Phoenix Suns fans tried to show some real class tonight. The crowd chanted "WE WANT STEVE! WE WANT STEVE!" so loud at the 5-minute mark of the 4th quarter that when ESPN went to commercial, we all assumed Nash would come back in. He didn't. And the Suns promptly lost the lead. Finally, after another timeout at 3:57, Nash re-entered to raucous cheers. And then turned the ball over. And then was taken right back out of the game.
During that one minute of game time, the Suns went from a 6-point lead to a 7-point deficit. Just like that. The Spurs reacted to being dissed by going on a 13-0 run while the Suns were acting like it was prom night. Game over.
I don't understand what happened there. Why put Nash in for one play? Either give in to the very distracting crowd, or don't. But the way it was handled, the Suns lost focus long enough for a D-League team to go on a 13-0 run.
No more Phoenix Suns basketball for five, almost six, months. In the meantime, we will likely be able to count actual news moments on one hand. Two, if we're lucky. That's no more than 10 days with actual bona-fide team-changing news out of about 180.
(In that same time-span, BSotS authors will likely post at least 400 stories, plus there should be at least 150 or so FanPosts. For 10 days of actual news. #lol)
But I digress. I hope you got a good look at the Suns roster tonight and made your peace with each. Cuz you're not likely to see more than half of them back next season. But unlike previous offseasons with 50% roster turnover, I'm sure THIS time everyone who loves the Suns wants it to happen. Even the Suns' head coach.
But again, I digress. My mind is wandering tonight. Sorry.
The Suns played the Spurs tonight, but for most of the game it was less interesting than preseason. At least in preseason, guys are looking to impress the coach for minutes in the immediate future.
Tonight? Not so for the Suns. Not one guy on the Suns team knows for sure if he will be back next season. They were just playing for the crowd, and for individual pride (and money this summer). If I had to guess ONE guy most likely to return, it would be Sebastian Telfair, who is under a partially-guaranteed minimum-salary contract for 2012-13 after winning the 2012 Majerle Hustle Award for his work this season. Yep, he's the safest bet.
Oh yeah. Suns won the game, and finish with a winning record for the 7th time in the last 8 seasons. Whoops, wrote that prior sentence mid-4th. Really thought I could use it. Oh well. I guess I don't give a crap any more than Alvin Gentry or any of the team outside Bassy.
Now that the Suns have been eliminated from the 2012 NBA playoff race - amazingly not until the second-to-last game for a team with no stars - the Suns have to at least consider making tomorrow more important than today.
At the moment, the Suns sit in the 13th position in the lottery for the NBA draft. If this position seems familiar, it is. The Suns have earned the dreaded 13th position
twice once in the last three years: 2011 (Markieff Morris) . They even came close in 2008, drafting Robin Lopez at 15th and in 2009, drafting Earl Clark at 14th.
But if the Suns lose tonight to the Spurs and Houston beats New Orleans in their finale tomorrow, the Suns would improve their draft position to 12th overall! Not a big move, but that's one less team who can take your favorite mid-first-round sleeper before your turn comes up.
On the other hand, beating the Spurs tonight would leave a better lasting memory of 2012 in our, and the players', collective minds. And, it would ensure a winning record, a remarkable feat considering the curcumstances of the season.
So, really the Suns are in a win-win situation tonight. Win, and start the offseason on a higher note. Lose, and possibly improve your chance to get the sleeper you want in the draft.
Of course, if Houston loses to New Orleans tomorrow, the Suns are stuck in the 13th slot no matter what they do against the Spurs.
The Spurs, for their part, have sewn up the #1 seed in the West but need at least one more win to earn the #1 overall seed in the playoffs. Having home court advantage through the NBA Finals would be ideal for any team, so don't expect the Spurs to give away their last two games. All "Big 3" made the trip to Phoenix, so expect at least 2 of them to play tonight.
Somehow, in the wake of the loss last night, Nash kept his cool and remained his usual philosophical self. Dwight Howard should take notes.
"Phoenix feels like my team," Nash said, while sharing a beer with former Sun and current Jazz coach Jeff Hornacek after the loss to Utah. "It has the feel -- and you don't always get it in professional sports -- but it feels like a high school or college team. I spent so many years here and had so much success here. It's a special place for me, no question.
"I'd like to play three years. I feel great and I don't feel like there's any reason why I can't continue to play at a high level and contribute the way I've been. I want to keep going.
"The feeling is to have a great game tomorrow night and finish with a winning record. Then I'll try and put together a picture of what opportunities are out there and what situations will fit me well. Phoenix will be one of those for sure, but I'll take my time to evaluate what opportunities are out there for me."
Leave it to Nash to throw the tanking idea out the window. While he is likely to be struggling physically tomorrow, there is no quit in Steve Nash.
Regardless of whether the Suns play to win or lose, Steve Nash will most certainly start the game and end the game.
And when the final seconds tick down, we all owe it to Stevie to stand and cheer and hoot and holler for him. Even if you're home on our couch, otherwise trying to keep quiet with the family sleeping around you. If this is Nash's last game as a Suns, he should leave with a smile on his face.
He gave us 8 great years, more than half of them good playoff seasons. He won 2 MVPs as a Phoenix Sun. He made almost 100 million dollars in the process, but it was the best possible way to spend 100 million dollars if you're going to spend it.
We love you, Steve.
And we really hope to see you in a Suns uni again, with a better team around you.