By now the point has been hammered home hard enough by local and national media alike -- The Phoenix Suns didn't make the playoffs. Time to put that tool down before you knock down the structural integrity of your basketball knowledge. Good?
Now the NBA Playoffs still roll on and a unique thing about the Suns, and by my own admission I have no clue if other teams experience this because I do not track their rosters as closely, but the concept of Former Suns In New Places creates a unique basketball viewing experience right now. There are a lot of them. especially in the past 3-4 years when the team was overturned, rebuilt, and redone more times than Romeo & Juliet or King Kong Movies... They happen a lot.
So when those players go elsewhere do you have a natural urge to root for them to succeed?
When they were a part of "your" team obviously the thought would unanimously be for that player to be the best they could possibly be. Naturally, there is a bitterness towards success when you fell just shy of that same goal so a rooting interest in a former player might be tougher in this circumstance. For the most part ex-players become that way under amicable circumstances with outliers existing, but generally an ex-player is the same as a friend moving to a new city or a breaking things off with a significant other where you both knew this was fun, but not that serious.
Now if that girl started dating a good friend right away or your friend that moved starting working for a rival company, then it is natural to root against the overall success of their surroundings, but do you have to root against them personally?
We live in a very negative and bleak world where if something good is not happening for us as an individual we do not know how to sit back and appreciate success for another.
This roster was turned over seeing 37 different players in four years wear a Suns uniform for at least 20 or more games. That formally excludes Caron Butler, despite his efforts as a fashion model for the new uniforms before the season. With eight new players this year, four players that have been here 2+ years, one old face returning (Leandro Barbosa), and long standing holdover (Channing Frye) this is a team that has a lot of players in other uniforms this time of year.
What is the Standard Operating Procedure for rooting for them then?
Jared Dudley is a major fan favorite, but now resides on the Los Angeles Clippers bench with former head coach Alvin Gentry. He is a division rival much like Jermaine O'Neal on the Golden State Warriors.
Right now former big men Marcin Gortat (Washington Wizards), Michael Beasley (Miami Heat), and Luis Scola (Indiana Pacers) are jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference while Robin Lopez (Portland Trail Blazers) is doing the same out West. Gortat and Lopez were not necessarily appreciated here in the Valley for their own unique reasons, so it is tougher for most fans to appreciate their success.
Most of the former Suns players were here for a cup of coffee and then were out. It just happened that way as the different regimes were trying to figure out what this team was going to look like long-term.
Every year there is turnover, some years more than others, so why not root for, or at the very least appreciate, the success of these players in their future endeavors? The concept is tougher for the Nash's of the world who angle their way out to a division rival, but he also won a few MVPs out here and did some tremendous things. Same for the Marion's, the Dudley's, the Gortat's, and maybe not so much for the Beasley's or the Turkoglu's.
On the whole, as sports fans -- Can we root for former players in the playoffs?