Public address announcer Vince Marotta: “Ladies and gentlemen, please turn your attention to Suns Vision for a very special ceremony live from the men’s restroom on level 0. It's time to induct the inaugural member of the Suns Ring of Dishonor. Let's hand it over to former Suns general manager and our master of ceremonies, Lance Blanks. Lance, take it away.”
Camera cuts to the men’s room where a crowd of disgraced Suns dignitaries huddle around a stall where a black drape covers the placard memorializing the team’s first Ring of Dishonor member just above it. The camera frantically pans around looking for Blanks who, much like during is tenure with the team, is nowhere to be found.
Needless to say, when my infant daughter wakes up at 2 AM and I'm rocking her back to sleep my mind drifts to some “unique” places especially when it comes to the Suns. For years I've joked with friends, fans and even former co-workers that the Suns needed a Ring of Dishonor. A way for fans to recognize and release their disdain for some of the most hated villains from the team’s now 50 year history. Well, the day has finally come. Even if the team would never officially sanction such a thing there is no reason why the Suns fan base can't.
Plus it's the beginning of August. What else are we going to write about. (Be honest, you don't really need a positional breakdown looking at roster spots 15-12, do you?)
Before we start naming names, let's expand upon the ground rules that Dave King laid out as they left a few things to be desired. A member of the Suns Ring of Dishonor doesn't necessarily have to be someone who has played or worked for the organization. It does, however, have to be someone or something which has tortured, haunted or just plain disrespected the franchise since 1968 and induce a cringe when a die-hard fan hears it mentioned. The person or thing can still actively be a part of the NBA, but not the Suns, and no criminal charges are required but they are a bonus. All nominees will be put forth by a panel of Suns experts -- or in the case of this mental exercise, yours truly -- and be voted in by the fans with at least 80% of fans voting yes.
Now that the technical elements of this completely made up event are out of the way and, like the points on Whose Line Is It Anyways?, don't matter, let's move on to who deserves to be nominated.
While it only seems fitting to include the entire Spurs organization in the inaugural Suns Ring of Dishonor induction, it just isn't their time. Sure, they're the organization that stole the Iceman George Gervin from us and tortured us for most of the mid-2000s, but there have been some great memories against them too. Charles Barkley's series clinching shot over David Robinson is an all-time classic playoff, not just Suns, moment and Goran’s 23-point 4th quarter on the way to a sweep of the Spurs makes it too tough to include the entire of the organization, at least at first.
The Kiss of Death. Just saying it does meet the criteria of making Suns fans cringe, but it was one shot in one series that the Suns had blown in a million ways long before Elie’s three to seal their fate. Was the blowing off a kiss salt in the wound? Yes, but Elie was a career bit player and did end his career in Phoenix as a member of the Suns so it's just enough to keep him off the ballot.
Is there anything more annoying than going to a Suns-Lakers game, or any Suns home game for that matter, and seeing the guy sporting the LA Jersey that still has the little plastic piece from the price tag on it since it's so new? You know the one. The guy who has never set foot in Southern California but pretends he has been a Lakers fan since before Showtime yet can't name anyone who didn't make an all-star team who has ever been on their roster. The fan who always wants to start a fight with you for cheering for the Suns when Lakers are winning and leaves early when they're losing. The answer is no. There is nothing more annoying than a Lakers fan and, to add insult to injury, they make purple look bad too. For those and so, so, so many more reasons they are my first nominee.
An NBA ref who plead guilty to gambling on games, had ties to organized crime, worked in the 2007 Suns-Spurs series and said games in the league were fixed? Yeah, that's an instant nomination.
A member of the Suns from 1991-1994, he's remembered for what he allegedly did off the court rather than his lack of usefulness on it.
In 1993 his pregnant girlfriend was murdered. Usually that makes you a sympathetic figure. Especially if you're famous. That is, unless you're tied to it. How bad was it? During the trial of the man who was convicted of the crime, both the prosecutor and the defense claimed Mustaf masterminded the entire crime.
The Drug Scandal Suns
April 17, 1987. It was the day that almost ended the Phoenix Suns franchise. The day then current Suns James Edwards, Jay Humphries and Grant Gondrezick, and two former players, were indicted for their involvement in a cocaine trafficking case. Fellow Sun Walter Davis was also suspended by the team for getting involved with cocaine again. He and rookie William Bedford reportedly were granted immunity for testimony against their teammates.
The scandal rocked not only Phoenix but the league as a whole and sent ripple effects throughout the franchise.
The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar
Just the name of a piece of American currency is enough for longtime Suns fans to know why it's a nominee. That was the coin then NBA commissioner J. Walter Kennedy flipped in his New York office on March 19, 1969 to determine if the Suns or Bucks would get Lew Alcindor, better known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, with the No. 1 pick. The coin came up tails and the pick went to the Bucks along with a championship. The Suns had called heads thanks to a fan vote in the Arizona Republic and, 49 years later, are still waiting for a title. So maybe, really, it should be 1969 Phoenicians on the list?
Yeah. Big Shot Bob. The towel boy. Rob Zombie (OK, so no one has ever called him that last one.)
Horry is the villian of all villians. The simple fact that he helped the Houston Rockets come back from 3-1 down against the Suns in back-to-back seasons on the way to winning the title would almost be enough to make the list. For him, that was just the appetizer. He went on to become a member of the Suns as part of one of the worst trades in team history. He threw a towel in coach Danny Ainge's face, got traded to the Lakers, helped them dominate the division for years and eliminated the Suns from the playoffs, went to the Spurs, eliminated Phoenix from the playoffs three times on the way to winning it all and oh, hip checked two-time MVP Steve Nash into the scorer’s table during a playoff game.
For those of you scoring at home, that was one lopsided trade, two major controversies on the sideline and six times eliminating the Suns from the playoffs. If that isn't an automatic spot in the Ring of Dishonor, I don't know what is.
Now the stage has been set and the power of a fictitious honor to be bestowed upon the least honorable is in your hands. Who do you vote in and who has to wait for another year? Which of the disposable will be the first inducted into the Suns Ring of Dishonor?
You can find Espo on The Solar Panel: A Phoenix Suns podcast wherever you subscribe to podcasts and read him regularly on Twitter @Espo or at Sports360AZ.com.