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Finals Primer: Phoenix Suns link to the Lakers include Chief Keef, Duds and McD’s nightmare

We take a look at some Lakers players with a history — dalliance or real, positive and negative — with the Suns franchise.

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New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Hey now, the Los Angeles Lakers have made the 2020 NBA Finals. What the heck does that have to do with the Phoenix Suns though?

Have no fear, there are a couple links between the Suns and the Lakers, and we will dive into those links in today’s round table with Bright Side staff writers.

Let’s go!

How do you feel about Jared Dudley finally making the NBA Finals with the Lakers after coming up short against that very team in 2010?

John: I sure wish it was with the Heat rather than the Lakers. It has to be tough living in the NBA Bubble, physically isolated from the rest of the world, knowing your role is to sit on the bench and cheer for your team rather than contribute to their success. Kudos to Dudley for continuing to be an example of how to do it the right way.

Matthew: I love how Dudley is the only athlete that will battle fans on twitter to let them know exactly what he brings to this Lakers team. That is a locker room leader and and a mentor to a Lakers team that I don’t mind winning this years NBA title. As a LeBron James fan, this Lakers team doesn’t really give me the reason to hope for the worst and with Dudley on the team, it gives me even more of a reason to not feel sad with another title.

Khaleel: I’m happy for Jared. Can’t root against him. It’s gonna be weird seeing him and Dragic as opponents in a Finals series, though. 2010 was so long ago and so many teams ago for Dudley. As much of an AZ guy as I am and therefore NOT a LA fan AT ALL i wouldn’t mind seeing Dudley get a ring.

Zona Sports: It’s obviously a bittersweet feeling, as the disdain many Suns fans hold for the Lakers is immense, but you can’t help but be happy for him as an individual after all he’s been through in his career. Dudley getting a ring would be the lone silver lining to the Lakers winning it all this year from a Suns fan’s point of view.

Justin: Jared Dudley is a hooper. Always has been, always will be. Don’t let the grandpa headband and less-than-par 2k rating fool you. The man is more than happy to give you buckets, whether you’re Ben Simmons or some random masquerader in the Twitterverse (he actually did ask for a naysayer’s address after being challenged to a one-on-one). Nonetheless, I’ve always been a fan of Dudley’s, and although he’s reclused to a junkyard bench role, the formerly-tabbed dog has plenty of bark left in those chops. If LAL wins, Dudley’s name will be etched in history books as an irreplaceable sideline motivator for this team. They’ll never be able to take that away from him - trust me, he’ll tell you. So good for him, and as a Suns lifelong, I’ll definitely be rooting for him.

Keith: I’m happy for Dudley, I suppose. Look, I’ve thought about this before. If you sports-hate every team that has beaten your team or every player that later played on a team that then beat your team, you’re going to end up sports-hating everyone. I’m rooting against the Lakers and I’m indifferent to Jared Dudley’s performance. If he plays well, good for him. If he doesn’t, that’s fine too. I have fond memories of the Junkyard Dog in Phoenix, and that’s good enough for me.

Dave: Clearly, Jared is a traitor. He couldn’t beat the Lakers so he joined them the next time they were good enough to make the Finals. Fine. Be that way. Be sure to tell your grandchildren how many points you scored in the 2020 playoffs! jkjk All kidding aside, Jared is smart to copy the James Jones model of Finals appearances. Enjoy the ride, JD!

Markieff Morris is also on the Lakers — are you happy for Chief Keef making an NBA Finals before the Suns even make the playoffs?

Dave: Y’all know how I feel about the Morris twins after getting the chance to chronicle their Timeline of Self-Destruction with the Suns. They were entitled little brats who took advantage of every opportunity to cause havoc, disrespecting players, coaches, refs, media and anyone else who dared offer any but smiles and sunshine to them. Want a walk down memory lane? Skim this. I wonder how KCP, his teammate now, feels about Keef. About this potential ring with the Lakers? Whatevs. At least Keef is likely to score more points than Duds, though neither will play real minutes.

John: I do not like the Lakers. I do not like the Morris twins. I wish I could be cordial and correct in wishing him well on this career accomplishment, but I’d by lying to you and myself. Seeing #88 (does he think he’s a wide receiver?) on the court for the Lakers only solidifies my desire for a Miami championship in 2020.

Matthew: Markieff is a role player, along with his brother, who will be on contender teams now and in the future. It is something that never bothered me. If it was Josh Jackson leading the attack in the NBA Finals, then yes, that would bug the crap out of me. But Markieff? He can carry as many title rings on his fingers that he wants.

Khaleel: Markieff Morris? I have nothing nice to say so I just wont comment here.

Zona Sports: I highly doubt there will come a time where I am ever “happy” for a Morris twin’s accomplishment, no matter the circumstances or team. The fact that he’s a part of one of the most disliked teams amongst Suns fans only adds to the fuel. I’m not losing any sleep over the thought of him winning a championship or anything, but I’d be far from happy about it. This lifelong Miami Heat fan has entered the chat.

Justin: As someone with the last name Morris, I love to see the name associated with winning. And if the Lakers are able to pull it off, best believe I’ll be scouring eBay for championship bling with the name on it. But alas, these Morris’ make up a slim majority of my namesake that I’m not too fond of. They play dirty, and some of their tactics appear to have come straight out of a Chief Keef song (bang bang - am I right?) Oftentimes, it appears as if they’re more interested in inflicting pain than scoring points. I think the Suns would rather do the latter. So Suns > Keef for this question, and any other comparing the two.

Keith: I do not have fond memories of Markieff Morris in Phoenix. Granted the Suns were a mess when he left town, but there’s a right way to exit and a wrong way to exit. I’m not a Markieff Morris fan.

LeBron James has made the Finals in 5 of 6 years, with two different teams, since spurning Ryan McDonough’s advances in July 2014. How delusional was McD that summer?

Dave: At the time, I was excited! The 48-34 Suns might just be able to sign LeBron freaking James! But of course, we later found out that not only was Bron yanking the Suns chain, McD lost out on all the other good options while waiting on him. By the time Bron said no, the Suns had lost Channing Frye and three days of the best free agents on the market. So they turned to Isaiah Thomas.

John: Ryan McDonough was delusional to believe that Phoenix had something to offer LeBron. James has always been the master of his own story, doing all he can to control his own narrative. The first superstar to develop during the Internet Age, LeBron has always understood the importance of his standing within the confines of the sports world and the perception that creates. Going back to Cleveland in 2014 was the correct political move for him to make; moving out the LA in 2018 was the correct career move for him to make. McDonough sought LeBron because, as GM, he was supposed to. If he believed it would actually work, he was crazier than Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Matthew: How delusional were we all? I really thought with the young “talented” roster that LeBron would be dumb to go somewhere else. Wow, I was wrong! McD took plenty of chances on players and the be honest, him going after the King was one of them. Good for the Suns for trying right? Bless their little hearts.

Khaleel: I actually wonder how “crazy” it was. While I don’t think we ever had a chance and McD was delusional, I wonder where we were in LeBron’s pecking order. We obviously didn’t get the King but I’d like to know if we ever really had a shot.

Zona Sports: I still to this day cannot believe the Suns got a meeting with LeBron James’ agent in 2014. I will never forget the LeBron James/Carmelo Anthony edits in Suns uniforms that surfaced online that summer. It was never going to happen, but it was the closest the Suns have been to making the Finals since Steve Nash was employed by the team sadly enough. McDonough was the king of “getting meetings” or “trying” to make a splash, but ultimately failing every single time. This was just another bone throw into that graveyard.

Justin: Boy, don’t Leron and those crispy purple Phoenix threads form a match made in uniform heaven? The Internet ran amok with photoshopped collaborations of Bron rocking various potential jerseys during the 2014 offseason. Unfortunately, the closest James ever came to synonymity with the Grand Canyon or the Suns was when he took on proud sideline father duties at games for his own son - at Sierra Canyon. LeBron’s play style meshed with that 13-‘14 Suns team’s offensive scheme would have been something to marvel at, but like many basketball what-if’s, that’s a scenario we can only see play out within the confines of our own heads.

Keith: The timing of those thoughts is what makes McDonough’s interest in LBJ most absurd. The 2013-14 Phoenix Suns won 48 games and narrowly missed the Western Conference Playoffs. But they overachieved, considerably. That was a team that was expected to win 20 games. Oddsmakers set the over/under for the 2014-15 season at 44. That might be a fine time to join a developing squad, but not in the 2015 Western Conference universe. Fifty wins got you the seventh seed that season. The season before LeBron arrived in LA, the same win total was good for fourth. It’s not just the Suns, I don’t think LeBron wanted to go out west at the time, period. Mostly though, for much of the time they’ve existed, Phoenix has been a destination. At the time it was not, despite what Lon Babby said.

What say you all? I’d love to hear your own answers to those questions...

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