Earl Watson proved his character. What have the Suns proven?

Oct 23, 2017, 2:01 PM

Phoenix Suns head coach Earl Watson walks on the court past player Alex Len during a training sessi...

Phoenix Suns head coach Earl Watson walks on the court past player Alex Len during a training session the day before the Suns' game against the Dallas Mavericks, at Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

There’s a first time for everything.

It never happened in youth leagues coming up through Washington High in KCK (that’s the Kansas side of Kansas City if you’re not a local). It never happened while at UCLA. It never even happened in the NBA despite being a second-round pick in the 2001 NBA draft. For his entire career in the sport of basketball, former Suns head coach Earl Watson has never been cut or fired. That streak, from age 8 to 38 ended Sunday in a meeting with owner Robert Sarver and general manager Ryan McDonough.

I texted Earl Watson on Sunday. I asked him if he wanted to come on Doug & Wolf Monday morning. Almost immediately, my phone rang. I shouldn’t have been surprised he called, but I was. He’s not the type to decline in a text. Although we’ve never had a beer together, he believes everyone deserves a conversation.

“I love coming on with you guys, but I don’t think it’s the right decision to come on. The best way for Jay (interim head coach Jay Triano) to have the success he deserves is for me to stay out of the way.”

We talked to Watson every Tuesday on Doug & Wolf. I took inspiration from each one of those conversations. I told him how much I appreciated his effort to go so far above and beyond during those conversations. Other than Newsmakers Week where every decision-maker in town is invited to come in studio, we never ask people to come in studio. Watson did that on his own.

“My job is to help people get better at their job. If everyone around me does their job better, it only helps me,” he said. “I came in studio so I could look you in the eye but also because it’s not the same as talking on the phone. I know it makes your show better.”

I’ve been in the media for over 20 years and I’ve never heard a coach say that. There has never been a head coach who cares what’s best for the interviewer. That’s not a slam on other coaches. There shouldn’t be any sense of entitlement by any media member. Earl Watson genuinely cares about everyone around him succeeding above his own success.

“Are you bitter,” I asked?

“Are you kidding? I forgave the man who killed my brother. I’m not going to be bitter about this,” he said. “I wish them nothing short of greatness. This is the organization who gave me my first shot as a head coach. I appreciate the opportunity.”

The Suns failed miserably. If the Suns were having doubts in Watson, it was cowardice to let him run training camp. They should have fired Watson and moved on, allowing a new head coach to prepare for the season. If they fired Watson based on three games, they have no patience. If they have no patience, why should we? Don’t sell Suns fans on The Timeline if the Suns themselves aren’t going to follow it.

When Watson called me, he didn’t expect our conversation to become an article. As we talk about on the show, character counts. Earl Watson, once again, proved his character. What have the Suns proven?


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