Nearly a week after the most dominant big man in NBA history moved to Phoenix, every journalist, fan, analyst, GM, coach and blogger has pontificated on the ups and downs of the deal. The shotgun blasts of opinion have riddled the Internet – and everyone (of course) is dealing in absolutes. The overwhelming sentiment is a combination of the following:
- Shaq has nothing left in the tank
- The Suns gave up too much (Shawn Marion)
- This officially marks the end of the Suns trademark run & gun offense
- Phoenix has mortgaged its future for one last, desperate attempt at a title
People much smarter than I have addressed all of these points, but think about trade in the context of this question:
Before the Shaq trade, did you feel confident the Suns would win the 2008 NBA Championship? I know you HOPED they would win, and justifiably felt that they could have at least one Larry O’Brien trophy if not for a couple of unfortunate injuries and suspensions the last 3 seasons. But did you know this year would be different?
I think GM Steve Kerr presented it well by saying that he felt the Suns had a “punchers chance” of winning the title this year. If the matchups fell just right and our team got really hot at the right time, everything could fall into place.
After watching Shaq practice on Monday, I told Mike D’Antoni I wished I could be as out-of-shape as Shaq. 320 pounds, 11% body fat – are you kidding me? As a life-long Suns fan, it was almost surreal to see a true big man with Suns gear on. No disrespect to the centers that have graced our franchise through the years, but none was as big or dominant as Shaq. Amaré looks like a 5th grader standing next to him.
The truth is, none of us know how the remainder of the season will play out. Sports compel us for many reasons, but one of the biggest is its unpredictability. At what point do you think New York Giants fans thought that this was their championship season? About 7:00 last Sunday night when the clock hit zero? Before the season even began, their All-Pro running back (Tiki Barber) retired, questioning the leadership abilities of both the head coach and quarterback on his way out the door. They began 0-2 and lost one of their best offensive players (Jeremy Shockey) to injury. They faced seemingly insurmountable odds in the playoffs – they couldn’t possibly win at Dallas AND at Green Bay, could they? Even then, Super Bowl 42 seemed to be merely a coronation to the Patriots’ perfect season. Even when New York regained the lead in the 4th quarter – hadn’t we seen this movie before? Didn’t you just KNOW Brady would lead the Pats down the field for a game-winning TD? But sports isn’t scripted, it’s the ultimate reality TV.
So the Giants pulled the big upset, and now the Suns’ giant hopes to do the same.