If someone told you the Phoenix Suns kind of gave up on the 2012-13 season, chances are good that wouldn’t be much of a surprise.
The team won just 25 of 82 games, and were barely competitive in many of them.
Some of that, of course, can be attributed to a lack of talent. However, as center Marcin Gortat puts it, some of it can also can be attributed to a lack of effort.
“There was a situation during a game where players were saying they were confused, and the only one thing coach was asking was, ‘I was asking you to play hard,'” Gortat said after cleaning out his locker Thursday. “Some people say they were confused, and I don’t understand what’s confusing about playing hard.”
Gortat, who was in his second full season with the team, noted that he came from a system in Orlando where that was not really an issue.
“I learned one thing,” Gortat said. “It doesn’t matter what’s going on with the team, what’s going on with your life, you’ve got to go out and compete every single night.
“If you aren’t going to do that there’s 1,000 kids behind your back ready to get your spot, so you’ve got to go out and play.”
The ironic part of that statement, perhaps, is Gortat pointed to some of the team’s younger players as having to learn that effort must be given all the time, every night.
“I can’t change that, personally, I wish, but they’ve got to do it on their own or coach has got to do it,” he said. “It is what it is.”
That’s not to say Gortat did not try to help out. He said he, along with veteran center Jermaine O’Neal, did what he could to help his teammates understand what being an NBA player requires. But, it ultimately comes down to the individual player in question.
“I’ve got to tell you, when I was making it into the league I was listening,” Gortat said. “I was listening, and I had a lot of great veterans, I had a lot of great strong-minded people on the team.
“If I tried to act like a smartass and tried to pretend like I know everything and I understand everything, I’d get slapped in the head automatically,” he said. “I grew up in a great system, and these young guys — there’s a lot of young guys — they just think they’re better than they really are.”