The King James Has a Message For Suns Fans

When a king praises someone you tend to stand up and take notice. In the ancient world that praise usually would come with the individual being knighted but in today’s day and age it comes along with a tweet and a cell phone picture.

Case in point, when King James decides to praise on one of the newest members of the Suns, Eric Bledsoe, he turns to his legions of followers, on social media, to spread the message.

We’re listening, LeBron, and we hope you are completely correct in your talent evaluation. The fact that you agree with General Manager Ryan McDonough’s assessment means there is safety in numbers. That, and your praise makes it clear that Bledsoe’s nickname “Mini LeBron” has your stamp of approval.

Maybe it is history repeating itself. Two decades ago the Suns acquired a player who wore red and blue for his first team and happened to be friends with the best player in the game. He turned out to be pretty good in Phoenix. We’ll have to wait and see what Bledsoe does, but he does have the approval of the King. That has to mean something.

Monsoon Season Extended Through April in Phoenix

The Monsoon season in Phoenix may extend through April this year for the first time in the city’s history.

No, I’m not a meteorologist nor do I play Weather Guy on TV — although some people in the comment section have compared me to Brick Tamland in the past — but I do know a thing or two about the Sun(s’) affect on Phoenix.

The Monsoon is my nickname for Suns rookie Archie Goodwin that began to come into focus during July’s Vegas Summer League. Off the court, like the time before a monsoon strikes, it was obvious that he is calm and a mild mannered kid trying to learn the ins and outs of his new found fame and fortune. When he steps on the court it’s an instant change, like a storm rolling into Phoenix on a muggy summer afternoon — he is as quick as lightning and finishes stronger than thunder around the rim. He has an explosiveness to his game that can destroy a defense in a matter of seconds and leave people watching in awe by his power and grace. [Read more...]

Newest Suns Take a Number

Comedian Steven Wright once quipped, “I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.”

If General Manager Ryan McDonough and Head Coach Jeff Hornacek are looking to create their own best seller, the page numbers for it were filled in over the weekend. [Read more...]

The Suns of Anarchy Are Here

Close your eyes and imagine you’re sitting in the US Airways Center this fall. No, not for the Beyonce concert. For the Suns’ home opener. It’s eight minutes before tip-off and the lights have just gone out like it is a Super Bowl in New Orleans. The big screen clicks on and you hear the refrain of Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive” begin to play as your Suns are introduced.

Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age [Read more...]

Suns Set to Ride Hornacek Highway to Success

Since the 1980s, a lot has changed in Phoenix. The city has grown from small desert town to thriving metropolis. Houses, buildings and new forms of transportation have all sprung up from the dry, rocky and mountainous terrain like Carly Rae Jepsen’s career, completely out of nowhere.

Like they say, though, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Despite Phoenix’s growth, you can still count on scorching temperatures that turn your seat belt into a branding iron in the summer, snowbirds that turn the roadways into a parking lot in the winter and people freaking out more than the double-rainbow guy any time it rains.

The same can be said for the Phoenix Suns. A lot has changed since the late ‘80s. The Purple Palace rose from the ashes of an area downtown usually reserved for the kind of people you’d see in an episode of Law and Order to replace the Madhouse on McDowell. The players, uniforms and logos have all changed and the franchise has gone from fighting for its existence to one of exemplary teams in the league. [Read more...]

Day 6: Onuaku is West, West is Onuaku?

Day 6

If you spend as much time as I have with the team in Las Vegas, you’re bound to see double. It just comes with the territory. The Strip has that kind of affect on people.

In my case it has nothing to do with late nights or any of the other trappings of the city founded on sin. It has everything to do with what’s going on, on the court. And no, I’m not talking about the Morri (aka the Morris brothers).

There is a member of the Summer Suns who has evoked memories of another former member of the franchise, one who now happens to be on the bench as a coach. That player is Arinze Onuaku, the D-League All-Star who played his college ball at Syracuse. [Read more...]

Day 4: Family and Shoes Above Everything

Day 4

It’s no secret Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek is a family man. He ended his NBA career while he still had more than a few miles left on the tires to watch his kids grow, and postponed his second career in coaching so he could see them through high school.

In a generation where the words “husband” and “father” conjure up images of less than stellar examples such as Homer Simpson, Walter White, Peter Griffin and Don Draper, Hornacek is cut from a much different cloth. Think of the television fathers of the ‘80s and ‘90s like Dr. Cliff Huxtable, Danny Tanner, Steven Keaton and Jason Seaver, and you’ll have something closer to the Suns’ coach’s approach. [Read more...]

Day 2: Mr. Irrelevant and Captain Jack Sparrow

Day 2

I saw the Suns play their first game of Vegas Summer League last night. I also saw the return of a familiar name. Familiar in the way that deja vu or Lady Gaga is. (I mean really, isn’t she just a cheap Madonna knock off?)

The name is Dwayne Collins and if it doesn’t ring a bell right away, give it a few seconds. You’ll probably get that feeling that you’ve heard it before, but just can’t place where.

That’s because he was the 60th and final pick in the 2010 NBA Draft also known as “Mr. Irrelevant.” A nickname that Collins embraced by having it tattooed on his hand. It also meant his journey in professional basketball would be about as easy as trying to figure out how Jay Z is qualified to be an agent. [Read more...]

Day 1: Head West Young Men

Day 1:

Day 1 of Las Vegas Summer League was an interesting one. Aside from flying out in the middle of a massive haboob — yes, it’s ok if you snicker at that — and navigating a city filled with Kardashian clones while in search of a decent meal, there were some positive things related to basketball, as well.

If you are a believer in the universe sending signs, the Suns should be in for some good luck in Vegas this week. As the team walked onto their commercial Southwest Airlines flight, a man walked down the jetway behind them. It was the pilot and it was obvious he recognized the players. Before boarding the plane, he stopped to say something.

What he had to say was simple, he was a 25-year Suns season ticket holder and he was honored to have the team as his passengers. It was a unique and unexpected moment. It wasn’t all he did, though.

As we made our final descent into Sin City — which sounds more ominous than it really is — the pilot came over the in-flight intercom to announce the Suns Summer League team was on the flight. He wished them luck and then announced to all 200 people on the plane, including the poor woman who had to be wedged between the Morris brothers, that he had the utmost faith in new Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. In a completely organic moment, the passengers transformed into a sell-out crowd all applauding and cheering for the team.

It was just a reminder of the fact that Phoenix always has been and always will be a Suns town.

Right on the Mark

There were some encouraging results on the court, as well. During practice I spent my time focusing on a long-time fan favorite, who was embarking on a new journey.

Mark West will officially coach in his first organized game as a member of an NBA staff this year. After a 17-year playing career and time as vice present of player programs, he decided this offseason that it was time to take on a new challenge and join his former teammate on the bench.

One may wonder how he’ll make the transition. I’d say to them, easily.

On the court, he is a natural directing drills for the Suns’ big men, like he’s been doing it for years. Like his playing days, there is a quiet confidence to what he does. He has an obvious belief in his abilities and an apparent dependability to his style.

Off the court, he is just as prepared and he’s ready to mentor the younger players on the roster. It is quite clear he wants to help them grow from boys to men — and I’m not talking about the R&B group — by dispensing the wisdom only a long career in the league could provide.

This was most apparent in his interactions with 6-9 forward Dwayne Collins on Friday. He is a player whose game mimics West’s, minus the two-inch height difference that is. The elder Sun relied on his defense, rebounding and intelligence to have longevity in his pro career. He preached these tenets to his younger clone after practice in hopes of making an impact.

Just like his game, West kept pounding away on his protégé, dispensing an impressive amount of knowledge to Collins. The second-round draft pick soaked it up like a sponge, although he did say he’d have to go back and watch film of West’s game just to verify his pedigree.

If he does, he’ll see one of the hardest working guys in the franchise’s history. Although, he shouldn’t need to. West’s performance on the court as a coach so far demands respect without any verification

How a Man Crush Landed Butler in Phoenix

“Let’s go!
It’s guy love,
Don’t compromise,
The feeling of some other guy,
Holding up your heart,
Into the sky.”

If you’re a fan of the old sitcom Scrubs — and how couldn’t you be? Its reruns air every hour on cable — you probably recognize those lyrics. They’re from the song “Guy Love” that the two main characters, JD and Turk, sing to each other during a season six episode. It may also be something General Manager Ryan McDonough and newly acquired forward Caron Butler wind up singing to each other at some point this season.

It’s not as outlandish as it sounds (not that it possibly could be). Apparently, McDonough has fancied Butler — well his game — for quite some time and let the veteran know it upon his arrival in the Valley.

“It was rather flattering to find out that the guy had a man crush on me for so many years,” Butler told the media while grinning larger than a kid with an ice cream cone. “Once I found that out I was extremely excited about coming here. He told me he had been following me for years and has high expectations, so I am definitely ready for that challenge.”

The newly minted general manager doesn’t deny his feelings for Butler, but says they may not exactly be mutually exclusive.

“If that’s true, I have a man crush on a lot of good basketball players,” McDonough joked after the press conference.

The former Celtics assistant general manager has been involved in trying to acquire Bulter for many years. While Boston was chasing championships, McDonough felt the UConn product would be a perfect fit for numerous reasons. Many of those reasons are why he now acquired him in Phoenix.

“Caron’s toughness has always stood out,” McDonough explained. “His ability to shoot and score at that size. He’s always been a scorer since I started watching him at UConn, and just the professionalism… I’ve heard great things about him from friends I have who work for the Wizards and Clippers. They all say he’s a pros-pro and a great example for the young guys.”

Like most good relationships, McDonough and Butler’s isn’t built solely on what he does but also who he is.

“It’s who he is as a person, that is important,” McDonough said. “The fact that he lives it. That he works hard and helps the coaches out and the fact that he conducts himself the right way on and off the floor. That’s important when you try to build a culture. I feel he is the perfect role model for our young players.”

If McDonough’s instincts on Butler are right, he won’t be alone in his man crush. The Suns fans will be right there with him.