Phoenix Suns may not win, but they’re better than these soft Lakers

Phoenix Suns, Alex Caruio (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns, Alex Caruio (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Phoenix Suns are playing an inferior opponent, but not in terms of the talent on the court.

For those who grew up in Los Angeles or New York, this is not directed at you.

You can’t help where you formed your first sports attachments.

For the bandwagon fans of huge-market franchises, though, you can’t be fully made whole by these teams. Can you? OK, that’s wandering too far into the philosophical landscape.

But, the theory here is that the Phoenix Suns, for example, are just easier to commit to full support than the Yankees or the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the Phoenix Suns’ Game 1 win, the Lakers operated like a bunch of divas, strolling around, preening and arrogantly waiting for the Suns to simply kiss the ring and become roadkill.

But it didn’t happen.

The playoff debuts of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton could not have gone better. Booker’s 34 points were good for No. 9 in league history for first-timer and established the Suns’ all-time mark (Walter Davis had 31 in his first Suns playoff appearance in 1978).

Ayton’s 16 rebounds established a Suns record for a postseason debut (Armen Gilliam had 15 in 1989).

Ayton’s debut double-double was just the third in Suns history — and he kept pace just 128 playoff double-doubles behind LeBron James.

Lakers fans probably don’t care how their team was assembled (LeBron and AD wanted to be in L.A. and were able to leverage various methods to make it happen), but the organic nature of the Suns’ composition has a much better feel.

The Suns drafted Booker, Ayton, Cam Johnson and Mikal Bridges. They plucked Cameron Payne off the scrap heap and executed a trade for Chris Paul that many experts questioned.

The Lakers opened the Staples Center front door and LeBron and AD walked in. And that backup center needed for the stretch drive? Andre Drummond decided he loves L.A., too.

It’s not quite so mercenary as what the Brooklyn Nets pulled off (rather, what Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden pulled off), but the Suns process just feels better.

There’s nothing dastardly going on here. To coin a very, very astute phrase: It is what it is.

L.A. and New York are centers of the sports universe, and one can find millions and millions in complementary income just for playing there. That’s not changing.

So, this is not to blame the Lakers for “building” their team the way they have. Everyone with similar resources would do the same. It’s about winning.

The Phoenix Suns face the Lakers in a huge Game 2 on Tuesday as consensus underdogs.

The Lakers are a 1- or 2-point favorite Tuesday in Phoenix and are still a little more than 5-1 to win the NBA title at most sites; the Suns are hovering around 15-1.

Next. Takeaways from the Phoenix Suns' Game 1 win. dark

The Lakers said the right things, of course, following their Game 1 stumble. AD blamed himself and LeBron pledged a better effort.

They basically shrugged off the loss, knowing this is the route they took last season, having lost their first game to Portland in the bubble.

Wouldn’t it be enjoyable — for a certain segment of the basketball community — if the Suns stepped on these guys again?