Thank you, Phoenix Suns.
Thank you for once again giving all of us more time to spend with family and friends this Christmas Day.
It would be cruel and unfair for us to leave behind the snuggles of a loved one, the laughter of children, the contented wheezes of old folks, just to mozy on downtown to watch a dumb basketball game.
For the eighth year in a row, including all six Christmases since I started covering Suns games with a media credential, I will have the whole of Christmas Day off to spend with my loved ones.
The Phoenix Suns have not been one of the 6-8 unfortunate teams scheduled for a Christmas Day game since blowing out the Clippers in 2009, one year after Roger f*###ing Mason hit a game-winning three at the buzzer to silence an otherwise cheerful Christmas crowd in 2008.
I was at that 2008 game on Christmas. My wife and I were excited to spend the bulk of the afternoon down at the arena. My kids were with their mom that year on Christmas Day (trade offs) and the rest of our family patted us on the back sent us on our merry way to downtown Phoenix for an unforgettable experience.
It was unforgettable all right. The ultra-nemesis Spurs were once again in town, ready to break more Suns hearts like they’d been doing year after year since 2005. But this time... this time... maybe the Suns could do it. The Suns had Shaq playing at All-Star Level. They had peak Amare. They had peak Steve. They had Mr. Sprite Grant Hill. And new shooting guard Jason Richardson. And new do-everything Jared Dudley.
Maybe the Suns could give their fans the best present of the day - a win over these hated Spurs.
And lo and behold, with just 4.3 seconds remaining Amare found a cutting Grant Hill for a go-ahead layup to take a 90-88 lead! The crowd went wild. I yelled so loud and long after that score that my head got momentarily fuzzy. We all stayed on our feet for that last Spurs desperation possession. They only had 4.3 seconds to even TIE the game with their best weapons. The Suns would never let them take an open three, right? No way the Suns would lose this game after fighting so hard for the lead with 4.3 seconds left.
But then Tony Parker happened. He juked Grant Hill, slithered into the teeth of the Suns defense, drew Jason Richardson’s attention, dumped the ball behind J-Rich to Roger g**@*mn f*#$^ing Mason in the corner and... splash.
The arena went from a sell-out of 18,000 raucous screaming fans to DEAD silence in the time it took for the ball to descend from the top of the net to the bottom of it. Which is roughly 1/100000 of a second. No one moved, except the Spurs players who piled on top of Mason and his 7 total game points.
The Spurs stole Christmas that day.
They slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant, around the whole arena, and they took every present! Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums! Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!
Then the Spurs, very nimbly, stuffed all the presents, one by one, in their bags! They even slunk to the locker room and took the Suns' feast! They took the Suns-pudding! They took the roast beast! They cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash. Why, those Spurs even took our last can of Nacho-hash!
It was a sad day in the King household. Almost as sad as the Timmy-three just seven short months earlier.
A year later, the Suns blew out the Clippers on Christmas but who cared. The Clippers aren’t the enemy (At least the 2009 version anyway). I did not go to the game. Didn’t even watch it. Not after experiencing Roger g**@*mn f*#$^ing sunuvab&*!ch Mason.
And since then, the Suns have spared us the stress of playoff games AND Christmas Day interruptions.
Thank you Suns.
I get to plan all the Christmas plans without worrying about how to carve out 4-6 selfish hours to myself to cover a basketball game.
Maybe next year.