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Dan Bickley

Best moments, worst draft picks and more from 2010s in Arizona sports

(AP Images / Getty Images)

Summer, 2016. A breezy, loud day in Manhattan. Walking to my favorite pizza joint in Times Square, where the grease and the cheese and the crust form a holy alliance, unlike anything I’ve ever tasted back home.

And that’s when it hit me.

That’s when I saw it.

A mega-billboard featuring Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals’ upcoming appearance on the streaming series, “All or Nothing.”

Our NFL team had suddenly become a national attraction, worthy of marquee space in the media capital of the world.

If you can make it there …

The moment was intensely personal, the high-water mark of an entire decade.

Six months earlier, Arizona sports fans were living in a rare state of bliss. Entering the final week of the 2015 season, the Cardinals had ascended to No. 1 in various NFL power polls, including the one published by the Washington Post. It was uncharted territory, to say the least.

Alas, that season would end in colossal failure. The Cardinals’ appearance on “All or Nothing” only contributed to their downfall. We haven’t seen a really good team ever since.

It was not a good decade for our reputation as a major league sports market.

Our big four combined for just eight playoff appearance in 40 seasons. They were bad enough to compile three No. 1 overall draft picks. The Cardinals made the most of their opportunity with Kyler Murray, but the Suns missed out on Luka Doncic and might’ve whiffed badly with Deandre Ayton. At peak daffiness, the Diamondbacks traded their No. 1 pick for Shelby Miller.

The Diamondbacks also made an ill-fated trip to Australia. Devin Booker won a three-point shooting contest during NBA All-Star Weekend, but has yet to play in the actual NBA All-Star game. Our only no-hitter of the decade came from Edwin Jackson, a gem that featured 149 pitches, eight walks and one hit batter. That is so Arizona.

A decade in review, our sporting life from 2010-2019:

Earth-shaking Moments

  1. Archie Bradley’s triple in Wild Card win over Rockies.
  2. Larry Fitzgerald’s catch-and-run against Green Bay in the NFL playoffs.
  3. Suns win the NBA draft lottery.
  4. Cardinals select Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick.
  5. Diamondbacks sign Zack Greinke, stunning the baseball world.

 

Long-Awaited Triumphs

  1. Coyotes win first playoff series in Arizona.
  2. Suns eliminate rival Spurs from the NBA playoffs.
  3. Suns finally get lucky and win the NBA draft lottery.
  4. Bruce Arians, 60, gets his first shot at NFL head coach
  5. Alvin Gentry gets his moment in the sun, guiding an underdog team to the Western Conference Finals.

 

Best Efforts

  1. Devin Booker scores 70 points against Celtics
  2. J.D. Martinez hits four home runs against the Dodgers.
  3. Beanie Wells rushes for 228 yards against the Rams, with individual runs of 71 and 53 yards.
  4. Goran Dragic scores 23 of his 26 points in fourth-quarter of playoff win at San Antonio.
  5. Edwin Jackson’s 149-pitch no-hitter against Tampa.

 

Worst Experiences

  1. Coyotes’ awkward parting with Shane Doan.
  2. Entering an NFL playoff game with an 11-win team and a third-string quarterback (Ryan Lindley).
  3. Eric Bledsoe.
  4. Zack Greinke’s debut on Opening Day.
  5. Nearly everything the Suns attempted.

 

Best Tributes

  1. Randy Johnson receives a replica Rush drum kit during special ceremony at Chase Field.
  2. Kurt Warner inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
  3. Al McCoy inducted into the Suns’ Ring of Honor
  4. Shane Doan’s retirement ceremony
  5. Luis Gonzalez becomes first Diamondbacks player to have his number retired.

 

Best Homegrown Athletes

  1. Cody Bellinger
  2. Auston Matthews
  3. Khris Davis
  4. Cameron Jordan
  5. Christian Kirk

 

Top Teams

  1. 2015 Cardinals.
  2. 2009-2010 Suns
  3. 2011-2012 Coyotes.
  4. 2011 Diamondbacks
  5. 2014 Cardinals.

 

Worst Draft Picks

  1. Josh Jackson.
  2. Dragan Bender.
  3. Jonathan Cooper.
  4. Marquese Chriss.
  5. (tie) Haason Reddick, Michael Floyd, Kendall Marshall, Robert Nkemdiche and Alex Len.

 

Didn’t Expect That

  1. The rise and fall of David Johnson.
  2. The Coyotes ranking among NHL leaders in payroll.
  3. Aaron Hill hitting for the cycle twice in 11 days.
  4. Alvin Gentry throwing up in a bucket during a playoff game in Los Angeles.
  5. James Jones buying beer for angry fans who showed up for a Josh Jackson appearance.

 

Best moments in the coming decade

  1. Larry Fitzgerald’s official retirement ceremony, induction into Hall of Fame, Cardinals’ Ring of Honor, etc.
  2. Kyler Murray leads Cardinals to Super Bowl berth at State Farm Stadium in 2023
  3. Diamondbacks win a second championship before Coyotes, Cardinals or Suns win their first.
  4. The Suns return to the playoffs.
  5. Coyotes move into a new arena in the East Valley, where they should’ve been all along.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@bonneville.com.  Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.


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Dan Bickley bio
Dan Bickley is the most influential sports media member in Arizona sports history, having spent over 20 years as the award-winning lead sports columnist for The Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com and almost two decades as a Valley sports radio talk show host. In spring 2018, Bickley made the decision to leave the newspaper to join the Arizona Sports team as host of the entertaining and informative midday show Bickley and Marotta, as well as bring his opinionated and provocative column exclusively to ArizonaSports.com.
Bickley’s journalism career began in his hometown of Chicago, where he was part of a star-studded staff at the Chicago Sun-Times. He chronicled Michael Jordan’s six NBA championships; covered the Olympics in eight different countries and attended 14 Super Bowls; spent three weeks in an Indianapolis courthouse writing about Mike Tyson’s rape trial; and once left his laptop in an Edmonton bar after the Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
He has won multiple awards, written two books, formed a rock band, fathered three children, and once turned down an offer to work at the New York Times.  His passions include sports, music, the alphabet, good beer and great radio. After joining Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, he couldn’t be happier