The Difference Being Smart And Being Competitive
When the Suns led the league in technical fouls to start the season, the optimists labeled it as “attitude” and “not backing down from anyone.” It was entertaining and fun to watch this ragtag group bolster its reputation from last season as NBA League Pass darlings with a little spunk.
Hell, even Grantland’s Bill Simmons cited it as one of the reasons the Suns are so much fun to watch:
"“The Suns are my favorite 2015 League Pass team for obvious reasons (their breakneck style and their knack for playing ridiculously entertaining games), but it’s their menacing collective edge that I really love. These guys do everything short of grabbing the half-court microphone and cutting a WWE-style, ‘We’re not afraid of you, and we WILL fight you’ promo. “You could imagine old-school badasses like Ricky Sobers and Jeff Ruland snarling right next to the Morris Twins and The Completely Insane P.J. Tucker. It’s hilarious. I love the Suns. If you put all 30 NBA teams in the same nightclub, the Suns would be the ones that kept getting kicked out for reasons like ‘We didn’t like the way Blake Griffin was looking at us’ and ‘Who does Draymond Green think he is????’ We can’t have the playoffs without Phoenix. We just can’t. Change the rules right now so they get in.”"
As much as I’d like the agree with Simmons, the rules — including Hornacek’s rule for technicals arguing calls — aren’t changing any time soon. There’s a difference between competitive fire and destructive anger, and if the Suns fall short of the playoffs, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.
The Suns are currently tied with the Clippers for the most technicals in the NBA with 51. For every technical foul, the other team receives one free throw. That’s a potential 51 points the Suns have given away for free. For a team with a point differential of +2.1, the Suns are giving away, on average, 1.1 free points every night so far.
That may not seem like a lot, but when the margin for error is razor-thin in the bloodbath of the Western Conference, those kinds of dumb mental mistakes can be the difference between a young team and a promising one.
Next: A Consistent Problem Breeds The Rule