The Doggiest of Dog Days

 

Barry Gossage/NBAE Photos

Barry Gossage/NBAE Photos

Shouldn’t baseball be over by now? I’m tired of pennant races that don’t involve actual pennants. I’m bored with hearing about the Yankees and the Red Sox as if they were the US and Russia during the Cold War and not a single other team – or country – matters. I’m sick of the speculation over whether this will finally be the year the Cubs win a World Series…Long streaks of championship futility only matter to me if we’re talking about the Suns finally bringing home the big trophy. I’m exhausted by trade deadlines and endless commentary over whether or not the acquisition of this middle reliever/fifth inning specialist will make the difference for Houston, trying to climb from fourth place to third, or whatever.

Isn’t it time to wrap up football as well? I say a final decision on whatever it is Brett Favre is going through should just be declared the Super Bowl for the year, the winner is either Favre or the Packers, and we all just forget the season and move right along. Honestly, I haven’t seen this many people so excited over the start of camp since my classmates hit the last day of school in fifth grade. [Read more...]

Welcome, Matt!

Josh Greene / Suns.com Photos

 

When last season ended with that loss to San Antonio, and Mike D’Antoni departed for Gotham, it was hard to be optimistic.

All the talk was about the Suns’ aging core, the “failure” of the trade for Shaquille O’Neal, and the futility of the run-and-gun system in the playoffs. Sourpusses (like me) predicted a downturn in fortune and some years of rebuilding. After all, how much could the team change?

Well.

Step One, hire Terry Porter as Head Coach. A pro’s pro as a player, he’s got the respect of everyone on the team. Heck, after all the times he tortured the Suns in the playoffs as a member of the Portland Trailblazers, I certainly respect him. He knows defense, he knows offense. He can teach. And he’s committed to playing a deep rotation. [Read more...]

Suns Eclipsed by Knicks

Daniel Banks/Suns.com

Daniel Banks/Suns.com

In a surreal matinee affair, a Igor Kokoskov-coached Phoenix squad took on a Phil Weber-led New York team that saw the Suns come up short in an 85-80 defeat.

 

So while former Suns assistant coach Weber and former Suns assistant Dan D’Antoni exchanged pleasantries with Suns assistants Dan Majerle and Kokoscov before the game, the game proved to be a battle. The contest was tight all along, heading all the way into the final seconds before the victor was decided.

Guard DJ Strawberry had an opportunity to tie the game with less than 10 seconds remaining, but his 3-point attempt was blocked by Knicks guard Mardy Collins. New York grabbed the loose ball before icing the game on two free throws by Wilson Chandler. The Knicks’ swingman finished the contest with 31 points.

However, the bright side of the story for the Suns was the play of “Big Three.” [Read more...]

First Impresssions

Daniel Banks/Suns.com

Daniel Banks/Suns.com

As I sat perched behind the Suns’ NBA Summer League Head Coach Igor Kokoscov at the scorer’s table, I realized that while this may seem like a working for vacation for myself, there are a lot of people with the Suns whose work-year is well underway.

 

Tell the young players attempting to make the Suns’ roster that the summer is the time for relaxing. Or tell the new coaching staff, who is trying to piece together their first team in the Valley of the Sun. Or how about second-year men DJ Strawberry and Alando Tucker? Both are looking to build upon their rookie seasons and crack a rotation filled with veteran stars.

The same could be said for rookie Robin Lopez, who along with the two veterans, led Phoenix to 98-74 victory over the Spurs on Thursday. After catching the Suns’ first game on TV and watching Lopez in tonight’s contest against San Antonio, it’s already fair to say that the young center has made his presence felt. [Read more...]

Summer in Phoenix Great for Tucker So Far

Noah Graham / Getty Images

DJ and I were at the US Airways Center again today, working on a few things with new assistant coach “Thunder” Dan Majerle. Dan will be our summer league coach in Vegas later this month and has been great to work with. He busts our chops a little bit, but he’s making sure we’re ready and we’ve all just been having a lot of fun on the court together.

I’ve talked to pretty much all the guys on the team, most of who are away doing things with their wives and kids. DJ and I are the youngest so we’ve just stayed here in Phoenix for the most part working on our games. Everybody’s excited though and looking forward to working with new head coach Terry Porter and his staff. I wish the best for Mike D’Antoni in New York, but believe change provides opportunity and that’s what I’m preparing myself for right now. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the fact that this coaching staff has set the bar very high for us and expect nothing but the best results. [Read more...]

Home Again

The Suns flew over enemy territory as they landed in San Antonio on Friday.
(Daniel Banks)

In my introductory blog for Suns.com, I explained that I spent the past four seasons working for the San Antonio Spurs before making the switch last summer. I admit it wasn’t an easy thing watching the Suns and Spurs play each other during the regular season. I was like a mother watching her two kids wrestle in the back yard: “It’s okay as long as no one gets hurt!”

But as my first season with the Phoenix Suns turns into my first postseason with the Suns, we run smack-dab into the Spurs. Now instead of kids wrestling, they’re sword fighting. Someone is most definitely getting sent home after this series. It’s time to choose a side.

Suns in six.

Why will the Suns win? Because they say so. This group of guys isn’t fearful or even (ahem) sternly focused… they’re downright enthusiastic. Steve Nash, Amaré Stoudemire, Shaq, and company are eager to shed the ghosts of last year and put on a performance that will haunt the Spurs for a change.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to tag along with the team on their trip to Texas. For me, it was a return home, but for the Suns, it was a trip into enemy territory. We flew over the AT&T Center, saw Spurs billboards on the freeway, and I even ran into the Spurs Coyote (more on that in a second). Despite this town’s love for their team, there is a nervousness in San Antonio. The Spurs know they can be beaten and they are questioning if they have what it takes to stop Shaq from demanding that they start their summer early.

Finally, allow me a quick personal note about the trip. The travel day is a blur of buses, airports and new experiences. One minute I’m getting screened by airport security out on the tarmac and the next I’m enjoying a delicous lunch (orange chicken from Pei Wei!) on the charter flight while watching Raja Bell, Boris Diaw and Brian Skinner try to take all of Tim Kempton’s chips in a game of poker. Then we land and find our way to the hotel, where I get to work (check out the photos from travel day). But there was one more thing that had to be done though. Fiesta.

Fiesta San Antonio is actually several large festivals around town all tied together with the same theme: Eat a lot. I can get behind a mission statement like that. Anyway, after my work I cabbed it to one of the festivals still in my Suns gear from the flight. As I approach the entrance I ran into none other than the Spurs Coyote. He did his best to deny me entry, but ladies and gentlemen, I would not be stopped. Did I get some comments? Sure, there were more than a few people who pointed at my shirt and yelled, “WHAT IS THAT??” I politely informed them, “It’s a 2008 Suns Championship shirt… I just bought it early.”