(Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)

I’m thankful I get to watch Amar’e Stoudemire play basketball.

I’m thankful Steve Nash is having as fabulous of a season as he did in either of his back-to-back MVP seasons. And yes, he’s 35.

I’m thankful the Suns have returned to their up-tempo style, originally instituted by former coach Mike D’Antoni and seemingly being shifted into an even higher gear by Alvin Gentry.

I’m thankful Gentry is the coach of the Suns, that the Suns are led by an intelligent man who not only understands the Xs and Os of basketball, but how to manage professional athletes. I’m thankful that the players appear to thoroughly enjoy playing for their coach. I’m thankful the Suns helped change the philosophy of NBA teams everywhere. Before the Suns started running and gunning and having tons of fun earlier this decade, the league with the ultra-quick and high-flying men in uniform was getting dull. It was becoming a league of great athletes who were inexplicably playing an elbows-out, feet-on-the-floor brand of basketball in the post-Michael Jordan era.

I’m thankful the Suns fixed all that.

I’m thankful the Suns are finally being blessed with some good fortune after GM Steve Kerr rolled the dice on the trade for Shaquille O’Neal a couple seasons ago. It wasn’t a disaster (far from it), but it didn’t work out to the liking of Kerr or the fans.

I’m thankful the Suns received nothing beyond cap relief in return for the talented-but-aging O’Neal this past summer, yet still managed to be the first team to win 10 games this season. That includes victories at Boston, at Miami, at Washington and a remarkable comeback at Philadelphia.

I’m thankful opposing teams continue to overlook veteran forward Grant Hill, a classy guy who still has plenty of game — as the Suns were 9-1 when Hill scored 10 points or more heading into Wednesday’s game against Memphis.

I’m thankful Stoudemire has completely recovered from a devastating eye injury, that he was a starter in the All-Star Game last season and amazingly looks to be even better this year. As good as Nash has been, Stoudemire may be the biggest beneficiary of the Suns’ return to the fast-break philosophy.

I’m thankful Channing Frye has slowly become the NBA’s steal of the off-season. I’m thankful he has fit seamlessly into the Suns’ lineup, scoring around than 13 points per game, a career-best. Or how about this: One season after keeping the seat warm in Portland, Frye became the first center in league history to make six 3-pointers in back-to-back games (Oct. 30 and Nov. 1).

I’m thankful guard Jason Richardson has adjusted to his teammates less than one year after coming to the Suns via trade, and how he has returned to the brink-of-stardom scorer he was earlier in his career.

I’m thankful Nash is still automatic from the line, making better than 90 percent of his free-throw attempts. Foul shots are among the little things that often win big games, and making them is something all winning teams must do well.

I’m thankful it’s taken me this long to mention Leandro Barbosa and the Suns bench — but only because it means things must be really going well for the starters. I’m thankful Barbosa is very business-like in his approach, yet still remains one of the game’s most exhilarating players.

I’m thankful for reserves like Jared Dudley, Louis Admundson, Goran Dragic, Earl Clark and others who are having banner seasons, as the Suns’ bench is scoring better than 33 points per game. Pretty impressive when you consider none of the key bench players were drafted higher than No. 14 overall. And that was Clark, who’s still a rookie.

Mostly, I’m thankful that I have never given up on the Suns. And you should be, too.

Sam Amico writes for NBA.com and is a regular contributor to Suns.com. He can be reached at amico@probasketballnews.com.

  • JOHN SERPE

    Whatever he said to all the above Sam. I’m also thankful Lopez is back and judging from his brief performance against the Timberwolves the last peice of the cinderella story fits real nice. Any real basketball fan realizes that hate them or love them LA is loaded this year, and on paper are the best in the NBA. Luckily, paper doesn’t win championships. Talent, heart, hustle, health, chemistry and willing to sacrifice everything else for it do. What am I most thankful for? That all of the above now come in a Suns uniform.

  • allen

    I am very thankful too. It’s been fun watching the starters and the bench most especially. god bless the suns!

  • dave borje

    I agree with almost all the things you are thankful about the Suns’, But I don,t think former coach mike D’antonie is responsible for the up tempo style their playing, why can’t he do the same with New york. I love how Al Gentry take advantage of his entire rooster, with D’antonie your lucky to see 8 players, some playing close to 40 minutes. I’d say without Nash leading the charge of great shooting players the up tempo style is not gonna work.His got the ability to pass the ball with pin-point accuracy, all they have to do is to look for their spots, they just love playing with this future hall of famer, back to back MVP. GO SUNS GO!!!

  • JOHN SERPE

    Down go the Raptors and I’m telling you fellow fans this “thing” the Suns have been doing to the opposition can’t be called a coincidence any longer. I believe the whole thing’s a conspiracy. It goes like this, let teams think they have a chance for awhile, let them play their best while we look sloppy and ordinary. Then all of a sudden, boom, their looking up at the scoreboard down 15 points. Nice win after a first half that was borderline ugly. Lets hope Barbossa is okay. Nice to see Amare can laugh about a non flagrant foul, remember when he would have been ejected after a call like that? On to the Big Apple.

  • http://PuertoRico Alvaro Hernandez

    Finally the prayers were heard! The Sun shine again, we are out of the darkness. We are back!!!

  • http://www.bigseedcreative.com Rem Gopez

    I’m thankful the Suns are playing the way they are. After 5 years of being a loyal Suns fan, I really feel this is their year to win the big one. I hope nothing bad happens to them again in the playoffs like before and they go all the way.I’m always looking forward to their games. I’m thankful and I’m excited.