Suns… Clippers… No Steve Nash… No Grant Hill… Bad game for Marcin Gortat… The Clippers…
This has to be a loss, right? I mean, it is inevitable. How can you stop Chris Paul with Bassy Telfair? How can Channing Frye stop Blake Griffin two games in a row? C’est impossible! - You scream, not even trying to care about this game. You accept the result, before the result happens, you watch to whine, not even remotely believing in the possibility of a victory.
Then, the game starts, a few good possessions but from there on, a nasty , losing start. The ball isn’t moving, your best player on the floor is struggling to make shots, eventually, the horn sounds. The second quarter is not much different. A small run here and there, but it soon ends, leaving you assured of the end. The break passes, nothing changes, you are as far of a win as you were just before. And then, then something weird happens, a small tweak starts working for them, minutes pass, and they creep up. Before you know it, they’re up two. You don’t get your hopes up, however, you know the other team is better, you know they have a star point guard. And yet, defensive stops are made, a clutch possession is saved by a tap out, and before you know it, the final buzzer sounds. The score? 91-87, Phoenix. Marcin Gortat is still sitting on the bench, resting after a tough go. Steve Nash and Grant Hill are smiling in suits on the sideline, and the closers, Bassy Telfair, Shannon Brown, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye and Robin Lopez are giving each other high fives. They went out against the wind, against all odds and came out victorious, fittingly, on the day that March Madness begins.
And so, the upset is complete, you sit in shock, unsure whether you just saw what you’ve seen. You’re smiling, but a little tear runs down, because you understand you’ve been wrong. You’ve been wrong about the heart of your team, you’ve been wrong about their ability. You’ve been wrong about everything. And while you know, that one game, one stretch doesn’t disprove the theories made due to previous disappointments, you also know that this represented something that has been happening for a long, long time.
This game showed you the real Suns. The ones that Lon Babby had in mind when assembling the team, the ones that told people before the season that they would prove the doubters wrong. The Suns that had training camp to learn something, the Suns that learned the lessons they would have in the preseason, the Suns that had enough practice. In a league of teams that are, for the most part, going backwards, the Suns are charging ahead with newfound belief. And it all started during a players only meeting.
The loss to Golden State was the antithesis of this win, it was a devastating, if close debacle that left everyone screaming for Steve Nash’s freedom. The terrible start, the lackadaisical attitude, and Alvin Gentry furious, dropping F-Bombs left and right on a press conference that might’ve been an eulogy of the teams playoff hopes.
The players reacted quickly, setting up a meeting after the All-Star Break. Nobody knows what was said, other than a few hints about “playing hard” and “playing from start to finish” that Marcin Gortat gave us. Whatever the case, you can’t help but suspect Steve Nash was the motor behind the meeting, after all he’s described as one of the greatest leaders in sports. We can only guess he said something inspirational, something that made the others understand that they are better than they have shown us, that losing doesn’t necessarily mean a loss in the end.
And they bought in, slowly but surely, shakily winning game after game, coming back from a deficit every single time. They started listening to Alvin Gentry, instead of just answering his “m’kays” with disconnected “yeah’s” and “alright”. They stopped saying “go team”, they just went. They stopped looking at each other with blame, and instead chose to say “my bad”. When Marcin Gortat had a bad game against the T-Wolves, he didn’t blame the referees, or Alvin Gentry for sitting him out. He just accepted it as a humbling moment and came back strong against the Jazz. When Channing Frye was missing shots, he made sure he made his opponent miss them too. Robin Lopez stopped thinking about his time on the bench, and instead made sure that he’d do good on the floor, while Shannon and Bassy just started playing basketball instead of hero ball.
In the end, the Suns are doing right now what they promised to do before the season, proving the doubters wrong. They may have took a while to gear up, and they may have a tough road ahead, but as they go on it, they are ready to show that no lead is safe, no super team is unbeatable and no easy wins will be given to other teams. No matter how tired, no matter where, no matter who’s in or out. Because that’s what Steve Nash’s teams do to prove people wrong.