Cardinals, Suns making playoff runs could change Valley sports scene

Dec 22, 2020, 6:20 PM

Kyler Murray (left). (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports). Devin Booker (right). (AP Photo/Matt York)...

Kyler Murray (left). (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports). Devin Booker (right). (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

The Valley sports scene has been ridiculed for years. Our new look begins now.

It starts with a Cardinals playoff berth, even if it requires 10 victories and a win over the Rams in Week 17. It continues with a prolonged playoff run from the Suns in 2021, ending a 10-year postseason drought.

That’s how great sports towns are born. That’s how they’re built. With memories, triumphs and scrapbook moments stacked on top of one another, relentlessly, magically, season after season.

With a rising tide that raises all boats. Even in the desert.

For decades, a fundamental question has framed our existence. Who’s your favorite team? Too often, the answer was an out-of-town team — your hometown team — followed by one of our local franchises.

That’s not good enough.

In great sports cities, you choose between in-house contenders. You don’t have to ask bartenders to turn on the local teams. If we’re to change our transient ways sooner rather than later, Cardinals vs. Suns must become a legitimate debate that trumps your love of Yankees, Bears and Red Wings.

The Cardinals are real close to being special. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins represent an unstoppable NFL combination on offense for years to come. Both players were named to the virtual Pro Bowl, enjoying the best years of their careers together. After some petty head-butting earlier in the season, the two seem to be in a good place.

“I’m pretty sure Kyler, if you know him … he beats himself up, man, on a lot of stuff,” Hopkins said following Sunday’s win over the Eagles. “I feel like that’s something that we all got to work on, even myself. When I don’t get the ball in crucial situations, just moving on past that and playing the (next) play. Sometimes, I think we might let that kind of stick in our head going into the next possession. I think that’s the next step for us.”

If the Cardinals offense peaks in the coming weeks, they just might beat the Rams, earning a better postseason seed and avoiding an undesirable first-round matchup against the Saints or Packers. They will have a chance to do real damage in the NFL playoffs.

They might even resemble the team that made an improbable Super Bowl run under Kurt Warner, with just enough impact players to win big-time games.

The Suns have even higher hopes. The additions of Chris Paul and Jae Crowder to a team that already featured Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton has effectively doubled their star power. They have raised the bar to a place we haven’t seen in years.

It’s coming at the perfect time. Mavericks star Luka Doncic is favored by many to win his first Most Valuable Player award in the upcoming NBA season. But the Suns’ Monty Williams is also favored to win Coach of the Year, and that only happens if the Suns break their playoff drought. In that case, everybody wins.

The 2020-21 Suns have the leaders, shooters, defenders and the stars to make basketball a spectacle in downtown Phoenix. We’re a big-event town that loves courtside celebrities, people watching and the energy and fashionistas that come with a highly-entertaining NBA team.

Oh, how we’ve missed that around here.

Put hallmark, heart-stopping seasons from the Cardinals and Suns in consecutive sporting cycles, and it can change a lot. It will build civic momentum and communal pride in Arizona. It will put great pressure on the Diamondbacks and Coyotes to get in the game. It might even help an underdeveloped sports town finally grow up, finding a real path to adulthood.

After all, there’s no place like home, especially if it describes your current address. A better sports town can do that here in the Valley. Our new normal starts now

Dan Bickley

DeAndre Hopkins speaks after a game...

Dan Bickley

DeAndre Hopkins’ release ends WR’s selfish legacy with Cardinals

For the second time in three years, DeAndre Hopkins is moving on to another team and bringing little or nothing of value in return.

2 days ago

Jonathan Gannon...

Dan Bickley

Cardinals’ Jonathan Gannon has become Eagles’ Super Bowl scapegoat

Thanks to the perceived outrage in Philadelphia, Jonathan Gannon is suddenly considered one of the more unscrupulous coaches in the NFL.

7 days ago

Phoenix Suns Devin Booker...

Dan Bickley

Devin Booker’s silence raises questions on his state of mind

This isn't the time for brooding silence and cryptic tweets. This is time for a franchise player to reassure a fan base the future is bright.

9 days ago

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams hands off the ball during a break in the action during the f...

Dan Bickley

Monty Williams deserved to be fired by Suns, more changes warranted

Monty Williams once stood on a pedestal, praised for instilling culture, mentoring young players, returning respect and dignity to Phoenix.

18 days ago

Phoenix Suns Kevin Durant...

Dan Bickley

Suns are latest failure of championship dream in Phoenix

Championship dreams always die hard. In Phoenix, they die angry. The 2022-23 Suns are just our latest failure.

21 days ago

Phoenix Suns Denver Nuggets...

Dan Bickley

All margin for error has vanished after Suns lose Game 5 to Nuggets

The next episode of the Devin and Kevin Show will be set in an extreme location. It will take place on the brink of elimination.

22 days ago

Cardinals, Suns making playoff runs could change Valley sports scene