As a fan of the Phoenix Suns, I’ve been through a lot. There have been highs and lows, Finals appearances, and buzzer-beating losses. The emotional investment runs deep. I’ve been asked time and again, “Why do you care?” followed promptly with, “You love the Suns but they don’t love you back”.
With Mat Ishbia at the helm of the new ownership group, it feels like they do.
Since his arrival in February following the purchase of both the Suns and the Phoenix Mercury, Ishbia has invested in his franchise. He understands that the most important aspect of running a franchise, outside of the product on the court, is the fan base. From making Suns’ basketball more accessible to improving the in-arena food and beverage experience, Ishbia has been focused on doing just that.
During halftime of Saturday night’s home opener of the 2023-24 season, Ishbia took another step in the right direction: he honored the past.
It is a past we all share, littered with memories of incredible play by dazzling players. We all have our favorites, whether it be for the style in which they conducted themselves on the court or the connection we had to moments they were a part of. From smooth shooters to round mounds of rebounds, the Rind of Honor represents the greatest players who have played in the Valley of the Sun.
When the Suns’ previous ownership group renovated the Footprint Center in 2020, they removed the permanent Ring of Honor from the arena that displayed the names of those who were the building blocks of the organization. Replaced by digital signage that surrounded the interior of the second deck, gone were the legends of Suns lore.
Ishbia changed that and, during an emotional ceremony during halftime, the new Ring of Honor was unveiled.
Only 263 days of Ishbia. What else is next? https://t.co/7t1uaQj4Yl— Suns JAM Session Podcast (@SunsJAM) October 29, 2023
Banners now line the arena with the names and numbers of the Suns’ greats. Crisp and pristine. Purple and orange. Dare I say it’s finally starting to look like a basketball franchise around here? Quite simply, it’s beautiful. It’s exactly what it needed to be.
I teared up watching the ceremony as, with every coach, announcer, trainer, and player that took the court, the memories flooded in. I have a history that goes back to the late 80s, living in Los Angeles amongst Showtime Lakers fans, reppin’ my brand of purple. KJ was my guy and seeing him jog on the court of the ‘Print brought me back to why I am a Suns fan.
We all have our stories, our connections. That is what a fan base is and it is the fabric that binds us together. Shared joy and misery. “They don’t love you back”. Sure. But I love them.
Later this season, the Suns will add two more banners to the rafters: Shawn Marion will be inducted on December 15 and his Seven Seconds or Less teammate Amare Stoudemire will be on March 12. Who knows? Perhaps a ‘Western Conference Champions’ and ‘NBA Champions’ banner can go up to?
Thank you, Mat Ishbia, for doing it right.