DAN BICKLEY

Kevin Durant deal resuscitates the Suns and the Valley’s sports scene

Feb 10, 2023, 12:54 PM | Updated: 1:28 pm

Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on against the Golden State Warriors during the first ha...

Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of the game at Barclays Center on December 21, 2022 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Super teams are tantalizing. They are fueled by swagger and star power. Their ceilings seem celestial, infinite, limitless.

Warning: They rarely live up to the hype.

The Valley will try to buck NBA history and a 55-year championship drought with Kevin Durant, an acquisition that rocked the fanbase and resuscitated the Suns’ sagging title hopes.

Time and chemistry are working against them, at least in the short term. If Durant returns from a knee injury immediately after the NBA All-Star break, he’ll have a maximum of 22 games to get fully assimilated. The Suns also exported two significant pieces in Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, raising questions about the team’s depth and defensive ability.

But the NBA is a star’s league. The Valley is a celebrity-obsessed region. And for many reasons, the blockbuster addition is exactly what we needed.

From a basketball standpoint, last year’s playoff debacle against the Mavericks exposed the hollow nature of regular-season victories. It proved that rotational depth and selfless players can be highly overrated. It proved that even the most elite team chemistry can be extremely fragile.

We learned the NBA postseason is a pressure-packed environment that will expose every crack in the stone and every flaw a team possesses. Maybe even a few they didn’t know existed.

Durant and Devin Booker give the Suns a pair of elite scorers who can create their own shots. That fills a gaping hole that would’ve made the previous nucleus highly vulnerable to a first-round exit.

While Durant is not considered a strong leader, he is a tireless worker and a proven clutch performer. He has real championship experience, something that was sorely missing in the past two seasons.

In the end, the Suns needed this infusion of pedigree, credibility, energy and elite shot-making ability. And so did the rest of us.

Since the Suns arrived in 1968, the Valley has captured just one major professional championship. That occurred 22 years ago. Our recent ascension as a sports town has suffered a major setback, including traumatic playoff experiences from both the Suns and Cardinals, and windows of opportunity that seemed to be closing on both franchises.

Durant changes all of that. He’ll guarantee the Suns will wear the black hats, possibly the most villainous team in the NBA. He’ll make every Suns game a big event. Every game will be must-watch television, just like it was with Charles Barkley in 1993.

Durant also boosts the image of new owner Mat Ishbia, who staged a debut press conference and traded for a NBA superstar within a dizzying span of 12 hours on Thursday. He came to town and stole the headlines and glory of Super Bowl week in the Valley, and for good reason.

With one bold stroke, Ishbia is serving notice that he might be our next Jerry Colangelo. And in a sports town with a history of big-talking, small-spending owners, that’s exactly what we need.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6-10 a.m. on Arizona Sports.

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Kevin Durant deal resuscitates the Suns and the Valley’s sports scene