The Phoenix Suns are unwittingly becoming the worst and most ridiculed franchise in the NBA.
Guess who's doing most of the ridiculing? You guessed it: millennials. And as many Gen Xers and Boomers as can find a stick to shake.
The millennials and other generations are having a good old time on social media reacting to the Suns owner's latest explanation for what's wrong with the Suns.
"I'm not sure it's just the NBA," Sarver said. "My whole view of the millennial culture is that they have a tough time dealing with setbacks, and Markieff Morris is the perfect example. He had a setback with his brother in the offseason and he can't seem to recover from it."
Full disclosure here. I am not a millennial. Heck I'm a dozen years older than Suns GM Ryan McDonough, who himself is nearly young enough to be a millennial, but not quite (missed it by thatmuch). Still, I suppose it's possible Sarver was including his own GM and his mid-30s assistants in this wide-ranging group of people who can't handle setbacks.
I'm Generation X, along with Sarver and Hornacek. Sarver (54) and Hornacek (52) are both within 6 years of me, so I suppose we think alike and can handle setbacks better. They might put themselves in the Boomer generation (loosely defined as those between 52-70 years old) but it's a close call.
Of course, our X generation is also commonly called the 'MTV Generation' and the 'Baby Buster' generation. How bout those nicknames? No generation has more condescending nicknames attached to it than mine. The MTV part if self-explanatory. I fully admit to watching hours upon hours upon hours of MTV in the early 80s as I skated through high school barely cracking a book but passing my classes nonetheless. The Baby Buster part is because we were too young for the Summer of Love, and stopped multiplying so quickly. Oh, and we dealt with the AIDS issue, by which I mean we at first mocked it, then labeled it, then largely ignored it and just hoped it would go away. But we did have that really cool song, I guess.
But I digress. I know we've done some incredible things in the area of technology (hey there Bill Gates and friends!), and entertainment, and there's been tons of progress in many areas of domestic and international policy.
But when you boil it down the way the Suns owner boiled it down, are we Generation Xers or young Boomers really in position to throw stones at the Millennials?
Sure, we didn't succumb to the neck-straining life of social media when we grew up, but that's basically just because we didn't have it. I mean, we idolized Star Trek which basically invented the cell phone (beam me up, Scotty!), and couldn't get enough of Star Wars's holograms and Back to the Future's hoverboards. If I had those when I was growing up, no telling HOW awesome my life would be right now!
Again, I digress.
Let's hear some more about social media from Robert Sarver.
"I'm not sure if it's the technology or the instant gratification of being online. But the other thing is, I'm not a fan of social media. I tell my kids it's like Fantasy Land. The only thing people put online are good things that happen to them, or things they make up. And it creates unrealistic expectations."
Only posting good things? Or things they make up?
I don't know about that. I do know that social media is a distorted view of reality. It's often a dramatization, just like reality TV. I think we can all agree to that. But to suggest it's all pollyanna or made up is wrong, at least in my experience.
I've got three millennials taking my money on the regular (and who are the source of my unconditional love!) who I need to follow on the various mediums to keep up with their lives. And thanks to BSotS, I get to interact with hundreds of other millennials - as well as all other generations - on twitter.
Twitter, Facebook and all the others are windows into our daily lives, good and bad. Dramatized for sure, but full of both good and bad. And millennials are the first ones to share their lives with the world without hiding behind fake personas. Millennials are real, not fake. That's a shift from my own Generation X, who largely hid behind creative usernames and avatars online and pretended we could keep some modicum of privacy in our real lives.
Creating unrealistic expectations?
I tell you what. Take a poll of millennials, asking how many of these social media mavens think they will have success in this world in the areas of either business or pleasure and I'll wager that millennials are actually more realistic than any prior generation. No millennial I know assumes they will have "more" than their parents. No one assumes they can skate through life and have happy endings without a ton of hard work and good bit of luck.
So to say they have unrealistic expectations is a new one to me.
Markieff Morris had little to say about Sarver's comments.
Suns owner Robert Sarver said Markieff Morris struggles to respond to adversity like many Millenials. Morris: pic.twitter.com/EhpWu4HoBH— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) January 4, 2016
While that may make Markieff look like the mature one, he's still somehow gotten himself into the perpetual doghouse with this team so he's not perfect either.
Which brings us..
Back to reality
Setting aside the unnecessary denigration of an entire generation of human beings for the moment, let's talk about the current predicament of the Phoenix Suns.
This group of millennials just lost badly - really, really badly - to another group of millennials in the Western Conference. A team tanking hard themselves, and coached by a Gen Xer who's even a bigger train wreck than anyone the Suns can offer when it comes to putting his foot in his mouth.
The Suns are now 12-25, sitting in a great position to earn the top draft pick next June but facing 45 more games of "oh my god how can they be that bad?" before that glorious day comes.
So we have to deal with the here and now.
Sarver said some good things in that interview with Bickley as well. He did. Really. He admitted culpability for this awful season from the top to the bottom.
"The reality is, there's only a half dozen championship-caliber organizations in the NBA over the last 25 years," Sarver said. "My job is to find the right people and the right culture to eventually be one of those organizations, and it starts with me. I'm not shirking responsibility.
"The blame is to be shared from the top down. Our leadership needs to communicate better. It needs to provide a better culture that provides for more accountability and more motivation. We have a lot of good, young players. They need to be playing hard, aggressively and on the same page whether we win or lose. That's what I expect going forward."
That's good that he's admitting employees from multiple generations, including his own, are not handling setbacks well.
The summer setback of Markieff Morris getting really really really really mad about his brother's trade wasn't handled well by Morris or his brother. Sure they felt entitled to something more than they got. Yes, they handled it with too much immaturity. Is that a generational thing? Or a socio-economic thing? Or what?
But the GM, by not talking directly with Markieff until just before training camp started, didn't handle it well either. And neither did the coach, using playing time as a carrot/stick to get Markieff to foresake his brother's memory and commit 100% to the franchise that didn't fix the problem or trade him.
But hey, as long as we get those assistant coaches out of here...
It's a shame that the first run-through of getting to the bottom of the problem ended up with the firings of two of the guys least likely to be the problem at all (assistant coaches Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting).
But maybe another week and some really ugly losses later, the owner is seeing that the problems are a lot more wide-reaching than he'd hoped.
The team has quit, even moreso since the firings. The coach has lost the players. The players don't think the coach is the problem but he's clearly not the solution either. The GM has put together a team that can't play well together, and relative to the rest of the NBA is one of the four worst teams in the 30-team league. And that's just on season record. In the past week, the Suns have lost to the very worst and second worst. Badly.
So that's probably 29 teams out of a possible 29 teams playing better basketball right now.
You can say there's only 4 or 5 championship-caliber organizations, but you can't slip past us that there's 29 more functional teams right now.
Changes have to come.
Or we'll just be seeing this play over and over again.
On social media.
Ridiculed by millennials for a generation to come.
Maybe Gen Y will get a better version of the Suns franchise?