NBA Draft Lottery: Fate, Luck and Star Trek

Captain’s log, May 20th 7:17 a.m. Phoenix time…

Sorry about that, guess I still have Star Trek: Into Darkness still on my mind. And apparently so does the rest of North America, as the movie brought in more than $84 million over the weekend.

We’re not here to talk about movies, though. We’re here to talk about young men who could make box office millions themselves over the next several years in the NBA. During the next two days this will be your ticket to an inside look at what it’s like to travel to the NBA Draft Lottery in New York City. Call it a “humble brag,” if you must, but I am lucky enough to be one of the few members of the Phoenix Suns’ organization to make the trip. I thought it’d only be fair to share my journey with you. Here is the first installment.

Fate is a funny thing. That is, if you believe in it. It is an ideology that is based on the concept that you have little to no control over the outcome of your own life. For me, I don’t feel that any more than when I’m 30,000 feet above the ground in a metal tube like I am right now, as I head to the Big Apple.

It’s also an idea that is at the core of the NBA Draft Lottery — that is unless you’re like the guy on the street corner screaming about this or that and believe in league-wide conspiracy theories. The destiny of a group of franchises rests in the hands of a bunch of white plastic ping pong balls that provide a seemingly random four-digit number.

Get the right combination and your team’s fortunes can turn around faster than Robert Downey Jr.’s career. Come up short, and you could be left at the drawing board heading into the draft.

On this trip, however, I’ve decided not to leave things to fate. In an effort to stack the deck in the Suns’ favor, I brought along some lucky charms suggested by fans. Yes, I realize these items probably have about as much chance of working as the seat I’m sitting on in this plane does of acting as a flotation device in the case of an emergency water landing (which is just the nice way of saying a crash), but that won’t stop me from being optimistic.

With the percentages just as likely that the team moves down from its No. 4 pre-lottery slot as it does up, it can’t hurt to provide a little help regardless of how improbable it is. With me, I brought an autographed Cotton Fitzsimmons ticket stub I’ve had since I was a kid. If the Irish are lucky, why not have something that connects this draft lottery to the most famous Irishman in franchise history (sorry Shaquille O’Neal, you didn’t make the cut).

One item isn’t enough, though. We’re trying to combat a 44-year-old streak of no luck (I refuse to call it bad, because it’s been such a fun ride). With that in mind, I decided to go back to the source of the issue in many fans’ minds. The last time the Suns had a legitimate chance at the No. 1 pick: the 1969 coin toss. The fans told the team to call heads, and when that silver Kennedy half-dollar was flipped, it came up tails and Lew Alcindor went to Milwaukee. The Suns have never had the first pick since.

Thanks to a commenter on my blog post last week, I purchased a double-sided Kennedy half-dollar to bring with me. Both sides? Heads of course. If only it had been used on that fateful day in 1969, there might be a championship banner hanging from the rafters in Phoenix.

Both items will be tucked securely in my suit pocket as I sit in the ABC Times Square studios to watch the drama unfold Tuesday night. Maybe they won’t change whatever the fate of the Suns’ pick is; much like nothing myself or my fellow passengers do can change anything about our flight. But in either situation, it can’t hurt to have a little faith. Oh, and a little luck never hurt anyone either.

You Are Fan-tastic

Regardless of wins and losses there is one thing that constantly puts the Suns at the of or near the top of the league. Something that has the passion and heart that very few NBA teams have. It’s the fans of course.

The true lifeblood of the organization, Suns fans continually support the team through thick and thin (and we’re not just talking about the different versions of Charles Barkley since he retired). No, they have found a passion for Arizona’s first professional sports franchise that has spanned 45 years. While the names on the roster have changed, their desire to don the purple and orange and cheer as loud as possible has never wavered. [Read more...]

Looking for Luck in the Big Apple

There are very few moments in sports that are left up to complete and utter random chance. Most things in sports are like the SATs. They can be practiced, prepared for, strategized, learned or obsessed over to the point that you have some sense of control over them, regardless of how miniscule.

Next Tuesday on ESPN, one of those rare moments where teams, coaches, athletes and general managers have no control over the outcome will unfold before our eyes. It’s the NBA’s Draft Lottery and it’s about as unpredictable as an Amanda Bynes tweet. It’s an event that, in the last 14 years, has only seen the team with the best odds get the No. 1 pick the same amount of times, twice, as the team with the fourth best odds.

Winning the draft lottery and getting the No. 1 overall pick is one of two things the storied Suns franchise has yet to conquer in its 45 years of existence. The other, obviously, being an NBA Championship. And if they can accomplish the former this year, maybe they can finally accomplish the latter in the near future. [Read more...]

Suns One on One: Ryan McDonough

Suns One On One host Greg Esposito sat down for the first indepth interview with new Suns general manager Ryan McDonough. The two satdown in the war room on the fourth floor of the US Airways Center where in mere months McDonough and his staff will select the newest members of the franchise to get to know him on a person level, to find out how growing up in Massachusetts shaped him as a person, his family, his philosophies on basketball and asked if he is truly the world’s slowest eater. Find out that and much more in this edition.

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Don’t forget you can find a new episode of the show here every week, you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes and listen in the official Suns App. Also get in touch with the show by tweeting your host @Espo.

How Ryan McDonough is Robocop of GMs

Are you ready for the Phoenix Suns youth movement?

I’m not talking about on the court, although that is well underway too. No, I’m talking about the Suns’ front office.

With the hiring of the 33-year-old Ryan McDonough as general manager, the Suns have proven they are willing to think fresh and add younger blood to the front office. From a selfish standpoint, I love the move for the pure fact that there is now a member of the basketball operations staff that will get my bad ‘80s and ‘90s pop-culture references. (Example: Goran Dragic is schooling the competition more than Mr. Feeny schooled Cory and Shawn.) Then again, maybe even he won’t get those obscure thoughts. [Read more...]

Barkley Breaks Down Craziest Shot in History

As a Phoenix Suns fan who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s there is one shot that has always stood out in my mind as the craziest shot ever made in Suns history. (Mind you, I didn’t say the best. That will be a title always held by the Shot Heard Round the World from the 1976 Finals.)

This shot came 20 years ago, April 22, in Portland. In a bizarre turn of events, with the Suns down one, Charles Barkley caught a ball at his ankles with .5 seconds on the clock and flipped it in for the Suns win. I had a chance to catch up with Charles Barkley recently and he broke down the play. Check it out in the video above.

Suns Fans Guide to NBA Playoff First Round

Just because our Suns aren’t in the playoffs doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention. As a matter of fact, we should probably pick a team to support while you’re forced listen to Rihanna on loop during the 40 games in 40 nights. (Editor’s Note: Dear Turner, Please do not remove said reference even though you run our websites.)

Picking a team that isn’t your own to root for isn’t something you do at random though. There is a science to it. You have to consider a team’s history against the Suns, if there are former members of the Suns on the team, are there any enemies of the Suns state on the roster and would it hurt the Suns franchise in the future if this team won.

With that criteria in mind, let me help you navigate each of the first round match ups to figure out who we all should be rooting for in this Suns Fans Guide to the NBA Playoffs’ first round. [Read more...]

Brittney Griner Doesn’t Need NBA

I want to see Brittney Griner in a Phoenix Mercury uniform this summer. It’s not for selfish reasons either.

It means the talk that has dominated many basketball circles this week has been just that, talk. It means Griner gets to become what she’s destined to be, one of the best women’s basketball players in the history of the game in one of the premier women’s leagues in the world. It means we can appreciate her for her skill set and not as some sideshow.

Griner doesn’t need the NBA, even if a certain NBA maverick really does want to give her a shot. She doesn’t need the NBA just because it doesn’t have a W in front of it. If you’ve listened to the national debate being waged online and on cable sports networks, you would almost think that this is a challenge the Baylor standout has to accept and conquer to prove herself. [Read more...]

May Not Seem Like it, But Fans Have Lot to Root For

At 23-51, Suns fans probably feel like the playoff picture doesn’t much apply to their team.

For fans of other franchises in similar predicaments that may be true, but for fans in the Valley the next two weeks and the playoff picture may mean more to us than to the fan bases of the teams actually involved.

It sounds a little crazy to say – or is that type – out loud, but over the next 16 nights Suns fans might need to root even harder for the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz than their hometown team. OK, so Suns fans might not have to go that far, but they should at least be in favor of usual foes becoming friends for the remainder of the season. [Read more...]

Great Assist or Greatest Assist?

Suns center Hamed Haddadi isn’t known for his passing ability. Well, that is he isn’t known for his passing ability with his hands. If he keeps this up he’ll be known for his passing ability with his feet. Too bad it’d be called as a kicking violation on the court. Oh, and nice dunk Wes. We can’t ignore that.