The Phoenix Suns started celebrating Halloween a week early this year. Between the firing of Earl Watson, the team’s most contentious trip to the salon since Jason Kidd asked for the Marshall Mathers, the subsequent comments by General Manager Ryan McDonough, and the hundreds of national media think pieces about the team and it’s “demise," this week has been filled with a hell of a lot more tricks than treats.
It’s easy to feel like being a fan of Phoenix’s first team over the last seven days--and arguably the last seven years--has been about as fun as going twelve rounds with Tyler Durden in the basement of Talking Stick Resort Arena (I shouldn't have said that). But something stood out immensely to me during the entire ordeal: the passion and love the fans still have for this franchise.
There have been arguments over why the Suns re-signed Earl Watson in the first place, and discussions about the relative merits of Eric Bledsoe’s tweet--salon? Or "move on"? I've heard Debates over McDonough’s ability to do his job and whether #TheTimeline should go “make love” to itself. What's clear is that the passion online and around town shows that that things aren’t as bad as they could be.
Yes, the on court product has been awful. "Love, Family and Yoga" is a better rom-com title than basketball philosophy, and the organization is more dysfunctional than a guest on the Dr. Phil show, but there is still one thing that is great: the fans.
While Robert Sarver may be listed as the team’s owner, he’s nothing more than it’s guardian for the moment. The slightly crazy uncle at Thanksgiving dinner asked to watch the kids for a little while. Much like the groups who have come before him, his time at the helm will eventually pass and a new era will be ushered in. Regardless of who pays for the right to be the custodian of the team’s assets, the franchise has always and will always belong to the Valley of the Sun, and the die-hard fans.
That’s what makes all of this so hard for each and every one of us. We love the franchise more than we could ever dislike one individual overseeing it. The last seven years have been like watching your childhood friend make one bad life decision after another, heading down a path you just don’t agree with most of the time. You sit there wondering if it’s worth sitting there and watching it happen while feeling helpless. That is, until you remember the good times, what they’ve meant to you and how they’ve been there during your bad times too.
Over 50 years we’ve made it through losing seasons, fateful coin flips, a crippling drug scandal, player scandals and soul crushing defeats. We’ve persevered. We wore our purple and orange right over the black and blue bruises. There were Proud times, but we have always held on to why and when we became fans.
Halloween is coming, and kids will flood Valley neighborhoods wearing masks and costumes of every ilk. Hopefully, this era of Suns basketball is simply an embarrassing mask that will eventually be lifted (Or maybe it's more like our walk of shame in a slutty nurse costume). The establishment creating the culture will eventually move on. We, the fans, will still be here, and we will still be ready to proudly lift up the franchise like the Phoenix from the ashes.
You can read Espo regularly on Sports360AZ.com and on Twitter @Espo. You can also hear him on The Solar Panel weekly here on Brightside.