Maybe Steve Kerr and Robert Sarver want to distance themselves from their Wildcat allegiances or maybe they just want to spend a week in their San Diego homes, but whatever the reason the Suns will take training camp on the road to San Diego after training in Tucson three of the past four seasons.
Phoenix will train at the University of San Diego from Sept. 28-Oct. 4.
“We very much appreciate the hospitality Tucson and the University of Arizona have shown our team the past few years and we look forward to returning in the future, but this season felt like an appropriate time to move camp out of town,” Kerr said in a release on Suns.com. “It’s not uncommon for a team to train away from home and San Diego presents an opportunity to focus on the task at hand.”
The Suns had trained in McKale Center in 2005, 2007 and 2008 (they were in Italy in 2006 for their best year of the bunch) after spending 16 of the previous 19 years in Flagstaff.
Paul Coro wrote about a Tucson jinx on the Suns after we found out about Amare’s microfracture soon after 2005, Marion’s trade request days before 2007 and Amare’s initial eye injury last year.
Apparently the Suns don’t care so much about reaching their fan base in Tucson as they have talked about in previous years.
Not only am I a bit disappointed because our ValleyoftheSuns correspondents won’t have nearly as easy a time covering training camp in San Diego as they would in Tucson, but I still remember that 2005 training camp as my first shot at the big time.
As a sophomore for the Arizona Daily Wildcat, I was entrusted to cover that training camp, and for that week it’s about all I did save for a few hours of sleep and maybe a little bit of eating.
I received some reporting tips from Marc Stein (which was amazingly cool for a then-19-year-old aspiring journalist), got to rub shoulders with the Suns and most of all wrote my first real NBA feature on Robert Sarver, who at the time was just settling in as Suns owner.
I got to see a different Robert Sarver then the cheap villain Suns fans seem to think of him as these days.
The Robert Sarver I met went out of his way to talk to me before a couple veteran journalists who cover the team regularly because we had set up an appointment the day before and Sarver knew I had a class to go to a few minutes later.
I ended up writing what still is one of my favorite stories because of all it encompassed between U of A and the Suns.
The Robert Sarver I met that day was not only generous with his time, funny, interesting, etc., etc., but you could tell he possessed that burning desire to win.
He wanted to win so badly that first year he went over the line clucking at the Spurs when they rested a few of their stars. It all seemed so easy, buying a franchise, signingand winning 62 games and reaching the doorstep of the Finals.
As I wrote in the piece, Sarver’s exemplary business background made him a natural fit to run the business side of the Suns.
OK, so I didn’t realize he would sell like every one of the Suns’ draft picks until I graduated, but you can’t say he doesn’t want to win.
The Suns have been paying the luxury tax the past few years now, which was fine by Sarver for a championship contender but not so fine for a basketball team on the outside of the playoff picture.
“I don’t mind having a big payroll if we’re really good,” Sarver told The Arizona Republic. “But you don’t want to have a really big payroll and not be good. We’ve got to balance that out and see what all our opportunities are. So, yeah, am I prepared to pay the tax this year? Yeah, I am. But I want to have a good team.”
Hopefully that means Sarver will put his money where his mouth is, which would involve making a corresponding move in free agency to improve the team if it dumps Shaq for cash (with both being moves I think the Suns should make).
Every fan would love to have a Mark Cuban as their owner willing to lose tons of money to put out a halfway decent team. (Not that he’s won a championship or anything, and neither has George Steinbrenner this decade for that matter.)
That isn’t Robert Sarver’s style.
He looks at the bottom line more than most Suns fans would prefer him to do, and I can’t seem to stop referencing all of his damning sold draft picks of the past few years.
But before Suns fans question his desire to win, let’s not forget who’s sitting at center court waving that foam finger every night urging the rest of the crowd to join him.