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The first thing that comes to mind for me when I hear the word comeback is "Don't call it a comeback because we never left."

It's a word association instantaneous reaction. Similar to what SBNation did recently with all of the NBA teams. The result of that exercise was that most people felt that Steve Nash was synonymous with the Phoenix Suns. Not surprisingly, that was the next name that I thought of in terms of comebacks associated with the Phoenix Suns.

This wasn't the traditional variety of a comeback. Not a team clawing back from a huge deficit in a single game like the Suns did at Houston in the 1994 playoffs when they outscored the Rockets 26-8 in the fourth quarter to overcome a 20 point deficit, eventually win in overtime and secure a 2-0 lead in the series (which they would later squander). Not a comeback in a playoff series like the Suns succeeded in doing twice against the Lakers (1993 down 2-0 and 2006 down 3-1). Not an individual coming back from a career threatening injury as Amar'e Stoudemire did in overcoming microfracture surgery.

This was a comeback of a different nature.

On June 26, 1996 the Phoenix Suns drafted a 6'3" 187 lb. point guard out of Santa Clara with the 15th pick in the first round. That player was Steve Nash. The fans booed the selection. As had previously occurred with a draft day bemoaning of Dan Majerle, the boos ended up being an ironic presage of great things to come.

Nash struggled to get consistent playing time in his first two seasons in Phoenix. He was buried on the depth chart behind two upstart, unheralded point guards named Kevin Johnson and Jason Kidd. Nash's selection had actually occurred before the acquisition of Kidd from the Dallas Mavericks and it was apparent that the Suns had aspirations of grooming him to succeed KJ at the helm of the franchise. With Kidd's hands now firmly affixed to the wheel, Nash became expendable.

On June 24, 1998 the Suns traded Nash to Dallas (perhaps repaying the favor) for a group of nondescript players and a first round pick that propitiously manifested itself as Shawn Marion in the next year's draft. Nash flourished in Dallas with increased playing time and a starting role. The Mavericks won 50+ games four straight seasons (a streak that would run to 11 straight prior to last season's lockout) with Nash at the point. Nash was an all-star and all-NBA third team selection in consecutive seasons as he cemented himself as one of the better point guards in the league.

The Jason Kidd experiment didn't work out as fabulously for Phoenix. Although Kidd's on court performance was never lacking, a domestic violence issue in the summer of 2001 led to the front office ushering him out of the desert with celerity. Stephon Marbury returned in the deal from New Jersey, and put up respectable numbers during his stay, but always felt more like a placeholder than a permanent solution. The Suns dumped his salary on the Knicks during the 2003-04 season with the intent of clearing cap space to add to their young nucleus in free agency. As kismet would have it, Steve Nash was a free agent. Nash was a point guard. The Suns needed a point guard.

Mark Cuban felt that Nash was aging and would begin to deteriorate. His time playing at his current level would be short lived, at best, and his prime years were already in the rearview mirror. Enter ambitious new Suns' owner Robert Sarver. In what would later be perceived as one of his only good decisions ever the epitome of a coup in free agency, Sarver took advantage of Cuban's moment of parsimony with a prodigal strike of his own (talk about a completely bizarre role reversal). It turned out that Cuban vastly underestimated Steve Nash. After the signing, I can remember thinking that the addition of Nash would at least make the Suns a playoff team. He was a solid point guard that would provide leadership for the prodigious neophytes, albeit at a rather steep price point. I vastly underestimated Steve Nash.

Despite being previously discarded by the Suns, shipped away to Dallas for mixed parts and a draft pick, Nash "came back" to the Suns on July 14, 2004. The return of Nash led to a palingenesis of Phoenix Suns basketball. Augmented by the emerging talents of the Matrix (Marion) and STAT (Stoudemire), Nash laid the foundation for the 7SOL (seven seconds or less) era, which made them a fan favorite and media darling for 3+ seasons. Nash managed to stumble upon a couple of MVP awards along the way and cemented himself as one the best players in the game, an international basketball icon and a sure fire first ballot hall of famer.

During Nash's first six seasons in Phoenix the Suns went to the Western Conference Finals three times. The Suns had prolific talents (Stoudemire, Marion), celebrity coaches and players (Mike D'Antoni, Shaq) and even role players that embedded their way into the annals of Phoenix Suns' history (Raja Bell, Jared Dudley). But Nash was the biggest star at the center of the Suns' universe.

Steve bled for Phoenix. He played through pain. He took the cheapest best shots opponents had to offer and came back swinging. The fans empathized with him. They loved him. He was one of "us". The 7SOL era never culminated in a Suns' championship. Bad Luck, nefarious circumstances and coming up against teams that were just a little dirtier better stymied the Suns' aspirations.

Then Steve left again. The first time he had been thrown out of town like a boomerang, only to come back of his own volition (influenced by a windfall payday). This time the situation was a little more muddled and nebulous. Did Nash want out or was the team tossing him out the door again? Mixed reports surfaced and the truth became a scarce resource. Then the previously unimaginable became a stark reality. Steve Nash was going to Los Angeles. The same team that had apparently discarded him twice was apparently facilitating his exodus. Nash wasn't one of "us" after all. One of "us" would never even entertain the thought of playing for the Lakers. People felt jilted and betrayed by both Nash and the organization. A fairy tale story with a soap opera ending. Or is it really the end?

I have a sneaking suspicion that Steve Nash has another comeback in him. Despite what some perceive as a perfidious absquatulation, I can see time mending some of those wounds and Nash being received back into the good grace of the fanbase as a future induction into the Suns' Ring of Honor. I think he deserves it and I think the fans deserve it. I think Steve Nash needs to go into the Hall of Fame as a Sun because that's what he is.

Many predict turbulent times ahead for the Suns. The prevailing opinion seems to be that the rebuilding process will be arduous and plodding. I wouldn't count out the Suns quite so hastily. A new point guard returns from the Suns' Texas farm system. Goran Dragic provides new hope now that Houston has trained our dragon. The roster may not be as devoid of talent as the pundits profess. The Suns have never stayed down long, so don't be surprised if they rise from the ashes again before you expect it. But don't call it a comeback.

Because we never left.


Back in May with the Suns on the verge of a rebuild, PBO Lon Babby denounced the concept of tanking and all the ugly externalities that go with it. Apparently that viewpoint never reached the offices...

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Design is a funny thing. Trust me. For every reaction of, "that's freaking awesome!", there's someone else saying, "you people are complete morons! what have you done with my _____."

So yeah, we redesigned our sites at SB Nation and unveiled them on Tuesday. The Phoenix Suns unveiled their new design for the main basketball court at U.S. Airways Center on the same day. Coincidental timing aside, what do you think of their new look?

The obvious reaction I've seen so far immediately mentions the lack of purple.

Is purple being phased out as Suns color? Does Robert Sarver hate purple as a symbol of the Colangelo era (seriously, people?); Why isn't there an image of The Gorilla on the court?

All legitimate questions, except that Sarver thing...right? I mean, he couldn't possibly be that petty....right?

Anyway, the new court is here. It's based heavily on the black and orange color scheme that showed up in Suns marketing a few years ago.

You can see the video unveiling the new court on Suns.com. Just pick up a book and read a bit while the 30 second pre-roll ad runs at the beginning and patiently wait for the video to finally start...playing.

Here's a grainy photo for those too lazy and too impatient to devote 30 precious seconds of their oh-so-important lives waiting for an ad to play.

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And here's the old court (sort of).

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What's next? Black and orange alternate uniforms to match?

That would be AWESOME/HORRIBLE!!!!

Poll
Do you like/love/hate the Suns new court?

  598 votes | Results


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Monday night. September 24, 2012. The night the NFL teetered closer to the edge, about to fall down to the level of its little brother, the NBA.

Games decided by bang-bang plays that hinge on the split-second judgment of a ref? Check. A pattern of poorly-called plays that tarnish the credibility of an entire sport? Checkmate.

Today, the world clamors for the NFL to right the wrong. Bring in better referees! You can't ruin our sport with these jackasses!

But let's not forget that the play in question unfolded in a matter of milliseconds, the time between the Packer defender first touching the ball and the Seahawk receiver getting his hands in there too (the judgment was 'simultaneous catch, advantage offense'). Multiple slow-mo replays made it look so obvious, but in that millisecond from the side angle was it that clear? Of course not.

It was a bang, bang play that required the referee's total concentration and perfect viewing angle in that millisecond that the questionable part of the play unfolded. Was it a catch for a touchdown, or was it an interception? The side judge saw a dark jersey closest to the ball. The back judge saw all white. Both ran over and saw two guys struggling for the same ball. Seahawks fans, while thanking whatever they call their maker, applauded the call. Packers fans and nearly all of us neutral fans saw a bad touchdown call that should have been overturned.

Welcome to the NFL, replacement refs.

And while I'm at it, welcome all you NFL fans to the world of the NBA!

How many NBA games are decided on the split-second judgement of one referee in the final seconds of a close game? Was it a block, or was it a charge? Was it goaltending, or a clean blocked shot? Was the defender in the restricted area or not? Did the shooter release the shot before time ran out or not?

Fans of every NBA team can tick off a handful of games last year decided on a bang-bang call. Some were in the favor of their team. Some were not.

Take that bang-bang play called by the NFL ref on Monday night, then multiply it by a hundred and now you've got an NBA game. Every play is a split-second call, and before you know it the ball is going back down the other end. Get it wrong, and you're a goat. Get it right, and you're just doing your job.

The replacement NFL referees are definitely in over their heads. Just like it is for NBA refs, the game is too fast for these refs. They can't pick up on the extracurricular stuff fast enough to stop it, or call it correctly. Downfield hand-checking by the DBs and WRs getting ignored. Holding by linemen in the trenches goes uncalled or unnoticed. Late hits on the QB, illegal if inside the tackle box but okay otherwise. And when contact IS called, it seems like its a flip of the coin which side gets the flag.

Just too fast. Too much going on for the replacement NFL refs right now.

Just like the NBA. Sure the NBA guys are vets, but in the NBA its bang-bang play after bang-bang play for two straight hours.

Tough gigs, all around.


In the coming months, debate will continue to swirl around the city of Phoenix as to who is the right man for the job. There has been an obvious decline at the position in recent years and each of...

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