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ESPN Names Phoenix Suns NBA’s Worst Franchise

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ESPN recently ranked every franchise in the four major, American pro sports leagues. Our Phoenix Suns finished 120th out of 122 overall and dead last among NBA franchises.

Few are impressed by Robert Sarver’s performance as Suns owner.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When a team has missed the playoffs for six straight years, seen player after player leave in awkward and sometimes hostile fashion, just completed an historically inept season (fewest wins since 1968), and lacks a clear path to future championship contention, it reflects on the overall operation of the franchise.

As a Phoenix Suns fan well aware of their shortcomings, I knew to start at the bottom when perusing ESPN The Magazine’s Ultimate Standings 2016, for ease of scrolling. I didn’t have to scroll up far to find the Suns at #120 out of 122 overall and #30, dead last, among NBA franchises. The Suns finished one spot below the Cleveland Browns. Chew on that for a moment.

Any such ranking system will be flawed and subjective; this one is no different, but they used fairly sound methodology, combining fan opinion with hard data to derive ratings in the following criteria:

  • Affordability
  • Coaching
  • Fan Relations
  • Ownership
  • Players
  • Stadium Experience
  • Title Track
  • Bang for the Buck

In other words, this isn't pulled out of thin air, not just one writer's biased opinion. (Detailed methodology explanation is contained in the espn.com piece.)

The Suns ranked especially poorly in Title Track, Players, Fan Relations and, the role accountable for all the rest: Ownership. Robert Sarver ranked as the worst owner in the NBA, and 117th out of 122 across all leagues.

Ownership quality is described as "Honesty; loyalty to core players and the local community." In one example of the franchise’s deficiencies in this area, Sarver and the Suns kicked franchise icon Steve Nash to the curb, and did so in the clumsiest of ways, communicating ineffectively with him before finally trading him to their most hated rival, the Lakers. Could go on and on with other examples of lack of Suns loyalty, such as:

Phoenix scores well below average in the categories measuring honest ownership and loyalty to core players. At the trade deadline two seasons ago, Phoenix dealt both Goran Dragic (who reportedly wanted out) and Isaiah Thomas, who has gone on to become a star in Boston.

The one positive area for the Suns was Stadium Experience, where they ranked #11 overall. Sorry, Charles Barkley, but you’re wrong. Those nachos are hot and tasty. Living outside of Phoenix, I usually only make it to a game or two each season, but my experience at Local Casino Arena is always enjoyable, except for the performance on the court. I agree with the high ranking there.

What say you, fellow fans? Is the franchise we follow deserving of this dreadful ranking?