The Phoenix Suns Are A Burned-Out Cinder Of Themselves.
By Tom Danehy
NEXT WEDNESDAY NIGHT the Phoenix Suns will be in town for the FHP Shootout. You'll be able to tell they're the Phoenix Suns because their jerseys will say "SUNS" on the front.
The Suns used to be my favorite team, but now I'm mad at them. More correctly, I'm mad at their owner, Jerry Colangelo, who gutted the team over the past three years. They'll be playing the Los Angeles Lakers, who used to be my other favorite team, but I'm pretty much disgusted with them, too.
Let me say right up front I hope the game will be a big success, mostly because it's put on by my friend Dave Sitton and his Enterprise Group, plus it benefits a good cause.
I won't be going because my daughter Darlene has a volleyball game against CDO that night, and heck, they moved her up to Varsity even though she's only 13. I must be the proudest papa in America. No, maybe second, behind whoever fathered that poor kid Susan Molinari lugs around to all of her campaign stops as the Designated Republican Woman.
I'm not a big fan of preseason basketball (which, in the NBA, means games played before March). However, preseason basketball isn't the worst, to be sure. That would be preseason football, where the veterans order take-out food on the sidelines and the rookies play tighter than the lid on a three-year-old jar of olives. Miss a tackle and the next words out of their mouths will be, "Do you want fries with that?"
Surprisingly, I think the best preseason sport is spring training baseball. It's slow and leisurely, but then that just makes it indistinguishable from the real thing.
Actually, next week's game should be pretty good, coming as it does only about a week before the start of the regular season. The lower rookies will already have been weeded out and the veterans will know it's time to get their serious legs on.
Pity the cities that hosted exhibition games last week. In those games you couldn't tell the players with a scorecard.
Alas, so will it be for the Phoenix Suns, a team which came this close to winning it all just three short years ago but now lies in shambles.
From that team, which won two of three games in Chicago during the NBA Finals only to stumble at home, there remains a grand total of one player on today's Suns roster. And since that player is Kevin Johnson, he's not available.
Instead of sticking with a team that made it that far (and probably just needed the experience of having lost in the Finals as fuel to get them over the hump the next year), Suns owner Jerry Colangelo decided he had to tinker. The Suns went from the NBA Finals in '93 to Conference semi-final losses to eventual NBA champion Houston in '94 and '95, to a first-round brush-aside last season.
The tinkering finally came to an end a couple months back when he traded the heart of the team, Charles Barkley, to Houston. I guess Colangelo didn't think the heart was all that important any more since he had already gotten rid of the spleen, lungs, kidneys and pancreas.
Now all that's left is a hamstring. And it's pulled.
Poor Kevin Johnson. He's got the heart of a tiger, but the body of a vegetarian. The dude's been hurt so many times, the training room put in a revolving door just for him. When he ends his career and they retire his jersey, the thing will probably fall from the rafters during the ceremony, land on him and strain his quadricep.
I'm angry with Colangelo for tinkering and really angry at him for getting rid of Barkley. I have a sinking feeling the Suns won't even make the playoffs this year. I'll be mad at Colangelo for a while and I'll root for Houston this year, but I'm pretty sure I'll go back to being a Suns fan before too long.
The Lakers are another story. How could Jerry West have given away half of L.A. to get Shaquille O'Neal? The guy reeks. Don't give me "He's young," or, "He made it to the Finals a couple years ago," or even, "The guy's got a world of potential."
The guy's a stiff. Did you see him in Kazaam? Nobody else did, either.
As a matter of fact, probably the only way you'd get to see O'Neal work up a sweat next week is to ask him about his acting career.
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