Suns fans should stop worrying and enjoy the show, no matter how it presents
Nov 18, 2023, 11:05 AM
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
We’re all waiting for the Big Three. We’re all eager to see a bona fide NBA super team make its regular-season debut in Phoenix.
We’re all fixating on the wrong story.
At the moment, the Suns are about the growing friendship and on-court synergy between Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. It’s threatening to become the league-wrecking show we were promised last season. A show that never had enough runway our rehearsal time before fizzling out against the Denver Nuggets in the 2023 postseason.
Now, it’s getting real.
Durant has publicly proclaimed Booker the team’s starting point guard. In Friday’s thrilling win in Utah against the Jazz, Booker produced 24 points and 15 assists in 32 minutes. Since his return from a calf injury, he has 20 assists and three turnovers in two games.
Booker’s continuing ascent is no surprise. This could be the year Booker powers his way into the upper echelon of NBA superstars, landing squarely in the MVP discussion. His game is loaded with wisdom, refinement and underrated physical strength. He can get wherever he wants on a basketball court.
Booker is also playing a long game: He is chasing something well-beyond the vision and aspirations of most NBA players. He has no time and no need for friendly exchanges on a basketball court. After a win against the Timberwolves earlier in the week, Booker was asked if he plays harder against personal friends like Karl-Anthony Towns.
The response — and the interplay with Durant — was priceless.
Booker: “I do it every night. I have smoke with … a lot. Every night.”
Durant: “The whole league.”
Booker: “Yeah. Everybody.”
The early barrage from Durant is equally impressive. His arrival in Phoenix was a momentous occasion, overshadowing Super Bowl week in Arizona. His debut press conference was more of a pep rally. And there was the awkward pre-game injury before his Footprint Center debut, sidelining Durant and preventing the Suns from finding real cohesion, real elevation. After all, you can’t microwave a turkey.
Durant’s struggles against the Nuggets led to more concerns. At age 35, is he beginning to slide down the mountain, coming out of his prime? Can he stay healthy in the coming seasons? Will the Suns regret the loss of Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson for eternity?
We all know that Durant is dialed in to the chatter. He listens to the noise. He loves exposing bad takes on social media, even if it means starting arguments with random fans. And now, he’s doing that on the court as well.
Durant has been a workhorse through the first 12 games. He’s tied for seventh in the NBA at 36.8 minutes per game. He’s averaging 30.8 points per game. He’s looking exactly like the Hall of Fame player we all envisioned.
Obviously, the other story is important. Bradley Beal’s lingering back injury is not ideal. Neither is the remaining $207 million on his contract. But if Beal can get a 30-game stretch with his new teammates after Christmas, that should be plenty of time to assimilate. And there’s nothing wrong with Booker and Durant taking their own show on the road for a while, providing they stay healthy.
We’re also griping because the Valley isn’t accustomed to billionaire owners who can flood their roster with talent and swallow expensive mistakes. Yet, Mat Ishbia is so brazen, he made the front page of The Wall Street Journal on Thursday in a lengthy profile that illuminated his aggressive nature.
The story claims Ishbia’s family holding company receives $150 million from stockholder dividends every three months, how he’s betting on himself and his giant mortgage company to succeed despite rising interest rates, a risky move that could reap another huge windfall down the road and features an interesting quote from Mark Cuban, who said he sees a lot of his younger self in Ishbia.
“The NBA has a way of humbling us,” Cuban said.
We’ll see about that. For now, we have two things going for us in Arizona: A Booker-Durant tandem that carries enough firepower and star power to lead the Suns to a championship, even without Beal, and an owner rich enough to write off his mistakes, whenever they might occur.
Quit worrying. Enjoy the show.