In a January 2013 report by the well-respected Forbes magazine, the Phoenix Suns made the 12th most profit in the NBA during Nash's last year in the Valley of the Sun at $13 million. The Suns tied with Dallas, and were one of 22 teams that made money that season.

There are no reports out yet for this past year's debacle, but we all know the gate receipts and merchandise sales went way, way down. At the beginning of the year, most independent sports jersey retailers carried no Suns jerseys because there wasn't a "face of the franchise". I don't know if that changed at any point last season.

Still, expect Robert Sarver and his partners (which continue to include Steve Kerr) to have turned some kind of operating profit during the 2012-13.

Taking a closer look at profit, though, shows a few warts in these reports. Per Forbes, the profit number is "operating income", which is defined as "Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization." So it's not like Sarver wrote himself a $13 million check and stuck it in his pocket. But still, it's apples to apples and the Suns are mid-pack with the rest of the league.

The Man

I can guess that some readers are bristling right now, itching to jump into the comments to lambast Robert Sarver for being a money hungry b$*ch while yearning for the days of the benevolent Jerry Colangelo.

Before you do that, let's put this into perspective. Colangelo made more money as Suns owner, even during the down years, than Sarver ever has.

Very successful businessmen have enough money and energy to venture into side businesses that still make a boatload of money. Some get into shady, backroom deals while others invest in upfront businesses. All are profit-making ventures, most are rooted in entertainment.

NBA owners are in that latter group. They got rich doing something else, and now own NBA franchises with the hope of childhood wonder and giddy thrills but live in the reality that they need to turn a profit. NBA owners are not philanthropists. They are a loose interpretation of "The Man".

"The Man" is a slang phrase that may refer to the government or to some other authority in a position of power. In addition to this derogatory connotation, it may also serve as a term of respect and praise.

Past vs. Present

Jerry Colangelo was "The Man" for the Phoenix Suns franchise whose effusive personality cast him in a positive light. Robert Sarver is now the "The Man" for the Phoenix Suns whose prickly uncomfortable money-mongering socially-challenged personality casts him in a negative light.

But make no mistake. Both Colangelo and Sarver have made a boatload of money during their tenure as owners of the Phoenix Suns franchise.

Jerry Colangelo put together a team of investors to buy the Phoenix Suns at their lowest point for $44.5 million in 1987. He sold it 17 years later for $401 million. That's a profit of nearly $360 million. As part of the sale, Colangelo got $2 million per year for another 5 years to take on an advisory role.

But that is not all. Oh no, that is not all.

A report in 2009 says the Suns made the league's third most profit at $287 million over a 10 year period from 1998-2008, more than half of which were during Colangelo's tenure. In none of those last Colangelo years were the Suns a contender. For the math-challenged, that's about $28.7 million per year profit from 1998-2008.

Add up the profits, the ten-fold gain in franchise value and the continuing contract post-sale and you've got a very rich former owner of the Phoenix Suns. We all loved him, for sure. But let's not forget he made a lot of money on us while we loved him.

Now you're bristling to lambast the author for writing blasphemy against the former owner and most loved Valley sports icon in history. Believe me when I say I loved the Colangelo tenure, and that I believe he earned every penny he made. Jerry Colangelo is rich for good reason. He made the Suns the franchise they are. No bones about it.

The Phoenix Suns current managing partner, Robert Sarver, has done okay as well. In eight years as owner (as of end of season 2012), the Suns franchise had gained $73 million in value since he purchased the team. He will have to pick up a lot of steam to match Colangelo's $360 million over 17 years, but it's still a healthy gain.

As far as profits are concerned, the Suns have made money each year.


You have to read this chart from RIGHT to LEFT. That's just the way Forbes rendered the charts.

The worst worst years are the most recent two, which look to be about $13 million per season. A far cry from the heyday of the Suns as described above.

Reading right to left, you can see that Sarver made a killing in his first year of ownership. The 2004-05 season was his lowest payroll (before Amare's first max extension) until recently while the Suns grabbed the headlines all season long with their free flowing offense.

Just to the right of that magical 2005 profit, you can see the profit margins of Colangelo's last two as owner. The Suns were 44-38 and 29-53 in those two years.


Where am I going with this, you ask?

Forbes just came out with money numbers for the top 50 Sports franchises, most of which are NFL football teams. Only three NBA teams made the Top 50 (New York, LA and Chicago).

This got me and some others thinking about where the Suns rank, which led me to the Suns page on This article points out the Suns made the most profit of all the Valley franchises.

So I wanted to dig deeper, to put these numbers into perspective before fans read these articles without knowing the context.

Yes, the Suns make money.

No, it's not as much money as when they're winners (according to

And no, the latest NBA numbers are not inclusive of the Suns worst season in memory. As far as I can tell.

The Phoenix Suns will likely rank among the bottom two teams in every preseason prognostication of the Western Conference, with the majority likely to rank the Suns dead last. The surprise to me in...

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S : Best in the game (LeBron)

A+ : Right on heels of best player (Durant)

A : Top 5 player

A- : Top players at their position/Potential All-NBA players

B+ : All-Stars

B : Good starters/fringe All-Stars

B- : Good starter

C+ : decent starter

C : fringe starter/bench player

C- : good bench player

D+ : average bench player

D : Fringe rotation player

D- : bad player

F : not NBA caliber

Factors: production+efficiency+talent (emphasis on this year but whole career taken into account)

*Note: There is no specific order within each tier

- Previous Position Breakdowns -

For the purpose of these grades/rankings, I am not looking at last season in a vacuum. I am trying to give an idea of where each of these players stands in regards to each other after last season. One poor season doesn't sink a player's stock if the rest of his career paints a different story, the exact opposite is true as well. However, I am not factoring potential into my rankings, meaning rookies are graded as NBA players and do not garner special consideration because of their youth.

I'm probably making this more complicated and subjective than it needs to be, but I suppose that only makes for more discussion. With that being said, on to the rankings.

Lebron_mediumMandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Tier 1 (S)

I think we can all agree at this point that LeBron James is the best player in the NBA ...

Tier 2 (A+)

... and that Kevin Durant isn't far behind.

Tier 3 (A-)

Melo is a bit of a controversial player, with some fans loving his talent and others hating the way he uses it. He's not on the same level as James or Durant, but he is a step above everyone else at his position.

Tier 4 (B+)

This tier is pretty easy. It corresponds with the three small forwards (not already listed) that made the All-Star Game this year, and all three were deserving. All three are two-way players who were key pieces to really good teams last year.

Pierce_mediumMandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Tier 5 (B)

Paul Pierce was a tough call here. At 35 years old, is he still on the legit All-Star tier or not? I decided not, although it's still pretty close. The defensive side of the ball is what mad the difference for me, as the three in the tier above are all great defenders as well as good offensive players.

Tier 6 (B-)

This tier includes two vets who are winding down their careers but still productive, a productive player in his prime, an two productive young players on the way up. You can sort out who's who on your own.

Dudley_mediumMandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tier 7 (C+)

Korver and Dudley are elite shooters and really smart players overall, even though they have their athletic limitations. Thad Young has no such limitation, although his skill level isn't on the same level as those two. Jimmy Butler is a young versatile player with great advanced stats. And Rudy Gay... well, he's one of those guys I wasn't quite sure where to place.

Tier 8 (C)

These players can start and play a decent role on the right teams, but might be even better coming off the bench. Barnes and MKG are young players that should make a jump this coming season, but neither one was all that great on a consistent basis during their rookie year.

Tier 9 (C-)

Tucker_mediumMandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Shooting, defense, athleticism, energy... all these players bring something to the table. But none of them are complete players or big difference-makers. It's pretty impressive that P.J. Tucker was able to go from out of the league to being considered not only a rotation-worthy player, but a good one at that.

Tier 10 (D+)

This is a tier of young players trying to find their place in the league and older ones closing in on the ends of their careers. All of them are bench players at this point, but they all can bring something to a team's rotation. Even Mook, who has shown the ability to at least do something, and probably would have played more last year and shown that under a different coach.

Tier 11 (D)

Wes_johnson_mediumMandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

These players all have skills that they have used to make rotations and contribute at one point or another during their careers, but none of them did much last season.

Tier 12 (D-)

I still can't believe Stack was on a roster last year...

Beasley_mediumMandatory Credit: Christian Petersen-Getty Images

Tier 13 (F)

You guys watched last season. I don't think I need to offer any explanation for this tier.

An there you have it. My take on the small forward position in the NBA. This position is as strong and as deep as any in the NBA today, and looking at next year's draft projections, it's going to continue to get deeper.

What do you think about my rankings? Who do I have too high? Who am I too low on? Did I nail the Suns small forward hierarchy at least?

In both Los Angeles and New York, Mike D’Antoni’s offense hasn’t produced what it did in Phoenix. The former Suns head coach enters his first full season with the Lakers with a...

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By any predictive measure or model, the Phoenix Suns should be the worst team in the Western Conference.

No other Western team sports such little talent. No prior Suns team has ever entered a season with such low expectations from either the fans or the media. And no prior collection of Suns players have been treated as nothing more than holdovers until a better talent replaces them.


Sports fans have always been loyal to a fault. Love and loyalty, along with a good bit of fanaticism, is a recipe for annual over-hyping of the team's chances. Last year, many of us not only drank the kool-aid, we "cooked" our own batch and kept an inventory for the whole season.

On the other side, there are the fanatics who, determined never to be disappointed, systematically expect the lowest probable outcome and laugh at lecture helpfully advise the optimists who consume the kool-aid. When they see the kool-aid, they don't just chuckle and turn away. These realists run over and try to knock the kool-aid out of the drinker's hand. No kool-aid for you!

Both groups are "realists". Perception is reality. Fandom has it's own ruleset for each individual. You're a realist, and everyone who disagrees with your basic point of view is delusional. That's just the way it is.

There is no middle ground

Many of you reading this article have already told yourself you're neither an optimist nor a pessimist. You're right in the middle, and those extremes don't apply to you. Only silly people live on the extremes, you say.

I say you're full of bunk, and it's only a question of whether you're only lying to us or if you're lying to yourself as well.

Check it: If you're reading an NBA blog on the worst team in the Western Conference in the middle of the August, you're a fan(atic). Admit it. Pick a side and stay there.

We good? Everyone on their side? Good. We can move on now.

Pre-game warmups

Now that we're all safely ensconced on our side, it's time to take stock of our teammates. Look around you.

If you're on the team that says the Suns will be better than 22 wins next season, your teammates are the optimists.

If you're on the team that says this game is bull-pucky and are asking each other why you're even here, your teammates are the pessimists.

Some of your teammates are, admittedly, more fanatical than you. And some are less fanatical than you, prompting you to briefly consider if they're actually a spy from the other side.

That's okay. You still have the same basic leanings.

It's time to start planning your attack for the upcoming season.

Optimistic strategy

Quickly, the optimists realize they've got a tough road to hoe. It chaps your hides that the damn pessimists finally got what they wanted - a loser to the highest degree.

The optimists spend the first twenty minutes of the strategy session hating on the pessimists.

Eventually, the conversation turns to strategy. Do we find solace in individual stats? Do we focus entirely on the Rookie of the Year race, or the visually-obvious development of the young players into better players who can play for an eventual playoff contender? Or, do we run analytics till our fingertips bleed to find statistic evidence of an improving team? Or do we rosterbate McStunna's next move to vault the Suns back into immediate contention?

Yes, to all of the above!

Never once does the conversation turn to the win-loss record. In August, wins and losses don't matter. Yet.

Pessimistic strategy

The pessimists realists spend the first few minutes making jokes about the optimists delusional fans who keep trying to find the silver lining in the clouds. It's a veritable Comedy Central Roast. Sports pessimists, by nature, are a quick-witted lot who fancy themselves just a tiny bit more enlightened than the average fan.

Just like with the optimists, the pessimists see some of their teammates on the extreme edge. But they still have the same internal bent, so they go along. Asshat Dave made them pick a side, so whatever.

After a while, the pessimists get down to business because that's what they do. They are a serious bunch, much more serious than the typical optimist delusionist.

They talk about tanking, about losing in the best possible way. They talk about doing whatever it takes to ensure the Suns get a top-notch talent in the next draft. The pessimists occasionally harken back to the moves that got the Suns into their current predicament, go on a ten to fifteen minute rant, then finally get back to business at hand.

How do we survive the upcoming season that promises 60 losses? First of all, we start obsessing about the East. Those futhermuckers have at least two or three teams as bad as the Suns. Maybe five. What if the Suns end up with the fifth pick again? And, god forbid, have to decide between two combo guard PGs as the best available talent? Oh no.

Yes, Virginia, it CAN get worse than it already is.

Moment of truth

The rubber will meet the road when live games actually start in October.

Optimists fanatics who have spent all summer "okay" with the prospect of 60 losses will realize they can't stand the idea of 60 g**ddam* losses. Only losers pray for losses!

Pessimists realists who have spent all summer expecting 60 losses will realize they don't like being in the majority. They don't like having the big, bad team of pessimists. They're used to being the contrarian. It's no fun popping balloons if other people beat you to it, or if the optimist delusionist (gasp) left their balloon at home.

I, for one, am fascinated to see how this season shakes out amongst the Phoenix Suns fans.

At the very least, being a fan of the Phoenix Suns is still interesting and polarizing. And more popular, on BSotS anyway, than it ever was before.

Which side are you on, dear reader? And, how will you handle 60 losses?

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