Suns All About Chemistry

A few years back, before I discovered Twitter and the power of 140 character blogging, I wrote a longer piece for Suns.com about a 9-game road trip. The idea behind it was that the Suns were in the midst of a 5-game trip, with one game back in Phoenix before taking off for a 3-game roadie. If you can follow along with that logic, Phoenix is currently on a freakishly long 15-game trip. Starting with Tuesday’s heartbreaker in Miami, the Suns play 15 games (12 away from Phoenix) without having consecutive home games. 15 games, all with airplane flights, bus rides and hotels in between. [Read more...]

Wildcats Having Huge Impact on Suns Postseason

(P.A. Molumby/NBAE/Getty Images)

As a proud graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University – this is an extraordinarily difficult blog to write. But it can no longer be ignored . . . the Phoenix Suns are headed to the Western Conference Finals largely due to the work of a group of Wildcats. And I’m not talking about some obvious Arizona grads (owner Robert Sarver, GM Steve Kerr, VP/personnel guru David Griffin), the ones I’m talking about are all players.

So as the Suns bask in the glow of their sweep of San Antonio and await their opponent for the WCF, I present my list of Arizona Wildcats that have the Suns in a place few would have expected back in October . . . [Read more...]

Why I love the NBA Playoffs – what I’ve noticed so far

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Every March, basketball fans salivate over the NCAA tournament.  They spend hours filling out brackets, discussing the merits of the “play-in” game, hating Duke and pretty much bringing corporate America to a screeching halt.  Many call it the best time of the year to be a basketball fan.  Not me.

I like March Madness – don’t get me wrong.  But the greatest basketball tournament of any season is the NBA Playoffs.  It’s the only one featuring the best players in the world competing for the most prized championship in the game.  Ask Carmelo Anthony if he’d trade his NCAA title for a chance to hug the Larry O’Brien Trophy while soaked in champagne.  I doubt he’d think about it for more than a second (sorry Coach Boeheim.)  This year’s edition of the Playoffs has been outstanding so far (thanks Bulls and Celtics!)  And so I’ve put together my favorite things from the 2009 Playoffs – so far. [Read more...]

A House Divided

(Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images)

One day prior to the dawn of a new presidency and the start of a new chapter of history in our great country, there is turmoil within your Phoenix Suns.  A divisive force has ripped through the team and franchise that even Steve Nash, the NBA’s version of Kurt Waldheim, can’t smooth over.  It’s not about politics, playing time or touches on the offensive end.  It’s about the Super Bowl. [Read more...]

Tough Times in Phoenix


Does Steve Nash look lke the type to escalate a fight?
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

A new coaching staff. A different style of play – more emphasis on defense and no more “7 seconds or less” on offense. Preseason injuries to their 2 best players. A rookie backing up Steve Nash. Various family matters and league rulings that have pulled players from the lineup. An early schedule that included 5 of the first 7 games away from home. [Read more...]

Amarediculous

(Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images)

If there has ever been a more dominating performance by a Suns’ player than Amar’e Stoudemire’s last night at Conseco Fieldhouse, I’d like to see it.  I saw Tom Chambers light up his former Seattle teammates for 60 points in 1990 (and Golden State for 56 a couple weeks prior).  I watched Sir Charles destroy the Warriors with 56 in a playoff series-clinching win in 1994.  I saw Tony Delk and Clifford Robinson each drop 50 on a hot night.  I’ve remember our own Eddie Johnson lighting up the Clippers for 43 in the 2nd half at the LA Sports Arena.  And with all due respect to those players and their outstanding efforts, what STAT did to the Indiana Pacers last night was the most impressive and dominant individual offensive performance in Phoenix Suns history – maybe Arizona sports history. [Read more...]

The Big What If

Will Tim Duncan’s three-point shot be another “what if” in Suns history?
(NBAE Photos)

What if Cedric Ceballos hadn’t been hurt during the ’93 Finals? What if Phoenix hadn’t blown successive 2-0 leads on Houston during the Rockets back-to-back championship runs in ’94 & ’95? What if Joe Johnson hadn’t had his face rearranged by Jerry Stackhouse in ’05? What if Raja Bell hadn’t had a freak calf tear against the Mavs in ’06? What if the Suns would have had a full roster for Game 5 vs the Spurs last postseason?

Although most Suns fans refer to these examples as statements rather than questions, Saturday’s gut-wrenching loss is another example of how history repeats itself – another emotionally gripping game full of big What Ifs. Watching Tim Duncan hit that 3-pointer (did I really just write that?) to send Game 1 into double-OT was beyond surreal. I guess the Shooting Stars competition during All-Star weekend paid off. Duncan practiced the 3-point shot enough to carry his San Antonio team to victory in that event . . . and it carried over. We can add his to the litany of 3-point playoff daggers the Suns have endured (Mario Elie in ’95, Bowen in game 5 last year . . . .)

Cubs fans are generally seen as the most tortured in sports, now celebrating (is that the right term?) their 100th season since they last hoisted a championship trophy on the north side. But that franchise has been a mess from a baseball standpoint most of the last century. How often over the course of their dry spell have they put a team on the field that has fans saying, “this team is a legitimate contender?” Maybe, MAYBE 10 of those 100 seasons. As a Chicago native who spent his share of afternoons at Wrigley Field, I can tell you this: that’s not a suffering fan base, just a bunch of lemmings that love to have a good time at the ballpark. [Read more...]

Memphis Mania and Why I Hate the Spurs

In case you can’t tell from my previous blogs (or the career path I’ve chosen), I am a huge sports fan. My love of sports is what got me into television.

There are many reasons Bob doesn’t like the Spurs – their record against the Suns being the biggest.
(NBAE Photos)

The summer between 7th and 8th grade I was watching one of many Cubs games on WGN and the thought occurred to me that someone, somewhere was getting paid to watch the game I was watching. At that time I had no idea what the role of a producer or director was, but I knew that it would be a pretty good gig to be paid for doing what I already liked to do.

Monday night I got to experience the wildly entertaining NCAA championship game with a sports bar full of hard-core Memphis fans. Every Tigers basket was followed with thunderous applause, each near miss with “ooohs” and “ahhhs”. As their team stretched the lead to 9 with just over 2 minutes remaining, the noise was deafening. The crowd cheered through entire timeouts, passing around high fives and hugs – their team was so close to the ultimate prize they could taste it. You know what happened next. Kansas hit a few shots, the rim shrunk on the Memphis end (just ask Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts) and the rest was history. As the CBS broadcast went to commercial break at the end of regulation after the miracle 3-point field goal from Kansas, I could hear Jim Nantz’s voice for the first time since I’d joined this crowd. The previously raucous bar was as quiet as an oncologist’s waiting room. After the game, the crowd filed out as if leaving a funeral. [Read more...]

Playoff Musings and the 9-Game Road Trip

<“If a tie is like kissing your sister, then losing is like kissing your grandmother with her teeth out.”
- George Brett

 

The Celtics are the team to beat in the east because they have three closers and the Suns can’t double team all of them.
(NBAE Photos)

Tough loss last night in Boston, no doubt about it. After playing the first half to a draw, the Suns came out sloppy in the 3rd quarter (3 turnovers in the first minute plus), shots didn’t fall and the route was on. Having seen both of the Eastern Conference favorites this week, Steve Nash was asked which is the better team. Being the NBA’s version of Switzerland, he said “It’s a toss-up.” I’m not so diplomatic. Boston is the best team in the East. Even though Rip Hamilton didn’t play Monday night and the Pistons have beaten Phoenix twice this season, the Celtics are the team to beat out east.

You hear comments about Kobe Bryant being the best “closer” in the game – a title he has earned through the years with his ability to dominate a game down the stretch at both ends of the floor. Boston has three of those closers. KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen can be unstoppable offensive forces and all have the ability to score 20 points in a quarter. Since the NBA only allows five players on the floor at one time, you can’t double team all 3 of them. Garnett and Pierce are equally tough on the defensive end. Adding Sam Cassell to the mix will have its benefits in the playoffs as well – he’s a crafty scorer, clutch shooter and terrific decision-maker. Plus he always plays well in his first year with a team (see 2003-04 Timberwolves and 2005-06 Clippers) before things inevitably go sour. And while the Pistons have some scorers and play fantastic team defense, I can’t shake the memory of them losing to a one man team in the conference finals last year. They had better hope the Cavs fall out of the third seed or they will likely suffer the same fate – LeBron has their number and he knows it. Even more damaging is that they know it. [Read more...]

Having Fun Yet?

 

Shaquille O’Neal has brought the fun back into the Suns’ game – and it’s translating into wins. (NBAE Photos)

Talk radio blared with fans ready to jump off a ledge, internet message boards ran amok with Mike Kryzewski wannabees and even the national media roundly killed the Phoenix front office for making, as one scribe wrote, “the worst trade in pro sports history.” Hmmmmm.

What a difference a couple of weeks can make. The Suns have not just won 7 straight, but have won them in a multitude of impressive ways. They beat the Evil Empire two weeks ago in a playoff-style slugfest that has become the Spurs’ calling card, holding Duncan and Co. to a measly two points over the final 5:30. A few nights later the Suns outran the fastest team in the league, pasting the Warriors with a 10-0 3rd quarter run that Golden State never recovered from. Mixed in with those wins were a couple of boat races that were over by halftime – the Suns led Memphis and Sacramento by 31 points (each) at the intermission. Are you kidding me? I know Memphis is having a rough season, but Sacramento just beat the Lakers in LA and it is unbelievably difficult to post a 30-point lead in the NBA. The players are too good and pro athletes in general have way too much pride to take a beating like that. Saturday’s dismantling of Houston was the latest indication of how good this Suns team can be. The Rockets are fresh off the 2nd longest winning streak in NBA history at 22 games – something none of Jordan’s Chicago, Magic’s LA or Bird’s Boston teams could do – and they looked more like a lottery team against Phoenix than a true title contender. [Read more...]