These Suns should be back, but there are no promises if that will happen
If it were my intent to comfort you, to try to make you feel better after the Suns lost to the Bucks, some line like, “It’s the journey, not the destination,” might be the play. Put this whole crazy year in some kind of perspective.
Or maybe I’d talk about a future so bright, bright as the sun(s), you have to wear shades. This isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning. You know, that sort of thing.
Truth is, I intend on saying both of those things to you at some point because it is true.
But you know what else is true? Forever Suns fans have had enough of the journey and would love to have a little destination mixed in every 50 years if you don’t mind.
When you come this close to a title and fail, silver linings are a tough sell.
And the future? The future is a blank slate.
No guarantees, no promises. This team could, and should, come back nearly completely intact next year, but when they do, no one knows for sure if a championship will follow. The Nuggets, the Jazz, the Clippers, the Nets, Giannis, LeBron — there is a pack of wolves outside the door and they’re hungry.
So for now, I’ll say it was a hell of a year. Technically, it hasn’t even been a year.
The Suns played their first game in the bubble on July 31, 2020. Stop for a moment and think about everything – every single thing – that has happened in the last 355 days.
An 8-0 record in the bubble, Chris Paul, Jae Crowder, 52 wins, the second-best record in the league.
Eliminating LeBron and the MVP Nikola Jokic and sending Patrick Beverley home for good, the Valley-Oop, a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals, a tie ballgame going into the fourth quarter of an elimination Game 6.
The joy in Al McCoy’s voice when he declared that the Suns were going to the NBA Finals.
The new generation of Suns fans and the ones who don’t remember 1993 because they weren’t born yet. The ones who filled a beautifully renovated building with their passion and created a wall of sound brick by brick.
Yeah, it was a hell of a year. Three-hundred-fifty-five days of joy and adventure that hopefully has closed the book for good on a decade of despair.
A common trick in a moment like this is to play the “if you would’ve told me …” game. It’s designed to make you feel better after your team loses something big, like the NBA Finals.
If you would have told me back in December that the Suns would go into the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Finals tied and needing a win to force a Game 7 in downtown Phoenix, nobody among us would have turned that down.
Better than we could have hoped for.
But that “if you would have told me …” street runs both ways.
And if you would have told me that the Suns would lead said NBA Finals two games to none and were the prohibitive favorite to win it all by Vegas and every predictive model known to human-kind, how could you not be heartbroken by this outcome?
So which side of the street are you on?
I want to believe this is the beginning of something special, that a little adversity and experience will better prepare this Suns team to seize the moment.
With such a young core, you would assume brighter days are ahead.
But in 1993, I remember thinking the Suns would be back. Thanks to the Houston Rockets, they weren’t.
In 2005, I remember saying that the Suns’ loss in the Western Conference Finals to the San Antonio Spurs should be celebrated, for surely a championship would soon follow.
By the time the Arizona Cardinals made their first Super Bowl appearance, I wised up a little and understood that even if the Cardinals did everything right for the next 10 years, would they ever be as close to winning a Super Bowl as they were that night in Tampa Bay?
Windows open, windows close. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years of doing this, it’s how long you have in between is impossible to predict.
But as empty as this feeling is, it’s also invigorating.
For 10 years, our love affair with the Suns has been in a deep state of hibernation. Out of self-preservation for how awful they were, we became detached and indifferent.
Having the Suns back is like having drinks with a friend you haven’t seen in forever. You quickly realize that 10 years later, nothing has changed.
It just feels right to be a Suns fan again and for that, through all the other swirl of emotions right now, I’m grateful.