Over the past four months, all three major sports franchises in the Phoenix metro area have come up just one game short of the playoffs, an ignominious feat that no one wants to repeat.

It's been a frustrating four months in the Valley of the Sun for sports fans.

In late December, the NFL's Arizona Cardinals capped off a successful, nationally-praised 10-6 season with... an early vacation. The 10-win Cardinals set a standard for the most regular season wins without a playoff berth, missing the dance by one game.

Earlier this week, the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes capped off a successful season with a 37-30-15 record, good for 89 points and for their troubles they got an early vacation. They Coyotes missed the playoffs by two points, the equivalent of one win (each win = 2 points, each overtime loss = 1 points, each regular-time loss = 0 points).

A day later, the NBA's Phoenix Suns capped a successful, nationally-praised season with a loss to Memphis, ensuring they would be sent home on an early vacation despite already winning 47 games (with one meaningless game to go).

The 47+-win Suns will become only the 6th NBA team to win 46 or more games, and only the 3rd since the field was expanded to 16 teams, to miss the playoffs. The other two teams to miss? The 2008 Warriors (48 wins) and 2009 Suns (46 wins).

One game out.

That's three major sports franchises in the Valley to miss the postseason by ONE GAME in the last four months.


At least, the MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks aren't likely to pull at our heart strings before snapping it back into our faces. They have mercifully started the season 4-13 with the worst pitching rotation in the majors. Thanks, D'Backs.

Let's put this Suns season into perspective.

Last year, the two young playoffs teams who burst onto the scene and wowed the nation were the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets.

The Warriors had finally gotten Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut healthy, and raced their way to a 47-35 record to grab the 6th seed in the playoffs as reward for their good work. GS had posted a paltry 23-43 record the year before (lockout-shortened 66 game season), so their rise to 47 wins was a revelation that earned them lots of national attention and TV games.


The Rockets, after acquiring James Harden on the eve of the season, raced their way to a thrilling 45-37 record to nab the 8th seed in the playoffs. Houston had just missed the playoffs the year before, at 34-32, but had turned over nearly their entire roster by opening night of the 2012-13 season. Their rise to 45 wins was heavily documented and rewarded with lots of TV attention across the globe.


Both teams exceeded expectations with young, exciting squads and were rewarded with national TV love and the legitimacy of the playoffs to cement their status and expectations going forward. Thanks to making the playoffs, each team had "arrived".


This year in the Eastern Conference, young teams in Toronto (48-33), Washington (43-38) and Charlotte (42-39) are all getting rewarded with a playoff berth - extending their season and adding legitimacy to what they've done as playoff teams.


The Suns, on the other hand, haven't gotten any of the TV coverage like the Warriors and Rockets the year before, and neither have they enjoyed the legitimacy of the playoffs that all five teams are enjoying.

The Suns started the year off with only one national TV game on the docket (ESPN) and a handful of NBA TV appearances. They began the year on fire, going 19-11 by Christmas with an exciting squad that played both offense and defense, yet was missing the requisite "star" to earn national TV coverage. Yet even while staying in playoff position all season, the Suns never got onto TNT or ABC, and only earned two more ESPN games than were originally scheduled.

And now that the Suns are outed from the playoff picture, they're being treated like that little kid who held his own on the playground but eventually lost the fight to the "big boys".

As all the national pundits finally got it right - that the Suns would never make the playoffs - they're able to breathe easy and give the requisite pats on the top of the head and backside, praised for the "good effort" and sent home with a juice box.

Unfortunately for the Suns, their season will forever be categorized as "upstart" and "exciting" but only as a sideshow before the real season of the playoffs begins.

The Suns were part of the undercard, despite winning the same or more game this season as the "upstart" Warriors and Rockets did last year.

Let's hope next year the Suns don't have to be the team that just missed the playoffs. Let's hope they're not the team being patted on the head for their good effort.

Let's hope they're the team slapping other teams on the back of the head in the playoffs as they streak toward the Finals.


PHOENIX — Goran Dragic has received quite a bit of attention this season. The battered point guard will sit out the Suns’ final game on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings, according...

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PHOENIX — Part of the growing up process for the Phoenix Suns was winning over fans after three lottery-bound seasons prior, the last of which was a historically bad year. Another part was...

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All good things must come to an end.

I love the Phoenix Suns and I've loved the Phoenix Suns for the last 25 years of my life.

Some of my happiest moments have involved watching Suns teams win 50+ games and compete for championships, so for me the 2012-13 edition of the Phoenix Suns was basically the beginning of a dark ages for my basketball fandom.

Last night as I watched the final seconds of the competitive portion of the Suns season tick away my wife asked me how I was doing.  Without as much as flinching a smile came over my face and my response was direct and to the point - I feel great.

And there are so many reasons I feel great.

For one, those dark ages I referenced above?  They ended almost as quickly as they started.  I know a small faction of this community did think this was a good basketball team from the start - and bully for you - but the vast majority of us did expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 17-30 wins.  Frankly I didn't expect the Suns to be in a position like THIS until the 2015-2016 season at the earliest - and even then I thought we'd be fighting for the 8 seed with 43 wins and a gaggle of developed lottery picks, not nearing 50 wins with a dynamic backcourt.

Then there's Goran Dragic.  The Slovenian guard I used to watch dribble into the corner like a middle schooler in 2008 is now a fire breathing destroyer of worlds who's bound for his first All-NBA team.

And Eric Bledsoe.  From the shadow of Chris Paul, Bledsoe is a flashback to a time where Kevin Johnson would roam the backcourt for the Suns, knife his way through the trees, and slide in for a seemingly impossible layup.

Perhaps more important than any of that there are Ryan McDonough and Jeff Hornacek.  For the first time in seemingly forever, the Suns have a coach and GM who are on the rise and seemingly of the same mind.  Both guys seem ready to guide the Suns to the next level.

Really there is so much more - the meteoric rises of Gerald Green and Markieff Morris come to mind - so this morning I just want you all to be happy.  Be grateful.  The rosterbation and the endless summer discussions of what it's going to take to see the Suns go from good to great can wait a couple days.

Appreciate these guys.  Appreciate what they've done.

Monday April 14th Key Western Conference Results:

Memphis Grizzlies 97 Phoenix Suns 91 (Recap) -   For the first 22 minutes of the game last night it really looked like the Suns were a broken and defeated team. The quotes from the aftermath of the Mavericks game gave way to a matching effort and the Suns trailed 46-33 with 2:27 left in the 2nd quarter.  Then it what was probably the last of many "Suns flashes" we watched in the previous 80 games, the Suns went on a 20-4 run to take a 53-50 lead in the early part of the third quarter.

The game basically settled into a slug fest.  In the 4th quarter alone there were a ridiculous 17 lead changes - including one on an improbable Miles Plumlee jump shot (are those words allowed to be used together like that?).  In the end a few ill advised turnovers and a barrage of missed shots put the Suns away but they competed their asses off.

Zach Randolph led Memphis with a million points while Mike Miller hit every three pointer since the dawn of the three point shot.  Markieff Morris led the Suns with 21 points off the bench.

Current Western Conference Standings:

1.San Antonio
62 19 .765 - 7-3 LOST 1
2. Oklahoma City
58 23 .716 4
6-4 LOST 2
3. LA Clippers
56 24 .700 5.5 7-3 WON 1
4. Houston 54 27 .663 8 5-5 WON 2
5. Portland
53 28 .654 9 8-2 WON 4
6. Golden State
50 31 .617 12 6-4 WON 1
7. Dallas
49 32 .605 13 7-3 WON 1
8. Memphis
49 32 .605 13
6-4 WON 4
47 34 .580 15 5-5 LOST 3

Tuesday April 16th Western Conference Games of Significance:

None.  As you may have noticed the Suns are eliminated from playoff contention. Since that is in fact the case, this will be my last Western Conference Playoff Report of the season.  I appreciate you all opting to suffer through my unique brand of ridiculous writing and go on this journey with me.  This is probably a good time to tell you that the last 3 days of "recap" links have just been stupid videos of things completely unrelated to basketball.  Good job not clicking them.

How expectations changed after this night in October... Opening night in what will be remembered as one of the most fulfilling seasons of basketball in Arizona in a long while.

This morning as you are rubbing the sleep off your face and getting your morning coffee brewing, take a moment to appreciate what has happened this season. This year was supposed to be the bog of eternal stench for the Phoenix Suns coming off of the worst season in franchise history since the first season in franchise history.

By now you are awake enough to remember that last night the Suns were eliminated from playoff contention. While it is disappointing that the Suns fell short of the playoffs and will be back in the lottery for the fourth year in a row this season was a resounding success.

On all fronts.

Last season the team was leaderless after the leadership cut Alvin Gentry off at the knees and made him a lame duck coach before letting him go mid-season. It was a virtually impossible situation for Gentry being asked to win, groom the young players, and also not look over his shoulder at Lindsey Hunter and Lance Blanks laughing about something in the distance.

The team cleaned house removing nearly all the dead weight from last season and starting a new with a fresh face at General Manager in Ryan McDonough and hiring a dynamic first year Head Coach in Jeff Hornacek.

Both are in the running if not the favorites for Executive of the Year and Coach of the Year. Gerald Green is a candidate for 6th Man of the Year. Goran Dragic is as well for Most Improved and Channing Frye for Comeback Player of the year. While those are all individual awards and do not change the playoff fortunes it is symbolic of how this team really turned things around this season.

Excitement was there for a potential future... Maybe two or three years down the line.

Instead the team surprised everyone in a very positive manner going from 25 wins to to 47 with one more game to add to that total. Slide them into the Eastern Conference and they would have been battling for the the three seed every night. They did that with an exciting brand of basketball and a roster reminiscent of the island of misfit toys. Just call Gerald Green "Charlie in a Box" on any other team, but in Phoenix he is Green Lightning in a Bottle. Miles Plumlee and Ish Smith are buried on any other bench, but contributors in this system.

Eric Bledsoe cannot play next to Chris Paul in Los Angeles, but forms a Top 10 back-court in the NBA with Goran Dragic.

Hindsight allows us to go back and remember the over/under of 19.5 wins for the Suns that Vegas had. It allows for us to remember the Suns being picked no higher than 29th Overall in the NBA in pre-season Power Rankings across all affiliate networks. The disparity from last year to this year will end being no worse than the third biggest turnaround year-over-year in Phoenix Suns franchise history. In 1988-1989 the Suns won 27 more games than the previous season and in 2004-2005 they won an astounding 33 more games.

This year the Suns will win 22 (or 23) more games than last year.

Lottery or playoffs, pour a shot of perspective in your coffee with your breakfast and enjoy what the team is doing and has done this year.

Of all the teams in the lottery the Suns would willing trade places (situations) with right about zero of them. No team in the lottery has a brighter near future than they do and every team at the bottom is there for a reason. Those teams will be down there looking for an Eric Bledsoe talent while the Suns have one and need to find more P.J. Tucker types or Channing Frye types to sprinkle around him.

Obviously they are not in a position to draft an Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker type with the 14th Overall Pick, but they can add another piece. No team has moved up even one slot in the NBA Draft Lottery from the No. 14 position, but there is a chance... Not to win, but to add another piece to this puzzle.

There is no doubt that missing the playoffs after the team re-wrote the book on who they really were back in December, but have some perspective on how "disappointed" you really are. Would you have rather watched 82 games of the quality of the Milwaukee Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers?

Coach Hornacek and McDonough will take the 14th Overall Pick, turn nothing into something, and aim for the playoffs next year. If nothing else they have proven they can do that already.

The Island of Misfit Toys found a home in the Valley... We all enjoyed the ride and knew that this was a potential final destination. The team made it through the bog of eternal stench and the future looks bright. As you finish your coffee take a moment to appreciate exactly what this Suns team did and represents going forward.

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