The best Suns game I ever attended was rather nondescript in the grand scheme of Phoenix Suns basketball. There weren't major implications and nothing of historical significance took place. I couldn't really tell you a thing that took place on the court. But it was my favorite.

I didn't have a lot of time to ruminate on this subject. It fell in my lap and I had to tackle it word association style. The deadlines of this blog can be a cruel taskmaster.

I had an instantaneous reaction, though, so rather than reflect on the subject for a little longer I just decided to run with the first thing that came to mind. Sometimes, as was suggested in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, a snap judgment can be better than a more thorough, deliberate one.

That and I'm lazy.

Here's the backdrop... let your mind's eye fade to white as we go back to a simpler time of NES and two point field goals.

The year was 1989 and I was a 10 year old in fourth grade. My school had a reading incentive program where students read a book, turned in a short summary, and got points to use in an auction based on the number of pages read. The rules stipulated that a student could only bid on two prizes in the auction, but through my assiduity (and general love of books as a child) I had compiled more than double the pages read of the next student. That meant I could place the two highest bids in the auction.

Interestingly enough, as a child I was a voracious bibliophile, but as an adult I don't have the patience/temperament to read many novels. My reading these days mostly consists of online news and sports as well as things of a technical and academic variety. Back in 1989, though, as an advanced reader my eclectic tastes ranged from easy reading Choose Your Own Adventure books, to a budding love affair with all things Terry Brooks, to biographies of early 20th century baseball players.

When the day of the auction came I was sitting pretty.  Going into the event the exact manifest of prizes hadn't been revealed. After perusing the selection the first thing I coveted was a pair of lower level Phoenix Suns tickets. Like I mentioned above, I was able to secure the two prizes I wanted most, but I can't even remember what else I bid on. I remember the location of the classroom in the school. I remember that the chalkboard hung on the North wall of the classroom. I remember that we sat on the floor during the auction (desks moved to the back of the classroom). But I don't remember the other prize. Funny how memory works (or doesn't).

I guess it must have been a crappy prize.

But the tickets wasn't. Despite Miami struggling through their inaugural season (they were 10-54 entering the game) the Suns were a hot item as they had risen from the ashes of the drug scandal and were on their way to a 55 win season and Western Conference Finals appearance. In hindsight, however, it does seem convenient that I was gifted this game sandwiched between contests against the Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers and Chicago Bulls.

Luck of the draw.

The game took place March 20, 1989. I couldn't remember the score when I thought about this (as in whether it was a close game) or name a single player on the Heat from memory. I did, however, remember that the Suns won.  It turns out, thanks to trusty old, that Phoenix strolled to a 115-97 victory. It was actually a solid performance by the Suns as they used a 36-19 third quarter to lay a savage beating on the hapless Heat.

Four Suns scored at least 20 points in the game (Tom Chambers (26), Kevin Johnson (21), Jeff Hornacek (20) and Eddie Johnson (20)). KJ dished out 16 assists and Mark West (11 points and nine rebounds) barely missed a double-double.

Something called a John Shasky started at center for the Heat.

I guess there are probably several factors that played a role in the significance of this event.

It was the first Suns game I can remember going to. I had been to other games before that, just not that I can remember details from.

It was from the fruits of my labor (although I didn't really consider the reading labor). I got the tickets so it was like I was taking my dad to the game. He might disagree after factoring in transportation, concessions and merchandise...

It was with my dad.

It didn't begin my fascination with basketball, though. Walter Davis was my first favorite Sun before Jeff Hornacek took the baton. I even had a run in with the Gorilla when I was hospitalized as a five year old (a story for another time).

The synchronicity of these events are among a myriad that have played a memorable role in shaping my overall fandom. I have a lot of great memories involving sports.

Maybe this story doesn't appeal to you since it has very little to do with anything that actually happened on the court. I already mentioned that there would be no mention of anything historically significant.  Maybe your favorite game involves game X of the XXXX playoffs.

Or maybe you have a similar story. A game that wasn't really important, but still meant so much.

There are things in sports, and life, that transcend the final score.

This was that to me.

In true David versus Goliath fashion, Slovenia takes on the title favourites, USA.

The World Cup is down to its last 8 teams and surprisingly Slovenia is one of them. Of course so are the US, but everyone expected that. Just like everyone expects a USA win today. The odds are ever in their favor.

Still, there is no use being negative, as always Slovenia will be going for the win. After reading/hearing some statements from the Slovenian camp, I get the feeling they did cook up a scheme to be competitive. It might mostly rely on 3 point shooting since we still lack center strength for any inside depth. Either way the whole team has been positive about the upcoming battle and will be wanting to prove themselves.

Goran Dragic says our advantage is team play and the fans. Plus a good shooting night would be great. So I pray to the Basketball Gods it all goes in. He knows most of the pressure will be directed at him again.

" I'm used to the pressure, it's nothing new for me. We'll give it our best, fight to the best of our abilities and see where it gets us."

Not that he's being unrealistic:

" I'm a realist. I won't say I don't believe it possible, I think there's always a chance, if we have a crazy shooting streak or something. On paper they're flat out better then us, with superior players, but you never know. There was a study that showed they (USA) lose something like one in three games in elimination rounds so who knows, this could be it."

"They are a tough, athletic team, tall and very fast. We'll need to keep our turnovers to a minimum, focus on boxing out and grabbing defensive rebounds, but that gets tough after a minute of relentless attack."

As for the Americans, they seem to be taking this opponent seriously as well. Coach K pointed out the team play as well and mentioned perimeter shooting being one of the things they'll watch out for. He added Slovenia is one of the top teams at this tournament. Stephen Curry was also very flattering in offering his opinion about Slovenia:

Slovenia has a capable team that could surprise us, if we're not playing our best. It's no walk in the park. We need to give it all and play our game, being aggressive from the start. They know how we play so it's up to us to set and dictate the pace. As the final stages of the tournament approach, we need to up our game even further."

This might just be politeness and it would be in Slovenia's best interest if team USA come in underestimating us. There were some reports though that USA had an extra long practice yesterday, mostly working on their perimeter shooting.

Steph goes on and the praise he has for Goran is by no means just a courtesy:

Goran has proven himself in the NBA, I know him well. He can run the team and attack himself, not afraid to take the responsibility or carry the team if he has to."

He also said some kind words about Lil' Dragon/Dragonite/Dragonball Z/Zoki/Zole, Zoran Dragic and the rest of the team:

I didn't know about his brother beforehand but after seeing him play in the friendly game and during this tournament it's safe to say he's a dangerous opponent. Those are the two players we'll need to focus on though there are others that can cause trouble. They have a number of good shooters, all of the guards help set up the offense so we're well aware of their strengths. We know them well as we've played at Gran Canaria, but this is a different team, although they were playing well back then too. We need to focus on our game-plan and stick to it.

Will Slovenia prevail? Maybe not, but if Team Slovenia says they can beat them and Team USA says we're a tough opponent, then I can hold on to that minimal % of hope everything goes our way today.

BONUS news you should thank Jogi for (:

+ Goran's take on the interest Zoran is attracting from the NBA:

That's all rumor at this point, not that I know much about it. Some agents were inquiring, there's definite interest so we'll see what happens but there is the buy-out clause to think about. We'll see if any team is willing to pay it.

++ Touching on the topic of Australia's calculation that blew up in their face against Turkey, Goran congratulated Emir Preldzic (his teammate at the start of his career in Slovan) on making the winning shot.

In his first declaration on his impending free agency, Goran Dragic makes it sound simple to re-sign with the Suns.

While this stalemate with Eric Bledsoe drags on, the Phoenix Suns other big star - and arguably the bigger star of the two - has no plans to drag out his own free agency decision next summer.

Phoenix Suns All-NBA guard Goran Dragic spoke to a reporter in Spain recently, and in response to playing in next summer's Eurobasket 2015 he spoke of his contract situation and how that should not impact his playing status.

"Got a very interesting position with the club. Guess I'll break the contract and sign a new one," he said. "As I spoke [to the Suns], I immediately during the first week, when the market opens, sign and I will therefore be calm."

When Goran talks of a very interesting position, he means that there is no easy way to give him a big raise on an extension of his current contract. As well, there's no provision for re-negotiation. If that were the case, we'd likely have been hearing more about Goran's new contract than Bledsoe's.

The way the CBA works, the Suns can only offer up to a 7.5% raise on new years after the expiration of his current $7.5 million/year contract, which is about half of Dragic's market value now. Dragic is likely to earn somewhere between $12-18 million per year in next contract, and the only way to get that is to opt out at his earliest opportunity which is next summer.

But that doesn't mean he wants to leave Phoenix, and he said as much to that reporter.

Music to Suns fans ears, right?

According to BSotS regular contributor Pece, Goran has previously mentioned this scenario in connection with a conversation with the Suns front office, but that was not mentioned in his particular translated report.

Goran has never been one to court drama, and he's always wanted to be in Phoenix. He considers Phoenix his NBA home. Two years ago, he re-signed with the Suns for slightly less money than (reportedly) Charlotte offered and for (reportedly) about the same money Houston was offering to bring him back.

The fun story is that, while the Suns front office was hosting rival free agent point guard Ray Felton in 2012, Suns managing partner Robert Sarver went out to the parking garage and called Goran personally to offer a deal. The two quickly came to an agreement right then and there, and Goran was back.

He loves Phoenix, loves the town, loves the fans and loves the organization.

So in true loyal fashion, he's apparently already made up his mind about next summer. He has a player option for the 2015-16 season for the meager $7.5 million - a number he thought was really good two years ago but now pales in comparison to his value.

Of course, this is dependent on the Suns making a fair market offer when the time comes. They've reportedly done so this summer with Eric Bledsoe, though the market turned out smaller than anyone expected. Yet they came up short with Channing Frye, who went to Orlando for a significantly higher sum than Phoenix wanted to pay.

Will they come up short on Dragic?

Likely not. With Isaiah Thomas as the only veteran signed to a long-term deal (Tucker's is only fully guaranteed for 2 seasons), it appears the Suns have re-upping Goran Dragic as one of their top priorities in the coming year.

Either way, Dragic won't drag it out. He will review offers and - in my personal opinion - will take the Suns offer as long as it's competitive with the market. I doubt Dragic even cares about whatever Bledsoe will/does get. It just needs to be roughly the same as anyone else is offering him in the opening days of free agency.

If another team offers $18 million per year, would Dragic re-sign for $15 million with the Suns? Maybe not. So the Suns will have to be competitive. It sounds like Dragic isn't worried about that, which means he's been assured by the front office that will be competitive.

"If you were in Zagreb, our group would have been at home and had a huge crowd," he said of next summer. "Of course, I'm tempted [by the] European Championship. Olympics are my biggest wish."

He's already been talking about competing next summer in Eurobasket 2015 to qualify for the Olympics in 2016, something Slovenia has never been able to do before. To do that, he has to be under NBA contract, replete with insurance in case he gets injured.

No problem.

Let him go. Zoran's a cooler name than Eric.

Already astutely covered by our own Dave King, some guy named LeBron James thinks that the Phoenix Suns should "break bread," when it comes to contract negotiations with guard Eric Bledsoe. Or less eloquently put, "Hey! Give my friend money!"

If you missed anything, Paul Coro recounts the stalemate that has been the Summer of 2014 between Bledsoe and the Suns.

Nothing you haven't already heard, but here's a picture of fellow Rich Paul clients Bledsoe and James working out together in Birmingham, Alabama. Beware though, there's an overload of hashtags.

Need a job?  Your favorite Western Conference powerhouse is hiring for a variety of positions.

Your dreams of seeing Greg Monroe in a Suns uniform have been dashed. At least for a year. The Pistons forward signed a $5.5 million qualifying offer to remain in Detroit another season.

Former Phoenix Sun Shaquille O'Neal has submitted an application to join the police force in Doral, Florida, just outside of Miami.

Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek purchased upper level seats to the Phoenix Mercury's Game 1 matchup with the Chicago Sky in the 2014 WNBA Finals.

Clearly, CLEARLY the Phoenix Suns are the favorite team among NBA fans residing in central Iowa.

Construction on a new USA Basketball complex, part of a $436 million urban showpiece in Tempe, is scheduled to begin in December.

I wonder if the Austrailian national team checked out the Nick Nolte classic Blue Chips. The Aussies have been accused of throwing its game against Angola in the FIBA World Cup. Goran Dragic has opinions.

The Dragon and his countrymen will play the United States in the World Cup quarterfinals in Barcelona Tuesday night.

Former Memphis standout Joe Jackson received an invitation to Phoenix Suns training camp on Monday.

Robert Sarver wants to hear your ideas for Phoenix. He is part of a group participating in an event modeled after the television show Shark Tank.

Goran and Zoran! Could the brothers join forces in Phoenix?

Well at least we've got Goran and Bogdan, who are shining on the international stage.

The NBA has now facilitated the exit of its second owner in as many months due to derogatory comments toward the predominantly black race of players in the league.

First it was slumlord Donald Sterling, a 30-year owner with nearly as many years of reputation as a unadulterated bigot. No one was surprised that Sterling is a racist. They were merely surprised by the method in which he was "caught" in such a public fashion, thanks to TMZ Sports. New commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA acted swiftly, stripping Sterling of his ownership rights and forcing him to take a billion dollar severance for his capitulation. Poor guy.

Now, in the same offseason, the NBA is forcing another owner, Bruce Levenson of the Hawks, to take at least several hundred million dollars to walk away from losing operating income every year on a struggling franchise. Again, poor guy.

You know all this. Boo hoo. Rich people getting richer.

But despite the obvious "easy out" by these owners, it's important that the NBA is protecting its players by stripping the NBA of any known racism. That's the message, right? Zero tolerance!


Somewhat overlooked in the process these last 48 hours is that it was racist comments by GM Danny Ferry that started the whole internal investigation of the team in the first place.

Ferry reportedly was reading from a scouting report on Luol Deng and took it upon himself to either ad lib or neglect to edit a comment that Deng had "some African in him. But not in a bad way."

The context is even worse than the excerpt:

"He's still a young guy overall," Ferry said, league sources with direct knowledge of the probe told Yahoo. "He's a good guy overall. But he's not perfect. He's got some African in him. And I don't say that in a bad way."

Forget for the moment what that comment even means. What's material is that some people were offended. Apparently, those people were sufficiently concerned enough to start a massive investigation into racism within the front office of the Hawks.

That Ferry even made the comment that started the investigation could be brushed off as benign in and of itself. Without knowing the context, one could make the case that he was simply unprepared for the free agent meeting in which they were talking about an extremely well known, 10-year NBA player who would command about 20% of their salary cap, and that he merely read the scouting report for the very first time verbatim because he was holding it. Maybe it was even hot off the ol' fax machine and Ferry presented it as "breaking news".

But even if you believe that nonsense, you must then consider that the inflammatory email sent by owner Levenson in 2012 WAS SENT TO FERRY. You don't send an email that detailed, that open, that conversational if you don't think the person receiving the email would be okay with the message. You don't send that if you think the person would shut down at the rhetoric and lose the message.

And finally, we have a revelation on Monday night that minority owner Michael Gearon Jr., in reaction to the Ferry comments and the ensuing investigation, implored Levenson to fire Ferry. IN JUNE.

"We are calling on you, as majority owner and NBA governor, to take swift and severe action against general manager Danny Ferry. Our advisors tell us there is no other choice to ask for Ferry's resignation and if he refuses, to terminate him for cause under his employment contract."

IN JUNE, this was.

So not only did Levenson not fire Ferry in June, he still didn't fire him all the way up until his time as an owner was over.

And for as self-righteous and "I'm gonna fix this" Steve Koonin has been during this fiasco, he merely "punished" Ferry in a private way AFTER ALL THIS CAME TO LIGHT THIS WEEKEND.

Koonin has been around for months. He was there when Ferry made the comments. He was there during the investigation. And all he did was "punish" Ferry without firing him.


Why does the NBA owner have to go but no heads roll under him? That's the exact opposite of the business world. No CEO walks away without trying to fix the problem first, even if they were the problem.

But this is the NBA. This is the league where owners "take one for the team" by walking away with hundreds of millions of dollars.

And apparently, this is the league where bigots who could actually be negatively impacted by any action against them, who might not profit from the transaction, are left in their positions of power to make sign/release/trade decisions about a race of players "were are not perfect" because they have some "African" in them.


And fire any other racist in that organization who was in a position of influence over the roster.

And then start investigations on every other NBA team, including the Clippers, to make sure the NBA house is actually clean.

It's not good enough to pay the bigoted owners to walk away. Get tough, NBA. Or admit that you're just not interested in cleaning up this mess.

And while you're at it, make sure the next guy you approve as owner of a team isn't a bigot either.

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