There was a lot of conversation this week about expectations for the 2019-20 Phoenix Suns.
I suppose that conversation is to be expected in September regardless of where your rooting interests lie. The Suns are an interesting case though. The discussion seems to have moved from wins and losses and x’s and o’s to, “should I care?” “How much should I care?” “Will the losing ever stop?” “What is losing anyway?” “What if a meteor crashed into Earth tomorrow and the Suns and Clippers were all that remained?” “Would we still tank, or should we try?”
I like discussions like this because you don’t have to know any advanced statistics to participate. I do not like advanced statistics.
This offseason I’ve gone from irate to who cares? Then I moved from who cares to just wanting the Suns to be competitive. Now with the season fast approaching I’ve moved into a place where I would like to see, nay, DEMAND, that the Suns win some basketball games.
Last year the Suns took up residency in the basement of the Western Conference and never left. They did not get on Craiglist to look for a nicer place. I’m sure they didn’t like living there. There were probably plumbing issues. It was dark. Damp. Dirty. Sad. But they decided, “we’re basement people now.” They put a Korn poster up on the wall and just ... lived in the basement.
I don’t know why I said Korn. That’s entirely unfair.
They were miles away from the next clump of Western Conference bad. Three teams reached 33 wins, Dallas, New Orleans, and Memphis. That’s where I want Phoenix to live in 2020. 33 wins.
Those teams were just six wins away from the Kings. You get there, and another nine would put you in the Western Conference playoffs.
This is the stupid math I do to convince myself that a 33-win season would be a gigantic success.
That’s a little on the high end if you look at Vegas figures. Some talking head somewhere said 37. Five-thirty-eight, maybe? Anyway, I can’t go there.
There’s a handful of other dopes talking about tanking again. That’s absurd and I don’t want to talk about it. I’d rather trade Devin Booker. I’d rather bring back any number of players that exited Phoenix unceremoniously. I can’t handle the tanking again. I just can’t. It would break me.
So anyway, 33. That’s where I’m at, that’s what I want to see. I’m digging my heels in and that expectation will not change today. Absolutely not. Might change tomorrow, we’ll see.
Rod asked The Fantable this week what their biggest concern is for the upcoming season.
Mine is the tanking. That the team will decide they’re going to tank. Regardless of how bad it gets we cannot tank.
- There’s a new documentary being released about how eating plants makes you better at stuffing stat sheets. It’s called ‘The Game Changers’ and is being produced by Chris Paul and others. Here’s what NFL legend Tony Gonzalez told The Hollywood Reporter:
“I hope people can see that the old neanderthal way of thinking that you just have to stuff your plate with meat is the only way you can perform out there. It’s not true.”
Sure, but Mark Twain once said this:
“The secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”
And Mark Twain was wildly successful.
- Jerry West was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedon this week. He is the eighth hoops personality to earn the honor, joining Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan and Bob Cousy and coaches John Wooden, Pat Summitt and Dean Smith.
- The United States needed overtime to outlast Turkey in the FIBA World Cup this week.
- The Americans took out some frustrations against Japan on Thursday.
- By the time you read this you’ll be able to play NBA2K20. Those of us in the West have been able to play since 9pm. I mean, not me. I’m playing Arch Rivals. But maybe you.
- Chris Paul took all of his clothes off and let someone take pictures of him with a camera. The reaction from the NBA community was predictable.
- Dwight Howard is excited about his new opportunity with the Lakers. He has agreed to play nice. Which he will surely do, until he doesn’t, at which time Howard’s NBA career will crash into its inevitable conclusion.
- The Lakers’ Alex Caruso doctored some pictures to make himself look the the specimen he is not. Oddly enough his name was pulled out of the NBA fishbowl for a drug test this week.
- Here’s how Ezekiel Elliott’s new contract with the Dallas Cowboys compares to other sports stars. By one measure he makes about as much as Kelly Oubre Jr. I continue to be unsure of what comparing these figures against one another accomplishes.
- The secret of the San Antonio Spurs has been revealed. Gregg Popovich treats his players to world geography trivia.
- The representatives for Carmelo Anthony, who the NBA absolutely, positively does not need, are fighting back against the perception that he cannot be a contributor. In this article on cbssports.com, the author writes that Anthony is willing to accept “any” role. Here’s what ‘Melo actually said:
“I know I can still play,” Anthony said last month. “My peers know I can still play. I don’t think it’s about basketball anymore. I think it’s about me as a person willing to accept certain roles on basketball teams. Am I willing to accept a certain role on a basketball team? Yes.”
A “certain” role is most certainly not “any” role.
- The first black NBA player, Chuck Cooper, will be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. Cooper was a second-round draft pick and made his debut with the Boston Celtics in 1950.
- Hey, remember that diss track we talked about last week that Lonzo Ball and Lonzo Ball’s people are calling “music.” It featured this gem:
“You know I’m all about business
L.A. is gonna regret their decision
Straight to the money, you know how we get it
We count up the cash and we add up the digits”
some, many, everyone considered this a dig at the Lakers for dealing Ball to New Orleans. I’m unsure of how many ways you can interpret, “L.A. is gonna regret their decision.” Perhaps he’s referencing the decision of Taiwanese hip hop group L.A. Boyz to disband in 1997 and pursue careers in software and orthopedic surgery? No. That’s probably not it.
But Lonzo wants you to know that there is no bad blood with Los Angeles.
That’s not really an answer. But you know what? It’s the dumbest story of the offseason and it’s over so who cares?
What I’m playing: Shoot-em-ups from the Toaplan library.
What I’m listening to: Need a suggestion. Don’t get too weird.
What I’m watching: Like a lot of people I am a big Robert De Niro fan. I only recently became aware of his 1985 film, Brazil. I’ll be watching that this weekend.
Charles Barkley Playing Card: There’s a guy in Colorado selling playing cards with the mugshots of NBA players and a brief reminder of their criminal histories. He also has a Jason Kidd card for sale but that references Kidd beating up his wife. That’s not funny and we’re not going to joke about it. Barkley’s is funny though. It reads:
“Charles Barkley, former NBA basketball player turned sportscaster was arrested in a Milwaukee bar for disorderly conduct on December 21, 1991. He was later acquitted of the charge.”
It’s four bucks. Pick this up, throw it in a cheap holder and display it as you would a bobblehead. Instant conversation starter.
Tony Delk Game Worn Jersey: A lot of Tony Delk stuff is showing up for some reason. Delk wore this white Suns jersey during the 2000-01 season. Offensively, it was the best season of his career. Delk averaged 12.3 points a game. And you know what happened that season....
That’s right. Tony Delk, TONY DELK, dropped 53 on Sacramento in January. This jersey features seven signatures. Check out the autographs. If you must have it, you can end all bidding with $574. But the seller can be talked down.
Marcus Camby Signed Basketball: This a Marcus Camby signed basketball. With authentication. For $29 after shipping. I don’t know what else needs to be said.
Gar Heard Signed Jersey: This one is cool. The seller has four Gar Heard signed jerseys. White Phoenix, purple Phoenix, white Buffalo, blue Buffalo. Each one has a COA and can be had for $80 after shipping.
What I’m Thinking
- I watched the Notre Dame/Louisville football game on Monday. Evidently that satisfies requirements to be called “prime-time television.”
Somewhere through the broadcast the gentlemen calling the game began engaging in a dialogue about how Notre Dame had chilled out comparable to years past. They didn’t say chilled out. I’m saying chilled out. So chill out.
I grew up a gigantic college basketball fan as is the requirement in the Hoosier state. There was only one way to coach. The Keady/Knight way. For what it’s worth I’m much more fond of Keady than Knight.
As we have become more civilized (I think), we’ve determined that there are other ways to motivate players to perform well than quite literally choking them for their shortcomings. If you’re too young to remember it was a shocking shift in ideology.
But it still exists. Which brings me to my point.
I hope one of these days a college football player knocks the snot out of one of these coaches.
You can do your own YouTube research but there are plenty of examples of coaches crossing boundaries in such a fashion. Kelly is no stranger to these actions.
I don’t mean this to sound overly sympathetic to players (I’m not) or like I’m trashing coaches (I kind of am) but it’s quite simple in my mind. A 60-year-old man shouldn’t be grabbing a 20-year-old man the way many coaches do.
So I need someone this season to flatten a coach. It will restore my faith in humanity. I will buy that player’s jersey and send him a thank-you note.
I know that not just anyone can do this. So I’m looking at you, power-five conference football player who doesn’t have NFL aspirations and comes from a well-enough background that they can make it without an athletic scholarship.
And don’t give me that garbage about the “lessons” that are taught on the gridiron. There’s nothing to be learned from football that can’t be learned through other extracurricular activities.
Okay, fine here’s one:
Alright, alright, here’s another one:
Ok, last one. No physical contact here but still an example of foolish behavior from the grownups.
- I think the NBA season starts too early.
I know, I know. I get excited for the season to start as much as the next guy. But October is too early. I’ve always associated October with postseason baseball. Basketball, hockey, and college football’s conference season starting in the same month makes it difficult for me to juggle my sports watching schedule.
Much is said about “load management in the NBA.” I don’t care about that. I’m not overly concerned for player safety, I don’t care about fatigue, I don’t care about too many games in too few of days means the product on the court is cheapened for the live, paying audience.
With that said, I’m all for fewer games if it means pushing back the start of the season.
I really like the idea of starting on Christmas. Christmas Day basketball is a lot of fun for myself and my family as I’m sure it is for a lot of people that frequent this website. The 2011-12 lockout shortened season started on Christmas Day. That season featured 66 games. It was not particularly well-received.
SO HOW ABOUT THIS? Start the NBA season on Thanksgiving. And you can shorten the season to something close to a 66-game slate. I don’t know if that math ties out. Someone do the math for me.
I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving Day football is not a big deal in my family these days. It was once upon a time, it’s not anymore, for whatever reason. As the gap lessens between the NFL and NBA in regards to popularity, maybe it’s something that could work.
Save me the “owners would never go for it, fewer games, revenue, blah, blah, blah” argument. While it’s true I occasionally have dinner with the commissioner it’s not like I can implement real change.
Fewer games, start the season later. Back me up on this.
“We have a great bunch of outside shooters. Unfortunately all our games are played indoors.” - Weldon Drew