This week’s Jock Blog opens with a philosophical query:
Are you mentally ready to engage in a years-long blood feud with the Phoenix Suns?
I know. The very sentence is laden with oxymoron. How can a franchise like the Phoenix Suns inspire anything other than ennui?
When I say to you “PHOENIX SUNS,” what comes to mind? Be honest.
Charles Barkley in the early 90s?
OK. That’s fine, right?
After that …
Oh! Steve Nash and the ‘7 Seconds or Less’ crew, right?
Yeah. That was fun.
Let’s seeeeeeeeee… Soooooo… what else?
Anyone up for a 1976 Western Conference Final memory? Suns over Rick Barry’s Warriors in seven good games? If you’re reading the Jock Blog, chances are you’re on social media, which means chances are you don’t remember the 1976 Western Conference Finals.
At any rate, now that we’ve established the Phoenix Suns as a totally harmless, mostly forgettable American sports franchise: ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE WITH THE PHOENIX SUNS?
Because that’s the deal, Warriors fans. There are two class franchises in the league right now, and they are the Warriors and the Suns. This makes them natural rivals; two good teams clamoring for the same prize.
It’s actually a pretty cool deal. We got to see them play a darn good early-season game on Tuesday night in Phoenix, and we’re already looking forward to what should be a darn-good Friday night game at Chase Center, and — break out the spiked egg nog — they will tangle again on Christmas Day.
Maybe even with Klay Thompson in a Santa hat, raining 3s.
LeBron and the Lakers? Please. They’re so old, they must remember the 1976 Western Conference Finals. Jokic and the Nuggets? For sure, total respect. But not as good as the Warriors and the Suns. Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz? For sure, total respect. But not as good as the Warriors and the Suns.
Steph Dynasty 1.0 was all about the rivalry with James Harden’s Rockets and LeBron’s Cavs. Neither of those guys plays with those teams anymore.
Steph Dynasty 2.0 — that’s right, I’m calling an 18-3 the start of ‘Dynasty 2.0’ — features Devin Booker’s Suns, DeAndre Ayton’s Suns, Chris Paul’s Suns and Mikal Bridges’ Suns, front and center. Maybe, just maybe, our old pal Kevin Durant and Harden can make something happen in the NBA Finals for juice and rivalry and bad blood. But those Brooklyn Nets have some Kyrie things to figure out, and there remains the problem of the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Suns and Warriors are our new rivalry, and even though you want to get into your Clippers/Rockets Chris Paul hatred, there isn’t a whole lot to hate about the Suns. This is going to take some work, and a few closely contested games, and an inevitable date in the springtime, to crack open your Phoenix Suns Hate Bag.
There’s a lot to admire about both teams. They are 1-2 in team defensive rating, Dubs holding the top spot. They are 3 and 6 in team offensive rating, Dubs holding the 3 spot. They are 1 and 7 in assist percentage, Dubs holding the top spot. In old-fashioned stats like points per game (I know, how gauche), they are 1-2 in the league. Again, Dubs hold the top spot.
Side note: The Warriors are good, man.
Suns coach Monty Williams is one of the more likable figures in the league. Devin Booker is the best player nobody ever talks about in MVP races. DeAndre Ayton, all 7-foot-1 of him, is reminding us that basketball can exist inside the 3-point line. Paul has more veteran wisdom than ever inside that 36-year-old gray head. And Steph Curry is hiring security cameras around his home estate to make sure Mikal Bridges isn’t still trying to defend him at night.
They’re a good and decently deep team, the Suns.
And if we believe (see what I did there?) that the Warriors are, indeed, launching Steph Dynasty 2.0. and with Klay’s return and Draymond’s defense and the rise of Jordan Poole and the potential of James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga, will be around for the next few years — guess who also figures to be around for the next few years?
Forget Arizona Cardinals-49ers. Forget Arizona Diamondbacks-Giants. Forget Phoenix Coyotes-Sharks.
The Suns and Warriors are our new rivalry. Learn it. Live it. Enjoy it.