PHOENIX — As good as the Phoenix Suns have been this season, they are no match for Mother Nature.
She scored another victory Monday, delaying and ultimately postponing the team’s charter flight to Chicago, where temperatures dropped to minus 14 degrees with a wind chill of minus 41.
The Suns were due to fly out early Tuesday morning. They’re scheduled to arrive in Chicago roughly seven hours before they tip off against the Bulls to start a season-high five-game, week-long road trip.
Head coach Jeff Hornacek said a series of delays Monday led the Suns to decide to go “old school” and fly on the day of the game.
“You know, we’re going to get in (to Chicago) at 4:30 in the morning,” he told Doug and Wolf Tuesday on Arizona Sports now on 98.7 FM. “By the time guys get their bags and fall asleep, it’s going to be 5:30. Let’s just stay here and see if we can go in the morning.
“We have to concern ourselves with more than just (Tuesday night’s) game. We’ve got five games in seven nights. We felt that the screwing up of sleep (Monday) would have an effect the whole trip.”
NBA teams do not make a habit out of traveling on game day.
The Suns last did so in 2006.
Stranded in Denver for two days after their game against the Nuggets had been called off because of a blizzard, the Suns arrived back in the Valley on December 22 shortly before they were to host the Washington Wizards.
The Suns lost, ending a 15-game winning streak despite the best efforts of Steve Nash, who had 42 points and 12 assists. He was outperformed, however, by Gilbert Arenas, who scored 54 to help the Wizards win 144-139 in overtime.
Of course that Suns team rebounded nicely.
The next month they put together a 17-game winning streak on their way towards a 61-win season in 2006-07.
Hornacek said that he did the fly-and-play combo back in his playing days.
“It typically wasn’t a three hour and fifteen-minute flight,” he joked, “but we used to fly to L.A. or Utah on the day of the game.
“(Assistant coach) Jerry Sichting said it yesterday, ‘we’ll find out if these guys are as tough as the guys in the 80s and see how they play (Tuesday) night.'”
By the way, the high in Chicago Tuesday is expected to be six degrees, or 65 degrees cooler than in Phoenix.
Stay warm, Suns.