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The timing of this piece, potentially, was pretty good. When you have a crappy, losing season, you look for the little things to celebrate in place of actual team success. You know, those little things that make you feel just a little bit better about the year gone by, where you say "Well, the Suns sucked, but at least this happened". Vince Carter being released would have been one such thing, but sadly that hasn't been done yet. While the Lakers' and Spurs' exits were highly enjoyable, I'm talking about Suns players winning league awards.

As good as he was this year, I think we all knew Steve Nash wouldn't be making the All NBA teams. As impressive as his stats were as a sixth man (and as a starter), we also all knew it was a long shot that Marcin Gortat would come away with the Sixth Man of the Year Award. And unless a bizarre series of events occurred involving a combination of stuffed brown envelopes, large amounts of alcohol and possibly a weapon or two, there was no chance anyone in the Suns front office would walk away with Executive of the Year. Grant Hill on an All Defensive Team though? Absolutely.

If there's one thing that impressed me most this season, it was Grant Hill's defensive efforts, game in game out. I was sure he'd grab a spot on one of those teams. Totally convinced. So with the All Defensive Teams scheduled to be announced several days before this piece was slated to drop, I had it all wrapped up. Never mind breaking down Grant Hill's game, his age, his season performance, his strengths, his weaknesses, etc etc. I could have simply just pointed out that he was voted All Defensive team. That there ends all arguments. You simply can't argue against bringing back a guy who just made an All-NBA Team.

Somehow though, Grant Hill was left off both the 1st and 2nd NBA All Defensive Teams. Genuinely, it shocked me. It meant I now actually had to put some effort into writing a full piece, so here we are.

 

Lon Babby calls Steve Nash "the sun, moon and stars" of the Suns. I'm not sure I actually agree with that. It's not that I don't think Nash is that awesome, he really is. It's just that the more I think about it, the more Grant Hill is increasingly important to this Suns team. I know he's not our engine like Nash is, but losing Hill would be almost as bad as losing Nash. In three seasons, his hustle, leadership, professionalism and total commitment to the Suns cause has made him vital.

He's part of the team's identity now. When people think of the Suns, they (hopefully) think not only of the fast paced exciting brand of basketball, but of our aging veterans and the superb standards they set in their approach to the game, their team mates, opponents and fans. Trust me, in 10 years time we'll look back and think "how great was Grant Hill, what a top guy, I wish we had more players like him today."

That alone is enough for me to want to see Grant back in a Suns uniform. Even if he had had an awful season, I'd want Grant back with this organisation. You just can't put a price on the personal qualities someone like him brings to a team. (Side note: I'd rather lose with a bunch of superb professionals, than win with a bunch of punks. Look at that Lakers team the other night. I would be ashamed if that was the Suns behaving like that.)

For the sake of it though, let's look at his 2010-11 stats:

G     GS     MPG     FG%     3p%     FT%     OFF     DEF     RPG     APG    SPG     BPG     TO    PF      PPG
80    80     30.1     0.484  0.395  0.829    1.0       3.3     4.2        2.5     0.8        0.4     1.7    2.3     13.2


13.2 PPG while shooting an insane .484? Not bad at all. Both those numbers are up slightly from the previous season. He even shot an impressive .395 from three point range this past year. Not bad at all for a career .319 shooter. In other words, his stats haven't dropped off at all from the previous year, despite being another year older. The most significant number though, is the fact that he played in EIGHTY games, missing just two. That would be impressive for any 38 year old, let alone someone who has basically been injured for half his NBA career.

What the stats don't show however, is Grant's efforts defensively. Whether you watched one Suns game or all 82, you would have picked up on his defensive efforts. Night in, night out, he'd be assigned to defend the opponent's best scorer, and he'd bust his arse doing the best job he possibly could. Kobe, Durant, D-Will, Ginobili, Monta Ellis, Nowitzki...hell, even Blake Griffin, Grant took them all on like the BAMF he is. He'd regularly match up with younger, faster, more athletic or just plain bigger opponents, doing the absolute best he could. The result? His opponents were held to 0.83 points per possession.

Here's one such example of a classic Grant Hill defensive performance. Sure, Kevin Durant got his 28 points, but he shot 8-19 in the process. You'll also notice though, that Hill had 30 points and 11 rebounds of his own to lead the Suns to victory in the wake of the J-Rich trade. You'll find many more examples like this. The man flat out brought it every night.

What more is left to say? Solid stats, fantastic defense, great leader, absolute professional and a fan favourite. Oh, he also WANTS to remain with the Suns, saying:

"It'd be nice to come back and prove that we can be better than we were this season," Hill said. "Let's just hope and pray we have a season first and foremost and then we'll see what happens. Hopefully, it works out and we can improve and get better."

Obviously, there will be interest around the league from numerous teams wanting to acquire his services. Last time round it was Boston (bi-annual exception) and New York (full MLE) both making pitches to him. This time round, I'd be surprised if it wasn't more of the same. Regardless of what happens with the new CBA and the lockout, if there's games to be played, teams will be looking at Grant Hill.

It's pretty obvious to anyone that the Suns are effectively out of the mix in the West. Maybe they can simply add a few pieces to get back where they were. Maybe it will take more than that. More than likely though, it will probably take a few seasons. Or at least, that's my realistic view on things. Regardless, it is absolutely vital that Hill comes back, either to be a part of getting back to where we were, or to pave the way with everything he brings to the table. Standards need to be set, and there's no better man in the league to do that than Grant Hill. We should be proud.

If you disagree, frankly, you're wrong. I'll leave you with some Grant Hill Suns highlights.


Addendum: I only wish I could have written this as well as he wrote his New York Times piece. What a man.


For a player out of the playoff picture, Jared Dudley had quite the mid-May Thursday afternoon. Dudley put on┬áhis JMZ hat when he not only appeared on ESPN’s 1st and 10 to debate Skip Bayless,...

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In Progress.......

CHI V. ATL


Come one come all Phoenix Suns fans and humans alike! View to your unquenchable pleasure the utterly most hilarious of parodies a la SNAFU engulfing the one, the only, the most hated of all animate and inanimate objects... KOBE BRYANT!

Let us bask in this moment of glorious retribution and yet stay humbled at the fact that he will still probably drop 40 points a few times on us next season.

NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK


The Government has today issued an urgent message to all residents in the state of Arizona warning them of a potentially debilitating disease which is spreading throughout the region at an alarming rate.

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'Gortatitis', as it is being called, is believed to have affected a growing number of people in the Phoenix area as well as as some cases being reported as far afield as Poland. The virus has been in Phoenix since mid-December 2010 although there is research to suggest that it may have struck earlier than that, especially amongst the vulnerable. Phoenix Suns fans are being advised to be more vigilante than ever over the coming months as it has been discovered that upward of 90% of all Gortatitis sufferers are Suns fans.

 

 

In some extreme cases, the victims have been heard to talk in tongues, frequently mentioning 'About time the Suns had a good centre...'. This phrase is just one of the identifiable symptoms to look out for when trying to establish those in need of treatment.

 

 

Other symptoms of Gortatitis:

 

 

  • Victims of Gortatitis are likely to experience a heightened sense of pleasure and delusion in the ability of Marcin Gortat. And in some rare, isolated cases, there have been reports of lust for the Polish big man.
  • The Government is stressing that they are hopeful that the outbreak is only seasonal and that during the months from May to October, the virus won't take hold of many more people.
  • Scientists have also confirmed that they believe the virus is under control for now and that the disease may be kept at bay longer than the projected October 2011 date if the event known as the 'Lockout' takes place.

In the meantime, the Government has issued a list of treatments that may assist with those living with Gortatitis:

 

  • Talk to the victims. Remember, they ARE victims.

  • When talking to those suffering, make sure you address the following key points; the Polish Hammer's offence has revolved almost exclusively around the pick and roll – something any semi-competent big man in the league can utilise especially with arguably the best passer in the game feeding him the ball – and outside of it, he hasn't shown much else. He's been playing in an open offensive system which history shows us, players excel in and yet all he does is score from 6 feet – is this all we can expect? Have the affected Suns fans expectations become skewed on what is a 'good centre' due to the lack of one in recent history? And what about the fact that the team remained hovering around the .500 mark even after he joined? If he is as good as some say, surely he would have had a bigger impact? These facts may be met with rage and anger by the sufferers but it is all a part of the healing process - To resolve a problem, first you have to accept the problem.

  • Sufferers require a hard slap across the face. These people need to be snapped out of it.

  • Limit the victim's opportunities to view Marcin Gortat: It's been discovered that there is a potential positive correlation between the Phoenix Suns not participating in the 2010/11 play-offs and the number of cases of Gortatitis declining. If this trend continues, scientists are hopeful that the virus may die out.

  • In connection to the possible decline of Gortatitis, it has also been argued that the memory of those already affected by the disease may become more distorted the longer they continue without some form of exposure to the big Pole. It may even be possible that their delusions may mutate and grow out of control. If this appears to be happening, please contact your doctor immediately.


In addition to the above 'Self-help' guide, the Government have released the following comparison videos which sufferers are to be encouraged to watch. It is hoped that by repeated viewing of these videos, those most affected by the virus will have a greater chance of returning to normal and that residents within the Phoenix area could avoid a repeat of the 2009/10 outbreak of Lopezorrhea*.

 

 

 

Steve Nash executes a bounce pass to Marcin Gortat for the lay-in (via kakalama12345678)

 

Steve Nash circles and assist Robin Lopez a shuffle pass for the reverse layup Phoenix Suns Preseson (via m0l0k0vell0cet)

 

Marcin Gortat Running the Break versus Golden State Warriors (via yt2010upload)

 

Robin Lopez steal and monster dunk! (via rightbryce)

 

 

*Symptoms of Lopezorrhea and Gortatitis are almost identical. Bizarrely, numbers of Lopezorrhea sufferers declined the more exposure sufferers had to Robin Lopez.

 

 

Stay safe, stay smart and stay away from thinking Gortat is a saviour.


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