When the Phoenix Suns opened the 2014-2015 season it could not have been against a more appropriate team with a more appropriate result. In this day and age we live our lives moment to moment and that was one worth savoring against a familiar foe with so much history, in both the regular season, and the playoffs that one could actually call this a rivalry without being accused of hyperbole.
In that rivalry there have been ups-and-downs like any relationship worth being in. Some emotional highs and some devastating lows. Another moment that will be savored momentarily and then lost in the perpetual abyss of moments.
Those moments are lost more often than not with time as we move on to the next moment and in turn forget what just happened. It is human nature, but that is how moments are lost and then remembered in time, with hindsight, that something great once happened in these halls. As Kobe Bryant, a sure fire Hall of Famer, and one of the 10 best players in the history of the game came to town the revisionist history of the commentary on his play in the first game of his 19th season was disconcerting.
In this generation it feels like we upload these moments without actually living them, storing them rather than soaking them in, and filing them into the ether of our hard drives to recount when it is time.
Kobe is "washed up," he "blows," is "overrated", and et cetera were some of the comments on social media, which is social media, but that seems to be the common consensus with people nowadays. With that I am not sure if social media in part ruined cognitive tact within sports fans, if it is just this generation in general with the fascination of the here and now, or if maybe it never existed.
All that being said it makes sense, in a vacuum, that the fans inside an arena in Phoenix would boo the likes of Kobe Bryant and root for his downfall when pitted against their team. Makes sense. League wide, again, it is a little disconcerting.
In other eras with other stars was it like this too?
For Phoenix in particular the moments that this franchise lived in were 7-seconds at a time.
For Phoenix the moments were delivered in the summer too with year round greatness f two basketball leagues.
For Phoenix there were two sure fire Hall of Fame players, first ballot, no questions asked, playing in the same arena at the same time delivering basketball magic. Were those moments appreciated when they happened or will they be revered later on when there are no more moments left?
From 2004-2012 Steve Nash was the conductor of one of the best offensive symphonies in NBA history winning games, M.V.P. awards, and shooting the ball with unforeseen efficiency.
He was without question one of the best players in the entire league coming within 2-3 wins from a trip to the NBA Finals in three of his eight years as he Benjamin Buttoned his way into a better second half of his career than most have the opportunity to have in the first half. The 16.3 points and 10.9 assists per game with his shooting, 51% field goal 43.7% three-point 91.2% free-throw, in eight seasons has never before been seen and likely ever will be seen again, that is the brilliance of Steve Nash. Now Nash is on the brink of retirement and a career in reflection.
Let's repeat bring that home again: Eight seasons where he had the ball in his hands every game, every play, and scored 16+ points, 11 assists and shot 51% from the field, 43.7% from three, and 91.2% from the free-throw line.
Then, over the summer, in Phoenix where basketball never stops in the same year that Nash arrived back in town the Phoenix Mercury welcomed in Diana Taurasi. In that same period of eight years she climbed the WNBA ladder winning two championships and becoming one of the most prolific offensive players in the history of the game. Since then she has won a third championship and put her name in the hat for the greatest of all-time.
Very much like Nash, Taurasi had the ball in her hands every play making decisions and plays becoming the only player in league history to enter the Top 5 all-time in both points and assists historically.
In a lot of ways Taurasi was the Steve Nash of the WNBA, but in recent years she is also becoming the Kobe Bryant as a player that can be discussed openly as the best to ever play her game, and now on her farewell tour. It is not a common thread to have one of the best players historically in two different leagues playing at the top of their games for an extended period of time like this in the same city. In the same arena.
All of the moments, the great play, the points, the memories, the assists, and the legacies built over the years will be looked at with a proper lens in time. But was it appreciated when it was happening?
Were they appreciated during their time here together? Will it happen later with time, hindsight, and the benefit of history to look back on? Maybe the most important question is simply: Is that just the way (the life) sports are? Are we all hard drives with the data of our existence stored and logged away for when it is next needed or is that a contrived excuse of how a generation absorbs moments?
We live our lives moment to moment, but maybe, maybe we should soak some of those in from time to time. Greatness is rare after all.