Earlier this year, I wrote a lovely FanPost on this website about a girl named Jessica (which you can find here).
Many of you demanded that I marry her, for it would lead the Phoenix Suns to a championship.
Rest assured, Jessica and I are still together and moving along just fine. You'll be pleased to know that she's become a serious Suns fan. She's even become the one in our relationship who will text me the results of games as soon as they end. Yep, she's a keeper.
Bright Side member SUN OF A GUN phrased our relationship a little differently . . .
I have not yet given Jessica a "hot beef injection", and the Suns did not make the playoffs. SUN OF A GUN, I am sorry. I failed you.
Now as you'll all know, the Suns play in the Western Conference, where it is extremely difficult to end the season as one of the eight teams that get to compete in the playoffs. The team won 48 games, equalling the record for most wins by a non-playoff team. It's a long wait till next season.
The wait begins
At the end of last year, around about the time that I published my first Jessica-related FanPost, the girl herself left the country and travelled back to her homeland, the mighty continent of Africa. She was gone for 44 days, which compared to the (estimated) 188 days between now and the beginning of next season, isn't that big of a deal. But those 44 days felt like an eternity, especially when Skype conversations and Viber chats were few and far between because of the unreliable internet services in Africa.
Those 44 days happened to take place over my summer holidays, and yet I sat at home moping indoors while the sun blazed outdoors. Luckily, the Suns happened to be blazing their way through the NBA, quickly becoming the league's best story and earning respect from fans and media everywhere. The Suns won 14 of 21 games while Jessica was in Africa, which certainly helped me cope with her absence.
I picked Jessica up from the airport on that 44th day, accompanied by family and friends, and we went straight to her house. She'd brought back a ton of presents, and we all sat in the living room as she handed them out (for those who are interested, she got me a soft toy of my favourite animal, a Rhino, and a Zimbabwean bracelet that I haven't taken off since she gave it to me). That same day, the Suns were playing an important game against a Western Conference foe, and I'd totally forgotten about it in the excitement of Jessica's return. Luckily somebody remembered, and that somebody happened to be Jessica.
I'll never forget the pride I felt when she said:
"Aren't the Suns playing today?"
It was good to have her back.
Lessons in appreciation
The 2013-14 Phoenix Suns are a team that was expected to rival the Philadelphia 76ers as frontrunners in the tanking race. Instead, they rivalled the Memphis Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks as competitors for the 8th seed in the hugely competitive Western Conference.
The team, and each and every player, exceeded the expectations handed to them by fans and media. Players like Markieff Morris and Gerald Green were ranked 247th and 326th respectively in ESPN's annual #NBArank, and yet they shocked the NBA world by becoming tremendous players at each of their positions. Both are/were frontrunners for season awards, Gerald Green finished 4th in voting for the Most Improved Player award, and Markieff Morris finished 10th in voting, and is a frontrunner for the not-yet-named Sixth Man of the Year award.
That last paragraph could be written for nearly every single player on the roster. It was an extraordinary year.
It is likely that we'll forget all of that over the next 188 days.
It will be a shame if the actions of this offseason overshadow what was a magical season. Despite not making the playoffs, I for one will always consider this one of the great years of Phoenix Suns basketball. One of my favourite movies of all time is Coach Carter, and the plot for that movie basically descibes the plot of the Suns' 2013-14 season.
Remember that there are more important things than who the Phoenix Suns draft with their lottery pick. Remember that there are more important things than who they sign in free agency. Remember that there are more important things than whether or not Kevin Love sports purple and orange next season.
Don't forget about the journey that was the 2013-14 season. As we all move on in our lives, don't take a season where a bunch of nobodies told the rest of the NBA to go fuck themselves and shot their way into a brighter future.
44 days away from Jessica taught me not to take things for granted.
I hope that in 188 days time you'll be the same.