I hated “Tom and Jerry.”� When I was a kid, that cartoon about the perpetual struggles of a cat and mouse drove me crazy. Maybe it was because the family pet was a cat, or maybe it was because I was raised with a sense of justice.
Amaré Stoudemire blocks Tim Duncan in the 2005 playoffs. (NBAE Photos)
Tom the cat was only trying to do what comes naturally – chase down a prize – and every time he’d be thwarted in some ethically questionable way by Jerry the mouse.
Every…single…time. It simply wasn’t fair.
Having said that, I understand many Suns fans feel the same frustration towards a certain team from South Texas. That’s where I come in…
I spent the past four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, and this summer I followed the light and made the move to Phoenix to work with the best organization in professional sports. While it was hard to leave Texas (literally, it took nine hours of driving just to get to the border), I am very happy to be here. Pardon the pun, but the future is bright with the Suns.
I’ll be part of the Suns.com team that is made of different members each with a unique skill (some might say superpower). My area of interest is design, graphics, and generally being a geek. Geek, however, is not to be confused with being a dweeb or nerd – no matter what my friends and family think. I’m getting to work on some very cool projects that you’ll see soon and hopefully y’all will forgive my Spurs experience.
During my time in San Antonio I experienced the heartbreak of Derek Fisher’s “Point Four,” the tension of two Game 7s, two NBA Championships, and even the romance of Tony and Eva. In fact, I was in the locker room to witness their first meeting. Eva was waiting to meet Tim Duncan (friend of her TV-husband, Ricardo Chavira) and explained this to Tony before blurting out, “But I like you too!” …and the rest was history.
Now I may be new, but I’ve already picked up on a sense unfinished business with San Antonio. The Phoenix Mercury can’t avoid questions about the rivalry as they prepare to face the San Antonio Silver Stars in the WNBA Western Conference Finals. I get grimaces when I show my license at the grocery store. My coworkers still suspect I’m leaking secrets back to Pop.
Let me start the healing with the story of how and when I became a Suns fan…
In late May of 2005, the Spurs were rolling through the playoffs. They’d grabbed a 3-0 lead over Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals and had a chance to sweep with Game 4 on their home court. But the Suns showed them they were not the kind of team to go quietly. Playing with the intensity of nothing to lose, they held a slim lead in the final minute. With 34 seconds remaining, Tim Duncan attacked the rim and Amare Stoudemire rose up to meet him – recording his only block of the game. That play – and that game – raised eyebrows around the league and sent the series back to Phoenix. The Spurs may have advanced, but to me, the Suns evolved during that series.
Ever since then, I’ve watched them play every chance I got.
How can you not love this team? They play a fast-paced style that has led me to yell, “Press B Button! Spin Move!” as if I was watching an X-Box tournament. Steve Nash navigates passing lanes so tight I swear he’s sending the ball through defenders like Patrick Swayze in “Ghost.” I am convinced Stoudemire has shoes made of flubber. Everything about this team is entertaining, and they exude an enthusiasm for the game that is simply refreshing. I’m not saying anything y’all don’t already know.
I cannot get by without discussing the most recent Suns/Spurs series. Early on, the matchup was billed as a gentlemen’s contest, a challenge between old friends, but by the end of the series it felt more like Hamilton versus Burr (yay history!). Game 1 was a near-classic marred by a bloody awful ending.
Game 3 gave Manu a black eye and gave the Suns a reason to be fired up for Game 4.
The “Horry Incident” was, frankly, a stupid move. It wasn’t diabolical, it was dumb. Even his teammates were angry about it. I can still remember a furious Tony Parker refusing to take questions about it after the game telling reporters, “You should ask Robert,” every time they brought it up. I was one of many basketball fans who wanted to see a full-strength Game 5, but that didn’t happen. I also was rooting for a full-strength Game 7, but San Antonio advanced in six games and the curtain closed on the story of the Suns’ playoff run – unhappy ending and all.
Yes, the Spurs have been the “Jerry” too often to this town. Yes, they have gone through here on three of their four title runs. However, the Suns are poised for a little payback this season, and I’m thrilled to have a front row seat for the show.