Kliff Kingsbury, Cardinals hoping to replicate Suns playoffs vibes in 2021
Jun 3, 2021, 6:53 AM | Updated: 8:22 am
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
TEMPE, Ariz — Count the Arizona Cardinals as a group invested in the Phoenix Suns’ playoff run.
And no, that does not include Suns minority owner Larry Fitzgerald, as he’s still undecided on his future plans and is a free agent.
While head coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals kicked off their first voluntary OTAs session of the year on Wednesday, the hometown basketball’s recent success not lost on the organization.
“It’d be awesome [to replicate the atmosphere of Phoenix Suns Arena at State Farm Stadium], I was there [Tuesday] night, the place was rockin’,” Kingsbury said. “So cool to see what they’ve developed, coach Williams, tremendous leader. You can see the toughness, the grittiness he’s instilled in those guys.
“I have a man crush on Chris Paul. The leadership he has on that floor is unbelievable. Every possession he’s talking to the young guys and getting them right. When they need a big shot, he steps up. Been awesome to watch them and should be a heck of a Game 6 against the Lakers.”
With the Suns’ Game 5 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs on Tuesday, Phoenix is just one win away from advancing.
Projected starting running back Chase Edmonds believes the Suns have what it takes to knock off LeBron James and the Lakers, but thinks it’ll take more than a game to do so.
“Shoutout to the Suns first and foremost,” Edmonds said. “What they’re doing right now for the city of Phoenix is awesome. It’s obviously bringing a new energy, a new kind of hype about the city. As you have professional teams that do better, the city kinda trends that way as well.
“My analysis, though, I think it’s gonna go to seven [games]. I do think LeBron [James] will get one more win. I don’t see how they can beat Phoenix, though, without [Anthony Davis]. It’s too much of a mismatch right now.”
What the Suns have accomplished this season hasn’t been lost on Edmonds, who sees similarities between Arizona and Phoenix.
“I’m obviously rooting for the Suns — I am a LeBron guy — but I am rooting for the Suns. That’s something those boys they earned,” Edmonds added. “They really worked hard. They started, they got it out the mud and they kept improving year by year. That’s something we’re trying to do as an organization, so I can relate to that.”
Much like Kingsbury, defensive end J.J. Watt took in the sights of Phoenix Suns Arena on Tuesday night.
He too couldn’t get over the atmosphere the downtown arena was generating.
“It was very humbling, I appreciate the reception. The fans were incredible. The Purple Palace was electric,” Watt said. “The energy, I said it in my first press conference down here, there’s an energy to the Valley. If you were in that arena last night there was a legitimate energy and there’s a vibe that’s going on here right now that we’re trying to carry forward and build on and grow upon.
“That place was going crazy and I loved it, loved being a part of it. The Suns played unbelievable basketball, they played an incredible game. Hopefully we can keep that going.
“I haven’t heard yet, I texted Chris [Paul] last night and I hope he’s alright because he’s such a big key to our team,” Watt added. “Book had an unbelievable night … Cam Payne had an unbelievable night. It was a blast to watch up close in person and I can’t wait to see what happens in Game 6.”