“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
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
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
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
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
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
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.