Friday, January 18, 2013

Phoenix Crashing

Last night, the Milwaukee Bucks ended one of the more ignominious streaks in sports, winning in Phoenix for the first time since 1986. Their 24 consecutive road games lost to the Suns were just two losses shy of the longest continuous losing streak in NBA history, set by the immediately post-LeBron Cavaliers. Remarkably, this wasn't the current record for futility in an opponent's arena, as Golden State has not won in its past 27 tries in San Antonio. But regardless of its standing in the annals of flukish streaks, this latest Suns loss seems to be the straw that broke the camel's back: today, Suns coach Alvin Gentry has stepped down.

The Phoenix Suns, everybody.

The Suns are 13-28 this year, or only five games worse than Steve Nash's current team. This is quite a turnaround for the franchise, which was one of the NBA's best just a few seasons ago and now populates its cellar. The decline isn't really all that surprising because the team's notoriously cheap owner Robert Sarver's tightfistedness prevented the Suns from acquiring the little pieces required to win a championship during their peak, and now it's kept them from keeping even a remotely competitive team together. Why somebody would choose to own a sports franchise and then refuse to spend money on the team is beyond me, but then there are the Donald Sterlings of the world.

When it came time to pay up, the Suns lost their franchise coach Mike D'Antoni (though it appears he may not have been as great as we all thought) and they lost Amar'e Stoudemire, which wouldn't have been such a big problem had they not replaced his production by paying Jared Dudley and Channing Frye about the same money they would have paid Amar'e. They also summarily dumped Joe Johnson when he wanted a contract extension and have consistently sold their first-round picks for cash, rather than draft a player and pay him. This tear-down by attrition culminated last offseason, as Steve Nash finally got out of that dysfunctional mess (and into a new one in Los Angeles).

Quite frankly, the Suns as currently constructed stink and coach Alvin Gentry is just about the least to blame. He's doing the best he can with an atrocious lineup, which Steve Nash last year called the least talented team he's played on but which now no longer features Steve Nash. To be fair, they added Michael Beasley, who's terrible, along with Luis Scola and Jermaine O'Neal, who are both just about washed up.

Gentry's going to be the fall guy, but look at the names on the roster: Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola are debatably their three best players. Notice a pattern? These are all foreign white guys currently flourishing in what is traditionally a sport dominated by black guys. Alvin was doing his best, but the Suns, in trying to win in the NBA with a bunch of white guys, were just way too Gentry-fied.

And if you don't think this whole post was just an excuse to write that terrible joke, then you don't know me at all.

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