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Phoenix Suns owner Sarver: ‘We appreciate every fan we have’

LISTEN: Robert Sarver, Suns majority owner

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver disagrees with the comments forward Markieff Morris had about the team’s fans after Saturday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

“I understand where he’s coming from, but it’s not how I feel and I know it’s not how the thousand employees that work at the Suns feel, that come every day to make a great experience for our fans,” he told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday. “We appreciate every fan we have, we appreciate all the support we get. We don’t take any of it for granted.

“Of course, we all would like more, but it’s unfortunate, I think, that he said that from my standpoint because it’s really not reflective of how the organization feels.”

The Suns rank 22nd in the NBA in attendance, with US Airways Center being an average of 90.5 percent full in its 30 home games.

In fairness to Morris, the Valley’s sports fans have a bit of a reputation for being more laid back, cheering only when either prompted to or when the team they are watching is really, really good.

But the timing of his comments — after a 27-point loss in which the team wasn’t even remotely competitive — did the fourth-year pro no favors.

“I think the timing was tough, and even to a certain degree part of his feelings came from the Oklahoma City game where he thought maybe we should have had a louder crowd towards the end of the game, so the timing was terrible,” Sarver admitted. “But I don’t think you ever can really come out and say that because fans don’t have to cheer for you, they don’t have to support you. We work hard to try to earn their support and we are appreciative of all the support he fans do give us. That’s just kind of how it works.”

Sarver added that Morris is someone who cares about the franchise and wants to have more Suns fans in the building, and unfortunately there are some nights where fans of the opposing teams have a strong presence in the arena. Saturday against the defending NBA champion Spurs was one of those nights.

“But listen, when the team wins championships more fans follow them, and that’s how you get a lot of Spurs fans,” he said.

The Suns, of course, are trying to build to that level. Back in their “:07 or less” hey day their arena was usually full and rabid, with the team enjoying one of the best home-court advantages in the NBA.

Years of losing, or at least teams that were far from elite, have clearly worn on the fan base, leaving a core group of die-hard fans who are not helped out by those around them.

“We have a lot of folks that try to do their job during the game to make sure that our fans have a great time there,” Sarver said. “But at the end of the day, our fans pay to watch the game and it’s up to them to determine how loud they’re going to root, or if they’re going to stand, or how they’re going to cheer. We appreciate them all.”