Here we are on a national American holiday called Thanksgiving. Let’s set aside the history of how this holiday came about and simply focus on today’s meaning to so many people of these United States.
Today’s holiday is all about thankfulness. We are free to spend the other 364 days of the year focused on what we don’t have, mired in what we’ve lost, lamentful of that which is out of reach.
Yes, most of us will be surrounded by far fewer people than usual today because of this ongoing worldwide pandemic. Many more of us than usual are struggling to make ends meet. We are losing sleep due to stress, losing connection with the ‘Before Times’, hoping and praying for a better 2021 than 2020 saw fit to give.
Today (or at the very least during the part of dinner where you give the toast... you can give me that much, right?), we can still be thankful for some good things that remain constant or, in the case of the Suns, have begun to stir among the ashes of a ruined franchise.
What irony that the sh*tsh0w known officially as 2020 could also become the catalyst for the legitimate resurgence of the Phoenix Suns franchise into playoff prominence!
Thankful for Devin Booker
If not for Devin Booker’s heroics and first of many All-Star bids, along with progression to competence among the team, we would never have experienced the Suns reaching the Bubble this summer in the NBA restart.
Booker raised his game to All-Star level this past season, increasing his efficiency to record levels. While he just missed the cut on being voted in to the game naturally, he was the overwhelming choice as first injury replacement (Damian Lillard). That’s what broke the glass ceiling on Booker’s career arc, and now he can rise even higher in the coming years.
Thankful for James Jones
Booker doesn’t get a chance to be SO good if Jones hadn’t put such a competent team around him from the jump. Jones took a lot of flak — and still does! — for how he handled the 2019 offseason, yet the end result was the best team Booker ever had.
And now one year later, Jones should be in the running for Executive of the Year for landing Chris Paul (if Pelinka gets credit for LeBron, Jones gets credit for Paul), finding Cameron Payne off the street, signing perfect-fit Jae Crowder, and setting the Suns up for playoff success.
Bottom line: it took Jones only two off-seasons to turn the worst team in the 15-team West to potentially one of the four best.
Thankful for Monty Williams
“Whatever you want is on the other side of hard.”
Williams has had an impactful presence on the Suns, to say the least. His players love how he sets them up for success in an offense that went from one of the worst passing teams in the league to the very best.
But moreso the players love Monty for who he is as a person, and how he treats them as real flesh and blood human beings. He listens, actively, and works with each player to put them in the best position to succeed. They feel empowered, which helps them play to the best of their abilities.
To wit, the Suns played their very best basketball in the Bubble where Monty and his staff had the most influence on their psyche and well-being. The players constantly talked of being locked-in, completely focused on basketball and each other.
Thank you for being the human being that you are, Monty Williams.
Thankful for the Bubble
First, I am thankful that the Suns were invited to the Bubble! Early iterations of teams heading to the Bubble were top-16 and then top-20. But at the last moment, the NBA decided to bring the top 22 teams, leaving 8 teams to sit at home and watch. Once it got to 22 teams, the Suns were in.
Second, I am thankful that the NBA did such a masterful job on the Bubble itself. They had nearly 1,000 people involved for more than two months and got zero cases of COVID that whole time. While several teams were missing important players due to contracting the virus prior to bubbletude, including the Suns’ Aron Baynes, not one player tested positive after entering the NBA’s Bubble. Bravo, NBA!
Thankful for Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Aron Baynes
While they won’t be able to don the purple and orange in a playoff game, these three veterans contributed mightily to the Suns’ Bubble appearance.
Their collective spirit and professionalism helped propel the league’s youngest roster to a record just good enough to get invited to the NBA restart. The bottom eight teams were left home for the summer, and it’s partially thanks to these vets for making sure the Suns were NOT one of the league’s worst eight.
Thankful for Chris Paul and Jae Crowder
A year ago, James Jones targeted young-ish players who’d started at least one playoff game in his small-steps improvement of the Suns roster. At the time, this small-step plan helped the Suns organically improve while allowing the core to remain centered around potential home-grown stars in Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges.
Now, James Jones has hit the accelerator button with Paul and Crowder. These two veterans have played in 181 postseason games, starting 160, between them. Neither has missed the playoffs for at least eight seasons. Chris Paul is the leading catalyst here of course, having just willed the Thunder from lottery team to 5th seed in the West last year, but Crowder’s presence is important too as a role player who knows how to play playoff-level basketball.
Thankful for you
I feel blessed to be the steward of such a wonderful community of Suns fans. We have survived the hard times of 10 straight lottery appearances and defecation jokes, and now have the joy of a real, live playoff run from opening day into summer!
Now the bandwagon is going to start filling up, so before that I want you all to know that WE made it here, and it’s our responsibility as a community to WELCOME all the new Suns fans and treat them as equals in our growing community. Open your arms and hearts, and you’ll get to ride a wave bigger than any we’re seen in years.
Let’s hope 2020 sees that awful meme blossom into something cuter than we have a right lay eyes on.
These are just a few Suns-related things to be thankful for today. Others include the franchise’s willingness to spend big money to put this team together, the gorgeous new CITY jerseys, and the Fellas.
What are you thankful for, on this holiday?