While the results were expected, they were still a little
Following the Miami Heat’s Game 5 victory over the
Oklahoma City — giving the franchise its second title in
six years — I asked people on both Twitter and Facebook to rank the
Valley’s big four professional teams in the order in which
they have the most confidence in to win a championship.
Nineteen picked the Diamondbacks number one, nine listed
the Coyotes at the top and three had the Cardinals numero
Twenty-seven listed the Suns last. Fourth out of four. The
team least likely to win a championship.
The Diamondbacks, of course, are just one season removed
from an NL West title and, while they got off to a
miserable start this season, have shown signs of turning
things around. Add in some of the game’s better young
talent and a promising farm system, and it’s
understandable as to why people believe in them.
And the Coyotes, as we know, were just in the Western
Conference Final, losing to eventual Stanley Cup Champion
Los Angeles. They have a top-notch goalie and what appears
to be a bright future, you know, as long as they aren’t
forced to leave town.
The Cardinals did not pick up too many votes, which may be
surprising given how they finished the 2011 season.
However, the uncertainty at QB undoubtedly played a role
in the voting, as well it should. No QB, no Super Bowl,
and until the Cardinals prove they have the former they
won’t go anywhere near the latter.
But then there’s the Suns. The crown jewel of the Valley
sports scene, our original professional team has been one
of the most successful in any sport, so long as a
championship isn’t an indication of success. Going on 44
seasons and counting, the team is heading into an
uncertain offseason and, what most believe, an
The Suns move forward with zero pressure and zero
expectations. As Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall told
Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Thursday, that changes
how things are perceived.
“It really does come down to the expectations, too,” Hall
said with regards to the early-season frustration. “Last
year there were none, this year there were very high
“That’s why the fans get a little more restless, that’s
why the executives are a little more impatient.”
Seems like that won’t be an issue for the Suns, though
that’s nothing to be happy about. In fact, it’s worth
wondering how the Suns went from the best team we had to
the one that no one believes in going forward.
Seven years ago the Suns were ousted by the San Antonio
Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, falling in five
games in a series they were not ready to win. Still, many
of us felt it was just the beginning for the team, as a
core of Steve Nash, Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion and Amare
Stoudemire would be a force in the league for years to
come, undoubtedly bringing Phoenix the Larry O’Brien
Championship Trophy for the first time.
But bad luck, bad trades, injuries, more bad luck,
suspensions, more bad trades, questionable signings and
some bad luck conspired to keep the Suns out of the NBA
Finals, which is something few would have predicted not
It made me think of the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they
walked off the court Thursday night, feeling defeated but
probably knowing this will not be their last shot at a
title. At least, they believe it won’t be their last shot.
Like the Suns of yesteryear, they have a young core that
has gone through a playoff run and experienced the bitter
taste of defeat many believe is necessary in order to
finally come out on top.
But as Suns fans know — probably better than anyone —
nothing is a given in sports.
Except, apparently, the Suns not doing so well. While an
informal poll, the fact that 87 percent of responders feel
like our NBA team is in such bad shape is a little
But that’s what happens when a team consistently makes one
mistake after another. Sure, the Suns had a fantastic run,
filled with plenty of threes, dunks and wins. But there is
no trophy at the US Airways Center, no ring on anyone’s
finger and no title for the fans to celebrate.
So here we are, with a future that is as uncertain as it
is, apparently, certain to not be much fun.
The team’s fall from grace would not be as frustrating had
it not been for their time at the top, which resulted in
more disappointment than celebration. A friend once told
me a championship grants a team a five-year pass, where
fans cannot get mad no matter what their team does.
That’s a luxury the Suns have never had, though now they
have a different, less desirable one: low expectations.
There’s no “title or bust” mentality, no belief that the
team is one piece away from a ring. What there is,
however, is a somewhat blank slate, from which Lon Babby,
Lance Blanks and Robert Sarver can build a team they
believe can compete for a championship.
Many believe the Suns won’t win as long as Sarver is
in charge, with one responder, Josh Miller, writing
“It’s disturbing to me that the moment the sale goes
through, Jamison will immediately be the best owner in
Phoenix pro sports.”
That the prospective new Coyotes owner will be the best
boss in the Valley can be debated, but one thing is
There is little faith in the Phoenix Suns right now, and
it’s up to them to prove everyone wrong.