Brock H. Brown’s Retrospective on the NBA – Part I: From the Ashes
Hey folks, welcome to the first of 5 blog posts I intend to write about this season of the NBA. There is a plethora of bright spots to dish about, and I want to focus on the things that caught my eye, that excited me, that made me appreciate the game this year more than any other year. I am a fan of the Phoenix Suns, yes, but I am also a fan of basketball in general, and to me, the NBA is the most concentrated form of the game…skill at its very best and most entertaining.
So that’s what I intend to talk about. Here’s the posts you can look forward to:
1) From the Ashes – a few upsides to this year in Phoenix.
2) The Magic Kingdom – A post about the Magic and why they are my Eastern pick.
3) CP3 – A post about Chris Paul and why he really deserves the MVP award.
4) A Moment to Remember – A post about the Cavs and how they are a picture perfect copy of Jordan’s Bulls.
5) Ladies and gentlemen…I am pleased to introduce your L.A. Lakers – You guessed it..a post about the Lakers and how this team was really created years ago, well before most of its current roster was even playing in the NBA.
All that being said, let’s focus on the bright spots of the Phoenix Suns.
Really, most fans find it hard to find the good points in this dismal year…
…The Suns have collapsed over the salary cap, they have a superstar who is unable to play, and what’s worse, they have very few pieces they can move to other teams in an effort to improve their situation. How in the world could I even assume there are bright spots to be found?
But there are!
1) The Bench – Early on in the season, Terry Porter refused to play most of the Phoenix bench, a move reminiscent of his predecessor, Mike D’Antoni. Unfortunate. To be fair, he was losing games and favor at a rapid pace…and in that kind of a situation, you tend to want to play your best, in this case Stoudemire and Nash. However, following his dismissal and the hiring of Alvin Gentry, Phoenix fans saw something funny happen. They saw the Phoenix bench getting considerable minutes in comparison to the starters. More than that, they saw the bench WINNING games the starters had lost. Guys like Lou Amundson, Jared Dudley and Goran Dragic were having breakout games against seemingly indestructible foes. They were succeeding where their superiors had failed…largely because of their tenacity and heart. In fact…let me focus on a few stories…
2) Lou Amundson – Talk about a total dork. The second I saw this guy I thought to myself, “get him off the court…he looks like a loser.” Now? Fans are already talking about the day he will be inducted into the Ring of Honor. It’s like it is set in stone. And indeed, no story in the list of stories for the Phoenix Suns this year deserves to be highlighted more than that of Lou Amundson. Sweet Lou. Lighting Lou. Thor. A nobody from the D-League who rised through the ranks to become a fan favorite. And he did it because of his sheer desire…because he wanted to be the go to guy, the team player, the voice that said it could be done when the chips were down. He’s earned his place on the Suns.
3) Jared Dudley – the diamond in the rough story. Jared Dudley was acquired by Phoenix from the Bobcats in a trade that also included Jason Richardson. Actually, Dudley was more of a side-note, a joke that was unloaded on Phoenix in the big deal that brought us J.Rich. He hardly saw minutes under Porter. He was considered space…a name to fill a requirement. But when Gentry started coaching the team, a different opinion formed: what if he was the best part of that whole trade. Dudley’s last several games have showed us a young player caught in a trance-like command of the floor. He defends, he shoots and he cuts to the paint…he is a Brandon Roy-esque player capable of doing whatever asked of him. He very well could be the new go-to-guy in Phoenix. The one charged with impossible missions.
4) Goran Dragic – C’mon…you gotta root for this guy. When the season started out, he was a joke. He still isn’t considered anything brilliant, but the transformation he went through this year alone has been HUGE. Watching his confidence improve has been one of the most inspirational things to happen in Phoenix this year.
So there ya go. That’s my bright side of the sun, so to speak. To me, this was a very fun and important year for the Suns, despite the inner-turmoil and growing pains. At the end of the day, the old regime, personalized by Nash, Stoudemire and to some extent, Shaq, had to be cleared away to make way for the nobodies. Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Lou Amundson, Alando Tucker…I tell ya, Phoenix did as well as it did this year not because it was a team on the wane, but because it was a team breeding a lot of young, new talent that wanted to assert itself in this league. I am looking forward to the last few games and next year BECAUSE OF Dragic, Dudley, Amundson and the rest of the Phoenix bench. And get used to it, Phoenix fans. They are Gentry’s boys. From the look of things, he enjoys playing these guys and from discussions off the court, he appears to want to keep them. It's amazing when you think about it...the new Phoenix Suns coach has shown us the team he wants: fiery...full of heart...no-names. Guys who will play BOTH ENDS OF THE COURT. They still have some issues to work out, but Alando Tucker, Jared Dudley, Lou Amundson, Goran Dragic and Robin Lopez represent the new Phoenix Suns. And I couldn’t be happier.