The Phoenix Suns have been built and run like Lord of the Flies, and if there isn’t a dramatic change soon, all will be lost.
It has long been argued that the Phoenix Suns are too young. That they have too many young players and not enough veterans to help steer the ship. Then the more they lose the more they acquire young, unproven, and immature talent, prolonging and extenuating the very issues that they are currently suffering from.
T.J. Warren‘s surprise ejection of a month or so ago seemed like an aberration.
Josh Jackson‘s ejection of a week ago seemed like a player desperate to get the attention of his coach, but as a role player, nothing to truly be worried about.
Devin Booker chesting an opponent; slapping said opponent in the face; being ejected; then needing to be held back by security so he doesn’t rush into the hallway between the lockerooms potentially getting into an old school brawl, is not only something to be truly worried about, but a situation that has a definite fault – one not only squarely on himself:
Robert Sarver should also be to blame.
With the franchise’s intentional tanking and incessant youth movement of the past few years, the very kind of player that was needed to be acquired but never was, was that of a mature star; one with both success in his past and the gravitas to command both the lockeroom and the fanbase.
Obviously easier said than done, but aside from a failed attempt at LaMarcus Aldridge (an immature player at the time as well) and feigned passing attempts at LeBron James, the Suns have made zero headway in the matter, instead putting the weight of a franchise on the shoulders of a kid with only one season of college experience and no one to guide him on his way.
Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, hell, even Marquese Chriss, were always going to make mistakes along the way. As young players traversing the perils of both professional and uber-wealthy lives, they were always going to make the slip-ups we all would have made at their ages.
And while mistakes like Booker’s altercation against the Minnesota Timberwolves is his fault in his actions, it’s essence is entirely on Sarver and the owner’s lack of a vision and understanding of the emotional development of young men and the absolute necessity to give them time to grow and mature before being thrown into roles of great and public responsibility.
Sarver’s inability to acquire veteran star(s), a player or two who can take the pressure off of the young developing talent, forced Booker and others to try and carry their franchise, their teammates and their community, while also learning how to leave their schoolyard instincts behind them.
If a role player like Josh Jackson gets ejected for an immature act, it can be given a pass.
But if the face of a franchise like Devin Booker acts out in an immature way, it can pull the entire franchise down around him.
None of us on the fan-side of sports could never truly know the mental and emotional qualities of Devin Booker, or any of the players on our favorite team’s roster. It is the job and responsibility of ownership and management to know the in’s and out’s of what makes every player on the roster tick, and how to minimize their faults while maximize their strengths.
Robert Sarver has done the absolute worst job of this of any level of any professional organization in the history of sports in Arizona, and as of the game against the Timberwolves, it has once again shown to have blown up in his face.
Booker will apologize and likely receive at least a one-game suspension, hopefully learning from his experience.
He, the coaching staff, and the rest of the roster will attempt to move on, but in their frontal lobes will always know the truth that this team is just too young and immature to ever stabilize by themselves, knowing full well that they do not have the strength in veteran leadership to overcome such youthful hardships.
The fanbase will wait with baited breath as we hope that either none of the core players demands a trade or are traded off in dumpoffs that bring back pennies on the proverbial dollar, while we watch more and more losing, further elongating the already absolute worst stretch of futility this franchise has ever known.
And Sarver, long past the right time to make the choice of spending money and doing everything possible to acquire talent to build around young players versus sit on it and allow unrelenting losing by immature young men, will watch the further destruction of the ties that once bonded the community with this franchise.
There will, and should not be solace in the public’s already shredded opinion of his running of this franchise. But it does not mean that he should still not do everything in his power to find a way, the way Jerry Colangelo once could, to add the talent necessary to win, while keeping about him those players who could extenuate the professional decorum that is necessary to earn true and long-lasting love, celebration, and most importantly respect, of the fanbase.
Devin Booker needs to grow maturely, and hopefully – hopefully – this incident will be a catalyst in his growth.
Sarver should have four years ago but needs NOW more than ever to place a veteran star next to Booker to help save the 22-year-old from himself.
If somehow Devin Booker never develops into the true and undeniable star that he absolutely and unequivocally has the talent to be, or, if he becomes so disenchanted with the franchise that gave him his first shot in the NBA ultimately demanding a trade without the chance of reconciliation, every bit of that will be on Sarver, the architect – nay, overseer – of this entire, dysfunctional, franchise.
Either result being entirely unforgivable.