"Loyalty to any one sports team is pretty hard to justify because the players are always changing, the team could move to another city. You're actually rooting for the clothes when you get right down to it. You are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city. Fans will be so in love with a player, but if he goes to another team, they boo him. This is the same human being in a different shirt and they hate him now. " -- Jerry Seinfeld
Sure, the above was a funny comedic intro bit to a Seinfeld episode in 1995, but man, is it prophetic in Phoenix right now.
Steve Nash, a man who won two league Most Valuable Player awards and led the Phoenix Suns to 405 regular season wins, three division titles and three Western Conference Finals appearances, was dealt in a sign-and-trade deal to the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday.
The Suns' decision to push this deal through not only allowed Nash to make substantially more money from the Lakers than he would have received by simply signing a free agent contract, but also thrusts Los Angeles back into the driver's seat for Western Conference superiority right away.
Why, oh why, would the Suns do such a thing? They have to know that the most ardent members of their fan base might not root for the Lakers if they were playing Al Qaeda or cancer, right? Most Suns fans were reserved to the fact that the Nash/Phoenix marriage was over and that Nash would slink off to Toronto or New York, chase a ring, collect a paycheck and generally not be flaunted in the Valley's face.
But the Lakers? A team that Nash, just a little more than a week ago, said he'd find difficulty in representing?
And I'm supposed to find solace in the fact the Lakers are giving Phoenix a package of four draft picks (only two first rounders) -- none of which will likely make a real contribution to the Suns' roster?
The Suns must have a wide foot, because I'm pretty sure they got both of the boys with that swift kick, if you know what I mean.
Many would argue that it's never wise to do business with rivals. And, hold up right there, Lakers fan. Before you say that it's not a rivalry since your team is so superior, I'll refresh your memory with some of the comments your beloved Kobe Bryant made in January.
But a stroll through history shows that this isn't the first trade made between the Suns and Lakers.
Fan favorites Gail Goodrich, Connie Hawkins, Maurice Lucas and Cedric Ceballos were all traded by the Suns to Los Angeles over the years. Some of those deals worked out, some didn't. But there is precedence, even though the two teams have hooked up for trades only three times since 1976.
Anyway, back to Seinfeld. The bit Jerry performed 17 years ago popped into my head Wednesday while images of Steve Nash wearing that hideous combination of purple (c'mon L.A. fans, it's purple, not Forum blue) brought me to the point of fan nausea.
Since I found out I was moving to Phoenix in 1978, I've rooted for the home teams. I love the Phoenix Suns, which in turn means I despise the teams that stand in their way of success. What team has blocked the Suns' road to glory more often than the freaking Los Angeles Lakers over the last 44 years?
So if a player who has worn the Suns' colors for the last eight years, and just ten days ago commented on how playing for the Lakers would be difficult, can have an about-face and orchestrate a trade to the enemy, what should a fan think?
If a front office at the controls of a franchise competing every year with the Lakers can bend over backwards to accomodate a player they no longer find value in and practically drive him and his $24 million to the main entrance of Staples Center, what should Planet Orange dwellers feel?
I'm not speaking for anyone else here, but for me, it makes me question why I root for teams and organizations at all.
Doesn't it make more sense to support players? If I was a Steve Nash fan (and I was a much bigger one prior to Wednesday), I'd be ecstatic right now. A true professional who has done things the right way his entire career is going to the league's marquee franchise and is in a great position to win his first championship.
In a meeting in the office just this morning, a co-worker said "I hate Kobe Bryant, but if he came to the Suns, I'd be his biggest fan." How does this make sense?
Possibly we're all better off not supporting players or teams, and just observing the sports themselves. I have a friend who doesn't have team affiliations, but is a huge fan. I've known this about him for 13 years, and for the first time, that stance makes sense.
Being a fan is all about laundry.
And when you get hit over the head constantly with reminders about how sports is a business, like we all did Wednesday, that's just silly.