Where has Planet Orange gone?
Going to Tuesday night’s Phoenix Suns game as a fan, I had the expectation of a fairly big crowd to be on hand. I wasn’t expecting a packed house because the Suns haven’t had one of those all year, but I figured there would be more support than usual.
After all, it wasbobblehead night. The Suns-friendly neighbors across the street at Chase Field would tell you their biggest attractions to the ballpark are when they have bobblehead giveaway nights.
The Arizona Diamondbacks averaged a little more than 26,000 fans per game last year, but they drew more than 42,000 on Paul Goldschmidt bobblehead night against the New York Mets. Forty-two thousand people are not showing up to see the Mets, either.
For some reason, those bouncy-headed figurines are a big hit in this city, but the hysteria has yet to catch on with Suns fans.
The numbers say the Suns had 16,636 people at the Tuesday game against Chicago, but there were many who dressed up as empty seats and an even bigger amount that had on Chicago Bulls jerseys, which made it seem like the Suns were plyaing on a neutral court at times. Forwardeven tweeted after the game wondering if he was in Phoenix or Chicago.
Is this Phoenix or Chicago?
— Marcus Morris (@MookMorris2) February 5, 2014
“It wasn’t frustration,” Morris said of the tweet. “We thought we were the home team, so we felt like we need the fan support to be a little bit better. Not cheering when the other team scores.”
Just imagine how bad that noise could have been had Derrick Rose been playing? A crowd of red jerseys swelled around the visitor tunnel prior to the game. Bulls fans outnumbered Suns fans a half hour before the game began, when Derrick Rose went through an individual workout on the court.
The Suns (29-20) entered the Tuesday’s game on a league-best five-game winning streak, and had won eight of their last 11 games. They have dropped two straight games, including the Chicago defeat, but still currently sit in the seventh spot in the Western Conference, just three and a half games behind the Los Angeles Clippers atop the Pacific Division.
You would think that the city would start getting behind a team that is exciting to watch and fighting for a division title, but it is not showing in the seats at US Airways Center.
“We are a good team and exciting to watch, and just want our support to be a little better,” Morris said.
I understand the people that are still in a wait-and-see approach due to the lack of trust for Robert Sarver, but the funny thing is that he has quietly done some things that have put the team in the position they are in. He admitted to Grantland.com’s Jonathan Abrams some of his mistakes, especially holding onto the past too long, and he boldly extinguished one mistakes by firing general Lance Blanks this summer. He was the guy that pushed hard for the team to sign over Raymond Felton last summer.
Imagine where this team would be if he didn’t step in and make that move?
The Suns are currently 24th in the NBA in percent of stadium filled at 81.1%, behind teams such as the Memphis Grizzlies, Utah Jazz and even the Orlando Magic, according to ESPN.com. That number should go up in the near future with big draws like the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics coming to town.
But some of those fans are coming to see the other team play. When will Phoenix fans start showing up to see the Suns play? When will U.S. Airways start rocking again?
Hopefully before April.