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Aftermath: Suns close with win, reflect on tough season, applaud professionalism

On a night that Golden State got their record-setting 73rd win, and Kobe Bryant scored a record-setting 60 in his final game, the Suns finished on a feel-good note that left the fans cheering and smiling.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns season is mercifully over.

While some of us got excited by rookie - and local kid - Alan Williams' first career double double in the win over the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers, the rest of you were somehow ooing and ahhing over Kobe Bryant's swan song 60 points against the Jazz and/or Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors getting their record-setting 73rd win of the season.

"We really should be talking about Kobe right now," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said after the game. "We REALLY should be talking about Golden State first but what Kobe is doing right now is amazing. I think we're going to try to sign him to a 10-day. It was really cool."

"I respect greatness when I see it, so that's unbelievable," Suns rookie Devin Booker said. "Unbelievable way to go out, I couldn't imagine a better way."

"Our entire team watched all 17 points," Suns coach Watson said of Kobe's last 17 of his 60 point game. "It was historic, I don't know if you could hear us yelling inside. What's crazy I think this is unique in that I grew up watching Kobe too, so as a head coach how many coaches can really say that?"

But hey, some of us just love the Suns enough to watch them beat up on the Clippers' bench. The crowd was even fun to be around.

I've got to say (and I know my expectations are quite low so it's easy to be impressed) but I've got to say that I loved the Suns crowd the last few games. They've embraced the team more in the past month than I've seen for years. Cheers were genuine. When John Jenkins fed Chase Budinger on a breakaway for a big finish at the rim in the fourth quarter of the 82nd game of a 23-win season, the crowd went NUTS.

And they stayed late too. They didn't rush out to beat traffic. Here's the crowd five minutes after the final buzzer. Sure, there was a 1 in 1,000 chance to get a free mini-basketball, but mostly they stayed because they had a good feeling about how the team was playing.



Were there any takeaways from this game?

No. None. Booker looked like his legs were deader than Alex Len's. Len just still looks like a baby giraffe on offense. Archie looked like a train intent on wrecking into the station/paint every chance he got. But they played hard, so there's that.

But there WAS this guy named Alan Williams...


"It was legendary so wow, how about Kobe Bryant," Watson said at the beginning of the media conference. "How about that... and how about Alan Williams too?"

Watson was excited about Williams' big game - 14 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 assists - but he was most excited about Williams' story.

"Forget basketball, let's talk about life," Watson said with a big grin. "Alan Williams in the beginning, I would hear someone down there [on the bench] screaming and yelling and going crazy. I didn't know who it was because I had to watch the play. I would glance and I kept asking our coaches, ‘Who is that?' And there goes Alan Williams, I've never heard him talk, never speak before, and he's down there screaming every game like he's on the court and he's scoring the baskets and getting the stops.

"So when you talk about the right attitude in life, he is the definition of it and I'm so happy for him because he deserves it. He has the right attitude and what he brings to our team and the energy he plays with in the game, it's only right. So Alan Williams, amazing."

Williams was great in the post game interview, after he got over the shock of a whole scrum wanting to interview him.

"It was a lot of fun," he said. "It was a whole lot of fun in front of a really good crowd tonight and to come out with the win, it was awesome. It was like a dream come true for sure. Hometown team, hometown kid, storybook beginning you could say."


P.J. Tucker reflected on the season.

"I'm really happy for my guys," Tucker said. "Obviously, all the stuff we've been through all year: ups and downs, injuries. We've been through the ringer this year and we had so many high expectations for the season and it didn't go as planned."

Then he talked about how they re-engaged over the last month, to make the most of a bad situation.

"These last 20 games," he said. "I loved how we came out (and) fought every single night. Bar none, I've never seen guys be so professional, come out (and) play hard every night, stick together, so I'm really happy about that going into next season."

That's a testament to Watson's ability to rally the guys into giving their all despite being extremely short-handed and on losing streak after losing streak.


If you're looking for a motivational speaker, Earl Watson is your guy. If you're looking for someone the players like, for someone who can connect with young players as well as older players, Earl is your guy.

Watch the comments by P.J. on Earl and you'll see that Tucker gives Watson a ton of credit for them finishing the season strong. Watson might be a novice. He might not be the guy you want coaching a playoff team yet. His offensive sets might be archaic with the post-ups, but give him credit for making the most out of tough situation.

"We like to call it embracing the process," Watson said. "That was the best way to define it for our players who had no clue how to filter and process the season. They were lost and they couldn't define it and that really bothered us as a group, so we embrace the process."

Watson talked about the end of the season and what's in store.

"The process is over," he said, "and moving forward throughout the summer whatever happens with this program has to be purpose, and you have to rise out of the process. So no excuses, so we can right the wrongs and the program and turn into a positive. We all know that rejection is an opportunity to be set up to propel forward. So anytime you are held back it's like a slingshot. You should release it, it should send you farther, so that's how we define it."

Final Word

The Suns finish out with some exit interviews today. You can likely catch them on or the radio. Unfortunately, I doubt anyone from BSotS can get down there mid-morning this year.

However, I will get the audio/video from cohorts as available and post them tonight or tomorrow for those interested.

First order of business: who's on the Suns coaching search list? Certainly, Watson will get the first interview. I'm curious who else is legitimately going to interview against him.

And really, if you're really going to rebuild and you want to expect another 25-30 win season with hard-fought games and professionalism and no excuses and complaints, isn't Earl already showing he can be that guy?

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