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Burns: The Suns have wandered for 40 years

It was literally the perfect metaphor.

On Sunday, my wife (code name: Decision Maker) was standing at the counter preparing to light the candles on my 40th birthday pie but I wouldn’t let her. Not until the Suns/Thunder game ended. Frustrated, the DM sighed and put the pie back in the fridge.

I know what you mean babe. I’ve been waiting on this team my whole life.

I’d like to think that I look, act, sound and feel younger than 40. I’d like to think that if you met me you wouldn’t think I was 40 years old. But it can’t be helped; there is something oddly self-reflective about this milestone birthday. It is, essentially, halftime of your life. A perfect chance to game plan for the second half and look back at what worked (and what didn’t) in the first half.

I just can’t pass up the irony that this entire weepy self-reflective BS happened in front of a Suns game.
Oh sure, my first 40 was filled all sorts of unexpected stuff. A warm night in Tempe…scared for my life as the fans rushed the field after a 19-0 ASU win. A cold night in Pasadena as my heart unexpectedly ached for guys like Bruce and Jake and Pat.

All of those wasted Sundays at Sun Devil Stadium. A collage of shiny empty seats, awful press box hot dogs and some of the worst football you could imagine. A Super Bowl. A friggin’ Super Bowl. Yeah, would’ve lost that bet.

Being one of the first in town to own a white, purple billed Diamondbacks hat. That thing was as ugly as sin. Staying up until 5 o’clock in the morning co-hosting a postgame show where one champion Diamondback after another staggered into our studio. I’ll never forget how poetic it was that Jay Bell scored the winning run while Matt Williams waited for him with arms extended at home plate. Two of the originals.

But the Suns……the Suns have been there from the start. One of my first memories is of my mom jumping on the coffee table during the first Finals run when I was five. I bawled like a baby when they traded Dennis Johnson for Rick Robey. I watched every single game of the 92-93 season at Granny’s Closet in Flagstaff. It took me days to get over the ’93 Finals. My first real job was in Seattle and I would grit my teeth because I couldn’t stand having to interview guys like Shawn Kemp or Gary Payton. The night Amar’e and Boris came off the bench… I couldn’t sleep.

Football is a lightning bolt. Baseball is soul food. But the Suns have been the constant through the first 40, which is probably why I hold them to a higher standard than the rest. It’s why just being good – sneaking into the playoffs as a seven or eight seed – isn’t good enough for me.

They’ve got the fourth highest winning percentage in the history of the NBA with ZERO titles to show for it. You know how maddening that is to be good … hell, that great…but not quite great enough?

(Somewhere a Boston Red Sox fan is nodding his head in remembrance.)

I’m 40. I get the whole, ‘it’s not the destination it’s the journey’ mantra and mostly I agree with it. But would it kill the Suns to mix in a little destination every now and then? I’ve had my fill of the journey.
The game ended and pie was served. The Suns lost to Oklahoma City capping a predictable road trip in which they went 4-2; beating the teams they were supposed to beat. I bet they get in to the postseason where few (present company included) will give them much a chance of doing any damage. For some that will be enough to label this a successful season.

As I blew out my candles I made a wish that had nothing to do with the Suns winning a title. So maybe it’s my fault.