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Channing Frye: Phoenix Suns Memories

With Channing Frye off to Orlando I wanted to take a quick look back at some of his best moments in a Phoenix Suns uniform.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

I remember where I was when the Suns signed Channing Frye.  I really didn't expect I'd remember that - but I do.

On July 14, 2009 I woke up bleary eyed from a relatively hard night in Vegas to discover the Suns had come to terms on a 2 year, $3.8 million dollar contract with the former University of Arizona star.

Frye had been the 8th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks, but had just completed his 4th season in the league, was already on the 2nd stop of his career (Portland), and had seen his role reduced to that of a fringe rotation player.

I personally didn't have sky high hopes for Frye but in the wake of Shaq's departure, Amar'e Stoudemire's return from his eye injury, and my purchase of season tickets for the first time, I was pretty much on board for anything Suns.

In the 5 years that have passed since that moment, Channing Frye has surpassed all reasonable expectations I could have had for him.  Both on the court and off the court Channing Frye has been a fantastic Phoenix Sun.

Now before XcasX and others attempt to burn my post to the ground with their pitch forks and bad attitudes - know that "fantastic" can have different meanings.  Channing wasn't the perfect player but his guts, determination, locker room presence, and of course ability to stretch the floor were always admirable to me.

As you might have heard, Channing Frye signed a 4 year, $32 million dollar contract with the Orlando Magic yesterday.  If you know anything about me - and I feel like a lot of you do - this is not going to be a post about the impact of losing Channing Frye because I'm sure you'll get plenty of that.  What I wanted to do was revisit some of the standout memories of what I'll think about when I think of Channing's time in a Phoenix Suns uniform.

I'll keep it at 5 since you know, work.

If there are other things you want to talk about - that's what the comments are for.  If you want to say mean things I'll probably say mean things back to you.  Just a heads up.

(5) The Kevin Garnett Incident

Kevin Garnett is a Hall of Fame player.  Kevin Garnett is an NBA champion.  Kevin Garnett is a fake tough guy.

That was never more apparent to Suns fans than on January 28, 2011 when the Suns were punishing the defending Eastern Conference champions late in the 4th quarter and Channing Frye rose up to shoot a three pointer.

Perhaps frustrated, but probably just a dick, Garnett tapped Frye on the "groin" during his shooting motion.  Showing the type of fury anybody who was unwillingly hit in the groin would show - Frye leapt up and didn't hesitate to get right in Garnett's face.  That was a fun night.

Here's some video.

(4) Kevin Durant Is Mean

What was NOT a fun night happened just three games after what makes up #2 on this list.

With the Suns having won 5 of their last 6 games and fighting for their playoff lives in the 4th quarter of an early March of 2011 game with the Thunder, Kevin Durant came down hard on Channing Frye's shoulder during a Frye post move and despite his bony arms, managed to separate the thing.

The shame of it was, Frye was coming off of a month of February in which he had really come into his own.  During the 12 games of that month he averaged 16.3 points (46.9 FG% and 43.9% 3P%) while adding 8.4 rebounds.  Both of those raw numbers were career highs for any month in which Frye played more than 2 games.

Frye missed the remainder of the game with Oklahoma City (which was an overtime loss) and the next 5 games.  In those 6 total games the Suns went 1-5.  Though Frye would return 12 days later his effectiveness was clearly limited.

Thanks for costing us a playoff berth, Kevin Durant.

(3) The 2009-2010 Breakout

As you no doubt read above, Channing Frye was entering his 5th season in the NBA when he became a Phoenix Sun in 2009-2010.  As a Knicks lottery pick, Frye was a sometimes starter under bad teams led by Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas.

In the 2007 offseason, Frye was shipped to Portland along with Steve Francis in a classic Isiah Thomas deal that brought the Knicks Zach Randolph - you know, back when he was more of a head case than he was good at basketball.

During his first season in Portland, Frye was a rotation player but as stated above, year 2 saw his minutes dip to a career low 11 per game just as he entered free agency.  With his value likely at a career low, the Suns were able to get Frye for relatively good value.

Never a three point shooter in his first 4 years in the NBA, the Suns asked Frye to assume that role and he did it with gusto.  In one of my favorite statistical quirks of all time, Frye made 20 three pointers in his first 4 years in the league.

He hit his 20th three pointer as a Phoenix Sun in the 7th game of the 2009-2010 season.  He'd go on to hit 172 - good for 4th in the NBA - and shoot 43.9% while doing it.

Frye started the first 41 games of the season before Alvin Gentry made a very necessary lineup switch - inserting Robin Lopez into the starting lineup and pairing Frye with the Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Leandro Barbosa, Lou Amundson bench mob.  6 games later the Suns 28-7 season closing assault began.

As a reserve, not only did Frye's shooting numbers increase but he made his bench cohorts - including the budding Dragic - better players.

Clearly one specific person is going to point to Frye's playoff struggles against the Blazers and Lakers -  particularly his ill-timed 3 game shooting slump in the first 3 games of the Western Conference Finals - but I'll instead think of his defining playoff moments as shooting 12/22 from three point range in a sweep of the Spurs.

The 2009-2010 season was so great for Frye that he was able to opt out of the 2nd year of his 2 year deal with the Suns and sign a fancy new 5 year, $30 million dollar deal.

(2)  The Birth of ICMF

Although sometimes it feels like every single person on Bright Side of the Sun has been around these parts for years - it's possible that many of you don't know why people on this site often times refer to Channing Frye as "ICMF".

Well dear child, that's what your ol' uncle Scott Howard is here for.

ICMF is a nickname that was coined by TheRza82 on February 28, 2011.  It means Ice Cold MuthaFucka and it was earned, not given.

For you see fair reader, for a 36 hour period between the morning of February 27th and the evening of February 28th of 2011 - Channing Frye was the clutchiest clutch that ever clutched.

On the 27th in a game against the Pacers, the Suns blew a 10 point 4th quarter lead and needed every bit of Grant Hill's Suns career high 34 points to find a way into overtime.  In the overtime period, Channing Frye scored 5 early points to help stake the Suns to a 7 point lead but after the Suns decided to lose that lead (they worked in mysterious ways) the game was tied.

Enter Channing Frye.

That buzzer beating shot gave the Suns the win and put them a season high 3 games over .500.

The very next night the Suns faced the not so great New Jersey Nets in what was the debut of the recently dealt All-Star point guard Deron Williams.  Again Phoenix decided blowing a lead sounded like fun as they surrendered a 88-81 advantage with just 2:56 to play and for the second night in a row the Suns headed into overtime.

With 9 seconds remaining in overtime the Suns trailed by 2 and Grant Hill was inbounding the ball - and then, well.  Magic.  (do not pardon the pun)

Ice. Cold. Mutha. Fucka.

(1) The Comeback

On September 20, 2012 the Suns dropped a bombshell when they announced that Channing Frye would be sidelined indefinitely due to an enlarged heart. The condition was one of those which made you think more of Frye's ability to live a healthy life as opposed to the less important idea of continuing his professional basketball career.

With Frye's departure certainly at least somewhat of a factor - the 2012-13 Phoenix Suns were one of the least watchable and terrible products our typically enjoyable franchise has put out in 46 seasons.  In a way it was nice for me not to have the stink of Michael Beasley, Wes Johnson, and Kendall Marshall playing in expired uniforms on a mismatched court all over my memories of Frye but in another way - kill it.  Kill it with fire.

Throughout the summer of 2013 it was a bit of a mystery whether the Suns would get Frye back at all.   As late as August 24th Dave was churning out stuff like this.

Weeks later it was official -  Channing Frye was going to be back in a Phoenix Suns uniform for the 2013-14 season.

Although the word was that there were no restrictions on Frye, you'd be a total liar if you said you expected much.  Frye played in 6 of the Suns 7 preseason games and averaged a little over 16 minutes per game.

The plan seemed to be start Frye out off the bench - perhaps a little slowly - and then Markieff Morris decided Serge Ibaka's face would be better off with an elbow in it.  With Markieff suspended for the season opener, Frye was inserted into the starting lineup.

He was the only Suns player to start all 82 games.

Not Goran Dragic, not Eric Bledsoe, not even PJ Tucker (ok the only reason he didn't is because Blake Griffin acts like he's been in a car crash every time he's touched).  Nope - the only Phoenix Sun to start every single game of the 2013-14 season was the guy who missed the entire previous year with an enlarged heart.

Frye was far from perfect last season - his three point shooting went into a slump in the 2nd half of the season - but the guy was there busting his ass every single night.  Watching him come back from what he went through was an absolute inspiration.

Bye Channing.  Thanks for everything.  Good luck in Orlando - I'll be rooting for you 80 times a year.

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