PHOENIX — Sure, the Suns overcame great odds to have a successful season, albeit without the postseason experience.
But Channing Frye overcame even greater odds to have what he’s referred to several times as “the funnest year I’ve ever had.”
Because there was nothing fun about last year.
Think back to how he missed all of 2012-13 because of a dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart that was discovered during a screening echocardiogram conducted as part of a routine preseason physical.
And now back to this season, Frye is one game away from a career first, starting all 82 games.
“I was just telling these guys it took me eight years to get that done. For me, coming off the year that I had of doing absolutely nothing, it just means even more,” he said, making sure to thank the training staff and his family, especially his wife. “Just embracing every day has really helped me to kind of set myself up for the future without even knowing it. I think if you try to do the best you can every day in a week, you end up being a little bit better than you were the week before. This year has been amazing.”
The Suns (47-34) close out the regular season on Wednesday in Sacramento, where Frye will join Gerald Green and Marcus Morris as the only Suns players to have perfect attendance, seeing action in every game on the schedule.
“This has been just a year of appreciation. Every day has been awesome, awesome, awesome,” Frye said. “Good or bad, I think this is a year where I really kind of took a step back and just acknowledged that this opportunity that I have is really just a blip in my life. You think about it, I’m 30 and I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years, and then literally, I don’t know if I’m going to play for another 10 years and what am I going to do between I’m 40 and 100? I think for me this is a great opportunity and this is rare to have a team like this—usually we’re underdogs being the Suns, but we were under the underdogs this year at the beginning. It’s been pretty awesome.”
Frye was the big unknown this season. He was not expected to participate much during training camp, yet he was on the court from day one. Then, he was not expected to play until December, yet not only did he play, but he started the season opener and never looked back, averaging 11.2 points and 5.1 rebounds in 28 minutes per game.
As the second oldest player on the roster, Frye’s future with the Suns is somewhat in question, though he holds the trump card, a $6.8 million player option which he will likely exercise this summer.
“I’d love to stay here. I love wearing this uniform and I think I take a little bit more pride in it than everyone else because I’m from here and I grew up (here),” he said, adding he would like to speak to the front office about an extension. “That would be nice, but I think it just depends on what their plans are for the future. It’s really just sitting down with them. We’re all adults here. We’ve been through the whole business part, so they tell me what they want and I tell them what I want and we figure it out.”
One issue he doesn’t have to worry about is his health.
There are no more doctor visits and no more appointments, according to Frye.
“And it’s awesome,” he said. “I think this summer is going to be huge for me. This will be the first summer that — knock on wood, I have no injuries. I don’t have to rehab anything. This summer is just about making sure I’m staying in shape, get stronger, get faster. I understand what I need to work on and it’s not like I need to be something different. I just need to make sure that I take care of the things that’s going to be asked of me next year.”