.
To Mr. Sarver, the old man of 2013 bequeaths to you a clean slate and a fresh start with a revamped roster, a re-tooled front office, a re-emptied salary cap and coming soon... a re-energized fanbase!
Ashes: That whole Lance Blanks thing.
To Mr. Babby, the old man of 2013 bequeaths to you the wisdom of errors past and the success that comes with learning from them! Congratulations on your new hire!
Ryan McDonough and Jeff Hornacek
Ashes: The high bar of early success.
To Messrs. McDonough and Hornacek, the old man of 2013 bequeaths to you the fearlessness to continue to make bold moves - or stand pat - in the name of building a champion in the Valley of the Sun! It's your ship right now, gentlemen. Sail it where it needs to go, not just away from where it's been.
Ashes: Back-up minutes and conditioning
To Eric Bledsoe, the old man of 2013 bequeaths the preparation and determination to seize a role as premier guard in the NBA. Get those starter legs underneath you and you'll be blazing up and down the court all 30+ minutes of the game like the Dragon in no time.
Ashes: His passport.
To Dionte Christmas, the old man of 2013 bequeaths a career here at home in the NBA after 3 years of bouncing around overseas!
Ashes - Any lingering doubts about his place in the sun
To Goran Dragić, the old man of 2013 bequeaths the knowledge that, just as sure as the earth is beneath his feet and the sun above his head, he is a bona fide NBA star and that as he goes, so go the Suns.
Ashes - Poor health and poor shooting
To Channing Frye, the old man of 2013 bequeaths better health and faith in his shots - both inside and out!
Ashes - Rookie mistakes and opening season jitters
To Archie Goodwin, the old man of 2013 bequeaths veteran savvy and the maturity to know when to let the game come to him... and when he needs to go after the game!
Ashes - That last shot he missed. And defense.
To Gerald Green, the old man of 2013 bequeaths a complete lack of memory of any missed shots and a commitment to improve the D part of his role as a "3 and D" guy.
Ashes - The end of the bench blues
To Viacheslav Kravtsov, the old man of 2013 bequeaths the readiness to contribute on a moment's notice in games, and the swagger to play like a starter in practice.
Ashes - The burden of expectation and bum ankles
To Alex Len, the old man of 2013 bequeaths the freedom to play hard and be who he is on the court without the weight of being a franchise savior.
Ashes - Long twos and long bouts of disengagement
To Markieff Morris, the old man of 2013 bequeaths the grit and focus to play hard for every minute he's on the floor and the efficiency that comes with scrapping in the paint.
Ashes - Identity crisis
To Marcus Morris, the old man of 2013 bequeaths the faith in himself that he has all the tools necessary to be an excellent small forward for years to come.
Ashes - A pain in the neck
To Emeka Okafor, the old man of 2013 bequeaths a whole body and a happy return to the NBA stage as something other than a large expiring contract.
Ashes - His spot on the bench.
To Miles Plumlee, the old man of 2013 bequeaths a career as a starting center and the resolution to undertake the work of improving his whole game to become one of the best.
Ashes - His frequent flier miles
To Ish Smith, the old man of 2013 bequeaths more than one season on the same team after holding down roster spots on 7 teams since 2010.
Ashes - Earning the respect of the league every single night
To P.J. Tucker, the old man of 2013 bequeaths the recognition that without him on the floor, these Suns wouldn't be nearly as fun or successful because of his leadership in both words and actions.
Bright Side of the Sun
Ashes - Ashes
To Bright Side of the Sun, the old man of 2013 bequeaths the ability to let go of the past, whether it's the shame of last season or the dreams dashed in previous years, and the ability to embrace this latest incarnation of the Phoenix Suns fully and presently and to follow their adventures to a brighter and better basketball future.