What do a 30-something billionaire playboy who fights crime dressed as a bat and a 45-year-old NBA franchise that battles its Western Conference foes and calls Phoenix home have in common? A lot more than you probably think. That is, if you don’t think like me.
If you know anything about me, which you probably don’t, there are two things I love in life, Batman and the Suns. (Oh, I should probably say my wife as well, so I have a place to sleep tonight.) That’s why, after seeing The Dark Knight Rises for the third time in as many weeks, I decided it was time to compare the two by taking quotes from the film and using them to explain their team’s offseason.
Is this a gimmick column? Yes, every few years I find a shameless way to write a piece involving quotes from one of the Dark Knight movies I love so much, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun. That’s what sports is about, right?
So, “Why so serious?” I promise it won’t be too bad.
Crowd: [chanting] Deh-Shay, Deh-Shay, Bah Sah Rah. Bah Sah Rah.
Bruce Wayne: What does that mean?
Sure, in the film the prisoners were chanting for a fellow inmate to climb out of a pit hundreds of feet underground to freedom or die trying, but it’s not unlike what Suns fans have been saying to the team for the past two years.
After missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, fans were making more noise than Usain Bolt after winning a race. They were demanding the team “rise” to the expectations they have for the franchise. Not an unreasonable request for a proud franchise. This offseason the front office made it clear they heard the fans and agreed with them.
For the first time in almost a decade the roster underwent a major facelift. By signing Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley, trading for Wesley Johnson and drafting Kendall Marshall, the Suns were like Benjamin Button, aging in reverse. Add in the addition of veteran leadership and scoring from Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat’s intensity, the continued stablizing presence of Jared Dudley and the remaining cap flexibility and the franchise is better prepared to rise from the pit of NBA mediocrity than Bruce Wayne was to escape from his prison.
Alfred: Don’t worry, Master Wayne. It takes a little time to get back into the swing of things.
Let’s be honest, with as many new faces as the Suns welcomed in this offseason, it’s going to take a little while for the team to find a chemistry and a rhythm at the beginning of the year. Don’t take my word for it, take coach Gentry’s.
“The one word I’ll preach is patience,” Gentry said to NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper . “It’s not anything that’s going to happen overnight. I do think that at some stage, we’ll kind of get it together and it will come together, but I don’t think it’s just going to be something where we walk out October 1 and everything is there. It’s going to be a process, and the fans and everybody else has to be patient enough to understand that.”
If there is one thing Gentry has proven in his time as the Suns head man it’s that he can get the most out of a roster (Well that and eating fried artichoke before a game is a bad idea). Despite the challenges or talent level, his team’s more often than not outperform expectations.
He has more young and raw talent at his disposal than the US Women’s Gymnastic team and if any coach in the league could help them reach their potential it’s Gentry.
Bane: [from trailer] Let the games begin!
Gotham City Police Officer: Oh boy, you are in for a show tonight, son.
Yes, I know these quotes didn’t go together in the movie, but I couldn’t resist putting them together for my own purposes. This is my gimmick column, remember?
When the games begin on Halloween, fans will be in for quite a show. Between, Dragic, Beasley and Wes Johnson, this rendition of the Suns probably has the most athleticism on the roster since the 2004-05 edition. The potential for high flying action and highlight dunks increased tenfold this offseason.
I might even go as far as to say the roster contains the most youthful potential of any since the 1988-89 team — you remember, the one with a young KJ, Jeff Hornacek, Mark West and a rookie named Dan Majerle? That roster proved to be the foundation of quite the impressive run for the Suns. Don’t be surprised if this is the start of something similar.
Joker: Wanna know how I got these scars?
I’m cheating a bit with this one. As a Batman fanatic I realize this quote came from the Dark Knight but it was too good to pass up. For Suns fans years of being Casey Affleck and never Ben has left us more than a little scarred. After falling short in some amazingly heart-crushing ways over the years, it’s no wonder fans are skeptical but that brings us to our final quote.
Bruce Wayne’s Father: Why do we fall?
We fall so we can learn to pick ourselves back up.
President of basketball operations Lon Babby and general manager Lance Blanks have proven they are willing to learn from the past in order to prepare for the future. Like our own Doc Brown and Marty McFly, they’ve looked at the past and taken the lessons they learned to the present to improve the team’s future.
Instead of forsaking the draft, they’ve used picks wisely in drafting Markieff Morris and Kendall Marshall, as well as stockpiling picks — six first rounders over the next three years — a stark contrast from the last decade. Rather than relying on aging talent whose best hope is for the franchise’s all-everything training staff to help them regain a youth that has passed them by, the front office has invested in young talent who are excited to be in Phoenix and hoping to blossom.
When you add it all together, there is reason to be optimistic that the Suns will rise in the near future. And if that happens, fans and the City of Phoenix will have something much more inspiring and exciting to rally around than a man in a bat costume like their friends in Gotham.