Friday, November 21, 2008

Suns stuck in a Valley

I won't rub salt in the wound of Phoenix Suns fans. The fans at U.S. Airways Center already did that with the loud "Let's go Lakers chant" which forced a comment from the TNT broadcast team.

I'm here for a different reason. I've been an unabashed Suns hater for almost five years now, but as a basketball fan, I always stepped away and thought to myself, I love the way the Suns play. As smug as Mike D'Antoni was and the battles the Suns and the Lakers have had in recent years, I still respected how good the Suns were.

That's why I was shocked and appalled at the Suns don't let the door hit you on your way out approch with Mike D'Antoni.

The early polls are in and as I expected D'Antoni is doing a great job with a horrible Knicks team which is off to a 6-5 start.

On the other hand, the Suns are going nowhere fast, starting out 8-5, but mired in the middle of the Western Conference. I've asserted all along that the blame falls on Robert Sarver who continuously traded away draft picks for cash, and after letting D'Antoni go, settled on a cheap coach who wouldn't rock the boat.

And that's what you got Suns fans. Perhaps you wouldn't have won the title with D'Antoni but you would have been a better team than you are with Terry Porter.

Here are some excerpts of the conversation I had with my buddy and big Suns fan Adam Green. He makes some valid points, but for the record he was not one of the fans pushing D'Antoni out.

greenmachineAZ (3:35:26 AM): Suns fans got tired of the no bench, no defense way
greenmachineAZ (3:35:47 AM): people who weren't Suns fans saw a team that won 55 games a year and was fun to watch...with no emotional investment, why wouldn't you like that?
greenmachineAZ (3:36:01 AM): but Suns fans got tired of the same result every year, with no sign of getting better
greenmachineAZ (3:36:16 AM): it's like Shawn Marion...Suns fans knew how bad his shortcomings were/are
greenmachineAZ (3:36:24 AM): and had less issue with him being traded
greenmachineAZ (3:36:37 AM): whereas people who didn't really watch the Suns think he is some great player who you couldn't trade away
romoballa (3:36:50 AM): i just wouldn't give up on a coach who 1. got you to be a good team 2. played a fun style for the fans (isn't that what it's about ultimately entertainment) 3. was liked by the players
greenmachineAZ (3:36:59 AM): right
greenmachineAZ (3:37:09 AM): but if the goal is to win a title, his way has not done it so far
romoballa (3:37:09 AM): and 4. almost won the title has some things gone his way
romoballa (3:38:36 AM): one of the top 5 coaches in the league

And that got me thinking. So here's my order.

romoballa (3:48:54 AM): 1. phil jackson
romoballa (3:48:57 AM): 2. larry brown
romoballa (3:49:04 AM): 3. greg popovich
romoballa (3:49:13 AM): 4. mike dantoni
romoballa (3:49:16 AM): 5. byron scott

And my revised 6-8...Jerry Sloan, Donn Nelson, Rick Adelman

1. When you have 9 NBA championships, it's hard not to be No. 1

2. Larry Brown has turned more bad teams into good teams than anyone other coach in history. The man led the Clippers to the playoffs, coached the Kansas Miracles to an improbable title and led the worst team in history to make the Finals, the 2001 Philadelphia 76ers with guys like Eric Snow and Aaron McKie playing prominent roles.

3. Greg Popovich minus the Ted Kuzinksi beard has the titles, the players respect' and the consistency to be one of the greatest coaches of this era.

4. Mike D'Antoni is fairly new to the NBA compared to the first 3 guys on this list but the early returns show a .610 winning percentage. Also please remember in his first season when he took over the team about a quarter of the way, he went 21-40. The next year, he led the Suns to 62-20 record and a trip to the Conference Finals. And thus far, he's exceeded expectations with the Knicks.

5. Byron Scott is a rising superstar in the coaching profession. He's taken two bad Nets teams to the Finals and has rebuilt a Hornets team into a perennial contender. He runs an offense that has a lot of Princeton principles and also has a tough defensive mentality. In addition, he's one of the most respected guys in the league. I wouldn't be surprised if he returns to coach the Lakers in the future.

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