EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Suns strengthen bond with Mercury, happy to oblige with schedule change

Oct 6, 2021, 7:08 PM

(Screenshot/Bally Sports Arizona)...

(Screenshot/Bally Sports Arizona)

(Screenshot/Bally Sports Arizona)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns and Mercury try and take every opportunity to support each other, and a slight scheduling dilemma for Wednesday was no different.

With a Game 2 win in the WNBA Semifinals against the Las Vegas Aces on Thursday, the Mercury clinched a Game 4 happening in Phoenix, one that was blocked by a preseason affair for the Suns against the Lakers at the Footprint Center.

Those two NBA teams would need to sign off on their game being moved from 7 p.m. to 3 p.m., creating a doubleheader at the arena.

It was a no-brainer for everyone involved.

“It was an easy thing to do to move those times around,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said on Monday. “We want to give them every chance they can to win a championship.”

“Easy. That’s easy,” Suns point guard Chris Paul said on Wednesday of the decision. “It’s my 17th year in the league and this is the first time I’ve been on a team that had a women’s team that’s — we’re all a big team.”

Williams said he hopes the Mercury feel their “support and care,” and guard Diana Taurasi echoed that sentiment on Monday.

“It’s all about caring, right?” she said on Tuesday. “You can talk about money and business but when someone cares about something, they’re willing to do something that turns the tide … And for the Lakers to agree to it, it means they care. It’s one thing to say and do different things, it’s another thing to care and actually take action and that means the world to us. It really does.”

“Credit to everyone involved … We really are a family,” Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello said Tuesday. “It’s great to see.”

With the opening of the two franchises’ practice facility in November of last year, the two sharing it has made those everyday interactions a lot more common.

When Williams is in the building doing his everyday work, he will hop on the exercise bike to get some cardio in while watching the Mercury practice. He and Brondello have conversations often, talking about schemes and situations on the floor, what they’re doing in practice and more.

On those similar types of days for Paul, he will ask if the Mercury are practicing and if he can watch.

“You can always learn things,” Paul said. “You never know.”

As you could imagine, someone with the stature of Paul being around and even having just little talks can mean a whole lot to someone.

And ditto the other way around with Taurasi, who Suns center Deandre Ayton said back in 2018 that he was starstruck at when they first met.

Brondello had Suns general manager James Jones ask her at the start of the season what she needed, a type of interaction and boost in resources she had never experienced before through all her time in the WNBA.

Williams and a handful of Suns players will be in attendance, hanging around after their preseason win to see if the Mercury get a much, much more important one to make it to the Finals. Just like they did.

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