DAN BICKLEY

Will the debut of Suns’ Big 3 bring back the vibes at Footprint Center?

Dec 11, 2023, 1:32 PM

The Suns have lost a lot more than 10 games in 2023. They’ve lost the leather-lunged buzz that once made Footprint Center among the most hostile environments in professional basketball.

Maybe they’ve misplaced/outpriced you, the passionate fan seeking more than the shallow waters of social currency, those who prefer screaming over selfies. Or maybe they’ve displaced those who fell in love with the homegrown team, the one that was bursting with flavor, the one that showed up every night in uniform and not street clothes.

Or maybe we’re all just waiting for some real inspiration, for proof that the 2023-24 Suns are actually one of the teams to beat in the NBA.

Here’s hoping the cure is both impending and inevitable.

Fingers crossed, the Big Three will make their debut together sometime this week. The Suns begin a five-game homestand on Tuesday with Bradley Beal (back) expected to join Devin Booker — and possibly Kevin Durant (ankle) — in a rematch with Steph Curry and the Warriors.

Then, the emotional return of Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. Then, the Knicks on a Friday night in downtown Phoenix.

It also marks the return of Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who said Footprint Center sounds like a thumping nightclub in 2023, soulless and unconcerned with the true ambience of basketball.
Kerr offended much of the Valley with his comments, but he wasn’t wrong.

The vibe isn’t right in Footprint Center. It’s loud in all the wrong ways.

This is not meant to be a critique of Planet Orange, a fan base that has proven itself to be among the best in the sport. This dilemma is clearly on the Suns, a team that isn’t connecting with its audience in any meaningful way. The proof is in the vibe.

There are many ingredients in this soup. The Suns have dramatically overhauled their roster. Booker is the only player remaining from the team that held a 2-0 advantage in the 2021 NBA Finals. The franchise is full of new faces and not exactly brimming with personality.

They have a losing record at Footprint Center (5-6). We have been numbed by the drumbeat of injuries to key players. The consistent instability has been a roadblock to cohesion and chemistry and communal engagement. And they’ve lost all three games to the Lakers this season.

Finally: We are all easily triggered. We have endured epic playoff flameouts; the ascension of Bridges in Brooklyn; the historical failure of choosing Deandre Ayton over Luka Doncic; and the star power of Tyrese Haliburton falling into the Suns’ lap on draft night in 2020 before general manager James Jones picked Jalen Smith instead.

Now is a great time to hit reset and start the season anew. It’s time for the Lakers to revel in their meaningless in-season title, and for the Suns to unveil a super team that is too hot for the NBA to handle.

We’re waiting.

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

Dan Bickley

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Will the debut of Suns’ Big 3 bring back the vibes at Footprint Center?