I believe the Phoenix Suns have one way to be a productive basketball team this season and get into the post-season: a maxim.
No One Here Gets Out Alive.
Although abstract and not for public consumption, the Suns players should play like the title Jerry Hopkins used for his biography of Doors’ front man, Jim Morrison. These words would exist only within the confines of the locker room; the only time it would leave the locker room would be when the players walk down the tunnel and into the arena, playing with the attitude of this title.
No One Here Gets Out Alive implies so much.
It reeks of desperation. The Suns’ chance at being relevant exists within the hearts and minds of their players acknowledging, understanding and physically regurgitating the meaning of the word desperation.
Although they do have talent, that talent exists within the shaky walls and sliding foundation of potential. The Museum of Potential is filled with many faces. Michael Beasley has an entire wing dedicated to him in the halls and rooms of this exhibition and Wesley Johnson will be your tour guide. Marcin Gortat is trying to find his way without the aid, comfort and shelter of Steve Nash and seems to be cracking slightly at the corners. There’s a brilliant painting of Shannon Brown in the exhibit but somebody marked it with an “A.”
The Suns are not going to walk more talent out on the floor than most of their NBA opponents. They need to play harder and smarter than their opponent if they wish to win games and the only way that is going to happen is if they acknowledge this fact, grip it tightly to their chest, dig their nails into it and use the power of desperation to win games.
But desperation alone isn’t enough. Suns players must also understand how to use that desperation, refine that desperation, and focus that desperation through the prism of intensity. The slogan No One Here Gets Out Alive conveys a level of intensity that is borderline psychotic.
I understand this is impossible. I couldn’t muster this type of intensity for all 16 games of an NFL season — and that’s what I was known for and why I was in the league in the first place. Trying to bring psychotic commitment and intensity to the floor through an 82-game season would be an exercise in futility. Although a logical fallacy, this is what the Suns need to aspire to and this is why maxims are helpful. They remind you of something you have committed to; and this is where leadership and accountability come into play.
Teams that have that No One Here Gets Out Alive mentality have made a commitment to each other. The commitment says nothing about winning games or willing yourself to be successful; the commitment carries a sole expectation: you will play with desperation and intensity to the best of your abilities…night-in and night-out.
The Suns are on a six-game road trip. This would be a perfect time for them to come together and bond, to commit to each other. Teams that have a No One Here Gets Out Alive mentality play well on the road. It doesn’t mean they’re going to win, but teams that have that chip — that desperation — more times than not, are competitive and give themselves a shot at stealing games.
I enjoy watching this team play because they have players that already know what it’s like to give all that they have. Therefore, it’s not only feasible to adopt this mentality but these respected players need to implement it as a team and rally around it. Jared Dudley, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, P.J. Tucker, Sebastian Telfair and Markieff Morris are sentinels of athletic intensity and competitive integrity. They have the ability to embody a maxim and cultivate that mentality throughout the locker room. If they get all parties on-board and play with desperation, they could win more games than they lose and be one of the better stories in the league.
In the end we all know adopting the motto of No One Here Gets Out Alive will not win games for the Suns. Their season will not turn on a saying. Maxims don’t win games, men do. But unless the Suns play with rabid commitment, their season will come to The End sooner than later; just ask Morrison.