So many banners in the rafters at U.S. Airways Center, but none for the landlords of the building... Only the smaller tenants.
With business news hitting the wire that America Airlines, who is a merged partner with U.S. Airways, will not renew the naming rights for the downtown Phoenix arena it makes one ponder a few things.
First, who is going to get to name this arena in a Top 5 populated city with one of the more well-known NBA teams as the landlords? Over the past few years there have been new arena names such as Sleepy Train (Sacramento), Barclays Center (Brooklyn), Moda Center (Portland), and the Smoothie King Center (New Orleans), all of which leave much to be desired. The Suns will be in that list soon and are looking to land something closer to the Barclays Center than Smoothie King Center.
Second, how will the legacy of American Airlines (as well as U.S. Airways Center) be remembered for Arizona Sports?
Do you remember the last time the Phoenix Suns were in their sports Championship Game? It was some time ago and despite the two appearances the Suns had in the NBA Finals being memorable ones, it has now been 21 years since the last time they were there.
That is a long time in sports years.
While the Suns have been one of the better models of consistency for winning and stability in their history getting over the hump has been difficult.
You need to hit the right cords with having a Charles Barkley (HOF), Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, Danny Ainge, Tom Chambers, and Richard Dumas on the same team at the same time. You need a terrific head coach like Paul Westphal leading the charge and a front office filled with Colangelo's (Jerry and Bryan) pulling the right strings. That 1992-1993 Suns team was tremendous winning 62 games and ending just two victories shy of a championship banner.
The very next year the state of Arizona crowned their first champion.
While the Arizona Rattlers are not spoken of in the same breath as the boisterous, more financially driven teams from the NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL they are a team in the state of Arizona that won a Championship. They did so in 1994 and since then have made eight more trips to the Arena Bowl Championship Game. They are 5-4 in the Championship with banners galore hanging from the rafters.
They have become the unofficial Kings of the U.S. Airways Center (formerly America West Arena) especially as of late winning three championships in a row from 2012-2014.
Recent greatness has also struck with the unofficial Queens of U.S. Airways Center, the Phoenix Mercury, winning two championships since 2007 and zeroing in on a third this year. The niche sports have taken over the downtown arena that has been the home of the Phoenix Suns for over 22 years.
Of course in the NBA there is more of a competitive disadvantage with 14 other teams in the conference alone, and, in a dynasty league; it is extremely difficult to grab that brass ring.
For the Mercury, they are in a dynasty league as well, but have the pieces to be that dynasty team. The Houston Comets owned the league for 4-5 years, then the Los Angeles Sparks for 3-4 years, then the Detroit Shock, then the Mercury, then the Minnesota Lynx, and now... Back to the Mercury.
The Arena Football League has seen four dynasties from the Detroit Drive, to the the Tampa Bay Storm, to the San Jose SaberCats, and now the Rattlers.
With the Rattlers and the Mercury as the unofficial Kings & Queens respectively of U.S. Airways Center they have become the dynasties of their sports. The Suns are a step behind these niche sports that drawn a smaller, but rabid fan base, that supports them to the fullest. These teams have the benefit of playing in a great arena because of the Suns and are taking full advantage of it with banner-after-banner.
The passion and fans are here, waiting for the Suns to become their sports dynasty team. When will that happen for them?
Goran Dragi? has 14 points, 2 assists and 3 rebounds in 17 minutes of play. Gets plenty of rest for today.
This game yesterday was the worst. Well not so much the game, it was the 3 people who are suppose to make the game fair - referees. This was ridiculous.
Goran Dragic gets called for a foul on one of his famous drives. He protests because it really wasn't one and gets a technical before even getting really mad. After he was called for it you could read his anger from his lips - in Slovenian thankfully. Take note, techs count to your personal fouls total in international play. So our main engine has 2 fouls with 2 and a half minutes gone by. And I'm already screaming "Come on!" at the TV. Poor Tv. And then it was just one stupidly called foul after another. At some point I was genuinely wondering if the refs were bribed by Angola so they could as they said "make history with the win". By halftime we had more than double their fouls.
I thought it would get better in the second half, that the refs would watch some tape, realise their mistake(s) and be more fair. Yeah, no. Slovenia got called for 2 more techs: one for coach Zdovc who couldn't believe the refs were ignoring everything he was saying, and the other for our veteran Jure Balaži? who was literally walking away from the ref when called for a T. At the end of the third the foul stat read 19:10. Of course Angola caught up end of game situation being what it was. Despite all this Slovenia managed to pull through with the Dragon playing only 17 minutes. Productive as always he went 4/6 on 3s getting all his 14 points in the 3rd. I can truly say we earned this win with the final score reading 93:87.
In those final minutes, when the game was still tied and most of Slovenia was probably yelling at Zdovc to "put Gogi back in (for God's sake)", he stuck with the decision to rest the Dragi? brothers. Since we got the win this proved to be a brilliant maneuver. The Dragon (and Zoki) is fresh for today's even more important game and our backup PG Klobu?ar got some rhythm back, since he was clearly a little off in the last 2 games.
Goran Dragi? statements after the game:
Tomorrow will be interesting. We'll see who has what it takes. We could calculate but we didn't. We went for the win (against Angola). We'll se what Australia and Lithuania do. We're gonna give our max and go for the win. We're going for that first place, I didn't even look at the calculations. I know they are there, but I didn't go into them. I was focused on the game, so it doesn't come to any injuries. The important thing is we won and we're healthy.
(Asked weather he was taking his anger out at the refs by making buckets.)
"I had to a bit" he said jokingly. "The refs were a little weird. It was getting a little funny. I won't say anything, so it won't get worse."
Far from Angola being a bad team. You can see they play basketball a bit differently. Maybe they have a few more systems than Korea, but it's still a different type of play. That bothered us somewhat. Offense was good, but defense wasn't right. You could see they had the right energy, and we just weren't ourselves. We struggled the whole game and couldn't crack them. now the game is behind us and the most important thing is we won. Have to move on, an even more important game is up next. We're going for the win, so we can leave for Barcelona in first place.
Slovenia plays their final group game today against Lithuania. Everything depends on the outcome of this game. Which is kinda of unfair since we've been rocking it so hard the last 4 games. The most desirable places are 1st and oddly enough, 3rd. This is because everyone is trying to avoid Team USA for as long as possible. Securing either 1st or 3rd place guarantees you won't meet them until the semifinals, thus still giving teams a chance to go for the bronze.
Slovenia will take first place if they a) win the game or b) lose the game by a max 8 point difference. In the event it loses by 9-13 point, they will take second place. Anything more than that we fall into third. Provided Australia who is more of a favourite wins against Angola today. Theoretically Australia could lose this game purposefully, since that would insure they get third place. As I'm posting they lead by 13 at halftime.
Slovenia vs. Lithuania begins at an American friendly 12.30 Phoenix time.