We are not three weeks away from Phoenix Suns basketball, friends. Hang in there.
Rod began this week’s Center of the Sun on a high note. Ricky Rubio will blow into the Valley as a FIBA World Champion and tournament MVP.
There’s real value there. I’m serious. This team needs winners. Ricky Rubio is a winner. “But what about all those years in Minnesota?” I don’t care about that. Don’t kill this buzz for me. Ricky Rubio has a gold medal for playing basketball and having players on your team who have gold medals for playing basketball is good for your basketball team. End of story.
Anybody who disagrees with me is less interested in fixing this thing now and more interested in watching Washington Huskies basketball by Thanksgiving and staring down the barrel of another 20 win season. End of story. This time I mean it.
Aron Baynes suffered a groin strain in the tournament. He’ll rehab through training camp. You’d think that I’d be forced to admit playing in the tournament is a bad idea. But nope. Obnoxious as ever. Glad he played. When he was out there he looked good and he’ll be fine.
Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and Kemba Walker also suffered injuries. But they don’t play for our team. They’ll live.
Rod and his team discussed best and worst case scenarios for four more Suns this week. I’ll be concise.
I’m not terribly concerned with the offensive production of Mikal Bridges. Could it be better, sure. But the difference between 19 wins and the eight-seed (I’m not saying it’s happening this year, chill out) does not hinge on whether or not Mikal Bridges can bump his scoring average from 8 to 10. He’s not going to be a 16 point a game scorer.
But defense, oh yes, defense is very important. I’ll have a much closer eye on that. I hope to see Bridges take significant steps toward becoming the eventual All-Defensive Team selection I absolutely, positively, 100% believe he will become.
As far as Tyler Johnson, I hope we don’t see much from him. If Ricky stays fresh, and he probably won’t, that’s minutes away from Johnson. Even more so if and when Devin Booker handles some point guard responsibilities.
But that’s probably not going to happen. Best case scenario is that he plays well enough in the 20 minutes a game he’s provided and doesn’t lose his job early to Ty Jerome.
Baynes is going to be a beast and I’m sure of it. He’s going to turn in some gritty, blue collar performances. Whatever the hell that means. Most importantly he’s going to help transform DeAndre Ayton into the eventual Hall of Fame center I absolutely, positively, 100% believe he will become. He’ll help create an identity for this team. God, I hate when people say that.
I don’t like Frank Kaminsky. I’m not sure why. That’s sports. I don’t expect much.
Kobe Bryant is turning his considerable wealth into considerabler wealth, the kind of wealth you can only obtain when you start with considerable wealth.
Sports Illustrated has revealed its All-Decade Team, because that’s what you do when there’s no basketball being played.
Elena Delle Donne has been named MVP of the 2019 WNBA season, and that trophy can keep her company when she’s watching the Las Vegas Aces in the Finals.
The NBA is continuing to struggle in figuring out how they will handle tampering, a situation that they can absolutely not control and therefore should just ignore altogether.
Basketball people are talking about how Giannis Antetokounmpo could become a member of the Golden State Warriors. Not this year, of course. That would be silly. But next year. No wait, not next year. 2021. That’s how you know it’s September without looking at your calendar.
Here’s a picture of what Kevin Durant looks like in his Brooklyn Nets uniform. A picture I’m sure Kevin Durant does not approve of, because why won’t you just let Kevin Durant play ball? And more iso, damn it.
Mitch McGary, who you may nor may not remember, is advocating for the use of marijuana in the NBA. He has brilliantly shined a light on a very talkable topic, while simultaneously crashing into an “NBA news” Google search with authority.
All twenty-eight teams will participate in the 2019 NBA G League Winter Showcase. It will be held at Mandalay Bay in breathtaking Las Vegas, Nevada, December 19-22. The winning squad will take home $100,000. You’ll see me there.
Dennis Rodman believes that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un will visit Washington, D.C. in the next two years. That is a sentence I just typed.
What I’m listening to: Less Than Jake, another recommendation from a loyal reader.
What I’m watching: I was just made aware of a program titled Wu-Tang: An American Saga. I’ll be watching that this weekend.
Last week while my wife was at work and the baby was down, I decided I wanted to watch a movie. Now, I don’t know about you, but I can get awfully specific in my movie searches sometimes. Like I might do a Google search for “movies about isolation outside of the United States,” with the hopes that a film about Siberia (I’m fascinated with Siberia, we’ll talk about that on a different day) may pop up.
So, I don’t know where the search started but I have to move fast. After the baby goes down if I don’t start a movie in the first 20 minutes, I’m toast. I’ll never stay awake to finish it.
Click, click, click, click, I’m flying. I decided that I was going to watch a movie from 1992 called ‘Fortress.’ I saw a box cover. I read one line, I didn’t have much time. I had to commit.
I fire up the movie. I was enjoying it, I really was. It was weird, but I can do weird. About ten minutes in though, something struck me as odd. I thought the movie I chose to watch featured a female protagonist. This film was following a dude.
What I’m Thinking
I want to talk about tanking.
Now, if you’ve read my stuff before, and I am absolutely, positively, 100% sure that you have, you know that I have strong feelings on the topic.
In case I haven’t shared before, I am a Miami Dolphins fan. It’s not important why, but that’s been my team for going on 30 years. I have the Irving Fryar next to the Dan Majerle jersey to prove it. It’s arguably the worst 1-2, NBA/NFL punch for sports fans born in Indiana in the universe.
If you are unaware, my Miami Dolphins are not having a particularly good season. It looks unlikely that they are going to be in the NFL playoff picture.
Ok, that might be too subtle. You, dear reader, might not really know what’s going on.
The Dolphins are having a historically bad year. If you only watch the NBA, then know that what is happening in Miami regarding football is worse than the worst that has happened in Phoenix regarding basketball.
Four times in as many weeks I have said to my wife, “the Dolphins just traded their best player.”
Earlier in the week I was listening to this dope talk on the radio. And this one dope was talking to another dope. The second dope was talking about how you have to “commit to the tank.”
You know, I once kinda, sorta, maybe a little bit understood and appreciated the strategy. Today I don’t. I hate it. Maybe it comes from getting older, but I hate it.
I will be 40 f***ing years old before the Dolphins are competitive. Forty f***ing years old. This season is a complete waste. Completely. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to watch the Miami Dolphins in 2019. Well, I guess there’s betting. Betting is good and fun. Find the Miami game, lay the points, and invite me over to your new home at the conclusion of the season.
So what do I want?
Tanking is simply not worth it. It’s just not. I’m okay with my teams not winning a championship. But it hit me like a ton of bricks the other day that having absolutely no interest whatsoever in this thing you so thoroughly enjoyed for decades is profoundly sad.
For all its flaws, I love football. It’s not my favorite sport, but I love it. For the next two autumns, maybe a third, it will occupy no real estate in my universe of leisure.
Tanking is a young man’s game. “We’re building. We have to lose. There’s next year.”
There is next year, until there isn’t. You grow in your career, you add a significant other, maybe you add a home, a kid. Eventually you’re going to hit a point where you just want to see a “good game.”
I hope that as we enter the new season we are exiting a dark period of Suns history that we’ll never again revisit. I love basketball. I want to care about basketball. But when teams flatly refuse to do everything they can to put their very best product on the court, field, ice, whatever, know that they are telling you, “we want you to not care.”
It’s a slap in the face and you should take it as such.
This is it though. I’m sure of it. Your Suns are on the come-up. The idea of when and how an NBA championship can be achieved long ago exited my mind. It will be a good long while before I think about that again. Just keep moving up. Do what you gotta do to become a .500 ball club.
After that, as far as I’m concerned, you can stay there as long as you’d like.
“There is no victory at bargain basement prices.”